Deep Breaths and Small Victories.

Growth often starts in quantum leaps, and these are precious, often terrifying moments. When that leap presents itself, can you recognize it? Are you willing to take it? – Ana Forrest

It seems like I’ve had the idea that Yoga could offer me some great healing and a great opportunity for growth, for a long, long time. I took my first class over ten years ago and I was terrible at it, but I wanted more. I knew that there was real healing to be found in Yoga if only I could just force myself to find a way to get in a regular practice.

The problem for me is that “regular” is not really part of my vocabulary. There is nothing regular about my life. In fact, it’s so far from regular, that finding a way to incorporate such difficult work on a daily basis is about the hardest thing that I will ever do. (I thought it was quitting smoking, but it turns out, practicing yoga daily is much harder.)

There has never been anything regular about my life. The only things I’ve done everyday are things that are harmful to me; like drinking vodka until I pass out, smoking too many cigarettes, or obsessively checking Facebook for someone new to unintentionally judge. (This is a vice that I’m quickly learning that I must be growing close to tired of, because I complain about it constantly….but I’ll save my feelings on that for another day…) Truthfully, I don’t even pray or meditate everyday, even though I like to think that I do. It’s more like four days a week… sometimes more, sometimes less…usually motivated by the amount pain that I am in. It’s not that I don’t want to do things that are good for me. I really like enlarging my spiritual life by spending time in the morning with God, or getting my ass to the gym after a long day of work, or getting up to do sun salutations BEFORE I even start those long days of work. But, I just can’t seem to find the time. It is a great conundrum; this life of mine. On one hand, I feel like I have too much free time and can’t seem to make good use of it. And yet, on the other hand, I feel like I am too busy. I never seem to have enough time to spend with the people that I love, nor do I feel like I have enough time to DO the things that I love. But in reality, I have more free time than I ever dreamed of having, so where is it all going?

The fact that I am asking myself this question and that I’m aware that there is something very wrong here, is a sign that Yoga is starting to work some magic in my life. This, this is where things begin to get awesome. That “quantum leap of growth” that is mentioned in the above quote. I’m discovering that when I find the time to get myself to the mat, despite how busy and rushed my day may feel, I always seem to find more time to do the other stuff I was convinced I wouldn’t have time to do. The same goes for the mornings that I get up to pray and spend some time with God. AND, if I make time after that, to salute the day with some sun salutations and give my breath a chance to open up my heart, I end up having a pretty amazing day.

Just like Lauryn Hill said, “It could all be so simple, but you’d rather make it hard.” I don’t know how to not fight against the simplicity of my life. How to be okay with the fact that I’d rather spend time alone at home on a Saturday night than go out dancing with people. Or how to pack my bags before I go to bed, instead of in the morning when I’m half asleep. (I forget important things like makeup and underwear that way I end up feeling distressed and messy for days. )Not good. These are real life issues that I’m hoping that Yoga helps bring some ease into.  Because I’m doing things now that I never thought I’d be able to do. A week ago, I couldn’t do a Half-Pigeon pose without a block under my hip. I fought that pose with every bit of fighter that I have inside of me, but still found myself requesting it in every class when the teachers asked for special requests. For months now, this pose has brought me to tears, told me that I am broken, not capable, not worthy, and never going to get IT. Today, I found myself lying blissfully on my mat, with breath flowing through me all the way down through my hips to my toes, in an  ALMOST perfect half-pigeon. (I’m learning that nothing is ever perfect in Yoga, it’s called practice for a reason.)

I feel like this post is all over the place because I’ve been writing in pieces all day, but oh well. Basically, the important truth is that for a long time, I’ve thought that Yoga was the missing link of my sobriety. But I think that my reasons for getting to the mat initially were all wrong. I thought that once I got some rocking arms and a Yoga tush that all would be well. I didn’t realize that the small victories that one achieves by committing themselves to practice end up being so symbolic of so many other things. This is just from two months of regular practice. It’s crazy good. It’s so amazing to have my body tell me stories that I have never given it the chance to tell me. Can’t wait to see what other secrets and stories she has to tell.

Namaste.

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Conflict, courage, change.

I woke up this morning with an emptiness in my chest and it didn’t go away all day. I did ten sun salutations and brought the spirit of the universe into my day and asked for help to let it all go. But I still couldn’t breathe in or out without feeling the emptiness that was there when I woke. I cried myself to sleep last night because I know that everything will be different now, it must be. I had to let a friend go last night and it hurts. It hurts, bad. I don’t even know how I’ll get over this, but I’m sure I will. I also know that things couldn’t go on the way they were going or I was going to end up in even more pain than I’m in right now. It sucks. I’m mad at myself, I’m mad at him, and I’m mad at God.

But despite the anger and the sadness and the emptiness and the all around yuck that I feel today, I also feel a lightness that I do not feel when I”m deep in the trenches of my obsession with this man. I feel the same lightness combined with the same sadness that I felt when I said goodbye to drugs and alcohol a couple of years ago. There is no other way to describe that lightness besides freedom. Freedom from the obsession of the mind and freedom from the belief that I could make him love me. 

Finding a way to explain my need to cut ties with him was almost impossible. There were tears. There was a lot of talking in circles, but in the end, I let it be known that I can’t be the best version of myself when I’m around him, because I’m always trying to find a way to be right for him. Even though, deep down inside, I know he is not right for me. It was so fucking painful. So much inner conflict, so much contradiction. You know, here I am trying to be this spiritual-being who trusts in God and works hard on herself and believes that life is supposed to be a beautiful work of art in which you show up with 100% of yourself and breathe deeply through conflict and fear and walk away from shame and feelings of inadequacy. And then everyday, I’m placing myself in a position to be hurt by a man who has made it pretty clear that he just doesn’t have those feelings for me. I’m texting, I’m calling, and I’m rearranging my life to make more room for him, so that I can take care of him. Even though, it’s been made pretty clear to me that I don’t want to take care of anyone, what I really want is someone who will take care of me. Or at the very least, someone who will put as much effort into taking care of me as I put into taking care of them.

Ohhhhhhhh, the contradiction, the unnecessary drama, and the excruciating pain. I know that the pain is probably here to stay for a bit, but I hope I’ve said goodbye to the other two for good. Finding the courage to stand up for myself and let him hear me was really, really hard for me. But it also felt really good to voice my concern about my inability to love myself 100% when he’s around. I don’t know if he was listening, but I was listening, and now that I have said those words, I can’t go back. If I continue to spend time with a person who makes loving myself as much as possible, impossible…I’m doing something wrong. And that’s the most important thing I have to carry with me as I go forward. Any person that I choose to spend time with who voluntary or involuntarily inhibits me from being the best Lori that I can be, is NOT FOR ME.

You see, there is this thing about living an examined life, like the one that I am living. It ebbs and flows, yes. But the good times are so much more fun when you show up with all of yourself and you don’t have half of yourself in a constant state of “What if?” or “When?”. And the times when you don’t feel so great are SO much easier when you’re with people who remind you that life can be better when you’re down in the dumps. 

I have a good idea in my head of what is waiting for me once I cross a few hurdles and get through some difficult things, probably more hurdles and more difficult things, because that’s what life is all about. BUT, I also know that somewhere in between those hurdles and difficult stuff, is going to be an amazing person who will grab my hand and cross those hurdles with me. But that person will never find me, if I keep standing where I am. I have to keep moving and growing.

So far, 2013 has not gotten the start that I would have liked. There has been a lot of confusion and fear, but that ends right here. I’m looking forward with certainty that this month will be a little hiccup of a learning experience in which I will find that I learned loads about myself. In other words, I’m back. Back to the business of loving myself and being of maximum service to others. Take that, January.

 

Hello, hello!

Oh how I love new beginnings, new adventures. Maybe this is why I love New Year’s Day so much. It’s the perfect opportunity to start over, hit the reset button, and say hello to a fresh start. I love mornings, I love new months, I love new seasons, and I really, really love THIS new year.

2012 was a learning year, a growing year. Biggest year of learning yet. I learned that I am capable of traveling across foreign lands in smelly busses and that not only am I capable of this, I actually really, REALLY LOVE It. I learned that I can travel to foreign countries by myself, but that I shouldn’t go for TOO long. I learned how to surf. I learned that I am capable of riding my bike all over the city of Chicago, but that I am never to leave home without my helmet. I learned that no amount of travel will fulfill me if I am not fulfilled right here at home. I learned that you can’t convince someone that they should love you the way that you love them and I also learned that life is too short to spend my time trying to do just that. I learned that I have a lot of work to do on myself, but there are so many amazing things and people out that are worth working hard for, myself being the most amazing prize of them all. I learned that loving myself is just as important as loving other people, but finding the right balance between loving myself and loving others will be harder than anything else I’ve done yet, including standing on a surfboard or giving up cigarettes (40 days today, btw!). I’ve not only learned to tolerate running, I’ve learned to look forward to it, to crave it. I’ve learned the importance of prayer, the beauty of silence and meditation, the freedom of a clean house, and that when all else fails, there is real therapeutic abundance that comes with scrubbing my floors. 

If I carry those last few lessons with me into the new year, I think I”ll be Okay. Living a beautiful, healthy life is what this year is about for me. It’s not about new year’s resolutions, stamps on my passport, losing 15 lbs, or finding a man and falling in love. It’s about continuing to make my life a beautiful work of art. It’s about knowing that sometimes I might make mistakes and pick the wrong color and it’s about finding a way to see beauty in the flaws. It’s about a more simple way of living, wIth fewer ups and downs and hopefully less bruises. No matter what happens, it’s gonna be beautiful, because I have faith and I have YOU.

Let’s make beautiful art together this year. It will be fun!