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. 


Most of us know by now that we should meditate. We may even mean to start… next week. But here’s the thing: we can all spare ten minutes. Today. Every day. Instagram and our TV won’t even miss us. And these ten minutes pay for themselves a million times over in stress-reduction, improved decision making, and increased creativity.

Make meditation a habit and you’ll meditate everywhere, everywhen.

I’m not there yet but I am a few months in to fairly steady practice and noticing an undeniable shift. I swear my peripheral vision is wider. I look up more. I can change my mind.

Practice and all is coming, right?

Here’s what mine looks like:

  • 70% Yoga Nidra (a.k.a. yogic sleep, a.k.a. meditation-training-wheels). You lie down (yes!!!), get insanely comfy, and stay awake and aware as the facilitator guides you in slowing your thoughts, witnessing them instead of engaging with them. I’ve practiced with Yoga Nidra every day for the past few months. Well, nearly every day. “Everything in moderation, even moderation,” right?
  • 15% movement meditation (getting into THE ZONE practicing yoga in class or at home)
  • 3% seated meditation. You guys, I get it. Who has the time??
  • 12% vacation meditations. This part’s getting really fun. More on this after I geek on Nidra again…

Geeking Out On Nidra Again

Because you stay awake, Nidra trains you to bring the peace of a dreamless sleep back to your waking life, granting you access to those drifting-off-to-sleep-sandy-and-happy-on-an-afternoon-beach brain waves when your boss is screaming, leaning over you in the board room.

This practice is helping me understanding by degree that responsibility for my reactions, emotions, mental state, and happiness is mine and mine alone, that no pill or person or situation or paycheck is a more powerful agent in this regard. As my favorite band The National sings, “I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain, It went the dull and wicked old merry way.” That’s kinda where I lived before this shift. In the middle of what looked like the time of my life, stressed out of my damn mind for no good reason other than I just hadn’t stopped being stressed. It had become the only way I knew how to think; my go-to response to every situation and passing thought.

I’d gotten myself so stressed that everything overwhelmed me. For years, I packed my 15-minutes-to-deadline-and-the-fucking-printer’s-fucking-broken-FUUUUUCK brainwaves with my bikini, sunscreen, and underwater camera.

The habit of thinking is so difficult to augment because it lurks beneath our awareness. Not to mention all the momentum on the side of thinking the old way.

Nidra has supported me in seeing my thoughts. How can you begin to clean out a hoarder’s house if you can’t see (or feel, or smell, or (oh, oh god.) taste) their belongings.

I’ve met my mind up there.

Vacation Meditations

These vacation meditations are an exercise in being present. Living in the moment. You needn’t be on vacation to enjoy them. They work just as well sitting in traffic, in a completely useless meeting, dentist’s chair, or anywhere else your mind tends to wander and/or freak out.

Notice your thoughts. Where do you go when you’re not here. When you’re not now? Do you go to your past or do you go to the future?

For me, it’s a loopy-hybrid of both.  This Havasupai trip, I spent the long walk in watching those thoughts bombard me. The shoulds and the shouldn’t haves. To be honest, I was in a totally shit mood. And it’s no surprise.

“Tapas” is an essential element of success on a yogic path. It burns away that which no longer serves us. “Tapas” means fire. Discipline. Austerity. Burning enthusiasm. Red canyon walls. Direct sunlight. Hiking your dick off.*

Tapas helps us uproot this energy from where it’s stuck. Emotions are energy in motion. My work on the way down was to understand that what I did with those thoughts was my choice. I could tangle up in a cocoon of them or choose to look the other way. Trust me when I say I did both (it’s a really long walk). Often caught up in trying to solve whatever was bothering me and alternatively chastising myself for letting it bother me at all.

Ol’ Albert had it right when he said, “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.” It was not necessary to mentally engage or grapple with these storms.

These thoughts got up to go.

Choosing to look the other way is not running from your problems but rather choosing not to let your problems infiltrate every moment and define you.

Decide not to let them be bigger than they are.

Some will sneak back on the next train but each time I spot them in the Penn Station of my mind and choose to focus on literally anything else, the smaller they loom until they’ve all but faded into the background.

Like seeing an ex whom you’d rather not know anymore across a crowded train platform. If you focus on the fact that they’re there, they’re all you’ll see. You can almost feel their heat next to you, breathing down your neck, 14,000 times larger than life taking up the whole block. And the basement.

Every time we notice them and look away, the less real they feel. The less real they are. The less they command and consume us.

They got up to go and I chose to let them.

Happily, exercising this choice and even the seemingly straightforward acknowledgement that I have a choice has shifted lately from what I’d call a “struggle” (with a capital “S”… and a capital “TRUGGLE,” bolded, underlined, italicized) to a “practice.” Methods so simple it’s insane. Our work is to remember to try. Here are some I’ve used with increasing success, their effects bolstered through repetition:

    • Grounding myself in the here and now by using my senses. In this hiking example, I tuned in systematically to the
      • sounds (crunch of my boots, compilation of morning birds, subtleties of my breath),
      • sights (omfg Havasupai. But really, every time I looked up and really saw where I was I had to stop to take it all in, seeing more detail and curiosity with each passing second)
      • tastes (mmm… dust, inhaler, plasticine hydration pack water, pretty happy I remembered to brush my teeth this morning…)
      • smells (the highs of wildflower season flecked with the lows of horse shit)
      • feels (all of the feels. Bringing attention to how movement felt, to proper alignment, remembering to swing my arms like a cool-kid and feeling the dissolution of tension in my shoulders. Enjoying the breeze and the warmth from the sun and damn… can we go back tomorrow?)
      • Basically, just cultivating mindfulness, which I’ve defined for myself lately as Mind-Fullness. As in, mind too full of the present moment to have room for anything else. To full of what’s real right now to tarry with grocery lists and mommy issues.
    • Sometimes I popped my headphones in, focusing entirely on the beat, the words; parsing the instruments; observing how my carefully curated tunes altered my breathing, my energy level; watching as new thoughts arose to replace the old familiar ones, rewriting my stale and painful associations with THE GREATEST CARDIO SONG OF ALL TIME (if you’re an emo kid like me…)


“I find myself searching for old selves while speeding through a plate glass of maturing cells…” fuck. you guys. this song is so good.

  • Counting breaths helps, as does mindful breath control; e.g., breathing into the low belly, low ribs, heart space, and throat in order, holding at the top feeling the energy concentrated in the skull, and exhaling through the mouth from the throat all the way down to empty, allowing yourself to be devoid of air at the bottom for a beat. Body scans are another great way to come home to the moment.
  • My favorite meditation surprised and full on delighted me. To exit Havasupai, you walk 8-9 miles and THEN essentially climb Camelback mountain (a Phoenix favorite). Halfway up the interminable switchbacks, I stopped for a breather. Shut my eyes and zoomed in on my racing heart. Riding the waves as it gently slowed. A totally tubular experience that lasted a few seconds and changed everything.

I count myself among the vast majority intimidated by meditation. Aware of the benefits but daunted by the process. I can tell you that a year from now you’ll be glad you started today. Please reach out if you want to start a practice of your own. I’d be truly honored to help find something that works for you. If you’re in AZ, come to my Nidra class. There’s no shame in training wheels (fun fact: my friend Helen learned to ride a bike as an adult in a class with a bunch of strangers and they used them! Because they work! Also, she’s a badass.).

I intended this to be my shortest post yet, yet here we are, vying for longest…

In closing, go take a hike, ya crazy kids. See who you meet there.

*PSA: friends travelling to Havasupai, bring a blister stick and apply liberally to feet before any hiking and, gentlemen, make sure it can double duty as what my friend dubbed “Thigh Gap Medicine.”

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).

5 things I learned about downward facing dog from my actual dog

This blog has been more dirty than downdog….. UNTIL NOW.

Here goes:

1. It’s supposed to feel SO. GOOD. Blissful. Freeing. Watching her dangle her spine from her hips, you know she’s making juicy space between her vertebrae; stretching away the stresses of the day. That’s the point! The point is not to look like your neighbor, or to show off your kickass yoga hiney (though thinking about shining that fantastic boot to the ceiling can seriously help your alignment and energetics). So often, especially when practicing in public, we obsess over making the shape look a certain way at the expense of our comfort and expansion in it. Shoulders crunched up like earrings, lumbar spine hunched, tongue glued to the roof of the mouth. We are not fucking around.

blog forward facing dog.PNG
forward facing dog.

2. It’s okay to bend your knees. This pose is only about the legs insofar that the legs should be positioned (thighs internally rotated, pressing back) to support the release of the spine. Get that cockamamie image of grounded heels our of your head! If it happens, it happens, but it’s not the point. Yes, we want to press our heels downward, and slightly away from each other but only to optimally align the femurs to release the hips and spine.

In yoga, “it’s not about how far you go, but how you go.” I can’t tell you how many times I and millions of other yogis have injured ourselves trying to make a pose “look” a certain way; operating with that mentality (on and off the mat) is a surefire way to get hurt. I don’t blame you for trying. But stop it!

Do you think Winnie The Pup’s heels are down? No! Her heels are like a joint higher than we tend to think they are anyway. So, take your hamstrings out of the equation by gently bending your knees. Hell, bend them a ton. And if you start to feel the burn in your quads, BONUS. You’re getting stronger.

3. Her weight is 65+% over her haunches. Ever been adjusted in DD and the teacher latches onto your hips and leans back behind you w/ every ounce of their (albeit sometimes 90 pound) self?

You should be SO light on your hands. 

Um….. how??
In yogic alignment (and really when we’re trying to get anything right in any realm of life) we begin with the foundation; let’s start w/ the legs. And by legs I mean feet. Doe-Ray-Me-Fa’-Sew-La-Tea-D’oh

Feet are active, toes spread, arches lifting (achieved by pressing through big toe mound and lifting inner ankles), heels drawing energetically away from each other. That heel action has the effect of internally rotating our femurs, giving us more room in our hips to eventually straighten into our legs. For starters though, allow your knees to bend gently (especially if you’re one of my hyper-extenders).

The weight that is in your hands should be in your knuckles and fingers (which are clawing back towards you). Specifically, root down into the first knuckle of your index finger, where your pointer finger meets your palm. PLEASE. DO THIS. I didn’t for ten years and my wrists and shoulders are in bad shape because of it. Rooting down here grounds our shoulder blades onto our rib cage, home base. Safe. The rib cage then absorbs all the shock rather than the wrist bearing the brunt. Speaking of wrists, wrist creases should be parallel with the front of your mat.

Practice with your hands on the wall (making a square with yourself, the wall and the floor; wrist creases point strait up) to get the feel. Let your body remember this new way and rewrite your habits.

Finally, bring your gaze back. To thighs, navel, whatever your neck can handle while reaching crown to the mat.  Every time I give this cue in class, at least half of the hips shift back 2-3 inches, just by shifting their focus. Where attention goes, energy flows.

4. Navel is – wait…. do dogs have belly buttons?



Okay, call it low belly – low belly is hollow, flying back to the spine and up into her rib cage, which is broad, full of breath and life.

5. This will feel more pertinent for my AZ brethren, as our fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk days feel just around the corner: I’ve been so hot in class that I knew I would pass out if I didn’t stop. I now know we come equipped with a remarkable thermostat regulator; our breath. When you see a pup panting, they’re releasing internal heat. Through pranayama (breath control), we can raise and lower our core temperature.

Believe it or not, downward facing dog is a resting pose. Let it be. Set your alignment up and then… Check in. Feel your breath, or, in my case, MAKE SURE YOU’RE BREATHING. If your breath is ragged or you’re too hot for comfort, open your mouth! Dispel heat the ol’ fashioned, four-legged way. We generally want to inhale through the nose, but please always feel free to exhale through your mouth and blow off some steam.

Try a Lion’s breath! Exhale with a roar through an open mouth reaching your tongue tip to your chin. You’ll sound insane so maybe save it for your home practice unless you have confidence of steel and give zero fucks (which, PM me, I want to learn your secrets and be just like you). Alternatively, just really give it your all whenever a teacher offers it. Let it feel good.

And there you have it. Please please please please please reach out if you have any questions.

I intended to include a picture of Winnifred in all her downward facing glory, and might have taken a brief intermission from writing this to chase her around the house and play bow at her. No dice. You can’t always get what you want. So, instead, here’s a video of her taking down a Great Dane (puppy. but still).

Peace, Love, and High Fives.

Things I Do Differently Now

Image result for burning yes stephen coveyI’ve taught yoga “full time” for 3 months now (woah), and am noticing some fundamental changes. This list will grow but for now, just trying to get in the habit of posting without being an obsessive, perfectionist freak about it:

1. When I pet my dog I make sure to get both sides so she’s not uneven (thank you, Astanga)

2. I’ve only worn real pants ONE TIME THIS YEAR. I am not exaggerating. Big win.

3. I eat vegetables and fruit now! Fuck yeah!

4. I tie almost every waking second back to Patanjali’s yoga sutra or more generally to my latest class theme. Obsessed; e.g., it took me & Steve about 4.5 hours to watch The Matrix Reloaded (my first time!) because I kept pausing it every 3 minutes to rant about how yogic it is.

5. I finally for the first time in memory have tasted space between my thoughts. And I want more. Meditation is no joke, folks.

6. Holy cat-cow I’m sore every day. But I’m learning, getting stronger. Yoga is not a “no pain no gain” deal but we do break down to rebuild; burn away that which no longer serves; phoenix from the ashes. No surprise here. For over a decade I took my yoga a la carte; focusing only on the physical postures (“asana,” pronounced w/ short “a”s, not “asauna”) and trying to make them look a certain way, practicing on my mat all the negativity I had about my self. But the thing is, yoga is prescribed in eight limbs (think of them as rungs of a wheel rather than steps to be taken in order) and asana isn’t the first or even the second!

Believe it or not, the reason we make all these crazy shapes in yoga actually predates instagram! The reason is that they make us better containers for our breath. They prepare us to sit with a quiet mind, to be less self-consumed. The first and foremost limb is the moral disciplines, the “yamas.” Okay, yes, I said they don’t need to be taken in order but it helps to attain “the bliss” or even to just sit still and/or breathe if you’re serious about the moral disciplines first; non-violence, truth-full-ness, non-stealing, right use of energy and non-hoarding. The way to “achieve” certain gold stars in yoga is not to strive and struggle blindly but rather to practice the preceding rungs, find the new lessons for you there in this moment. Practice and all is coming.

7. I’m getting super serious about my health and am finally taking ownership of it, knowing that I can change my outcomes. What we put in (tangible and intangible; e.g., pizza, ice cream, tequila, sunshine, music, sleep (#bestdayever??)) is what we become. We literally are what we eat. I don’t want to be made of bullshit anymore.

#YOGAEVERYDAMNDAY (do hashtags work in blogs? Help me, I’m old…) shines a very clear light on just how much bullshit you’re made of on any given day. In the forward of The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West the author’s yoga teacher, on catching her smoking outside his ashram, takes a drag of it himself and tells her “Your {cigarette} smoking will not get in the way of your yoga, your yoga will get in the way of your smoking.” And sure as shit it did; she quit a year later. It’s having that bigger, burning “YES” that makes saying “no” possible, makes change possible; and not even possible, but obvious, mandatory, a foregone conclusion. It’s having the laboratory of yoga where I visit with my self every day and see what’s up, what’s working and what’s not, what’s causing a distraction. I want different results, which means I have to do something I’ve never done before.

Now that I’ve made the space in my life (I couldn’t have told you then but that was the easy part!), my big YES is becoming clear. I am saying yes to breathing easily. Simple, right? Not so much for me but I’m banking on the magic of those moral disciplines and all that follow to help change that. Easy, eh? But that magic won’t work on its own. They’re guidelines not babysitters. Ol’ Liz has to step up to the plate here in a big way. Put the work and awareness in.

And it goes a little something like this: Bitching about having asthma = wasted energy. Doing something about it so that I won’t die in May like I have for the past two years = RIGHT USE OF ENERGY! yoga for the win!

It’s time to take the blinders (or wine-ders as the case has often been) and get honest with my self about what makes it worse (cheese! alcohol! caffeine! basically all party & treat yo self staples…. fucking tortilla chips!!! The inhumanity!).

It’s time for non-violence – for starters, and perhaps the most obvious example, it does me harm to keep fucking up, so…. stop fucking up! 

Holding up the lens of non-violence illuminates myriad ways I’m a dick to my self (and sometimes, sometimes… to others); e.g., it makes me sad to think about how much it sucks that I “have to” eat healthy and just generally consume and therefore be less bullshit…. so why think like that? Those thoughts cause suffering. Instead, think about how much I love Trader Joes and how their veggie section is lit. Seriously lit; e.g., try their Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix if you see it. We get it every week:

Image result for vegetable medley trader joe's jicama
I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I’ve eaten; even so, they have made me. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

(oh! and!  SUPER IMPORTANT: make sure you always eat cooked cruciferous vegetables w/ mustard powder. They lose potency/some of their healthiness when heated but the mustard powder adds it back! Science!

A natural extension of practicing not-stealing is that I’m robbing future me less and less, not selling my entire Sunday (& Monday) for a bender on Saturday… as often.

Right use of energy (often translated as “celibacy” though, c’mon folks, I’m married.) means respect and honor your resources. Don’t waste calories or thoughts but then also don’t waste time obsessing over perfection here… it’s a fine line. Balance. Luckily balance is a byproduct of yoga.

Non-greed, non-hoarding…. sounds to me like “stop binge eating entire bags of Tostitos. Just….. don’t do it! Don’t even buy them!” Purchasing any sort of junk food, I enter into a contract with myself that I will eat it before the sun sets on the third day (more Little Mermaid. Super formative; I logged at least 100 hours w/ it as a lass so… when you get Liz you get a little Little Mermaid, you lucky duck.) but really more like I’ll eat it within 4 hours and hate myself a little or a lot for it.

I love this quote instructing us to “treat yourself like some one you love.” Pregnant women are able to make major diet changes because they’re hyper-aware of the fact that they’re growing someone they love in their tummy (weird!). Do no harm. Thing is, is we’re growing our selves every day, it’s just a very easy fact to ignore in the face of gelato and second martinis.

8. I’ve always been obsessed w/ giving advice. It’s a big sister thing. So that’s not really new. But now people are asking me for it! Which is a major ego boner but honestly I’m just so freaking psyched to get to share all this super cool shit I’m learning. Super cool shit I’ve learned that I don’t even realize I retained until it comes out of my mouth. In other words, I LOVE MY JOB.

It’s now inexplicably 3:30 in the morning, all I want is tortilla chips, and I’m editing curse words out of every other sentence (“creatively” replacing them with “freaking”…) which means it’s time for bed.

Peace in the Middle East.

How to beat yoga

Spoiler alert: you can’t.

If I were prone to climbing on top of houses, I would shout from the rooftops about how I can’t imagine life without the healing, spiritually-engaging & revitalizing practice of yoga. How it saved my life. How it is and should be accessible for everyone.
So then, what keeps me from going back to yoga class after a hiatus? A hiatus I continue to prolong with excuses.

What is it that terrifies me?

My vague “but I don’t really feel like going (at all this week)” examined betrays a litany of fears. fear blog pic.PNG

What if my shirt rides up? What if I don’t like the teacher’s voice? Or sequence? Or playlist? What if I get there late? What if I’m too hungry, or worse, too full? What if I push too hard and hurt myself? What if I’m not strong or open enough for five full upward facing bows but wrench myself into them because I need to look like I know what I’m doing? What if this class, in some new and horrible way, proves that I do in fact suck at life??

Oh look, I’m already late.

What if I’m not good enough? I speak from experience here. I faced all of these blunders and horrors. In some cases, I made the same mistake for over a decade (see: push too hard…hurt myself).

“Yoga” was the rocky shore I thrashed my shipwrecked self against, not seeing the logical path to salvation was in patiently scaling the slippery boulders. Longing to be perfect at it, not realizing that it is and always will be a “practice” not a “perfect.” Aching to achieve something, but not even aiming my striving in the right direction. I consistently stopped breathing in a violent attempt to make the “right” shape.

Ignoring teachers’ instruction to avoid lotus until my hips were open enough, their gentle pleas to practice at 80% of my edge (“edge” being the ultimate expression of the pose my body is capable of in that moment, where breathing becomes a chore and I’m teetering on pain/strain), I’d work at 115% of my neighbor’s edge (How else could one “win yoga“?), all the while holding my breath, not understanding that the real work was in obeying my coach, my breath, while coaxing it deeper, reforming my body into its ideal vessel. Abandoning steadiness and ease for a gold star. I know now that as soon as I lose control of the breath and don’t back off to regain it, the yoga stops. I am so grateful to have learned this. However long it took is how long it needed to take.

So, if all of those “what ifs” manifest into a 90 minute clusterfck, so be it. I’ve learned and grown through and from all of those trials; e.g., my fitting room vetting process now includes forward folds and twists and usually some (kickass) dance moves. And those are all edge cases anyway. Not to be expected, not the norm. I can count on two hands the classes I’ve regretted attending in my 18 year relationship with yoga.

To be clear, there are days when I straight up shouldn’t go to yoga (at least not the westernized, go-go-go, yang practice we all picture). Like today, as I’m in that sweet spot where I might be able to beat back the cold I feel coming on. Or any day when I’m genuinely worn out. The above does not apply to those days. And on those days, yoga still has plenty of magic to offer. As I learned yesterday in an illuminating yoga training I almost didn’t attend (fear, man), physical postures should only comprise ~12.5% of our practice. An over thinker my whole life, I’ve recently become a diligent student of my ulterior motives. The faster I’m able to recognize fear and grasping among them, the less agony I put myself through over “shoulds.”

I’m through letting fear make my decisions for me. Giant kitchen knives, back bends, long overnight hikes, and my best friend’s resting bitch face used to scare me. They’ve all improved my life beyond my wildest dreams.

So, what keeps me from completing a piece of writing and sharing it? What terrifies me?

There are a thousand facets of the above that I already want to change, to perfect. But I know I need to try to learn and that perfect is the enemy of good.

Finally, in the spirit of practice, of facing down fear, of non-attachment, growth, and honesty, here’s this… Tada!