How to get high(er)

TLDR: Going for that thing you want probably won’t kill you and the view is better from the top.

You know that sketchy part near the top of Camelback Mountain? Cholla Trail.

The sketchy part where, when you first moved here ten years ago, you were sure you’d simply slip off the sheer side of the mountain. Mid-scramble. Just: dead.

For y’all out of towners; 1. I say y’all now, and 2. Allow me to set the scene. You’re cruising along, and by “cruising” I mean you’re hoping your hiking buddy keeps talking so you can focus on your heart not exploding; meaning: you’re able to keep a quick clip because it’s smooth sailing, only a handful of ankle-turney dangers in the first, ziggy-zaggy 80% of the trail. And then you’re like, “oh! I’m at the end, because this is impassible.”

Hikers reroute around you, swiftly picking sure footing out of the city-skyscraper to which you cling. Fat guys and children deftly wing their way up. Someone in a weight vest passes you twice.

And then a friend, one of your first Phoenix friends, who happens to be half spider monkey, half mountain goat, half cannabis, half physics textbook, and all legs, suggests that you, too, can defy gravity. The trick is two-fold: Increase up, decrease down.


Regarding the up, the reach, the progress: he taught me that the ledges above me, the ones I can grab or place a foot on, to pull or push myself up, needn’t be that big. The length of a finger pad or width of a toe, sufficient.

(Experience beyond comfort zones yields discernment, improving heuristics and workable opportunities. I’m still so fond of a nice, big hand hold and it’s nice to know I don’t need it.)

Regarding the down, the backslide, the risk mitigation: when stressed, considering new risk, my mountain goat advised that I determine what below would catch my fall if I tried and failed. Maybe 8 feet down there’s a big, flat landing or at least a tangle of womping willows.

So, that’s nice. We learn we need less than we think. We learn to more accurately (less emotionally) weigh risk.


We hear, “leap and the net will appear.” Cool. Totally. And. It’s “easier,” dare I say, more enjoyable, to make comfort-busting choices when we have a low expectation of them destroying us; i.e., an acceptance of how far we’d fall in worst-case failure.

I love hindsighting on these weak (and bloodied) kneed days. Soon after I determined I probably wasn’t going to die on Camelback (except for maybe from bees. wtf.), I realized, 1. it wasn’t just me; that most beginners are frightened, shaking over the same illusions of unsafety, and 2. how fun and easy it is to coach a new initiate around the sketchiest part where they’re bear hugging the rock like a cartoon character and maybe they cry and then they’re on the other side of it, accomplished, upleveled and hungry for more mountain. 

Until we remember that mountains are grey, green jungle gyms, these “problems” are unappealing, like “dropping back” over a yoga teacher’s forearms for the first time, aiming to place your hands on the floor behind you. And once we remember to play, to delight in reaching further while deepening trust in and expanding our understanding of our foundation… well, I think that’s why we’re here. As the universe seeking to experience itself, it’s in our marching orders to peer around corners and see-what-happens-if.

Knowing where we’d hope to halt a free-fall is useful. And: we’ve got to be okay with moving on, upward, and away from that particular stabby bush, cactus, felled tree, or rock. In lieu of a safety net, it’s tempting to fascinate on these bastions, pray to these lord-gods of false safety. Huddling humbly in their shadow. Reverent and leashed. This is where I want to be because this is where I have to be because this is safe and fine enough and why don’t we just picnic lunch here and give up on our dreams and go home and get day-drunk.

“It’s hard to get enough of something that almost works.”

It’s also fun to try the hard things, the really scary things which are extra scary because you want them so. 

And if you want to get to the top?

Hands up, kid. Eyes up. Onward. 

Today’s Musings on Fate & Agency & Joy & Hummingbird Feeders

I see life as a John Irving novel, in which everything happens for a reason. Even the random, seemingly pointless things and especially the extraordinarily shitty things. They weave together to form themes and long-arching story lines for us to bonk around inside of, unaware of our own flow’s elegance.

From the inside looking out, life is just life to us; messy, mundane, confusing, exhilarating, fucking terrifying, fucking beautiful.

When you least expect it, some piece of the collage of your-life-to-date shines forth to save the day; you find yourself equipped with some tool or awareness (à la Slumdog Millionaire) all because you “randomly” endured, adventured, connected, or floundered weeks, months, decades before; e.g., (John Irving SPOILER ALERT), the fact that you’re a midget makes you a war hero.)

I’m not espousing predestination or grand design or fate even, just marveling at the serendipitous nature of nature.

I love believing that “everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

That’s not to say our ego will be particularly pleased 7/8ths of the way through… that same ego will very much want to know when to anticipate the end and will go so far as to despair that we’ve reached the end and all is lost and life is cruel, when in reality we’re so far from it still.

In our last new moon women’s circle, someone reminded us of the calm to be found in string theory; every possibility is already real, which sort of takes the pressure off of each new decision; why not BOLDLY make the one that FEELS the best and truest for us now? Write our own story, hustle for our own ideal “ending.”

You thought this post was gonna be about hummingbird feeders? About that…

A new acquaintance explained over dinner recently that, growing up, his folks maintained a number of bird feeders. The skies of his young life were full of hummingbirds. Ever since, these marvelous, innocent, brilliant creatures lit up his life every time their paths chanced cross.

You’re thinking: who doesn’t LOVE hummingbirds, ammiright? But from Patrick I get the sense it goes deeper. A portal to that blissful, youthful part of himself. To simpler times. To the magic of childhood. To the magic of the universe we lose sight of somewhere along the road to seriousness.

Finally, he explained, a few days prior, he’d bought himself a hummingbird feeder.

His very own.

Inexpensive, easily available.

He knew he loved hummingbirds yet he didn’t decide or take action to bring them into his life, to drastically increase the likelihood of a hummingbird encounter by like a zillion-fold, until age 45. Forty-five! And now all he does is work and watch them. Or play guitar and watch them. Or simply sit and watch them.

And he’s so happy.

And he’s so peaceful.

Something so simple.

Something so obvious.

“It has me wondering what my other hummingbird feeders are,” he trailed off.

I’ve wondered what my hummingbird feeders are ever since.

Now, I’ve got to be honest, this gave me a huge life coach boner. This is what coaches do! Pull forward the simple action steps you know to be inside of you that can make life more wonderful for you. Gently poking and prodding and holding you accountable to manifesting your bliss, altering your trajectory, course-correcting towards joy. A complete up-level.

The hardest part of my job is keeping my damn fixing, advising, know-it-all mouth mostly-shut while you uncover your own shiny, perfect truth. When you’re ready.

Anyway, I’ve finally, recently accepted a few of my own hummingbird feeders into my life and it is already forever changed. Forever better. Each ensuing decision now made from a higher platform, a higher self, a clearer sense of direction. Most recently…

  1. My very first mala. Finally! I’ve wanted one for ~a decade but felt like I wasn’t “yoga” enough (…the fuck??). IMG_4062108 beads to facilitate #singlepointedfocus recitation of mantra in morning meditation. Made with love in my forever-home studio (Dave’s), w/ 2.5 of my favorite people (Lulu + bebe & Kathy), and #blessed by a badass gong named Dragon. Not 5 hours old, it already helped ground and center me through some serious shit.
  2. The Untethered Soul. I’ve devoured longer books in a single sitting yet this one’s taken me years to purchase and months to read half of. IMG_4061Drenched in olive juice and jacuzzi water; streaked with highlighter, dark chocolate, and a rainbow of pens; partially eaten by my boyfriend’s dog; believe it or not, this book has already made more of an mark on me than I have on it.

What are some of your hummingbird feeders? Warning: once you identify some you might just grab them. Side effects may include joy, peace, enlightenment and a life forever changed. When you’re ready 🙂

Now, the teachings of yoga

The Yoga Sutra is the defining doctrine of yoga, delineating;

  • what it is (“to still the patternings of consciousness”),
  • why it is (“so pure awareness can abide in its very nature, otherwise awareness takes itself to be the patterns of consciousness”), and
  • how to do it (you’ll have to read the book to find out!* JK, I’ll tell you. Or try to. It’ll take me a while. Years, decades. Because I’m just figuring it out myself. Or rather continually cycling through periods of striving, thinking I’ve finally got it, scaled the mountain and reached the peak of understanding (ahh, the attainments) only to find myself staring up to the base of a much larger mountain, peak obscured by clouds. And it’s cold. And its easy to forget and impossible to see how far I’ve come already. Allow me to explain… (get comfy, this too could take decades. I can already tell this blog post isn’t turning into what I set out to write. I’ve even changed the title already.)

I am eternally grateful to have dedicated myself to a daily sutra study just days before SHIT WENT DOWN last year.

The 196 “Sutra” (literally: stitches, each an integral part of one thread) were written by Patanjali (who was either one brilliantly succinct man or a conglomerate of contemporary yogis) and span four books;

  • I. Integration,
  • II. The Path to Realization,
  • III. The Extraordinary Powers (sign me up!), and, finally,
  • IV. Freedom (yes, please).

They begin simply and accessibly enough.

April 28, 2016: Sutra I.1: Now, the teachings of yoga.

A line I breezed over on first read, eager to tear into the meat of it.

My teacher, Cheryl Oliver, has already taught me more than she or I know. A drop in that bucket is the deep respect she aroused in me for sutra 1.1. Very early in my 200 hour teacher training she spent about half an hour on the first word alone. “Now.” Now, an auspicious beginning, a now which your whole life has prepared you for, speaking to your readiness, an eternal now as now is always the time for the teachings of yoga. There is always more to learn. We, eternal students attendant with beginners’ minds.

Finding that much meaning in a word I’d dismissed as filler, a formality, Patanjali’s “Once upon a time” sparked a fascination and respect for the rest. I knew there would be sutras I would not “get” for years and even then only skim their surface for decades to come. Like hearing and dismissing a piece of advice or vocab word 100 times before, finally, aha, I get it. I think.

What better time to start than now? So I did.

April 28, 2016. I fiddled around with each Sanskrit word’s definitions in my half-assed bullet journal and then wrote this: you’re ready. So you know how challenging it’ll be. How scary. You know you’ll learn to see challenge as encouraging; “scary” as exciting. You’ll learn how big enormous your heart is. And how to listen to it. Especially when it hurts. You’ll feel courage as a sensation. You’ll learn you are so strong and so blessed and so connected. So [and then the pen color changes, indicating I’d changed venues/mindset/pen (duh, detective) and was likely trapped in some interminable meeting] distracted and impressed by how his eyes match his neck tattoo in shading and depth [Major ADHD, reporting for duty!]

It’s funny. I got myself all stressed out yesterday, trying to get a 30 day jump on employing my counselor’s suggestion for warding off the birthday blues; celebrate the year that was rather than digging my grown-ass heels in, expression frozen in horror at the irrelevance, physical breakdown, senior citizenship and birthday candles I’m hurtling towards against my will; measuring myself against everyone I’m not and coming up wanting.

This exercise last year was easier. I had accomplishments I could point to.

And it was fun. I wrote a goodbye to all the shit I was done with. A letter I’d forgotten until just now actually.

This year, yesterday, I started freaking out. I should be so much better by now. And then I realized this last year was one of letting go. Of so so much. And I started to feel better, to LET GO of beating myself up (see??). I told myself the growth this year was subtle and immeasurable and so necessary. That though it may look like falling apart, it really is falling together; more and more so the more I trust and let go. And now, rereading what I wrote last April, I see it’s coming true. I haven’t arrived where I want to be but I know I’m heading in the right direction, that I’ll get there. And hey, it’s not about the destination but the journey.

I am so squarely in the journey that I can’t see the shore on either side anymore. Feeling more like I’m drifting (maybe even in the wrong direction, oh god.) than fearlessly, confidently speeding towards my dreams. And what are they anyway? What day is it??

I’m finally realizing it’s not about counting the miles logged or the battles won or the miles yet to go. It’s about being here, now, learning what there is to learn, enjoying what there is to enjoy and continually dragging my mind back to center, out of the past, out of the future, into the now.

* ha that’s how I ended all of my book reports up until third grade when my teacher told me it was time to cut the baby shit. Big kids finish their books (and book reports).

Somebody Call a Wah-mbulance!

Image result for fractal geometry

Welp, I was featured in my first ever Yelp review (that I’m aware of. it strikes me now that I could easily be unaware of someone who found my patronage of wherever remarkable in some way. Like, “ew, two stars, i saw a girl drop cake on the ground and then eat it. this place is for peasants… but the cake is bomb.” (btw that’s not, like, an example from my real life or anything… though I’m not above it for bomb cake.)

Anyway, it was one star. Predicated on a misunderstanding.

And you guys, this is so embarrassing but: I full on cried about it. It was that frustrated “I know this isn’t a big deal and it’s actually super silly and it’s not even really about that but I’m still totally crying and I know I’ll feel better once I’ve done that so, fuck it, here goes” therapeutic kind of cry. There’s just somethin’ about salt water, man.

I’ve always been obsessed with negative feedback, managing in my more creatively masochistic moments to find the negativity in the neutral and even positive feedback, too. Which is bananas. And super limiting. A big part of my recent and evolving detox from the rat race has been finally evaluating and getting really honest about my well-worn thought patterns/habits and owning the daunting, I mean thrilling, reality that we choose our thoughts. Where attention goes, energy flows.

The stated purpose of yoga is to still the turnings of the mind. I am not my thoughts. I can, however, control them. I’m done taking the easy way out, slip sliding down those old, cozy, familiar neuropathways in my brain, further entrenching the path of least resistance. We learned from Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit (READ THIS BOOK IT IS RAD & (bonus!) helped me stop picking at my cuticles – audiobook is really well done, too) that we can’t get rid of a bad habit (or any habit) but we can very successfully replace it with an intentional habit. It starts w/ shining the light of your attention on it, just start by noticing and then begin to cultivate the opposite, or really cultivate whatever you damn well please; it’s your mind garden; stop watering the weeds, cut off their sunlight (attention) and plant whatever you fancy, unicorn rainbow flowers? Sure! Our brain, like children and puppies craves exercise. And, like children and puppies, we can’t feed it junk or it will turn to junk. We’ve got to let it play, create, hew new pathways. Thinking the same types of thoughts (especially when they make you feel shitty) sucks.

So, this time instead of treating my self to a pity party I treated myself to Caffe Boa’s rabbit pasta #nomsohard and rapped w/ the 21 year old bartender about fractal geometry and vitamins and god. And just like that, today ruled.

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Okay and now that I finally found a pic of me looking like a cry baby I feel it’s important to share that

  1. yes, I was wearing a full tracksuit,
  2. that hat….. got a lot of mileage out of that hat. And then one day I released it into the wild (aka Goodwill), so some other special little snowflake could take a few spins around the sun in it. If you love something, set it free.
  3. the tank top said “I SNORE AND I’M A BITCH” (which, I don’t… and I’m not… it’s a long story),
  4. I lost a bet, and
  5. Beth Adams is an evil genius.
  6. oh and so I technically cried four times this weekend… which isn’t like… a normal thing. which is probably why I feel okay broadcasting it…
    1. when I fell off my bike and smashed my knee and hands up yesterday between bars 1 and 2 of the7 bar crawl/engagement party for two brilliant, neon-souled humans. Not drunk just #notanathlete (and Linds, I’m super sad you ate shit, too, but feel a little better about myself since you’re a spin instructor and all so I was basically biking like a pro)

      Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor
      Chris wins.
    2. watching Kubo and the Two Strings (animated feature length. 4 thumbs + 4 paws up from this household)
    3. watching the super cheesy alternate ending of Titanic (Bill!! and then Leo! and Celine! Too much.)
    4. the Yelp-cident.

So, there you have it. Here’s wishing you a week in which you cry fewer times than I did in the past 30 hours. But if you do happen to cry a little.. or a bunch, make it good. Get it out. You’ll feel better. It’s just like how animals shake once they get to safety after a traumatic event and how Core Stress Release* yoga is magic. We evolved to cry because it helps.

Goodnight y’all. Stay weird.

*From The Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, on Core Stress Release: This practice strengthens and stretches the lower back and stimulates psoas (hip flexor muscle, and the only muscle that connects our top and bottom half) release. CSR Yoga Therapy is presented within the framework of familiar asana sequences and tremor release of deeply held stress and samskaras (habits) that adversely affect the physical, emotional and spiritual bodies. This is a good workout and appropriate for practitioners of all levels. It’s so cool. It allows you to release all the wack shit that has stressed you out over the years. Deep-rooted shit. Childhood shit. Shit that doesn’t matter any more that you’re still hanging on to just because you never let it go, never put it down. And the cool thing is it’s purely physical. You don’t need to cerebrally engage with the shit as it gets up to go. The idea is that our body holds on to stressors and “traumatizing” events until it’s “safe” to deal with them, but we don’t let our selves physically release it because it’s unseemly. So we just keep cramming the vault full of shit to deal w/ later, without ever dealing with it. CSR allows the body to release that holding ugh I’m obsessed I think everyone should try it. Bye.

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe


I credit Sir Ken Robinson among the final encouragement I needed to quit my job; to step off of the moving sidewalk to suck-town. To leave a career I used to make myself miserable. A former coworker asked me recently whether I missed any part of that life. I responded that I hadn’t realized how relieved I’d be to eliminate small talk, but that I almost missed the built in excuse for my anxiety and out of control stress. Which is insane.

In his book, Finding Your Element (which  a. I HIGHLY recommend, and 2. we ironically read as part of an office book club… I made it through the first four chapters and submitted my resignation. Boom.) Robinson brought to my attention that analysts and lawyers and accountants tend to be more miserable people because we spend the majority of our life ferreting out errors, striving for nitty-gritty perfection, and, well, analyzing. We see what we look for. And when we practice seeing the worst in people, projections, and data sets, guess what. We see the worst. In everything.

In Sanskrit, the language of yoga, the word for “analytical thinking” also means “unwholesome thoughts.” I don’t want to experience the world that way anymore. That’s not me. My favorite sunglasses have pink lenses. La vie en rose.

Crawling out of my corporate hell hole and into this truer life, I find myself furtively segmenting and editing myself for different imagined audiences. Trying to sterilize, neuter my offering. Eliminate all potentially embarrassing or disenfranchising elements. What if curse words offend? What if my students see I’m still learning and lose faith in me? What if more advanced practitioners read this and find me a pathetic poser. What if I think I understand something, inscribe my opinion in this stone of internet and realize days or years later that I had it all wrong? What if I’m not as funny as I think? What if I misuse semi-colons?


I fucking love cursing. Ask my parents. And my in-laws. My poor in-laws.

I would never want to study under (let alone be) someone who isn’t compulsive in furthering their understanding of our craft; someone who isn’t willing to try something new, reconsider a conviction, or say “I don’t know.”

If my open-hearted honesty strikes you as trite, then maybe we weren’t meant to be friends. And I’m cool with that. Because you probably suck.

Or maybe you’re just not into open-hearted honesty. Which is cool, too, I guess… I catch myself equivocating here. As always. It’s kinda been my thing. Kinda. Maybe. Probably. Or not.

Your vibe attracts your tribe.img_0903

If my attempts at lightheartedness come off as immature or crass or boring or played out, oh well. In my writing and teaching and life I’m trying to not attach to results and reactions; e.g., when teaching, it is in my control to prepare my sequence, alignment cues, theme, playlist, and self. I work to remain fully present in class, reading and adjusting to the room, with my students’ safety and success in my sights. It is out of my control whether anyone laughs at my dorky jokes, whether I can remember the real word for “foot palms” (every class…), or whether people fidget during savasana (our final resting pose).

Imagine taking the dog on a long walk or having sex and feeling like a failure if your actions don’t result in poop or orgasm, respectively (and hopefully never simultaneously). The effects of our actions are largely out of our control in these, and really all, situations. All we can control is our breath, our effort, our focus, our intention. From the Yoga Sutra, “attachment is the residue of pleasant experience.”  We want that compliment, that gold star. That bag of poop. That O-face. We (I) get so wound around the axle obsessing over negative feedback and missed targets that we (I) tend to miss the brilliant opportunity afforded to approach The Failure (and life) with a beginner’s mind, to take it and everything as a learning experience. Like the late, great Dave Oliver said, “Pain is not good, pain is not bad; pain is information that something needs to change.” If I don’t like my results, I can review the information and adjust as I see fit. But there’s really no sense in taking it as evidence that I’m the worst.

If a student walks out of my class (which happened!!!! In my second week!), so be it. In all likelihood, it had very little to do with me; maybe she would have loved my class yesterday. Or maybe not. For whatever reason, she wasn’t picking up what I was putting down. And that’s okay. I’ve had plenty of teachers I dislike. I’m sure they have plenty of students who adore them. If I try (as I’m often inclined) to change to appeal to everyone, my inauthenticity will repel the students I’m truly the best fit for, leaving me a roomful of people I can’t relate to. Mass exodus would be a different story. But even then, it’s only information.

If safety is a concern and a student can’t set their ego aside, I must step out of my comfort zone and tactfully insist they take a modification instead of not wanting to make waves, be too firm. Luckily, our experiences to date (yes, especially the super shitty ones) transpired to uniquely equip and strengthen us to rock the rest of our days. In this case, having logged thousands of hours of my own stubborn, injurious, ego-driven practice leaves me uniquely qualified to handle these situations. Humor helps. Discretion helps. Non-attachment helps.

In class, as long as my students are safe and I’ve brought my A-game, I’m happy. And their results are theirs, not mine. Including their successes, their applause. My heart soars when a student thanks me after class but just as their frustrations and rough days are not mine to own, their good days are all theirs. In writing, if someone likes it, yay. There’s a possibility for real connection. When someone doesn’t, whatever. It’s just information. I’ve been so scared to put myself out there, priding myself on my status as my own worst critic. But all the cool kids have real critics. My idols include Matt Stone & Trey Parker, Ana Forrest, Henry David Thoreau, Joe Rogan, and Lena Dunham. Would they be where they are if they let themselves give too many fucks about what other people think? Would anyone give a shit if they didn’t share their honest opinions, their lowest lows, their unedited self?

If I look back on what I’ve committed to internet-paper with disdain someday, then future-me is a dick (and I really hope that’s not the case). Sure, I’ll get a few things wrong along the way. But if the internet suddenly develops Bullshit Police, I doubt I’d make their list of offenders.

In closing, I will absolutely use semi-colons wrong; yes, yes I will.