Stop and Smell the Roses

21 May

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I am a born traveler, a mover, a shaker. I have an insatiable thirst for what’s next, too much focus on what’s around the corner. I am rarely satisfied with myself and adventures provide distraction for me to discover more. Sometimes the lessons we learn hit us abruptly and unexpectedly. And other times, they come to use in quietude.

In the span of three months since I returned from Haiti, I got pregnant, got hired, got fired, received two unfortunate traffic tickets and countless headaches. I’m recognizing now what the Universe is trying to tell me. Slow Down. Take it in. Take care. The future will always arrive on its own time and growth only happens Now.

It is no wonder it feels so natural to teach Restorative Yoga, even more so than Vinyasa, Power Yoga, or anything fast paced. It’s what I need. I need to restore. I need to slow down. I need to stop and smell the roses, truly the whole point of Yoga and many other spiritual teachings: Life is short, dummy, what are you racing for?

Beyond the question of who I want to be and how I want to feel is the energy and space I want to create for my child, for my tribe, inside and out. And that is an energy of love, first and foremost, but also of calm acceptance, of joyful peace, of trust that we can ride out whatever storms blow our way, and of treating life like the gift it is, no matter what we do, where we live, or what we have. What we all are is enough.

It is in this vein that I choose to take a major break from social media, on the professional front. As a teacher and writer, a self employed woman, I’m encouraged by society to use the tools of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the numerous others to market myself better, to sell whatever “brand” I’ve deemed myself to be. I think many do this brilliantly, with humor, dignity and respect. But it’s just not in my instinct to do this well. I’ve enjoyed my connection with readers and students, but my greatest joy comes from in person exchanges, email correspondence and deep telephone conversations. Not from digital connection but real connection.

The expense of energy trying to play a game of social media chess is just too much at this time in my life. I want to focus on being a great teacher for my students, an honest writer for those of you readers I’m so grateful to have, and most importantly, a present and reliable loved one for my family, friends and animals I’m fortunate to love.

I will keep my website and blog alive so those interested can know when and where I’m teaching and have access to my pieces of writing. I’m grateful and hope you’ll stay connected. Social media will always be there, I’m sure I’ll return at some point, hell, maybe sooner rather than later, but for now, I need the clarity of simplicity. I need to stop and smell the roses. I need to Be.

Today I will shut up and listen, sit still and Be, and remember that there is always an adventure lying inside of me. And I hope to help you remember the same.

Please enjoy a two minute video on my favorite restorative pose. If you have a bolster, you may use that instead of the two blocks. Give yourself permission to be still and bliss out, open your body without having to burn calories or sculpt it. Rest and play are just as important as action and productivity. Give yourself the gift. Stop and smell the roses in your life.

Email me anytime at danieatslife@gmail.com

Yoga Insights for Body Image and Self Love

14 May

Please feel invited to watch the short video below and/or read the corresponding piece of advice written in response to a great question posed by a wonderful student. I’ve received many similar questions and felt it an important subject to discuss. The written piece has more organized and outlined advice on dealing with negative self-image. The video is a heartfelt, off the cuff response involving my own experiences with this and the helpful insights I’ve learned in overcoming it.

We’re all works in progress. Be kind to yourself. I hope either resonate, and if they do, please feel welcome to share and continue the conversation. Apologies for the video being sideways, I find it apropos given the subject matter. Perfectionism is bullshit, embrace all the quirks.

Hi Dani,

I find myself struggling with body image in such a way that it affects all areas of my confidence and negatively affects my sex life. In truth, this has been with me my whole life. It feels like it’s simply who I am and that feels like an impossible mountain to climb. Is there hope and what can I do?

Thanks for your time,
Rena

Hey there Rena,

It probably doesn’t provide much solace to know that you are not alone, but trust me, you are not alone. In fact, you are in some great company, the company of most western women and a surprising number of men.

Something we practice often in Yoga is making conscious choices to let go of what no longer serves our health and happiness. Our psyches become so accustomed to patterns that we’re then uncomfortable and unsure of how to break them. We have no idea what it feels like to be confident and that unease makes self esteem seem fake or out of reach.

Know this is a process. No one snapped their fingers and decided to let go of insecurities. They grew from knowledge and experience, and more importantly, they grew tired of being the unkind voice in their heads. However comfortable they felt in their patterns, the smarter, more accepting voice within finally spoke louder. And they decided to put in the work to move on.

Some actions you can take to grow your confidence:

By focusing your energy predominantly on your physical, outward attributes, you neglect and dismiss the vast beauty you carry within. This is beyond the cliches of beauty being more than skin deep, it’s about you working to change your vision. You know there is good there, innumerable strengths, but your focus is on external flaws so there is no attention given to boost the positives. Practice this: for every negative thought you have about yourself, body or mind, replace it with 2 positives. And repeat them until you believe them. Practice is essential.
Acknowledge what you do to contribute to your health and happiness, what physical activities you do or don’t do, how you feed your body, and more importantly, how you feed your mind.
The body is a machine and it needs to move to stay vital. This has nothing to do with losing inches, burning calories, fitting into clothes. It has to do with feeling your body work from the inside out. Regardless how your body changes, you’ll feel better when you move it. Find something you like to do, be it walking, dancing, gardening, biking, hiking, playing with your pets or children, Yoga, Pilates, anything to get your blood pumping and pores sweating. And give yourself this gift everyday.
As challenging as it is to change your nutrition, it’s helpful to remember the strong ties our diet has not only with our physical health, but with our moods and energy levels as well. I am a self-confessed foodie. I love it all, healthy, unhealthy, and everything in between. I don’t believe in deprivation or resistance, but rather balance. Take in more of the good (whole foods like fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains and lean meats if you eat them) and leave a small percentage for indulgences (chocolate, fried foods, saturated fats, etc.). The better you eat the better you’ll feel, no matter what the scale reads.
Pay close attention to what consumes your mind. Are the books, articles, TV shows, films and other influences positive? Helpful? Inspiring? Uplifting? Art is most certainly an escape and a means of expressing a truth otherwise uncovered, but if the majority of the material you’re absorbing leaves you feeling less than energized, enthused or informed, then I’d replace it with something that does.
Who’s in your circle? Do your friends and loved ones support you? Are they confident themselves or stuck in similar cycles of discontent? If someone drains you, makes you feel inferior in any way, or contributes more negativity to your life than positive, it may behoove you to take a step back from those relationships. It could be as simple as changing the dialogue within the relationship, expressing your desire to be more positive and open to growth. And at times, it may require stronger moves in a direction of your choosing, either closer to ones you find encouraging, or further away from those less positive.
Be honest with yourself and be honest with others. In order to truly change, you must take a big step outside of these conditioned patterns and acknowledge out loud what you want to feel and how you’re going to make it happen. Trust you are capable and believe you are worthy.
No one is perfect. The western world has set an unfair paradigm for human beings to live up to. It’s unhealthy and unrealistic. Try remembering what a gift it is to be a live, be in awe of the machine you get to live in, and don’t forget it is far more important how you feel than how you look. Sex is meant to be enjoyed without any thought at all, without reverence to measurements and cup sizes. It is unadulterated bliss and can only be fully lived by saying “Fuck it, I’m alive! Someone gets to have sex with me and I get to enjoy all the pleasure my body is capable of feeling. So I’m going to feel it, dammit!”

Patience and practice are pivotal. The more emphasis you place on accepting yourself, as you are, the more your true beauty will be revealed, to both yourself and to others. Happiness and a zest for life are magnetic and human beings are attractive because of the energy they radiate, not because of they’re symmetry or six pack abs. You are already beautiful, you are already enough. Start everyday remembering that simple fact and you will see tremendous growth in your health and happiness sooner than you can imagine.

Please keep me posted!
Dani

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Please feel welcome to engage via social media and follow me at Dani Eats Life on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, or email me at danieatslife@gmail.com.

The Mother I Hope to Be

11 May

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Today is Mother’s Day. Probably a bit cliche to write on this day, but I’m so full of emotion and overflowing with sensitivity I truly cannot help but share all that I’m feeling with any who will resonate.

This happens to me my first momma’s day spent while pregnant. I’m expecting my first child, a reality that blooms ripe with intense concerns and endless what if’s. I’m scared shitless, to be frank. On one hand, I’m glad I waited until 30 to have my first. I did a lot of learning in my twenties, had a lot of fun, experienced a lot of travel, toyed with a couple career options, lived overseas and in big cities.

I think I’m far enough removed from my own childhood to be on own momma, to parent in my own unique way, to be the organic baby food making, cloth diaper using, natural birth having, breast feeding momma I want to be.

But that’s just what I think. What do I feel? Frightened! Confused! So unsure, plagued with doubt, worry and disbelief this is all happening. I wanted this child so much, and still do, but now the surreality of being a mother has me questioning everything. Am I strong enough? Will I know what to do? Am I confident enough to be a genuine role model? Am I enough?

And it was this morning when I woke up that I realized all these questions and concerns were nonsense. I’m sure every first time mother feels their own version of this. These questions can never be answered, certainly not with my mind, not with the endless array of books and advice out there. Nowhere.

I simply must trust that my ability and desire to love and care for this little being will supersede all the mistakes I am sure to make. Each day when I talk to my mom, all I feel is loved, supported, encouraged and uplifted. And that’s all I felt throughout childhood. Even through those formidable moments when you discover your mom is in fact human, I still only felt loved. And that’s what has carried me through my toughest days, my biggest doubts, my lowest lows.

My momma’s love and dedication to being our mom gave us permission to be human, it gave us that invisible net to fall into, so we were unafraid to reach and jump, to be the weird little humans she raised us to be. What better gift can I give my child than that? Than genuine unconditional love? Real love, unwavering love, joyous love.

The mother I hope to be is the momma I had. She never seemed tired of us, bored with us, irritated by us, regretful of her role as our mother. She seemed right at home in our home. She set wise boundaries while letting us test our limits. She instilled a strong sense of compassion for other living beings, a belief in our abilities to work hard and achieve the life we wanted, and most importantly, the ability to love and be loved.

Thank you, Momma. I know I can do this. And when I can’t, at least I have you. I love all you incredible mothers out there. Go hug a mom.

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

7 May

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 danieatslife@gmail.com

Birds Sing & Humans Dream

6 May

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
Forever
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
Building
Thriving
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

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Overcoming Anxiety

1 May

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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 danieatslife@gmail.com for any questions and needs.

Letting Go of Being Let Go

17 Apr

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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 danieatslife@gmail.com!

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