Anxiety is a Bitch: The Video Blog (Vlog thing)

Watch the video here: Anxiety is a Bitch and/or read the short piece below!

Recently I shared a piece co-written with a friend, yoga teacher, and recovering sufferer of anxiety on how to overcome these very human challenges and issues. I’ve realized the more people I connect with and teach that we all learn differently. And just because reading and writing is my preferred mechanism to learn, it’s not necessarily yours or someone else's.

So, once a week I’ll be sharing a short video for those who resonate with visuals, with listening, over reading a lengthy piece. I’ll introduce the topic and share a short blog piece for those who still enjoy reading (and I thank you for it!) but this focus will be specific for those who’d prefer to watch a video over reading an article.

Anxiety is a bitch. Human beings experience a wide variety of symptoms that fall along a spectrum. The advice I’ll share and reiterate from our lengthier piece will speak to those of us who fall along the mild to strong experiences of anxiety, stress, and depression. For those who experience consistent extremes, symptoms of which these tools unfortunately have no positive influence in helping, I advise you to connect with a physician, therapist or professional highly trained in this field.

I write from the perspective of one who’s had numerous and consistent experiences with anxiety, with discontent, with worry and dread, as one who delved deep into the study of Psychology before I began my career as a Yoga teacher and freelance writer. I write as a fellow human floating along the river of struggle, hoping to help anyone I can. If it resonates, great, take it and use what you will. If it doesn’t, simply throw it away. I share from love.

In a nutshell, Leeann Hepler and my advice surrounded the following life tools:

Breath- hugely important. Watch your breath when your mood, attitude and energy levels turns to shit. When someone or something thrusts a negative experience into your day, notice how your breath can help you endure and move through so the soiled emotions don’t ruin the rest of your day. Taking life one breath at a time feels much more manageable and keeps the body in harmony and the mind in perspective. Slow down your breath.

Connect with real people and animals- By real people I am referring to a social life beyond social media. Facebook is great but we’ve all seen the multiple studies detailing how social media actual makes people feel less connected, less social, more depressed, more isolated. I don’t need a lot of people. I’m truly happy with 1 or 2 true friends, those who know the good, bad and ugly truth of me and accept me all the same. Those who will hug me for a long time, trust me enough to cry with me and are trustworthy enough that I can cry with them. If they’re no available, my animals fill that void nicely. Unconditional love, coupled with hugs, are excellent medicine. Good, positive, elevating beings are key. Less negative Nellys.

Take care of you- I don’t care about counting or burning calories. The body is a machine, it’s designed to move and work, so we have to work it. Move your body in a way you love. Don’t force yourself into a gym if you hate it, you’ll never keep it up. Walk, hike, dance, do Yoga, jump rope, swim, whatever your little heart desires. Drink water, lots of it! Eat vegetables and more whole foods than processed foods. It’s astounding how what we eat affects how we feel, not just physically but mentally as well. Listen to what makes you feel energized, optimistic and healthy and try to take in more of it. And give yourself time to do something silly, something you really love, that makes you feel creative and authentic and pulls you out of “doing” and takes you deeper into “being.”

Create a mantra or motto or life phrase- A good Yoga teacher (hello!) can work with you and find a great one that’s unique to you. I also happen to believe we’re all our best teachers and after spending some time getting to know yourself better, what makes you feel more balanced and at peace and just plain sane. Sometimes we want to feel sad, some great clarity and creativity can emerge from feeling melancholy. But we need not swim in those self destructive emotions for too long. They won’t serve us in the long term so just enjoy them in the short term, give yourself a day. When you’re angry, sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, worried, etc., come up with a mantra that, along with your breath, brings you back to your own version of square 1. Yogis love So Ham, I Am, and so do I. If you tend to spin a web of crazy hypothetical scenarios that your mind constructs on its own evil devices, use a mantra like I Am Fine, I Am Alive, I Am Enough. It doesn’t have carry the words I Am, those are just good examples to go from.

Hope the words and/or video resonates and maybe helps you. Simple, everyday stuff we can all do. If you have questions, insights of your own, please feel invited to engage in a dialogue. Message me via social media (Dani Eats Life on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or email

Birds Sing & Humans Dream

Birds sing wildly in the trees while we sleep

Animals surrounding our love nest

And only we understand why we weep

Because beings other than humans just know they belong

But how can we somehow sing the same song

Croon the sounds of joy and burst with radiant being

Knowing, believing

I succumb to my nature with my love by my side

His smell, his skin, welcoming me home

I am not alone

With thoughts, with fears, or anything human

In intimacy, all definitions clear

We are but one being sharing breath

Safe to build our tribe and love out loud together


While sleeping to the soundtrack of a birdsong we belong

So we must never forget

This is always there

No matter where

Or when

It exists within

That harmonious feeling you see Is merely a reflection of you back to me

We shine life into each other's eyes

Reverberate love to the infinite skies

The birds watch from above

The earth encourages from below

Let's go

And keep going



Sing, dance, express

Live like we're dying

Worry not, sweet human

This is not a test

It's life

Your life

You are life

So quit the strife

And decide

To be Free

Live and love wildly

Satisfy yourself

And be kind

Keep flowin

There is no rewind

So find

Your meaning

Your purpose to be

You deserve love, and life

No more

No less

Than me


Overcoming Anxiety

photo If there’s one psychological experience that jars most humans in some form, it is recurring bouts of anxiety. We can all relate to the uneasy, nervous feelings that often go along with a future unknown. Despite differences in age, race, background, religious and political ideology, income level, or sexual orientation, feeling worry and tension over what’s to come is actually something that connects us all.

The intensity of the experience lies within the individual but it is imperative to strike an honest, open dialogue free from any judgment or shame. Sure, the negativity manifests differently in us all, but that doesn’t mean our sharing in what brings or exacerbates our anxiety and how we’ve managed to learn from it won’t benefit others. The more we collaborate in tackling these basic human challenges, the less power they have over us and the more likely we are to overcome them.

It is precisely within that dialogue where I found inspiration to write this piece. I wanted to write it with someone from a very different background, with her own unique challenges with anxiety, but one who I feel deeply connected with on this path. Our journey coming together was vastly different but the truths and insights we’ve gleaned are so similar and connected, we know they can help others.

Leeann is Yoga student, recently became a certified teacher, finishing her last year of college. After undergoing a particularly challenging divorce as a child, being an anxious teenager, along with the pressures of being a dancer contributed to deeply personal issues with control. The converging issues in her mind had nearly cataclysmic consequences on her body, after years of digging deep and undergoing significant amounts of pain (both physical and emotional), Leeann has emerged into one of the wisest, most compassionate, open and tremendously helpful human beings I know.

We’ve come together to share tools that have helped us manage our anxiety. Are we cured? Finished? Complete? No. We are each ever-evolving works in progress, but what we understand now is we don’t have to be complete or perfect to know we are whole, to know we are enough, to start the day with gratitude and withstand whatever highs and lows the outside world throws at us.

We recognize now how important our inner dialogue is and how deeply, profoundly connected the mind and body are and always will be. We share a bit of our personal experiences and then our most helpful tools. You will notice similarities and common truths, but we each carry a different echo. We hope you resonate with either of our words and will feel encouraged to start your own dialogue.

My experience with anxiety began very young. I’d lay awake just stewing at night, from the early ages of 7-8-9 I’d have trouble sleeping due to an over-active imagination. Sometimes this creativity can be fun, exhilarating even, but when the initial experiences of sadness, tragedy and heartache set in, the imagination is then led down a winding road of misery, and the very thought of those experiences repeating themselves would send my heart and gut into a tailspin of fear. The fear would build and I’d get sick, whether it be vomiting, aches and tension in my body, or even symptoms of the common cold, they all began and grew from an idea.

Making matters worse, I constantly felt guilt for those I knew who had circumstances much worse than mine. I felt gratitude for the good I had, the loving people in my life, but for some reason the noise of the good couldn’t overpower the constant chatter of the bad. I was trapped in a device of my own making and I didn’t even see it! I still had my happy days, of course, but inside, the unknown future kept me feeling a sense of dread. I feared I’d disappoint the world and that the world would ultimately disappoint me.

I’d yet to realize what power I held, what tools I had in my disposal, and the total lack of awareness that kept me perpetuating these vicious cycles. To borrow a line from Perks of Being a Wallflower, I felt happy and sad at the same time without knowing why. I felt sad, confused, unsure of anything. As soon as I’d strike out batting, I’d fear going back up to the plate, literally and figuratively. I let what-ifs takeover and it wasn’t until I began practicing Yoga consistently, deciding to become a teacher and delving into the wisdom of Eckhart Tolle, Joseph Campbell, Osho and others, that I woke the hell up and saw the misery I was repeatedly inflicting upon myself.

Below are some tools that have seen me through tough times and continue to see me through tough days:

-Disassociating from thoughts: We all talk to ourselves, internally or out-loud, there’s a dialogue within one mind. Recognize yourself as the witness, not simply the thinker. You are not your thoughts. How could you be something so small, so fleeting? You are the conscious presence behind them.

I borrow and echo this wisdom through Eckhart Tolle. I’ve been practicing staying aware of my mind-chatter and over the years it has become much, much easier. Set an intention to watch your thoughts, either through meditation, journaling, Yoga, setting an alarm a few times a day to check in and just observe, or whatever method works for you. Practice is key.

-Breathing through during the worst days: the greatest gift Yoga gave me was a stronger attention to my breath. When I’m anxious, worried, scared, stewing, my breath is short, labored, tense. My body is too. When I’m breathing, everything softens. Suddenly, I listen more acutely, I watch more intently, I’m more present. Combine watching your thoughts with slow breaths and you’ll see your mood transform within minutes.

-Movement/exercise/yoga: I do not count calories or exercise for weight loss benefits. I move because it feels good, it improves my attitude, keeps me energized and friendly. It also keeps metabolism ticking, my heart in great shape and muscles active. Win win. I always encourage students and loved ones to find movement they enjoy, be it walking, Yoga, dance, Pilates, gardening, hiking, responsible weight lifting, moderate running, playing with your dogs or children, frisbee, I could go on. Your body is a machine. It needs and wants to move. Use it or lose it.

-Being with others: I hold no specific religion or ideology in my heart. I feel we are born to love. Often specific regimens within spirituality are gateways to this experience. Sometimes they’re stifling. If yours opens you up, elevates you, makes you feel more love and respect for yourself and others, keep on keepin’ on. I have found my relationships with students, deep friendships and fostering stronger relationships with long-term loved ones to be an excellent religion and moral compass.

I don’t believe in holding onto bad relationships, whether family or otherwise. That is within your heart to decide who to keep close and who to wish well but send on their path. People say relationships, marriage in particular, are work. I disagree. It shouldn’t feel like work. Love yourself first, rely on that as your priority, your number one sense of confidence comes from within. Love is a reflective experience. Choose loved ones who elevate you. Period. Laugh, dance, walk, cry, exchange ideas and experiences with the same goodness you give.

-Give fear the middle finger: Confronting what it is that scares you proves the worst case scenario lies in your mind. Most things we talk ourselves out of will not even come close to killing us. It may hurt our feelings but there are valuable lessons within rejection and failure. Knowing what you can withstand will only make you stronger and more fearless, willing to try, willing to truly take steps toward your big dreams.

Recognize that what scares you is also what excites you, see the positive emotion over the negative what-ifs. Follow the excitement, believe in your ability to handle the inevitable ups and downs.

From Leeann: As a person who started Paxil at the age of 13, “anxiety” is a word that has resonated with me for many years. I spent my adolescence in and out of therapy and on and off of medications, never thinking twice about the fact that these weren’t permanent fixes. I would stay up all night checking my doors to make sure that they were locked and practicing superstitious rituals that I thought would keep my family and me safe.

I was scared to apply for jobs, meet new people and talk in class. It wasn’t until I started taking my yoga practice seriously and letting it penetrate my every day life that I was able to get off the medication and start dealing with my anxiety in a more direct way. This is a constant process and the lessons I learn on and off my mat help me to get through even the toughest days with anxiety. I know now that my anxiety doesn’t get to dictate my life and by taking baby steps, I am able to live more freely and open than ever before.

My journey with anxiety has given me the opportunity to experiment with different tricks and techniques to help me calm down and let go.

Inhale and Exhale- I find that whenever I am feeling anxious, my breath is the first thing that goes. Recognizing that and being able to slow down your breath can make a huge difference. It sounds almost too simple, but after about five deep and steady breaths, I always feel some relief. It helps if I count my inhales and exhales and make the numbers match. That way I give my body a chance to gain back control.

- Connections- Yoga has also brought me some amazing friends that have had a significant impact on how anxiety affects me. The people in my yoga community are open and loving humans who understand the depth of the mind-body connection, which is key in understanding anxiety. They’re helpful because they’re always encouraging me to stay out of my head. They serve as a distraction from my anxiety if I need it, or as listening ears if I want to talk about it. Surrounding yourself with loving, open people can keep you present and in the moment, rather than worrying about the future or the past.

- Leaning into fears- I have many small, trivial fears that come along with the bigger, more serious fears that can send me into a panic attack. I am learning that in some unconscious way, these fears are connected. While I can’t practice whether or not I will get a job when I graduate, or if I will be able to handle moving to a new city on my own, I found that I can practice fears that are on a smaller scale.

I recently bought a bike and started riding it in Chicago. I hesitated and was terrified to take this step as I came very close to losing a person dear to me in a bike accident two years ago. I always knew biking would be the most efficient way to get around the city, but I was consumed by the potential negatives. Thinking about getting on a bike in this fast-paced city gave me a knot in my stomach and triggered a sequence of dark and scary thoughts. Once I realized how little living in fear was doing for me, I decided to try taking baby-steps toward practicing courage and facing my fears head on. Since I began riding, I’ve noticed that I’m able to handle some of my more irrational fears that usually extract an anxious reaction.

By getting on my bike, I was practicing the act of freeing myself from constant worry and fear. I showed myself that my anxiety does not have to control me. Most of our fears are related to things completely out of our control, so by practicing facing fears that are in our control, we are learning to face and overcome. This could mean anything from riding a roller coaster to traveling to a new country on your own to telling someone a truth you’ve yet to reveal. It doesn’t matter so long as you’re giving yourself a brief moment where you’re letting go.

-Living Yoga off the mat- take your favorite quotes, memes, philosophies and lessons into the world, implement them on your bad days, not simply agreeing with them when times are easy.

None of these tools provide easy solutions. There isn’t an on and off button. They’re choices, tough choices to make in the midst of anxiety, but tremendously helpful in easing the intensity and moving through it. Applying the principles in everyday life, regardless of outside circumstances, will help keep a strong, calm presence within. Keep the dialogue moving. We can encourage each other through this.

Leeann Hepler works for a fantastic organization called Smarty Pants Yoga. Their goals surround empowering young girls through Yoga, teaching the real meaning of confidence, self love, strength, intelligence, and happiness. They're doing great work, you should check them out.

I continue to teach Yoga and write in the Los Angeles area. I teach private, couple, group and workplace Yoga, along with meditations, guided relaxation, and psychological coaching on building your own sense of health and happiness. Please feel invited to email me at for any questions and needs.

Letting Go of Being Let Go

IMG_0628 There’s a festering ball of assholey nerves combusting in my gut. I’m working to keep it contained, drained even, but it fucking lingers like the plague. I am feeling mostly positive, actually happy I don’t have a boss anymore (I dig my autonomy big time.), a place to be 50 hours a week, 2 hours of traffic to endure to get to this uninspiring place where dreams go to die. But I am still daunted, still unsure, still sick at the thought of growing a child while being under-employed.

I accept these are my circumstances and that they are not permanent. I do. But I wrangle with the impermanence all the same. What direction to move next? What to do? Where to go? Who to connect with? And all I really want to do is nap and eat bread with lots of butter (don’t judge me, that’s what the baby wants!). I feel guilty for being happy I don’t have to return to that wretched job, with people I enjoyed, but a space I did not. I feel embarrassed I was fired, my ego is screaming in anger. My heart is pounding in delight. My mind just keeps saying ‘FUCK.’

Should I feel guilty that a major part of my being now feels free? I feel unchained, bound to nothing, obliged to no one, left to be judged by only one harsh critic: ME. Is that bad? No, it just is. I can’t change it. My doubts going in are proving as truths coming out. Ain’t hindsight a bitch. And ain’t intuition brilliant? And ain’t my mind and my pesky little ego and its need for external satisfaction a bunch of idiots in cahoots?

It’s easy to bark, I didn’t like you that much anyway! once someone broke your heart, but seeing they were no good for you at the get go, now that intelligence takes some honing. The mind is so crafty, the ego so convincing. You need this, it says. Your parents will be so proud, it purports. How much longer must you live paycheck to paycheck, it annoyingly questions.

The point is it’s easy to cry I knew it once someone’s pulled the plug before I could. But I didn’t know it. And that might bother me most of all, the fact that I’d leave whatever keen intuition I thought I’d built over years of introspection, yoga, meditation. Years of discontent, doubt, criticism. I’d found such peace in Chicago, I’d stopped worrying whether I was in the right place because I felt like I was.

But transition helps you take 3 steps backward and get to know the real you again. And I learned there’s still that little asshole inside of me that feels incomplete, unsuccessful and ultimately, unworthy. I loathe pragmatism and yet I chose it at the drop of a hat. I wasn’t looking for it, but it still found me. The universe found yet another way to test me.

I’m listening. I see. I promise.

So what am I supposed to learn from this? I am a crummy project manager? I should’ve listened to those semi-ripened instincts? Income doesn’t predicate success? Don’t quit your day job? All of the above? Believe me, I feel it all. I’ve usually reflected on myself with bird shit covered glasses, failures make me simultaneously feel right and wrong. I’m often quite mean to myself. And I’m still working on it. Obviously.

I feel humbled, to say the least. And I’m not sure how to wisely move forward. My head throbs from berating myself and my eyes burn from wasted tears. Who the fuck am I? Thought I’d had a fraction of my recipe figured out, but I’m still just a mess of ingredients with no clue how to assemble into a functional piece that makes sense.

I know there are lessons to be learned, wisdom to be gleaned, a window to be opened from this slammed door. Or at least cracked. A cracked window that I can nudge and hopefully squeeze me and my pregnant belly through. But in truth, I am baffled by the task of starting over, yet again, of hitting rewind and pushing play in a now different movie.

I can’t help the thoughts that I disappointed by family, let down my loved ones, even though they’d smack me for feeling that way (not really, they’d roll their eyes and say shut the hell up and move on, you got this shit!). I know the fear is a projection of what I feel inside, but it’s there nonetheless. The lessons of my favorite writers and teachers are echoing in my mind. The memes we all love to share reverberating truths into my pounding skull.

I must practice acceptance, embrace surrender. I must take responsibility and own my contribution so I emerge better and smarter from my failures, rather than bitter and befuddled. I’m not angry at anyone else but myself. And I shouldn’t be angry. I tried. I gave it my best, I can sincerely say that. So fuck it, I didn’t like it anyway. Money schmoney.

This release is a relief, a gift, a pink slip to freedom. I’ve been returned to a world I should have never left. In the 5.5 years I spent teaching, I never doubted my place, didn’t question my purpose. I knew I was right where I was supposed to be. I never had less money but felt more abundant. I felt I was helping people while helping myself.

Who cares if I had to shake things up and move to a completely new place? Who cares if I’m now with child and my husband is in what feels like an endlessly expensive and time sucking stint in grad school? We’ve endured worse in our 9 years. For some reason, staring at the precipice of 30, with dreams of a family and home in my future, allowed me to let logic and societal norms brainwash me again.

There is something for everyone, a job that can fulfill many, but my job rests in sharing what I know and love with others. And I’m good at it, not afraid or hesitant to admit it anymore. There are many amazing people who also share what I do. They make me better, they uplift my spirits, they're brilliance doesn't make me any less of what I am.

Feedback from students has always been good, why would I question it? Fear. Fear of how to build success without selling out or selling my soul. Fear of trusting my way and my unique path. I’d forgotten the advice I’d so often given: Your path is un-carved, trust yourself to make your way. I simply need to focus on being a great teacher for my wonderful students. I don’t need to be anyone but me, follow any path but mine, adhere to anyone’s code but my own.

I just need to teach. And teach well. And love hard. And hug tight. Who cares about the beauty of a handstand? I’m more interested in sharing insights on living with ease. The handstands will come, let’s try for happy and sane first. I know I must practice what I preach and accept all flaws and failures before I can truly see beauty and success.

Time to nut up or shut up. Nothing more motivating than having no choice to be exactly who you fucking are. And I’m ready. Things often get hard before they get good. I know life ain’t all sunshine and rainbows all the time. I wouldn’t want it to be. This little bitter end adds to the spice of my life, adds to my quirky little recipe. I’m becoming quite the flavorful dish.

Please stay connected and think of me if you need a qualified and passionate Restorative and Yoga teacher, creative nonfiction writer or web content creator, a Yoga Hike guide, or just a nice boost! You can find me at Dani Eats Life on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Please also feel welcome to email!

You Don’t Need A Guru. YOU Are Your Best Guide.

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 12.40.35 PM The very concept of this article can lead me to shooting myself in the foot. I’m a Yoga teacher. And writer. Naturally, my hope is students and readers will resonate with me, and want to stay connected into the foreseeable future. And while I feel my words and actions may be worthy of following, I in no way see my philosophy as the be all, end all, to be followed mercilessly, strictly, to the fucking T!

So, yes, I say and write fuck. Often. My apologies. What I’ve found through years of self doubt, anxiety, and unease over the unknown, is the truth that no other path should resemble my own. No other human being’s moral code and life philosophy should be a mirror image of mine. Why would I want to copy when I have a heart and mind intelligent enough to decipher through the bullshit and keep the good shit?

That’s precisely what I tell my students, take whatever I say that resonates and throw the rest away. Needing someone to follow me and believe so strongly in my personal philosophy is simply my ego’s desire, a fool’s errand. What I and many fantastic teachers and leaders around the globe can do is help you hone your intuition more, challenge you to tune in and listen to the quiet intelligence within.

There’s an obscene amount of noise out there. Have you noticed? There are books, studies, articles, and oodles of research to support pretty much any theory imaginable. Should we adopt a vegetarian diet? Veganism? Gluten free? Paleo? There are mountains of data to support all of these options. Mountains! No one knows what it’s like to fuel your body. Consult a doctor, sure, experts you respect and admire, but mostly, tune in, feel, experience, learn, and you will make the smartest decision for yourself.

Within the Yoga community there are a thousand schools of thought on everything from how often you should practice, exactly what type of yoga you should take, who you should study with, what you should wear, what you should eat before and after, how to properly align in foundational poses, whether you should practice in the heat or not, etc.

It’s a headache. Many teachers I respect have adopted philosophies and strategies that differ greatly from mine. Who cares? I still learn a hell of a lot from them. I take what resonates and I throw away the rest.

Putting it bluntly, those who tell you with black and white certainty you HAVE to do something or you can NEVER do something else, are know-it-all jerks. Who likes being brow beat into an opinion anyway? But what we get inundated with these days are clever sharks disguised as sweethearts. We pay thousands of dollars and walk on hot coals, for what? Something we could have gleaned from 30-45 minutes of reading on our own.

This is not to say you should start diagnosing yourself, prescribing your own remedies, taking care of your own legal work, practicing Yoga however the fuck you want, adopting your own financial and tax philosophies, eating McDonald’s because it just “feels right,” etc. Spend time with people you admire, allow the expertise of others (like me, I’m awesome, and so are you!) to fill you with more knowledge, insight, and joy, but at the end of the day, you are your own guru!

There is no need to “worship” and cling to every word and move someone you admire makes. Appreciate them, respect them, get inspired by them, support them (yes, we need support!), but merely spend more time plowing the fields of your unique existence rather than following someone else’s. Find teachers and mentors that foster more love and interest in who you are, allow them to spark your creative juices without actually being your creative outlet.

It’s not about dismissing or dissing another, quite the contrary. The more love you feel for yourself, the more you hold for others. They go hand in hand. So rather than belonging to an exclusive club or buying into some niche way of thinking, you understand the inherent truth that opinions and philosophies are like assholes: everybody’s got em. You can respect the paths of others while choosing kindly to walk your own. And you deserve just that, do you not?

We live once. Be your weird ass self.

Just F*cking Be, Idiot.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 3.55.37 PM It's been an interesting few months. I started a new job, one I really like thus far, particularly because of the kind and fun-loving souls I work with, and the company I represent. I'm paid vastly more than anything I was able to earn in the past 5.5 years teaching Yoga. I have health care. I have benefits, people.

Why am I still plagued by incessant doubt? Why does my psyche love dissatisfaction? Why does it constantly crave something else? NO(thing) specific, just something ELSE. Why? It is a fundamental part of my encoding that I must grapple with my decisions, question myself unyieldingly, and never stop feeling like I'm somehow failing myself and others on a regular basis.

I'm still teaching, which was very important to me. So I still get to work out this shit with my students, leveling with them as I attempt to soothe them into stillness. But I'm still grappling with constant contradictions in my mind. I want more quiet. I want more privacy. I want more simplicity. I want more structure. More consistency. More security. And on the other hand I want more friends. More students. More readers. More unique opportunities. More travel. More validation.

Why I can't have both in this new world is beyond me.

But I can't help but feel I'm giving up something and I keep fearing that I'm giving up on myself. But why? A beautiful opportunity knocks on my door, one that hundreds of people have vied for and so many would accept without question, and I'm so excited and grateful in one breath, but unsure on the other. Sure, every decision has an opportunity cost. Basic economics taught us that. What's funny and ironic is I got exactly what I felt I needed and wanted and yet now I'm concerned by exactly that.

As a teenager I wanted to host my own TV show, like Oprah or Rosie or Ellen or some other awesome lesbian we all love. But I entered college and began studying Radio/Television and hated it. I thought, 'I can't possibly waste years, possibly decades of my life to only possibly be the girl standing in the middle of a hurricane, wishing I was spouting nonsense and giving away free shit to an audience full of moms and aunts."

And I still have this strange, gnawing desire. I know my personality is unique and I know my voice is strong. I've grown into a much softer, more self aware, brutally honest albeit somewhat eloquent adult. I want to share what I love with others. Why can't I share my strengths with my community without needing notoriety and attention to follow? Why can't I feel successful in having a great job with a fantastic company while still being a loving and devoted teacher?

Is it LA? Nope, it's me. There are so many aspects of the Yoga "industry" that I do not resonate with, so it doesn't even make sense for me to pursue big mainstream success via that avenue anyway. And Yoga is what grounds me. It should not serve as my "platform" which will only serve my ego. I am so proud of how Yoga has educated me, of the people it's connected me to, and of how my body has transformed because of it. That's all it needs to be. Period.

I'm airing this shit out here because I've had writer's block for months. I want to write but can't. I make excuses because of time. Because of exhaustion. Because of priorities. But truthfully I'm scared to expose my true, honest, raw self, the beautiful and the ugly. This may surprise many given the subject matter of many of my posts, given my hyper self-deprecating nature and my affinity for discontent. But nonetheless I feel compelled to express this because I know releasing it will help diminish its power within me. And it will help restore the power where it belongs, inside my heart.

And I need that genuine power right now. I want to keep kicking ass at my new job and keep caring for my students through Yoga. I still have eons to go, to move, to grow, so much to learn, innumerable ways to expand. And somehow I keep forgetting I'm twenty fucking nine! Not 80. Not dying, thankfully. Not diseased. Not so advanced in age that I should have it ALL figured out. But even since my youth I've placed the unfair expectation on myself that I should. I am beyond fucking blessed, in every way imaginable. Loving and supportive family. Superb friends. Delicious and wise husband. The cutest animals. A warm home. Healthy food. Clean water.

I need to just shut the fuck up. Nut up. Do my best. Be grateful for the insurmountable good I've received and ride the wave of life. It's been a beautifully unpredictable journey so far. Why not see where this new direction takes me? I need to cultivate a deeper inside rather than a more colorful outside. I've experienced so much, achieved a fare amount of good, traveled a ton, been broken hearted, insanely in love, and so much in between.

Santosha is my practice, I Am is my mantra. I shall accept myself fully, remind myself of all I am beyond my descriptions, definitions, accolades and characteristics. I've yet to fully succumb to the lessons bestowed through practice and truly practice what I teach. So my practice moving forward is to do just that. Be. Here. Now. Accept all I am and all I am not. Open to all that is yet to arrive without a need to predict or assume.

Transitions always lead to questions and confusion and uncertainty and worry. And perspective always arrives in unforeseen ways and in unexpected packages. I need to just fucking be. Just fucking be, idiot. Just be.

Small Change, Big Hearts. Three Yogis Return to Haiti.

Most yogis are gnawed by nature to explore. We feel compelled to take steps, even leaps, into the unknown, just to see what we’re made of. We flip upside down, methodically, with fully focused breath, attempting to tangle and untangle our legs, spines, guts, not knowing where we’ll land, just steeped with desire to discover something new. We’re a compassionate bunch too. Especially the two women I went to Haiti with this year. They’re equal parts kindness and sincerity coupled with knowledge and strength. They will listen intently to your stories, understand your plights, and use every emotional tool in their arsenal to support you through highs and lows. They are the essence of humanity, they wish only for good, and you feel that deep within your bones. They make me better.

Yogis Can Help Haiti 2

Veronica Rottman, Diana Oppenheim and I continued the effort we started last year: teaching Yoga to oncology patients and staff at Partners in Health in Mirebalais (Cange, last year), Haiti. This year, we expanded that project. All three of us spent the better part of a year teaching fundraising classes and workshops, hosting events, and spreading awareness about Yogis Can Help, our philanthropic effort to spread Yoga to those underserved. Haiti is our passion project, after a successful and rewarding first trip, we were all extremely jazzed to return and build upon the foundation we laid down.

There were nerves in planning the trip back. We had no Jessie Stoop this year, our angel oncology nurse who was pivotal in making our first trip happen, let alone making it joyous, informative and exceedingly fun. No Jesse. No Cange. No clue what to expect, just like the first year. We knew we had to strap in and adapt, be ready for anything. The beauty of most travel experiences arrives through the unpredictability, the surprises. We were in for it and couldn’t wait.

Veronica got busy learning Creole from an amazing student of hers, Paul Karner, a man who’d spent much of his childhood visiting Haiti, and has since established a nonprofit in Jacmel recording Haitian musicians. Not only did he teach Veronica how to teach Yoga in Creole, he connected us with his friend, Alland, arranged for safe transport from Port au Prince to Jacmel and back, paid a local Haitian woman, Dede, in Jacmel to cook for us, ensured we had a Haitian phone and stayed in constant communication with us throughout our trip. He is, and was, a godsend.

From the Jacmel Music School


For some reason Diana and I each decided to leave Chicago (for men, of course, and we only sort of regret it), so in the midst of transition, we stayed organized with each other, Veronica communicating with our beloved social worker, Oldine, along with the elegant and lovely, Lazenya, to nail down the logistics of our return trip. As V and I finished up a few fundraisers at our home studios, Diana worked tirelessly on a stellar teacher training manual for the few Haitian locals we’d be leading this time around.

We learned our mat and equipment donations were nowhere to be found this year so we collected what we could, packed our bags, gathered a slew of snack foods and embarked on our second trip to the Caribbean. V couldn’t wait to be warm again. We all couldn’t wait to be together, to share what we love with such deserving people, and to do what we love together. It is a gift to collaborate with such intelligent and thoughtful people. I cannot imagine a better learning and loving experience than that.

Veronica and I arrived first. It felt nice to commemorate our first trip together by teaching our patients (some who’d returned from the previous year) again. We both felt even more at ease this time around, something about the familiarity of Haiti, these kind and resilient people made us feel right at home. And again, they were so grateful and receptive to Yoga. They breathed like they were taking in nectar, transitioned from pose to pose with presence and a keen sense of humor. Five minutes in and we were reminded exactly why we could not wait to come back.

Diana joined us later that evening for our first staff class. It’s an incredible juxtaposition teaching patients in Creole and staff in English. The energy is vastly different but the thread-lines are the same. The personnel in Marebalais work so hard, often without breaks, and despite them being in the medical and health profession, they spend so much energy taking care of others that they frequently forget about themselves. So to provide an opportunity where they can put themselves on the list, move their bodies in a way that feels soothing, invigorating, relaxing, and even playful, breathe in a way that’s therapeutic, and be responsible for nothing but their own bliss, was a tremendous gift to give.

From the first day on, patients and staff were game. And that felt so good, to help people feel better than they did before. The three of us collaborated really well, each of our personalities and skill-sets complimenting the other’s. It became increasingly more fun and natural to teach in Creole, so much so that switching back to English felt odd. What a massage for the brain and heart, sharing our passions with a new culture of people, in their environment and in their language. It was such a pure exchange. I felt nothing but love.



We were amped to discover we had 5 teacher trainees that we’d spend a few hours a day teaching between our patient and staff classes. The social work goddess that is Oldine was one of our shining students, amongst the sweet and young, Monise, the father and husband, Petie, friend and PiH staffer, Viarjella, and handsome Latin dancer, Sam. We discovered quickly the unique challenge of not only leading a condensed Yoga teacher training in one week to those who speak another language, but the all encompassing task of teaching them Yoga in general.


Words cannot express, they can only cheapen and minimize how rewarding that week was in the northern mountains of Haiti. Each class with the patients got progressively better, more fluid, more playful, more loving. Same can be said for the staff classes, which we ended epically, on a rooftop overlooking sunset, with three adorable kiddos added to our student mix. But somehow even that didn’t compare to the teacher training experience.




Each day we returned to our ward to find Petie reading over his manual and often practice teaching with Oldine. We were so pleasantly surprised how game they each were to get up and practice teach from even the first day. Oldine’s personality, her superb language skills, and her graceful body showcased her natural teaching talents. Sam had exquisite body awareness and a cheeky eye, even in Creole we could tell when he was being funny. What really uplifted us and brought out the proud momma tears were Monise and Petie.

Monise is young, 22 at most, tall, narrow, stylish, big white smile, stunning dark skin. She’s soft spoken, much of our encouragement involved owning her voice and natural talents, which improved exponentially as the days went on. Through our friends in the staff, Megan, Jonah, Jo and many others, we learned Monise’s life had been difficult to say the least. To have even this small opportunity to learn with us made Monise beam from ear to ear, head to toe, she was a beautiful bright light.


Toward the end of the week Monise assisted, on her own volition, our patient classes. With confidence and grace she lovingly placed her hands on their bodies and guided them into better alignment, supported them in deeper breaths. Hugging Monise goodbye was very difficult, I didn’t want that joy in her eyes to go away. All we can hope is Yoga has inspired her to find solace in everyday living, in helping others, in the simplicity of being.

Petie is a social worker in Mirebalais as well, in his 40’s, very strong, buff even, with puppy dog eyes and a very sincere smile. While in Haiti we learn to relax and go with Haitian time. That means if class starts at 10, don’t expect to truly start until 1030. Let people matriculate in as they can. It’s the perfect setting for Yoga where we attempt to embrace timelessness and dissolve into the moment. Petie somehow was very aware of time, showing up early for training each day, asking questions and reviewing what we’d already learned. Him and Monise were certainly most improved and we, as their teachers, are thrilled to hear how they progress in the future.



After a tearful goodbye to the beauties in Mirebalais, we then journeyed back down to Port au Prince to meet Alland for a ride to Jacmel. We’d visited Jacmel the year prior, although the experience was very sheltered, almost specifically designed for 1st world westerners to feel safe and comfortable. We were grateful for the experience, of course, and Jacmel is exquisitely beautiful, but we certainly didn’t experience the same “slice of life” normalcy as we did staying in and exploring Port au Prince and Cange.

This year was very nearly the opposite. We got the eye-opening, challenging life experience we didn’t even realize we needed as we stayed three days in home right smack in the middle of Jacmel. It was humbling. Heartbreaking. Difficult. We are not high maintenance women. It doesn’t take much to please us. We love camping, relish showering in bodies of natural water, and have no qualms about squatting to do our business. But this was more than that.



We were confronted with the true reality of how 92% of Haitians live, day in and day out, in dilapidated structures with no real protection from the elements. It is exceedingly hot, incredibly loud, and unclean to a worrisome level. What’s worse, the situation for an even bigger population of Haitians in Port au Prince is even more dire. Most are still stuck in tents, surrounded by garbage (a governmental issue), unclean water, and thousands upon thousands of people.

We felt uncomfortable but, more than that, we felt guilty as hell that this was merely a temporary experience for us, and a permanent circumstance for many others. We felt so helpless, so overwhelmed. We respected the Haitian people more than to pity them but we could not help but feel they deserved so much better. And it was within those complex emotions that we rediscovered the beauty of this amazing country.




Most are acutely aware of their endemic poverty, of their limited choices, and of their challenges inherent in being born in their country, but they waste little time on complaining. They get on with it, they hustle, they smile, they survive. Makes me disgusted by any complaints over first world problems. Never again.

During those three days we had the fortune of riding motorcycles through the busy streets of Jacmel, into and out of shallow streams, around winding mountain roads, and deep into the jungle to Basin Blu, where the giant rocks and streaming waterfalls awaited our playfulness. On our second trip back, we were guided intelligently by a few helpful locals, who held our hands as we traversed slippery rocks and climbed up and down the mountain side until we reached the water.


We jumped in with enthusiasm, swam like children, climbed and fell off of slippery rocks, and smiled until our cheeks almost went numb. After, we took a brisk 40 minute ride to Kabik, our favorite beach from the previous year. We stopped for some delicious seafood, rum cocktails and Haiti’s own Prestige, and enjoyed our treats in the sand, listening to waves crash just feet away. We lounged, walked, collected shells, bought straw hats, played with kiddos, stood on our hands, and talked endlessly with each other throughout that beautiful day.

V, D & Me


Haitian men. Kind. Handsome. Helpful.





We endured some very challenging experiences together that trip, many positive, a few negative. In the interest of privacy and keeping our hearts and conversations light, I’ll keep those negative experiences to ourselves. They simply reiterated my love and appreciation for yogis, especially the two I had by my side. We had each other’s backs, uplifted each others hearts, and helped care for each other’s bodies (in that sweet, homeopathic way only yogis know how to care).


We returned to Port au Prince to find Paul had set us up with one of the nicest hotels we’d seen in a long time, anywhere. It wasn’t particularly fancy or opulent, but simply so different than anything we’d experienced in Haiti before. We were nestled up in the hills, able to take our first real warm shower in 10 days, rest on a comfortable bed in a clean room, and surf the internet by the pool. I felt spoiled. In exploring the grounds I discovered that within feet of our luxurious stay were thousands of tents full of everyday people and everyday living. I couldn’t help but feel guilty, yet again.


This gave us time to pause and reflect on our trip. And that space gave us the clarity we’d only barely understood the first time around. Haiti doesn’t need our guilt, our sympathy, our pity, even simple handouts. They need a helping hand, human compassion, eye to eye contact and a voice that says with sincerity, “We can help you climb out of this.” They need upward mobility, options, a future. They need people who sincerely give a shit.

We don’t delude ourselves into thinking we’ve drastically changed the landscape of Haiti, nor can we ignore the onslaught of “privileged white people” taking trips to help the impoverished in a third world country. We went because we love people. Yoga has connected us deeper into being human beings and that only inspires us to connect with more beings, especially those vastly different than us.

We know we get even more out of our trips to Haiti than we aim to give but we try our damn best. We give our hearts, our energy, our skills, our dollars and donations combined with the support from many other kind-hearted souls who believe in our cause, and we try to leave a positive impact on the people we encounter. And I believe we have.

Couldn't imagine two better people to experience this with, we have a good time;)


I’ll never forget the hugs, the smiles, the tears, the smells, the sunsets, the lessons, and most importantly, the love. This experience, just like Haiti, is a gift. We cannot wait to return. And I cannot wait to share more with these beautiful women whom I’m honored to call fellow yogis. They’ve helped me fall deeper in love with others and with the gift of being alive. Thank you, Veronica and Diana. Thank you, students and supporters. Thank you, patients and staff in Mirebalais. Thank you, Paul, Alland and Jacmel. Thank you, Haiti <3


You're Already A Peacock

Please excuse any potty language below:) You can be rich Perhaps you're poor Fact of the matter is We all poop We all cry We excrete A cavalcade of weird things We share the same pleasures And plights We're not objects We're beings Who cares what your job title is Of what importance is your income Our hearts beat just the same High status No status We're all the same No matter your name You deserve respect Love A Chance A best friend To be heard And encouraged Because we all poop We share common fears Of embarrassment Failure Being misunderstood Unloved Rejected Unseen There is more uniting us Than dividing us Let's connect And recollect All the ways we can love And support Knowing we're all the same deep down Gives us wings to fly high No better And no worse We're already peacocks So let's smile Be bright And bold Let our freaky feathers fan out And welcome love in To dismiss our uniqueness Or disrespect another's Would be a damn sin Let go Soar You're already a peacock What are you waiting for?



TwistedGut aching Heart calling I know the direction Just need forward motion For all parts of my being To move together in kind Living as one cohesive piece More heart Less mind Shift Transition Progress Evolve Answers inside Each problem solved Nurture Your nature Foster True being Love is my first action Living is believing Let's get twisted


Who Are You, Really?

Who are you, really?I am just a woman in search of a satisfying breath A moment where I mistake myself for no one but a kindly beating heart I don't question my path or my intentions I no longer doubt my worth or intuition I am in it Owning it Sharing it Declaring it But in truth I am still just a searcher I do crave meaning Question unyieldingly Wishing for the best While mentally preparing for the worst I feel loved But can't be sure if I'm liked And I feel guilt for any of these ridiculously egoic thoughts But they're there And so I search I explore I implore I inquire I hypothesize I analyze Refusing to abide Or buy into Anything Stridently in quest But I must yield And not forget The answer is here Plain to see It's you It's me That's all there needs to be I'm called to be a good woman My purpose is to love And love well And good With hard laughs And great sex And long hugs And earth made drugs The universe needs me to give And be compassionate In big and small ways Through late nights And early days My microcosm deserves an even better me I will only grow, accept and properly digest Good fortune and success Once I'm square with me All the beauty And all the beast Everything I am And all I'll never be Must live in a content place inside me More accepting of me More tolerant of you More forgiving of my past More trusting of our future Better wife Better roommate Better sister Better daughter Better friend Better loved one True to me Receptive to anyone Who I am, really, is A sweet girl And a feisty woman Who wants to be loved And to love And to feel at peace Without striving and strain Just thriving Vibing To be