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Making It

Ive-Made-It-Point If the energy in and around Los Angeles had a name, it would be ‘Making it.’ Separate from the fast-paced, competitive energy of New York City, LA’s tone surrounds recognition and validation. Most arrive here with a dream, big goals they’re intent on pursuing right away. It feels as if few come to this city to live, they’re here temporarily to dream awake.

You may’ve read the above paragraph and inferred a tone that is cynical or, perhaps, negative. On the contrary, what began as a somewhat startling observation has evolved into an inspiring and highly motivating environment. Sure, there are your typical jaded folks who’ve struggled to ‘make it’ all to no avail, those bitter with the taste of failure and defeat.

More, though, echo the frequency of taking risks that make them come alive. They’ve come to LA, specifically, to see if they can transcend the monumental challenge of standing out in a crowd of millions, so that they, too, can live a dream only dozens have achieved. It’s noble, actually, I’m quite enamored and even befuddled by the many bright lights I see shining in a sea of others.

These artists aren’t thwarted by the stark reality of success rates in this city, by the fact that they’re surrounded by exceedingly talented and beautiful people, or by the multiple rejections and No’s they’ve heard thus far. They’ve managed to keep a truth in their hearts many of us soon forget: we’ve already made it.

There’s no need to feel bogged down, stripped of energy, drained of passion because we’ve yet to reach a destination we cannot even clearly see. When we begin from the place of “I’ve already made it,” the highs and lows are accepted with ease. Sure, we’re thrilled when an opportunity comes our way, and disappointed when another falls through. But we understand this is all part of the process, part of the fun, and ultimately, part of being human.

Starting each day from this happy, grateful place allows us to be more resilient when the bad days roll through, and even more joyful when the good days come our way. We understand innately that life is full of constant, unpredictable change. We, then, appreciate those few aspects of life that we can control: our breath, our smiles, our attitudes.

The old cliché, “it’s the journey, not the destination,” rings truer and truer the more life goes on. When we’re living our passion, doing what we love, each day births something new. And because so much of the dreaming process evolves in new directions each day, the end game does as well. Less intent on arriving to that mystical place we imagine full of riches and success, we instead spend our energy on making brand new memories each day, with the goal of contributing something positive Now, not simply creating opportunities somewhere down the line.

We’ve already arrived. This is something I remind my students of often; each time they take a moment to breathe and tune in, they remember that this moment is a pivotal step in their manifestation. We have power and control in what we create each day, so the adventure in making it is a path we’ve never seen walked before, and it is our gift to unwrap a new trek each day.

It’s simultaneously terrifying and empowering to realize we hold the power to our bliss. We have a direct and monumental impact on our future. And our future depends so strongly on how we view ourselves and how we act each day. Very few of us are handed our wildest dreams on a silver platter, an opportunity arriving without us even blinking an eye.

It takes work, real, genuine effort and belief to churn the energy of progress, to feel that we are, indeed, “making it.” Begin today realizing you’ve already won, and then move fearlessly into the unknown and carve a unique path that winds and curves how you see fit. The path of others is none of your business. Get inspired, learn from them, sure, but remember no one can create a masterpiece for you. It must be authentic and real to you, otherwise it won’t satisfy for long and it won’t feel as sweet.

You deserve to grow your life on your terms. “Making it” means something special to us all. Decide you’ve made it and keep making something extraordinary with your life each day. What you create in a month, year and decade will astound you. You don’t have to know where you’re going, just see where you want to Be and how you want to feel, and create smalls steps to a bigger movement from there.


Need motivation? Guidance? Clarity? Yoga for the mind, body and heart.Cheaper and often more effective than therapy. You can begin to cultivate real change and momentum without even stepping into a studio or onto a mat. And on your terms. E-mail or for more. Eat Life!

Love and Other Status Symbols

I am no more an expert on love than anyone else on this planet, including those who study mercilessly for years in order to eventually advise others on their quest for real connections. I'm a mere observer. I've watched myself go through the roller-coaster of infatuation, feeling the potential of "falling" in love, and ultimately the heart ache and loss of love that never existed in the first place. Spending much of my adolescence and early adulthood single, very single, alone, no sex, no dates, no flirting, no nothing, I was able to passively observe the bouts of "love" that struck my friends and schoolmates. I watched as they became engrossed and attached the other person, to their identity as someone's "other", and as much of their personal identity began to slide, so did their friendships.

When I fell in deep like and lust with my first real boyfriend, I felt the same identity crisis snap over me. Always being self-aware, since childhood, I entered into my pseudo-relationship with slight trepidation. But the allure of sexual attraction and want was too powerful for me to overcome. In a short amount of time, my beliefs, my independence, and my sanity went out the door, and a gushy, pathetic, chemistry drunk girl emerged.

I was a teenager. This was well over a decade ago, nonetheless I observe these tendencies in my more mature cohorts even today. Many of us, women in particular, derive a sense of confidence, accomplishment, and overall satisfaction from being "in a relationship." Somehow being on the arm of another gives our own existence some credibility, something to be admired.

You can either attach yourself to others out of fear or pull yourself out of the game altogether for the exact same reason. I awarded myself a pat on the back for being okay with being alone, with not dating, with not needing anyone else. Did I go to the movies alone on Valentine's day only to cry sickeningly in my car the whole way home? Maybe. For whatever reason we placate, we're lying to ourselves, because we've neglected to recognize we are already enough.

Some of us want sex but no intimacy. The words I love you and thoughts of participating in mundane errands with another can send some running for the hills. Some of us just want the hope of resonance, beyond anything physical, the desire to connect and bounce life off of another is strong. What I've observed in the two scenarios and the wide spectrum in-between, is the myth that love is a status symbol, a means of validation, an achievement to be broadcast, something to be given or taken away, and the utter fallacy that love hurts.

I will wholeheartedly own up to the hours and energy I spent crying, feeling sick inside over the loss of Love. I've felt the neediness, the wantedness, the yearning to be with a romantic partner every second possible, to share as many breaths together in a day that we could. I felt the gnawing concern and borderline jealousy while waiting by phone for a call. None of these emotions are love, not even the exciting parts.

Since entering and graduating from college, it became apparent that in order to seal the deal in showcasing a successful, well-adjusted adult, marriage was the ultimate symbol of that success. Women peruse and download images of engagement rings, something I could never relate to, while men recognize this as a biological imperative, a means to placate an unhappy girlfriend, or a catalyst to growing into a man. For both, engagement and marriage gives their life meaning and solidifies their otherwise questionable relationship.

Is this the case for everyone? Of course not, but it is the pervasive tone of our culture to treat love as a game that must be honed and mastered. Women and men see each other as lists, qualities with which to measure a potential mate. Our future life-partners must meet a criteria, like being accepted into a good school, they've got to groom and become pedigreed in order to meet our expectations. We create a fantasy in our heads while disregarding what we truly bring to a relationship.

For some, their significant other must carry the same religious beliefs, the same political ideology, a similar socio-economic status, an impressive educational background, and the same likes and dislikes. Love is not crafty or cunning, nor is it discriminating. It is emanating and inclusive, open to whomever may help it to manifest and grow.

Love is not an entitlement, not an end game, not a measure of worth or value. It is the very pulse of life itself, that very cosmic connection that brings kindness, compassion and generosity right out of us. No diamond, lavish wedding, coordinated photograph or outward expression can even come close to the truth of real love.

Real love is not needy, not jealous, not dramatic, not confusing. It is an opportunity to exude and give another what you innately are, a reflective experience where you feel your full potential, the goodness in another extracts the goodness right out of you. The trick is knowing that goodness and potential have always been there. We're all born with it. We spend too many hours and too much energy analyzing and waiting for that one other person to certify our worthiness, put a stamp on our Being.

I'm not judging, usually I put very little interest in the musings and small problems of other people, but as a writer, teacher and promoter of authentic, self-contained happiness, I've got to call bullshit on some of our practices. Marriage won't validate your relationship; you're simply legally bound now. It's on paper. My husband and I have joked about getting divorced but staying together just to prove a point. Marriage is no more validating to love than a diploma is to intelligence.

It's within the heart and mind of an individual whether they live and project love or not. We can be good on paper, have a stellar resume, and a thousand luxury items, but you can't put a price on a good heart. All that's worth coveting and defining ourselves by cannot be bought. Love does not look a certain way, give something specific to you, or take something distinguishing from you. It is not something we observe, it's something we feel; deeply, in our intelligence, in our guts, our souls, in our being, not our doing.

Love is not scary, nor is being vulnerable and honest difficult. It's a choice. When you've made the conscious decision to love yourself, to accept your mistakes and accomplishments, to live a life of passion and gratitude, no single human being can give or take that away from you. All that we need we already have and all that we wish to be we already are. We must confront the lies we've been told and those we've been retelling ourselves and just like love, the honest truth will be felt rather than revealed. We must be able to be still with ourselves before we share an existence with another.

I do not believe in soul mates, in one perfect person for each of us. I believe we are all uniquely capable of connecting and exchanging love with many, some more potently than others. Love only hurts when there is attachment, and again, that is not real love. We can mourn the loss of relationships while maintaining gratitude for the profound love within ourselves. Appreciate what was and move on. If true love has existed and then passed, the remaining feelings should be nothing but acceptance, forgiveness and well-wishes. If we're scorned or betrayed, we then understand that what we thought was love, was merely the intoxicating stench of the imitator, an ego acting in disguise.

Real love doesn't enter into bondage with another only in hopes to mold the other to fit their expectations. Authentic love is acceptance, an open invitation to be just who you are. When we fall in love, it behooves us all to love the other for exactly who and what they are Now, not who they'll potentially be.

I love being alone. I love being in a crowd. I see and feel no difference in my thoughts and actions when I'm in public or private, when I'm at work or at play. It is my intention to make love, not war. This is possible for us all to embody, an overall sensation to breathe in and out. It is within our power to adjust the previous definitions and images of love to reflect reality and not a fantasy. Real love is the shit, romance is for the birds.

It is in this vein that I share a short poem I wrote. Love is an enigmatic thing. I am not attached to my thoughts and words on its behalf. I'm merely sharing for those roaming on this planet whose internal compass points in the same direction. You are all that you seek. Recognize it and you'll begin to see it in the eyes of others, feel it in their embrace, and observe it in every thought in your mind and beat of your heart. You are love.

You Know What Real Love Is

Love is not something that turns on and off It is a continuous state of being We were born from it Not by virtue of our specific parents But by way of emerging as life on this planet Love is not something you do You cannot validate it with marriage Or children Love is something you are Or are not Love carries no opposite There is like and dislike Hate was not born, it has only been bred Love is luminous It is the conduit to perceiving light How you love is what attracts who you love Beginning with the love of self Love cannot be given or taken away It's always there waiting It's not shiny or expensive Nor can it be a commodity or weapon Love is expressed as a language understood by most forms of life It cannot be measured Life knows nothing more precise Love is ironically simple It has many imitators Even more followers But less disciples Somehow we forget our way Consumed by the end game We forget the truth There is no game You've won You're alive Breathing Conceiving There's only a game if we each agree to play Love takes no time to pause Re-strategize It knows its purpose Bliss reached Manifestation seized It only waits for the rest Those who focus on existential questions And not the obvious answer We're here to Love To feel it Reveal it Expose it Roll with it We cannot earn it Or achieve it We must receive it And be it You know what real love is It's pumping blood through your veins Breathing for you Life being lived Now It is You It is Me It is We

Post this on a mirror, repeat it to yourself. You are awesome and you are enough.

If you like reading or connecting, continue to do so! I write for MindBodyGreen, check out the archives. I write and teach for the Travel Yogi. Read and/or join me in El Salvador! Engage on Facebook and Twitter.

Living With A Guilty Conscience

I’ve lived the majority of my short life carrying a small but somewhat demanding guilty conscience. The cause is psychosomatic, mind-made. I have this theory that human beings have conquered the art and science of survival for centuries, but something in our biology, in the way we operate wants us to experience the stress involved in successfully surviving each day. Most of us, at least in western civilization, have more than enough food, options for shelter no matter how lavish, clean water and separation from any animal that could maim or kill us. By simply being born in the United States we’re born with privilege and with opportunity. Some are more advantaged than others of course, which is unfortunate and a slight cause for my guilty conscience, but my larger point is most of us do not have to struggle to simply exist and live to see another day. And therefore we’re complacent, bored, uncertain and completely attached to our own bullshit sob stories. When I say bullshit sob stories so flippantly like that, I’m really referring to mine, which isn’t sad or tragic in any way. First of all, I’m white. The least interesting, most entitled in this and many countries, whether my fellow light-skinned ones want to admit that or not. It’s true. It is what it is. There’s of course nothing wrong with being white, just as being born any other color, it simply perpetuates this need in the human psyche to create our own problems and own identity where they don’t really exist. I was fortunate enough to be born into a loving family who are very understanding and accepting people, of me in particular. The older generations naturally had it more difficult than me growing up, from being born during wars, complicated relationships with their parents and family, having less and needing more (money, space, food, options), and their unique experiences during the decades filled with tumult and uncertainty, more than anything I’ve ever experienced, including the sadness and insanity since 9/11.

The most challenging thing I endured as a child was my parents divorce and all the subsequent crap experienced as a result. They divorced when I was 3. Big whoop. They got along fairly well all throughout my childhood and I actually really enjoyed the personal time I had with my dad when I’d visit. I also had an amazing man marry my mom when I was nearly 5 so I had two loving fathers. I have a younger brother who was only sweet, generous and loving throughout our childhood. Seriously. Hardly ever annoying. Anything that perturbed me was just a result of being a bitchy, selfish older sister, nothing else. I have tremendous relatives all over this country, from my biological parents, to my numerous relatives assigned by law, and on my mom’s side in particular. My grandparents specifically could not be more kind, helpful, hardworking, fun and loving. They were as much my parents as anyone else, especially since they were older and my parents were quite young. My Grandma inspired my deep love and attachment to my Italian heritage. I’m not even close to 100% Italian, but probably because I was born white, middle class, no deformities or illnesses, I needed something interesting to adorn myself to. I love being Italian but I realize now how trivial and limiting it is to define yourself by such measures. As if it really means anything. My curly hair, brown eyes, skin tone, pension for bread, wine, sex and humor may or may not be indicative of my background. I think it’s merely a facet of human existence and my particular taste. My need to feel and project Italiano was more of an attempt to feel interesting and that was easier than actually being interesting.

Being born into young parents who divorced early left me confused and incessantly introspective. I remember being 6, 7, 8, 9 years old lying awake, staring at my ceiling, thinking. Fuck if only Yoga had come into my life then. Something about the uncertainty you feel when your parents split up allowed me to contemplate on the same ambiguity the rest of life carries. Will I wake up tomorrow? What if I wake up blind? Am I good? Am I actually alive? These are true, actual thoughts I had on my sleepless nights. Little did I know then how important doubt is. It keeps you inquisitive, and once you realize your survival and your sight are fairly safe, you can keep asking questions and pondering the answers. But man was I a definitive little shit. There was yes or no, black or white, A’s or every other grade, wins or losses, attractive or invisible, popularity or loneliness, marriage or solitude, intelligent or lazy, interesting or forgettable, and hardly anything decipherable in between. Life had such clearly defined edges then. Nothing was blurred, no one was gray. Everyone was an archetype, a caricature of something else.

My mom is super MILFy, especially when I was a child. She had me at 20. I grew up hearing how hot my mom was and how maybe if I looked like her I’d have a chance with boys I liked. Poor me. Boo. Not really. My mom being hot made me sink deeply into my sense of self as an intellectual, as an independent woman of the ripe age of 10, with ideas and goals of grandeur. Olympic gymnast, first female president, high powered lawyer, man eater. Boy was I way off.

So, born out of a hot woman’s vagina to two good hearts but immature minds, they divorced, and I felt like I was split in two. I was never asked to take sides and so I didn’t, but when you’re made up of the genetic material of two people who no longer choose to be one unit, you feel like a fragmented mess. Oh this must belong to my mom and this is clearly my dad. Nothing is your own. I did not have abuse, poverty, betrayal or neglect to weigh me down, so I burdened myself by what I could. I spent a decent amount of elementary school talking to the guidance counselor about divorce. I remember liking it but feeling no change from it. It was just something else I could attach myself to, something else that gave me character, gave me an edge. I have sadness too! I’m deep and rich in character, see? Do you see me? The desperation in me to prove something to myself and anyone who’d pay attention was so unbelievably ridiculous. Why didn’t anyone tell me that mastering memorization said nothing of who I was and certainly wasn’t reflective of the intelligence I thought I possessed. Neither was being an elite athlete, being skinny or “pretty”, being first in line, or even being president of the class. None of that bullshit matters. I was so disconnected from the goodness I am, the heart and its capacity, that my mediocre head took over and ran the show. I’ll take it from here, it said, let me show people how great I am. Now, I’d rather be good. Greatness is for crafty egos. Goodness is for intelligent hearts.

Since the age of 3 I was drawn to men. I had lots of little boyfriends in elementary school and junior high. High school hit, my ego developed rapidly, and my heart diminished in size, drastically. It was difficult to breathe. I spent a few years following others, popular girls, girls in my neighborhood, girls on sports teams, just trying to fit in, keep friends, maintain the ever interesting status quo. Then I experienced personal and school related challenges from the age of 12-15 and I said fuck this noise. No more giving a shit about fitting in. I’m standing out. People will know how I feel and where I stand from now on. Look out. I still derived my sense of self from my good grades, from being a strong athlete and basically nothing else. What else mattered? Then I began having crushes on unattainable men, teachers, older guys, guys with girlfriends, etc. That made it easy because I never had to really be vulnerable, never had to tamper with the unknown, I could just sit and think how mature I was and how no one got me except these men I couldn’t have. I watched other friends lose themselves completely in silly high school relationships, never to need their friends again. I never wanted to be that dependent, so I was caustically independent, a fucking hermit. The concept of balance clearly didn’t hit me until later. Neither did self-awareness. I made myself available to one guy, one. An idiot. An alcoholic. An unavailable, aloof, sexy, deep voiced, big lipped, lazy twat. I’m sure he’s fine now. I sincerely hope he’s happy. My disgust is with myself, in enjoying the melodrama that was the nothingness of our relationship. I got the monkey off my back, I should’ve just said thanks and waved goodbye to move on quickly to others, but instead I wallowed, I sheltered myself off even more and spent most of my college years lonely, slightly bitter and more engrossed in intellectual pursuits.

I’m approaching a decade since graduating high school. I was so underwhelmed and not inspired by those I went to school with, which I’m sure they echoed in their sentiments toward me, so I have no desire to go to my reunion. However, naturally it’s inspired some reflection. Only recently have I shed my guilty conscience. One I hardly earned. I didn’t even betray, kill or tell major lies. I simply did nothing. Loved no one. Welcomed no one in. I had some wonderful friends and I think they might speak up on my behalf. I wasn’t a total C, but I’d say the light behind my eyes didn’t show up til about 22. And even then I struggled to find my own sense of who I was and where I was going. Everything was easy growing up. I was so beyond fortunate. And the average challenge public schools provided instilled a false sense of confidence because decent grades were easy to come by. I felt a sinking, crushing doubt about myself as a worthy human being. What in the world did I truly have to offer? What was my voice? Sarcastic and clever? Where was the true intelligence and compassion? It left with my parent’s divorce, my sad excuse for a broken heart and with the guilt that I actually had no excuse at all. I was privileged, rewarded everyday for nearly nothing, loved for no reason other than being alive, and connected with opportunities just by virtue of being where I was and knowing those I did. I gave myself a chip on the shoulder and now I was tasked with sanding it down, dusting it off and putting it to work.

I’ll go to grad school, get a master's degree, that’ll prove something. I’ll go to law school. Everyone always said I’m skillfully argumentative and what a great financial living that would provide. I felt guilty for not wanting to do these things I was clearly inclined and primed to do. I wanted to run away, move to some small island and sell pineapple juice, expect nothing of myself and others and just be. Again, balance. One must locate their goodness and then pursue greatness, not the other way around. Goodness is inherent, innate, but it certainly can be covered by dust, muck, resentment and all the clever tricks of the egos trade. Like the sky left invisible by a thick layer of clouds, my goodness and essence was always there, just as with everyone else, I needed some rain to fall, some wind to blow and some sun to shine to have the courage for it to re-emerge. Falling in love with someone naturally good, who’d worked for every single dollar and every single achievement left me feeling more insecure. Why did he love me? Because I was cute, funny, Italian, smart? Hell if I knew. So I ran away with him to Italy, to travel, explore and search for what I’d already found and forgotten.

The pervasive theme and question plaguing my overactive mind was why am I so dissatisfied with who I am when everything I was born with and grew up with was so great? My body worked and my metabolism was good. So on the basic physical level, all was well. I nitpicked, hated my hair, my poo colored eyes, my thick thighs, long toes, small calves and any other number of nonsensical complaints I could render. Nonetheless the smarter side of me knew I was lucky and I was fine and to get the hell over any trivial nonsense. My mind worked fine, probably too well. My heart was largely ignored, my loins were fulfilled, my belly was always full, my arms often embraced in hugs. I was told I could be anything I wanted to be, encouraged to follow my passion, to do what I love, to relax and enjoy, but that made it worse. Agh, freedom to choose? Someone just tell me what to do and who to be and I’ll work to mold myself, I’ll consume myself with that task. I’ll make money and dress sharp and I’ll convince everyone and myself that I’m making something of myself. I never felt I adequately showed gratitude or achievements to make up for all the good that bestowed upon me before I earned it. This was no one’s fault but mine. I just didn’t know how to process out of it. Until I found Yoga.

My pursuit into teaching started as a love for challenging my body and a desire to do something that carried meaning. I see it in myself a few years back when I was a fresh, young teacher trying to encourage others to believe the same shit I was convincing myself to absorb. Yoga makes you deep and teaching Yoga is noble. I see it in many today, you can see when someone is pleased with themselves because it is a mirror to a look you’ve expressed yourself. Companies exploit this, showcase a false sense of sincerity, soul and goodness to pillage the pockets of consumers who want to believe the same thing. This is why I rebel and reject labels. The rush is so phony, the identity is so contrived, the message so disingenuous. I just aim to be comfortable, let the cloth be a small expression of uniqueness but not an identity, not a staunch loyalty, not a showcase of membership with an exclusive club. So through meeting some truly incredible, awe-inspiring people with tremendous goodness and greatness, I felt encouraged to find my own. First I felt terrified, of course, then slowly the clouds started to part and I could see and feel my own sky again, my essence, my goodness. My ego was still there, fighting very hard for survival, keeping me in a cycle of complaint, of discontent, of melodrama and inner turmoil, and why? Guilty conscience. I’m not doing enough. I’ve experienced such little tragedy, had so much good fortune and what have I shown for it? Vicious cycle.

So on my journey back from where I feel my heart belongs, Italy, after a short stop with long lessons and memories in New York City, I settled, for the time being, in Chicago. Finding my voice and place as a teacher and woman here continues to carry challenges, questions, issues. It’s mostly been beautiful. The summer of 2011 I turned 27, my brother moved in with us, a dear friend was in a terrible near-death accident and I embarked on a few travels around the states, both yoga and non-yoga related that shifted my evolution into high gear. After all this time and energy spent in discomfort, in guilt, in confusion, in discontent, I let go. All those damn philosophical books came falling down upon me and somewhere in there my ego began to die. It’s still there, of course. Not sure it ever completely dissolves, but the reminder is healthy and necessary. Instead of putting my mind to task trying so hard to locate my goodness, decipher if I had greatness and figure out where those two paths met; instead, I surrendered. I said fuck it.

I started writing and sharing my words. Not much changed, who I was and how that was expressed was the same. But my decisions weren’t based on the expectations of others, the impossible standards I placed on myself, or this crock pot of fear I’d spent so much energy stirring for most of my life. I began to accept all that frustrated me previously, not liking or following these previously unapproved paths, but respecting that they make work for others and their decisions should have no weight on mine. I enjoyed the things that previously defined me without attachment to them. Who I am in essence is far more important than who I'll ever be on paper.

I got nowhere withholding who I was from others or from sheltering myself from opportunities I deserved to seize. My life was a series of what-ifs that I never learned the answers to. We can’t white knuckle our way through life. Our past can only define us if we allow it, regardless how bad or how good it was, we can be whoever we wish to be now, and each day is an opportunity to improve and wash away the clouds from our skies. I am kind, generous, grateful, funny, loving, smart and hard-working. And I’d be willing to bet most human beings who get in their own way are as well. It’s about finding the courage and intelligence to acknowledge these positive facets, to let go of the mistakes, guilt, bitterness and hesitation and just commit everyday to enjoying all that you are. Life is riddled with flaws, rejection, hurt, despair, tragedy and any concoction of negativity you can conjure up in your imagination. Accepting that the spectrum of experiences in life is bound to affect you throughout the journey will free you from deriving your happiness from it. You are enough already. I am enough. It isn’t about impressing others, staking a claim, being the best or having the most. It’s about feeling grateful to be alive each day, having the guts to stop listening to your conditioned thoughts and instead be aware of the infinite wisdom residing in your heart, and to simply try what you wish to try, go where you wish to go, and living how you wish you live so you can glance back briefly at the end knowing there were no what-ifs that dragged you down and kept you from living your life fully.

It is my intention to feel grateful everyday for the amazing family I was born into, the friends I’ve acquired, the healthy body nature gave me, and to use my mind to better my experience and not diminish my potential. Each day, regardless if the events were good or bad, I’ll always come back to appreciation for my goodness, for the life that I am. Armed with this, I’ll be brave enough to pursue greatness and share this truth with others, so they can better live in their own definitions of happiness, having all been freed from the imprisonment that is fear, guilt and negativity. I am Never Not Hungry, here, now.

Never Not Hungry 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.