19: Storytelling

“Before television and radio and modern technology we were all storytellers. We sat on living room floors and huddled around campfire flames and shared our talents and perspectives with each other. We were all poets and all writers and we all had something to share.”

On a June night, five years ago, Dave Stringer shared his love for chanting with a packed house at Zuda Yoga in Sacramento. It was the night I fell in love with the Sacramento yoga community. We sang and danced and sweated our asses off. We held hands and raised the roof and the next morning at teacher training, Bill Prysock reminded us that  “just in case you ever go to another one, Kirtans don’t typically go down like that.”

I felt deeply connected to every, single person in that yoga studio. My dear friends and soul-sister teacher trainees and the total strangers who were dancing inside those four walls for the first time. We shared a heartbeat. Every one of us. When I got out of bed the next morning I had the worst energetic hangover of my life. Like the spirit and beauty of all those people had run straight through me like a big, mac, truck.

Through the blur of moments and memories, it’s Dave’s words about storytelling that remain the most powerful, the most clear.

In eight years as a camp counselor, I told hundreds, maybe thousands of stories. I was the best version of myself, crouched low in the fresh-cut grass, with ten or twelve tiny, captivated faces staring up at me, locked into the world, the images, the characters I was creating. It came so easily to me. The adventures and identities and the plot-twists they never saw coming. Sometimes I’d team up with my best friend or my summer-camping soul-mate to add dimension, and detail to the story.

I could spin imagination into words all day long, but when it came to sharing my own, real-life stories, I tensed up, hesitated, and mostly held them in.

And I have a feeling, I’m not the only one.

Somewhere along the way, we all learn to censor ourselves. To edit out the heartbreaking details of struggle and failure and anger and hurt. To fill up the space with “I’m o.k.” and “things are great” and countless versions of what we think other people want to hear from us. When we do share, we choose a beautiful image or a shortened, spruced-up, well-practiced synthesis of what really happened or how we truly feel. We bury the truth in the comfort of politeness and casual conversation. When the story is a good one, we shy away from the fullness of its celebration. Inside we feel victorious and triumphant, but instinctively we limit our outward expression, trapped and constrained by the fear of judgement, or rejection, or a million other made up thoughts about how we’ll be perceived.

Last Thursday night, I stood in front of 300 people, mostly strangers, and told my story.

About fear and anxiety and saying no. About living my life in a tiny box of strict limits and well defined boundaries. About all the ways I was held back by an unwillingness to take even one small step outside my comfort zone. What I didn’t say, is that sharing myself with other people is the biggest, baddest, boldest boundary of them all. That to tell the truth about who I am and how I feel and what I’ve been through, is harder to do than anything else. To feel exposed and unmasked are, to me, the worst of the worst of uncomfortable feelings.

That night I heard eight other stories from eight, beautiful, brilliant, inspiring people. Each of them filled the room with tears and laughter and heart-bursting honesty. Genuineness. Vulnerability. Courage.

The whole place vibrated with connection. We shared a heartbeat. Every one of us.

My dear friend Lyndsey gracefully narrated the event, reminding us, over and over, that we are all the same. That the purpose, the value, the beauty of our sharing is in the opportunity for all of us to witness ourselves in the eyes of the storyteller. To hear our own hurt, our own triumph, our own struggle in the words from the brave mouth of the person speaking. We share to connect. We connect to remember our oneness, in our oneness we are reminded that we’re all this together.

We are all storytellers. We are all poets and writers. We all have something special, something important, to share.

16: Until You Don’t

There’s a mixed CD floating around that I made in the early 2000s. It’s a compilation of powerful, female country artists singing from their broken hearts. There are eighteen tracks. Songs about revenge and sadness and desperation. Lyrics about healing, and recovery and the first time you see your ex. Moments of “I’ll be o.k.” and “I’m moving on” and then, with complete honesty, “I’ll never, get over, you.”

I made it two years after my first, real heart break. I put it together for my college best friend who was on the rebound, from the same guy, for the third time, in four years.

He’s on the short list of people I refuse to forgive, even after ten million hours on my yoga mat.

Two years after that, my best friend since I was thirteen ended a relationship with her live-in boyfriend of five, almost six, years. Theirs was a slow, painful death. It was the kind of disaster that shows up first, way-off in the distance. You see it coming, but refuse to believe it. The dark cloud of the inevitable creeps over the horizon of the rest of your life, constantly threatening to descend on the foreground. Lingering, hovering, dangerously close to ruining everything you know to be true and real and safe.

When it finally arrives it’s like the meteor that killed the dinosaurs.

And you’re the last surviving pterodactyl, climbing out of the wreckage.

Amy needed the prehistoric Red Cross, not Martina Mcbride.

But I gave her the CD anyway.

And several years later, she passed it on to someone else.

There’s nothing like a broken heart.

I was twenty-one the first time I felt the big hurt. The pulsing nausea right in the pit of my stomach. The sleeplessness and the loss of appetite. Sneaking around the back patio of Luvalle commons, down the backside of campus, along my secret escape route, because just laying eyes on him, made me sick.

Crying on the phone in the back of my walk-in closet, whispering to my mom so my roommates wouldn’t hear.

The days where it doesn’t hurt as much as it did yesterday and then suddenly, it hurts twice as much as it did any day before.

The getting back together and the breaking up again.

The reliving, and re-telling and the promising myself, I’ll do better next time.

Heartbreak is the feeling that marks the intensity of every other feeling I’ve ever had.

It’s the biggest and the baddest and in the thick of it, I know it will last forever.

But then, it doesn’t.

I missed my college boyfriend every day for a year and a half. Then, one morning, I woke up feeling whole again. I didn’t want to see him and I stopped dreaming of our future together. I took his pictures off my laptop and let go of  our old stories, especially the ones haunting my every attempt to move on.
I couldn’t predict it and I couldn’t explain it. There was no formula, or step by step.

It hurt until it didn’t hurt anymore.

Feelings, for me, are a challenging beast. I want to rope them down and control them. I want to push them aside when they’re interfering with my life. I want to move through them quickly, and when they linger, I  feel frustrated, and helpless, and impatient.

The raw, painful ones are the toughest. I don’t want to make space for the feelings that fill my whole body. I don’t want to “be in it” or “sit with it” or take bigger, deeper breathes. I want to displace them and be distracted. I don’t want to cry and and I don’t want to “talk to someone” about it.

I just want to feel “better” on my own terms.

I discover, over and over, that feelings are a wild animal, and can’t be tamed. They come on strong, or maybe slowly, but always without a formal announcement. They target my heart and the base of my belly, and migrate up my spine, and neck, then, down, deep in my hips.

Sometimes I feel sluggish and out of sorts. Or inexplicably angry at people who’ve done nothing wrong. Other times I feel energized by the  fear that if I stop moving, I’ll fall, immediately, into a bottomless pit of despair.

I struggle to get power over them.

But never come out on top.

In the summer of 2012 I call Amy to track down “that CD” I gave her. My friend just got dumped by the woman he planned to marry, and I’m desperate to throw him a life line.

He’s a broken-winger dinosaur and I am, once again, an inadequate emergency responder.

“I want to fix it, but I don’t know what to do for him.”

She reminds me there’s nothing I can do, for any of it. “It’ll hurt until it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

That’s the thing about feelings- The sad ones and the happy ones; the pure bliss and the darkest hours; the tingle of new love and the dull, low, burn of anxiety and dread. The ones you want to last forever and the ones you hope you never experience again-

You feel them, all of them. Until you don’t.

15: Time to Relax

My stomach is cramping and my eyes are teary. I can’t get out of the fetal position and every time I try to speak, I’m gasping for breath.

It’s like that, with me and my brother. We laugh so hard we cry, and hurt, and can’t move and can’t speak and can’t do anything, but keep laughing.

We’re in a motel room, during a rare moment of downtime, blocks from the entrance to Disneyland park. We’re watching Patrick Ewing being interviewed on T.V and making ridiculous jokes about the Main Street Electrical Parade. It’s the summer before seventh grade and my family is on the last vacation we ever took together.

None of us know how the next two, six, fifteen years, will change us.

We never do.

Every year of my childhood my dad planned an elaborate, intellectually enriching, family vacation. He had the same two weeks off every year, the last week of July, and the first week of August. They were the only consecutive days, all year where I saw my dad for both breakfast and dinner.  The only family movie nights and daytime adventures and father-son time spent without the yelling, and the homework.

We traveled for exactly ten days and covered between five and eight thousand miles, depending on the destination. We’d fly somewhere domestically, then put as many miles on the rental car as the company allowed, before we outright owned the thing.

We visited a museum dedicated to the artwork of Salvador Dali and another showcasing swords from a spectrum of historical eras and geographic locations. We walked inside Louisa May Alcott’s house and the one with the Seven Gables. We learned about the Salem Witch trials and how Francis Scott Key wrote the national anthem. There were dinosaur remains and scientific phenomena and alligators, eerily close to us, in the Florida everglades. Exotic fish and rare, northwestern mega-fauna, and every Smithsosonian there is, in a single day.

All before I was 12 years old.

In high school, when most of my friends failed it,  I got a “5” on the AP history exam for no reason other than I walked all two and a half miles of Boston’s freedom trail, in size 3 tennis shoes, during the summer of 1995.

We worked for the time we spent at amusement parks, and lounging on the beach. The activities and imagery that define most families’ leisure time, amounted to mere footnotes on our rigorous itinerary.

Every meal had meaning, and every minute had a purpose, and beginning on our visit to Lancaster Pennsylvania, my dad woke us up at Sunrise, every morning with a quote from the movie “Witness.”

“4:30, time for milking.”

Back then, all I knew about my dad is that he had a demanding job and a rare, eccentric personality. I figured our hyper-scheduled family vacations were more a product of who he was, rather than how he did things. To me, the bizarre destinations, long driving stretches and multiple lodging changes were an expression of his uniqueness, more than anything else.

In my adulthood, I spend more time with my dad. We talk and email and share meals where I learn about his life through stories and reflection. I’ve pieced together my childhood memories of him: cleaning car windshields while our extended family is gathered inside around coffee and donuts and the Indianapolis 500; inviting my brother and I to accompany him to the hardware store, plant trees in the backyard or pick weeds from the garden on his days off; fixing appliances or building new toys at my grandparents’ house while everyone else is napping on Christmas morning; and, of course, his relentless pursuit of activity during family vacations.

My dad can’t relax.

He is constantly engaged in a project or challenging task. He only sits when he’s sleeping and he’s uncomfortable with small talk and casual conversation.

He lives to work, even when he’s not working.

Three months ago, when I left my own demanding job, I assumed everything in my life would slow down. I thought the free-time and the deep breaths and the lazy Sundays would show up, automatically. I was exhausted, and over-committed and in a constant state of fear that I was forgetting something important. I was answering emails, in my mind, on my yoga mat and rushing out of class with my head down, determined to avoid any conversation that would delay the checking off of the next item on my to-do list.

I was living to work, even when I wasn’t working.

Anytime I share something about my dad with my friend Parker, he has the same response:

“That nut didn’t fall very far from the tree, did it?”

And sure enough, two weeks after I stopped being a lawyer, I was still running, and running, at full speed. I was measurably happier but still incapable of rest and relaxation. I worked fewer hours but filled the space on my schedule with things to accomplish and energetically aggressive activities.

I mapped out each day with a rigorous,  ambitious itinerary.

I still do.

What I remember most about my family vacations are the sounds and feelings in the spaces between the scheduled events: Cracking inside jokes with my brother while we both rode patiently in the back seat; curled up on the floor of the hotel room, re-capping the days events; important life-talks at the edge of the Northern Atlantic Ocean, with sandy hair and half-zipped wet suits.

The uncontrollable laughter and the quiet comfort of recovering from an adventurous day.

What I remember most about my life are the sounds and feelings in the spaces between the scheduled events: Delirious conversations with my best friend, right before bed; sprawled on the floor with my college roommates entrenched in an important feminist dialogue, then suddenly wondering whether Foster’s Freeze is still open; circled up with my camp kids, reliving beautiful moments from another unforgettable summer. Sitting in the dark in Nick’s living room, laughing hysterically at each other, for no reason at all.

The tears. The silence. The long, deep hugs.

Most days it requires my patience, and focus and renewed dedication.

To live fully in the spaces between the demands of my life. To soak up the beauty, the value, the memories, created in the time to relax.

14: Every Day

Tonight, I hit a wall. I’ve been staring at the open computer screen for two hours, on and off. My best friend and I simultaneously played “What did the fox say” for eachother, while chatting on Facetime. We’re always late to the party, but we go really hard when we get there.

I looked at recipes on the internet then took a bath.

I toweled off and put on my pajamas and sat back down on the couch without so much as a glimmer of inspiration.

“Maybe I shouldn’t write from the couch.”

When I declared my intention to write for thirty days, it felt joyful and exciting. Like it would be beautiful and rewarding and effortless:

It’s daring and challenging and I shiver with excitement when I think about the surge of energy awaiting me at the end of it.

“What an accomplishment.”

When it’s over, I will write a heartfelt victory blog that’s both funny and inspiring. My friends, real and electronic, will undertake thirty day challenges of their own. They will post hilarious videos, or give a stranger a hug, or call their moms, or bake a month’s worth of inventive, cookie recipes.

They will write and sing and live their passion.

And when they feel discouraged, or pressed for time, or turned off by their most recent embrace of an unwitting hug-ee, they will read number fourteen of my thirty for thirty for thirty blogs and recommit to their effort.

I never considered how hard it is to do anything, for thirty days straight.

Make it to yoga and eat enough vegetables and be patient with people in traffic. Respond mindfully to irritating situations and apologize immediately when you don’t. Drink plenty of water and get out in the sunshine and tell the people you love, you love them. Walk the dog and practice gratitude and don’t take any moment of this extraordinary life for granted.

Floss, at least once a day.

In my life, I’ve wanted to give up on everything I didn’t do perfectly, the first time.

And most of the time, I have.

Tonight, I’m reminded that everything I want to do, I can, even if I don’t do it, moment to moment.

In the next breath, the next opportunity, I can begin again.

So tomorrow, just maybe, I’ll write something beautiful and moving and well punctuated.

Or I won’t.

And maybe I’ll let that be o.k., too.

13: What I already know

I took the first phone call the night my brother crashed his motorcycle. The friend he was riding with couldn’t get a hold of my mom. Or my dad. Or my brother’s girlfriend.

So he called me instead.

I remember everything about that night. What I was wearing and how my hair looked and the smell of the North Sacramento teen center where I was hosting an event for my summer camp. The shape of my bent knees and the way my right ankle landed in the arch of my left foot, like a ballerina in third position. I stand that way whenever I’m having an important conversation.

It’s instinct, automatic.

On the other line, an unfamiliar voice tells me there’s been an accident. My brother crashed a motorcycle on garden highway. He hurt his ankle and his shoulder and he’s in the ER.

“My brother has a motorcyle?”

There’s a sickness in my stomach when I admit, at first, I rolled my eyes.

The guy sounds calm and centered and his tone feels reassuring.

“But he’s awfully desperate to get a hold of my mom.”

The conversation ends and I get swept back up in the energy of what was happening before my phone rang. It’s noisy and my kids are demanding and minutes later, my racing heartbeat, starts to calm down. Within an hour, I’m laughing and talking over ice cream and grilled cheese sandwiches. Then, I’m three spoonfuls into my extra thick chocolate milkshake when I’m overcome by nausea, and dread. Out of nowhere, and without explanation. That deep, aching, immobilizing sensation, originating in my belly and radiating out.

“I have to leave.”

I throw cash on the table and get in my car. I’m out of the parking lot and on the road and I don’t even know where I’m going.

Somehow, I get there anyway.

At the hospital, my brother is in the ICU.

“I thought he sprained his ankle.”

They let me see him right away and sometimes,  I wish they hadn’t. He’s mumbling and delirious and as I make my way to the side of his bed, I see his whole body is bloody. It looks like Law and Order SVU when they first discover the victim. It’s gruesome like I didn’t know was possible in real-life.

I was up every, single hour of that, the worst night of my life.

In the morning, I cry. A lot. I cry driving to camp and for six hours after. I cry into my sweet dog’s fur as we’re both lying in my mom’s bed. I try to sleep, but just keep crying.

The night of my brother’s accident changed everything, for all of us. And in the months that followed, filled with “what could have beens?” and “is this really happening?”, I couldn’t shake the feeling that came over me and my milkshake. The why and the how of it, haunted me.

Six and a half years later it makes a little more sense. I have more experience tuning in to my intuition, my truth, and my authentic self. The places in my body that tell the stories my mind tries to ignore. I’m learning to pay attention. To quiet down and listen. To trust that what comes up as a sensation, has meaning in actions, and decisions and words.

Tightness and illness and fatigue and deprivation tell me something I’m doing isn’t working.

Lightness and inspiration and smiles and laughter and enthusiasm inspire me to do more of everything that fires me up.

When I keep running and stay busy and allow myself to get wrapped up in the energy of what’s already happening, I lose the connection to the message, that’s already in there. My knowing voice is silenced, before ever being heard.

When I take a deep breath, and let myself be still, and let go of the idea that something is wrong or bad or fixable, I connect to the knowledge, the wisdom, that’s already in there.

What I already know emerges, takes over, and shows me the way.

12: Be Love

Lawyer. Talk Show Host. Broadcast Journalist. Elementary School Teacher. Author. Professional Football Coach. Filmmaker. Famous Person. Summer Camp Counselor. Senator. President. Supreme ruler of the new empire.

My first conversations about my future career took place before Kindergarten. At the dinner table. In preschool. On play dates with my friends. The story of my life could be retold as a series of vignettes during which I am pursuing my latest new profession. My earliest memory is that I wanted to be a lawyer. In fifth grade I wrote a letter to myself at age 30. In it, I’m the San Francisco District Attorney. I am wildly accomplished, especially for my age. I went to law school straight out of college and quickly became a northern California lawyering sensation, the youngest woman ever to be a D.A.

As a sixth grader, presiding over student government meetings as our school’s President, I envisioned my life on capitol hill. I am a young, sassy senator with an edgy image and a sophisticated wardrobe. I wear Chanel suits accented with glittery lapel pens and chair the governmental affairs committee. I travel across the country speaking to young girls, at elementary schools, about empowering themselves. Be brave, be heard, be seen, be successful.

In junior high, I have a brief desire to be the next Katie Couric, or Diane Sawyer. I feel comfortable and natural sitting in a big, leather chair in a dimly lit room, firing the tough questions at a recently fallen, pop-culture hero. It’s hard-hitting journalism and I’m the best in the business. It’s analytical, and literary, and likely to make me famous some day. I check off my list of important job attributes and decide this is the one.

High school comes and goes and I care more about keeping my 4.0 and getting a date to homecoming than considering what I want to be when I grow up.

During college it’s clear I was put on the planet to do something revolutionary. I have a passion for serving “underserved” populations and now that I’ve discovered it, the possibilities are endless. I wonder if I should be their lawyer, or their teacher or make a documentary film about them.

Maybe I bring them on my talk show and give them money for college.

My whole life I’ve wanted to be a professional football coach. I’d be like Bill Walsh, but smaller and feistier. I’d stand in the middle of the huddle before games and lead the part where the players jump up and down and yell at each other. I’d hold my clipboard over my face when I’m calling the plays, and mouth the f-word when the refs misses a call. The network camera people will show my mom pacing in a luxury box, appearing completely stressed out, even when we’re winning by ten points.

For all the things I wanted to be, I never considered how I was already being. How I treated people and what it felt like to be around me. Because I didn’t have a value for being kind and compassionate, sometimes I was and sometimes I wasn’t. Being nice to strangers, and even harder, people I knew, wasn’t going to add to my prestige or power or further my climb of the fame ladder toward permanent infamy, so it didn’t matter much, to me.

It’s weird because my mom is the nicest, most compassionate, most loving person on earth.

Three years ago, I was being a yoga teacher and being a law student and being the smart, successful person I always knew I would be. For each new endeavor, I imagined my achievement of its pinnacle as the wonder-drug that would suddenly make me happy.

If everything I already am isn’t enough, there has to be more I can be.

I decided to be different. Everywhere in my life. I dedicated energy and intention to cultivating kindness like it was going to land me my dream job. I decided to be nice first and judge later and treat everyone like they were my best friend, already. I gave more hugs and said more “I love yous” and tried to be more like my mom. It mattered to me how I left a first impression, and how people felt, when they were around me.

The mantras I’d always known: be smart, be rich, be powerful, be perfect- gave way to the only one I needed.

Be love.

Be open. Show compassion. Share your lunch. Give a hug and look into people’s eyes and say hello when you see a stranger. Hold the door open and pick up something someone else dropped. On their birthday, write a long note to the people you love and tell them what they mean to you. When you feel angry and frustrated, breathe in gratitude for the experience of being alive. Remember that everyone has a story, and a reason, they act the way they do. Don’t force people to earn your affection, give freely without expectation.

Being love, for me, requires my full attention. I’m better than I used to be, but still a work in progress. I am sometimes nasty and judgmental and reactive all at once. I take people for granted and I don’t practice gratitude and I’m mean to the people around me. I talk over people, and about people, behind their back.

But I can always return to who and what and how I want to be. And remind myself why it’s important.

Today would have been my friend Heather’s 55th birthday. She was pure love, every day of her life. She wrapped everyone else in it, and helped us spread it around. She was open and honest and because she was completely human, the first to admit when she was being less than loving. When I knew I was losing her, I felt like the world needed me to fill the void of good vibes and love between strangers and pure joy, she’d be leaving. I wanted to preserve her legacy. I knew we would all be worse off without her, and I wanted to ease the suffering, somehow. Heather left her mark on this life by impacting the people in it. With her laugh and smile and energy and wholeness. With the way she made us feel when we were around her.

In every day, in every moment she loved. With kindness and generosity.

At a time in my life when I have no idea what I want to be someday, I know how I can be, until, and after, I figure it out.

11: Slow Flow

I argued my first legal case when I was nineteen. I got a speeding ticket, the night before Christmas Eve, while driving my friends to look at Christmas lights during our first holiday home from college.

I knew what it felt like to soar past the speed limit, heading east on highway fifty, and was certain I hadn’t been doing it, that night. When I asked to see his radar gun, the cop who pulled me over claimed he used his odometer to track my speed. He wrote “80+” on the ticket, an error of imprecision he might have thought twice about if he’d known I would be a lawyer some day. Nothing about his side of the story made sense and I was confident I could evade the fine by fast talking my way through a more accurate account of the events in court.

And so I did.

The judge told me I made an “impressive argument” and reduced what I owed to the minimum amount. I left the courtroom with a sense of pride and accomplishment, peeled out of the parking lot, and sped home.

In three years I racked up three more speeding tickets. Most memorably, Kern County earned 900 hundred of my dad’s dollars after I was pulled over tearing down the grapevine in my ’93 Honda Civic.

I drive fast, like my dad. But with worse luck and less intimidation. My dad is 62 and still without a moving violation. He told me once that he has an “aura” that people “don’t want to fuck with.” “You can drive as fast as you want, Boney, as long as nobody wants to pull you over.”

That was right after the grapevine debacle, and I haven’t been ticketed since.

I do other stuff fast, too.

I talk fast and walk fast and am a hyper-efficient shopper. I get through crowds and lines at Disneyland like I have a superpower for it. I think fast. I read fast and I cook fast, too.

I like to rev it up and “get ‘er done” and get bored if I’m just sitting. My favorite days end with me in a gelatinous blob of fatigue, on my couch, completely spent from at least eight hours of adventure.

In college, I was famous for racing up “Bruinwalk,” with an arm full of supplies for my mentoring program. Bruinwalk is a steep, narrow path that leads to all the humanities classrooms at UCLA. I was always running late and typically tackling it at full speed. It’s common to see people you know on such a crowded stretch of land, and, whenever I did, they told me “you look so busy,” and “can I help you with that?”

“I got it.”

And I’d scamper off to my next, important destination.

I signed up for a beginner’s yoga series during the last quarter of my senior year. At the end of the first class, I wondered when we would get to the exercise.

“I can’t possibly be getting my money’s worth from two or three lunges and a bunch of flopping around on the floor.”

But as I came to my feet and packed up my stuff, I felt undeniably different.

This isn’t my “fell in love with yoga” story, though. I finished out the series, but didn’t pursue it after that. I couldn’t find an hour in my day to just “stretch a little.” There were too many other things to do.

Four months after I graduated, I found Santa Monica Power Yoga. We moved quickly, through many poses, and spent more time on our feet. I sweat, and struggled and had difficulty finding my breath.

By the time I hit savasana, I was a gelatinous blob of fatigue.

I came back to the studio “to get my ass kicked,” and I’ve been a power yogi ever since. The strong, athletic practice, the sweat on my face and heat in the room and burn in my legs when we’re lunging. The swift, endless vinyasas through fluid sun salutations, and, later, a powerful, aggressive flow.

For the last seven years, it’s brought me back to my mat, six days a week.

And for the first five years, my yoga practice mirrored, but never altered, the pace of my life.

Only recently, the impact of seven years of yoga reveals itself to me as the pleasure of slowing down. The beauty of cuddling with my mom’s dogs, on her floor, for twenty minutes at a time. Waking up early to sip coffee and sit in silence, before the fury of the day takes shape. Meditation, time by myself, reading, reflecting, breathing.

The love of a deep, slow, yin practice, after a long day of work.

This morning, I took a power vinyasa class from the teacher of the fiercest, fastest flow in town.

Today, we move slowly, and deliberately, through a mindful, simple sequence with an emphasis on our breath. There are fewer chattarungas and not as many droplets of sweat. In savasana, my whole body relaxes as the room gets completely dark. A sensation of full surrender comes over me and the transformation that first brought me back to my yoga mat is renewed again.