To Live and Love - A Journey of Surrender Through Joy and Pain

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Does life ever seem to just slow down, for a second, like you are watching life happen in slow motion? For me this happens from time to time and the sound is internal. The noises become like white noise or even quite in my mind and my eyes see different. Today I see people at Whole Foods hustling. They are eating and packing their groceries and texting. Some people are smiling while others look tired and others heavy with grief.

Where are they going? What are they cooking for dinner? What are they thinking about? When is the last time they were held or heard the words “I love you?” How are they feeling with the dynamics of the world lately? Are they hurting with the loss of the fires? Have they lost a good friend or lover recently? Have they found joy in something special?

I think these questions and more. Are these people that are going about life connected or numb? Or perhaps a little of both? Do they know their purpose? Do they even contemplate this question? Are they running on fumes or rested?

The answers to these questions and more are unknown to me yet available to each person.. All I know is what I can see, feel, hear, taste and touch.

Today I sense that life is delicate and bold and beautiful. When these moments happen it is hard for me to fully articulate what this feels like. The closest thing I can compare it to is looking at a meteor shower. Have you ever watched a lot of shooting stars in a dark night? As you are outside the rest of the life simple stops and you can so clearly feel and know that there is something out there that is bigger than you. Something so grand and complex that everything works together. The sun rises and sets. The seasons change. The birds chirp as the sun rises. The list goes on and on. Nature is perfect and somehow this life things works, despite my ability to sometimes comprehend how.

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So today, I sit with headphones in, I pause in this moment. I am in awe of simply being a human. I am in awe of experiencing all of life: the joy, the pain, the sorrow, the worry and the love. All of it. It is intense and amazing and hard all at the same time.

Can you relate? Are you someone that feels intensely or worries? For those of you that know me, I am a worrier and a feeler. I can feel all of the feelings so strong that sometimes it overwhelms me and I cannot breathe deep or understand the depth of life. And in these moments I allow myself to take it in and pause. And then get back to being grounded and find room and moments to breathe and be grateful. The other thing I will honest with is my fear of loss. My worry has been very intense since I was young. I feel like since I have been young, I have been waiting for the call that something bad has happened. In fact, even today, my dad called me and the slightest pause in the “Hello Kitten” made my heart drop. My heart was pounding in my chest and I thought/felt “what is wrong? What happened?” Oh, dear. That isn’t fun or necessary, but sometimes is my reality.

I mean, that doesn’t seem productive or even normal. As I’ve been working with my therapist on this, I have trained my mind to think the chance of something bad to happen to be heavily skewed to a higher percentage of it to happen.

Why I am sharing this with you? Well, for starters, I want to be clear that this thought pattern of being on high alert has not been valuable to my mental or physical health. It can through my rhythm in a moments notice.

However, it is my reality. It is my work in progress. It is the story behind me trying my best in life. It is the story behind my smile and showing up in life. It is my battle of letting go fully and surrendering enough to say, “I am living; I am loving.”

But then again, what does it mean to live? Does it mean going through the motions and hustle? Or does it does it mean to connect? Does it mean to be at ease in the good times and soft and open to healing and hurt in the not so pretty times?

Honestly, I truly am thinking a lot about life. I am clear if one thing, that when I am connected to source, and I take time to pause, and breathe I have a better life. I am kinder to those I love. I am kinder to myself, I have more patience, resilience, joy, and faith. And so I strive to do more of this in the form of gratitude, meditation, and honoring life by taking care of myself.

What I am not so clear on is this whole loss thing. The pain of life is so intense. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of our dear friend Erik who left us on August 7, 2018. Why Erik? Why did a man that had such a positive impact and love have to leave us so soon? Will any of this every make any sense at all? What about his beautiful wife and three kiddos? Why them? And then how do we surrender to bad shit like this happening?

Honestly, I don’t understand nor do I pretend to know if I will ever comprehend. But what I know is that to honor Erik and all those that have passed or are living and experienced grief, I will do my best to honor the life I do have. And I will take it a day at a time. I know it is cheesy and hard all at the same time.

I want to prevent the hurt and pain. For me, for James, for my kids and my mom and dad and sisters and brothers. I want to avoid pain at all costs. I want to never have to get that call again and I want the pain in the world to go away. But what if my job isn’t to do everything I can to avoid that? What if my job, rather, is to surrender to it all. What if my job is to trust that no matter the crappy things that happen, there will also be joy and peace within. To know and own in my journey that there will be light and joy along the way.

Maybe the point is to give so much thanks to our blessings that we spread even more? What if we do even more good? And instead of waste precious moments worrying about would or could happen should there be tragedy, what it we simply surrender to the blessings now? And then know that this is a choice to surrender each and every day. It isn’t something you buy at Target or Amazon, rather, it is a choice that we make each and every day and moments through the day. I think I can even get on board with that (and am trying, I promise).

And it also isn’t saying that to surrender doesn’t mean to show up for you and those around you. For example, do you care about animal rights? Go after it. Channel it and do good things. Do you worry about guns in schools and pretty much everywhere these days? Try your best to surrender and be at ease and then channel your frustration to volunteer or raise money to change laws.

That is the balance. That is the gift we get to choose. And then we take a deep breath again and again to connect, to believe in something and to keep showing up.

What do you choose? How do you show up for you and life? How do you surrender and let go, yet fight for something you believe in. How do you hold those close to you but not grip and worry so much that aren’t able to live or feel the feelings of love and joy?

That is my deep question for you as we enter this holiday week. There isn’t an answer that is right or wrong. The quote in the bathroom today at mXe said “Be Where You Are.”

My wish for you is to do just that. Be right where you are. Be aware and kind. Contemplate the gift of life and how it can be beautiful and divine and so many things. And honor all of your feelings today. And know that you are loved and not alone.

Peace, love, and healing to all of you beautiful humans.

Kristin

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Be Where You Are

40 day look back and forward (Everyone is behind too!)—Check in Monday, Nov. 21, 2016

I don't know about you, but I have felt behind on literally everything the last couple weeks. As you can see this post for this Monday check-in arrives on Tuesday. Each year in Sept/October I devise a plan. i feel so smart and strategic; it is almost as though I have figured it out. I think to myself, "this year I am not going to be behind during the holidays and this year I am going to love them because I am going to alleviate all of the stress and do everything early. By December I will be making Christmas cookies, hanging out with friends, going to yoga and maybe even picking up a craft at the craft store!" How about it right? In theory this seems amazing and doable. However, in reality this is never the case. And yes, there is a rare group of people that execute everything early and are amazing at this, in fact they likely thrive in this environment. If that is you, damn you are awesome and if you are willing to share your tips I am all ears. I might even send you a gift in return because I can use all of the help I can get. But what I am hearing among my friends, family and even students in my classes is that their lists are long too! They are behind and feel like they are letting everything slide. And, my friends, I am a full-time stay-at-home mom a lot more than I spend time teaching classes or working on my business. Even with that extra time I am behind!

So what is a girl to do? The words that comes to mind are surrender and soften. As I say to my yoga students, relax your face and jaw and even your mind. Can you loosen your grip on this list and know that maybe everyone else feels the same way and that if it all doesn't get done, well, tomorrow will come? I sometimes think if I just do an extra push, skip the yoga practice or the sleep I will catch up, but then I become tired or angry and depleted. It is no fun and it never works. I think secretly I thrive on adrenaline (another reason I am likely in a continual fight with my adrenals), but that is not the point of today's post. My point is this, instead of focus on the long list of what is left to do or what you haven't gotten to yet, what if we just smile and nod because we are not alone and perhaps everyone is behind too? And what if instead of look at our lists, what if we look back?

Not too long ago my six-year old daughter reminded us, "there are 50 days left in the calendar year." I remember when she said this I am sure my eyeballs popped out of my head because for sure I could see my dream of having it all done so I could bake cookies quickly slip away. The same day she shared this I was on a run and I had this huge aha-moment. Are you ready for this (you might want to sit down for this)? What if we start to look back at the last year now, instead of wait until the New Year is quickly upon us? We all know that in a month's time social media will be flooded with all the various ways to reflect on last year and set the perfect resolution for next year. Right (insert head nod)? 

This week I am challenging myself and YOU to do the same. We have 40 days exactly until the New Year! Get a pen and paper (or your phone and open up the notepad). Do it now, you won't be sorry. Think about the last year and make a list of all the successes, little and big that you have have accomplished this year. If you are anything like me you may have days, weeks, and moments that you are continually doing everything you can to strive to be better and you are SO hard on yourself. Nobody is perfect and we all have tough days, weeks and months. But I am sure that you have moments that you have forgotten that you kicked ass at something. It can be anything that you are proud of whether it is at home or work or you overcoming something that was harder than you ever imagined on your heart and soul. But here you are, today, reading this blog. If you haven't grabbed your paper, please do it now. 

A live smile shot for you (see lists in background) :) 

A live smile shot for you (see lists in background) :) 

When I got this idea on my run I began to do it immediately in my head of course. Prior to the run I was feeling hard on myself because I was behind on everything: my house was a disaster, I was planning another class at the last minute, I felt like I wanted my business to be moving faster than it was, and I still didn't fit in my clothes or make enough healthy food. And then this came to me. Why not focus on what you have done amazing at? As soon as I started to go through my memory lane of 2016 I began to curl my lips up and smile. My smile was so big as I continued the exercise (in my head) that I even noticed the strangers I passed smile back at me. I am sure they could feel my joy and pride coming from me as I jogged slowly by. I felt so grateful for my run now because not only did I get away from the shit show at home, but I also was able to create a huge shift in my perspective. I no longer felt frustrated with my said list (that is now longer), but I felt proud of how far I had come. Was everything perfect? Hell no. But, I had little and big moments I was proud of, and that kept me going on my run. And looking back and feeling proud and grateful  keeps me going on my list and simply showing up in my life as mom and my dreams.

Here is my stab at it - My 2016 reflections: 

  • I started my website and blog. I had been ghost blogging in a folder on my desktop for years and I finally put myself out there and did it. This desire came deep from my soul; I created a sankalpa (resolution in sanskrit). In less than 12 months my resolution was a reality. Not too shabby for someone that is technically challenged. Seriously, sometimes I cannot even google things and not get confused. Reading this makes me think...why have I not created a solid sankalpa again? Indeed that is happening next week. Should I add it to the list? :) 
  • I hired a life coach to continue my healing heart and eating disorder. I continued to feel lost and struggled a lot in many areas. This investment in me was a huge blessing and of course makes me feel vulnerable because it costs money and it is clearly saying, I need the support of not just me. I knew I couldn't do it alone and for this I am proud to say has changed my life. Thank you Laura Burkey!
  • I started teaching barre in February of 2016. I fell in love with the format shortly after I had my son at a time when I felt more disconnected to my body than I had ever been (in particular my core). I completed the Barre Training through Blooma the fall of 2015 and made my dream of teaching a new format that I was passionate about become a reality. I still remember how much I was in my head my first mock-class. Prepping for that was a ton of work, but if you don't put yourself out there, well, you will simply keep watching. 
  • I completed a yoga weekend training with Rod Stryker and stayed in a hotel for two nights away from the family! I loved the training, the people and friendships, but being way from my family helped me feel free! I missed them terribly but It was the first time I was away since my son was born (he turned three in September). 
  • I decided against running any long races. That is right, I LOVE running races in the spring, summer and fall and despite my strong desire to pick up the miles and run more I listened to my intuition. I knew my adrenals still felt pretty depleted and the best thing for me was to run the lake when I could and look forward to a race at a different time in my life. I guess you could call this listening to my body (even though I resist this term-read here). 
  • I enrolled in Rod Stryker's Vinyasa Krama: The Energetics of Sequencing online training and I am currently working on this with my dharma sister. It is a big commitment and I am learning a lot. I cannot wait to apply what I am learning to my practice, life and teaching. 
  • I created a "happy summer!" for my kiddos. Well, it wasn't all Mary-Poppins, but I feel like I tried to create memories and love. The funny story is that about 30-minutes into summer break I was so flipping annoyed that as I walked away from the kids in my attempt to not yell I couldn't hold back any longer and I screamed at the top of my lungs, "Happy Summer!" I was so mad, but couldn't help but joke around later and make my unnecessary drama a joke to lighten the mood. I suppose this was a good lesson for my kids to see right? 
  • I went on an airplane for the first time by myself AND rented a car. I drove through San Francisco out to wine country for a short commute of almost three hours all by myself! I felt like a badass because it was totally out of my comfort zone. But I did it with the help of my yoga breathing and my Young Living Peace and Calming. 
  • Oh, did I mentioned that fed my kids many snacks, meals, gave baths, wiped tears and more! Yup, it all adds up right? I think I even got them check-ups at the doctor and dentist.
  • Finally, I say that I am sorry when I suck as a mama. I think, for my own parenting style, that works for me. I always want my kids to feel like we are a team and being human is a reality. Love and kindness win in my world. 

I am so very grateful for this list and for the perspective of being proud of what I have done and how I continue to show up and do my very best each day. I know I can feel even better than I do now, but I know it isn't by tackling my list and being ahead of it all. Rather, it is more about the perspective that I choose to have. It is about pausing and reflecting. It is about being proud of what I have done and of how I have grown from the moments I am not proud of or things that didn't go as I had hoped. God knows my list will maybe get short when my kids are out of the house and that is not something I wish for. In fact, I long for a way to slow down how they are getting older. I long for my ability to able to truly be present with them and not think about what I am not getting done. Yes, that happens to me a lot and I wonder..."am I truly ever present with this little gifts that live under my house?" The answer to that is yes and no, but again I am not going for perfection.

So this Thanksgiving week I am curling my lips up and I am smiling! Not because I have a long list of accomplishments but because I was true to myself and I know in my heart I am so darn determined to continue to do everything I can to shine as bright as I can. I know that taking care of me so that I can truly be my best version of me is the only thing in my control. And I know the world needs all of us to dig into that place. The yogi in me knows that this light is there in all of us, even when we are down and don't know it. We always have access to it.

My friends, you ALL deserve to smile and be proud and say, "I am amazing and I am enough!"  

Have you started your list? Can you jot down the list and say good job to you? Give thanks to the YOU that you are. We need each and everyone of you...exactly as you are! Happy Thanksgiving week.

Sending you so much love, light and gratitude,

Kristin