I grew up a runner so I made sure to wear my best running shoes in this picture. A neighbor even nicknamed me, “road-runner” since I had a habit of going out for a run as early as age six. I’d be running away from home, running away from my fears, and today I still find myself running from anything that doesn’t make me feel good about myself. Now that I have found a place in my life for my physical practice of yoga and I am a certified yoga instructor, I have created a nice balance to the workouts I have always loved. This pose, and this picture show not only the things that I love but also the beauty of who I am.
“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” -Barbara de Angelis
I am going to ask you to set an intention towards your biggest dream. See it there in front of you and think about what it will take from you to accomplish it. Drop all your fears, shut out the noise and all judgments. Plan to jump over any assumed hurdle, and even if it is just for one second, believe in it. Take a deep breath in, and know that you are stronger than you think. Now, take a deep breath out exhaling out any left over doubt. Make a change today towards your biggest dreams, and ask for the strength to take on all of your best intentions. Say how you feel, but be mindful that afterwards it might be uncomfortable. If you aren’t happy where you work, leave the job you hate to ensure that you love what you do. Make a timeline for your next adventure so that it will refresh you. Keep working hard. Dig into your passions, and revisit them often. When there is love available, cherish ever moment with every ounce of your heart. Stand up for things that matter, don’t settle, and never apologize for whom you are. Be where your feet are and remember you are never going backwards. Today, I am asking you to be fucking brave.
“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free”- Aristotle
How often does your dream get put on the back burner because of fear? I’m talking about any thought, comment or situation that is getting in the way of you achieving your dreams. A dictionary definition of fear is “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil or pain”. Whether the threat is real or imagined, the feeling or condition of fear is being afraid. In my recent situation of seeking new employment opportunities I have imagined as well as battled many different types of fears that were testing my positivity, my motivation, and my ability to move forward. Fear crept up in my mind and brainwashed my self-love into thinking that I wasn’t good enough for certain positions. It also created negative thoughts that left me questioning my capabilities and ultimately just stumping my creativity. Do you know what a fearful person does when these things start happening? Not much. Regardless of any “truth” my fears had against me, I pulled out of the negativity by believing that fear is a BIG liar. I reminded myself every day of my strengths and told myself that if something didn’t work out it wasn’t because of a lack of capability (like fear told me) but that it was because it wasn’t the right position to get me to my next dream or goal. It is best to keep facing your fear head-on and stand up to it instead of letting it control you.
Fear loves to scare you and sometimes that is exactly what you need to get you going! After losing my job so unexpectedly I was able to review the direction of my life and reflect on my past experiences to truly come to a conclusion of how unhappy I had been at my past job anyhow! It literally makes me laugh in the face of fear and thank it for waking me the heck up! I have learned to recognize my relationship with fear and sometimes I have to tell fear that it is mistaken and the feeling of fear in any occurrence intrigues me instead of breaking me.
I wasn’t always aware that you needed to be fear- combative to reach your dreams but I picked up on my ability to see through it about two years ago when I started to understand that if I didn’t face my opponent I would be left living in regret. By choosing to rise above the scenarios that fear builds, you reach unimagined accomplishments and dreams. For years I dreamed of living in New York City and when the time in my life came that I was offered an opportunity to move to the “Big Apple” with a job and an apartment my first reaction was to back away. You would think I would have been ecstatic and jumping up and down at the thought of my dream coming true, but fear filled my mind with toxic thoughts that were never a part of the picture before. Think back on all the times you listened to your fears and failed to work through them. Did they kill more dreams than any real life failures did? If I hadn’t moved to New York, I would never have found my love for yoga, a new career path or the confidence to share my dreams with you.
I would hate for you to risk a dream of yours by listening to the lies of your fears and running away from them like I did in my past. Keep dreaming, and keep on fear-slaying!
Here are some of my favorite quotes about fear:
· Fear is used to control you
· Always do what you’re afraid to do
· Let your faith be bigger than your fears
· Fear is a lie
· Try again. Fail again. Fail better
· Sometimes your greatest opponent is your mind
· Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will
· Feel the fear, and do it anyway
· Fears are stories we tell ourselves
· Everything you want is on the other side of fear
· Forget everything and run, face everything and rise
· Fear is stupid, so are regrets
· If your dream doesn’t scare you, then it’s not big enough
“Dizzy From all this spinning”
–Dave Matthews Band
I met yoga for the first time when I bought a restorative and breathing yoga DVD at Best Buy during Christmas break in my last year of college. I was stranded in Tallahassee during another semester/holiday break where the entirety of my classmates and friends headed to their hometowns. It always left the city feeling empty and ghostlike. I could not leave town because of bills I was responsible for and the obligations I had at all three of my jobs. One night while arriving home from work to an empty four-bedroom, roommate-less house, I started the usual “poor me” thoughts about not being able to run home to a family safety net. When I stepped into my room and set my belongings on my bed, I looked down at my flea-market zebra-print rug and something encouraged me to sit down in the middle and start to meditate. I don’t recall knowing anything about meditating or figuring out why I felt the need to sit cross-legged on my floor with my eyes closed and palms up. I think I was mimicking practices I had picked up as a child when I would hide in my closet and close my eyes for comfort. Or maybe I was seeking the calming effect I had learned about in my Buddhist religion class. I sat on the floor in my room for the rest of the evening, and the next morning I woke up with the idea of learning yoga. My campus gym was closed for school break, and I am not positive that a private yoga studio was even in my town at the time, so I headed to the closest store that sold DVD’s to get my first introduction to yoga through DVD.
Over the next couple of day’s I followed my “live” instructors’ direction in my living room and quickly decided that I was easily bored, frustrated and way to distracted to commit to any type of yoga practice at this point in my life. When everyone started trickling back into town, I put my DVD away on my bookshelf and did not pull it out again until a year later when I had graduated and was out of college. I was living in Delray Beach when a friend I had met at my serving job – Torreya Grill, one of the spots where I’d worked during school breaks – gave me my first yoga mat as a birthday gift. Similar to my history of meditation, I don’t recall ever talking about yoga or giving Jessica a reason to believe that I needed a yoga mat, but it is a gift that will forever be symbolic of my love of yoga. On receiving my new Gaiam mat, we quickly made plans to get together to practice yoga, and after dusting off my old yoga DVD we had a couple “home sessions” with our new mats. But again, I was quickly side-tracked from learning yoga and used my mat instead for other home fitness activities.
Throughout the next four years of all my different fitness endeavors, I picked up yoga maybe a handful of times. I lived with a yogi who was constantly on yoga challenges, and she had dragged me to hot yoga classes. She was always giving me reasons why I, too, should be practicing yoga. It definitely intrigued me, but I was bored during yoga and I was also very intimidated by it. At age 28, I cannot touch my toes, and unlike many of the people who were practicing yoga, I can’t even come close to a split. The back bends I watched my girlfriends perform while hanging out at the beach were positions I thought might literally bend/break mine. It just wasn’t for me yet, and so I continued to be active on my yoga mat but for Pilates and those occasional viewings of my yoga DVD.
Dave Matthews Band sings in “So Damn Lucky” about being dizzy from a whole lot of spinning, and I can say that in the last year of my life I have become extremely dizzy from it all. I also consider myself pretty damn lucky to be blessed with all of the different life experiences and have finally found a place for yoga in my life. I moved to New York City, broke up with my boyfriend staffed and trained a newly renovated retail store team in a city where I’d never lived, moved my belongings through Times Square twice, and unexpectedly lost my job. A lot of these life events that caused anxiety, worry, and stress were the result of my dreams finally coming true, but that doesn’t mean that these events weren’t difficult. This year was remarkably memorable and has been a defining year of my life. Although, I moved to Manhattan with a job, I did not move to the Big Apple with a big savings account or a clear financial plan. I kid you not: The 12-foot box truck that drove all my furniture and belongings from South Florida to Manhattan, the gas for my car to follow, the renter fees, apartment fees, lease-breaking fees, food and any miscellaneous moving supplies were all paid out of a $1,500 budget I had at my disposal. I’d be lying if I said my Nan didn’t stick a few bills in my pocket, and that my wonderful friends and family did not help me over this hump. I was showered with gifts, gift cards, and so many blessings and words of encouragement, but it still remains one of the most anxious, scary time in my life. I questioned myself daily on my decision to move when I was experiencing such financial burden and so many weeks I had to stretch thirty dollars to feed me and transport me through one of the most expensive cities in the world. I truly believe it was only possible for me to do because of the experience and learnings of my meager youth. Tuna fish, carrots, tomatoes, bananas, and mac & cheese, were my go-to budget food items, and with any leftover money I would buy myself a bottle of wine to keep me company as I wrote in my journal thoughts and goals to get out of this mess.
My first apartment at the Ritz was located in midtown and was SO BEAUTIFUL! From my bedroom you could walk out onto a balcony twenty-nine floors high that overlooked Times Square to the left and Hell’s Kitchen to the right. The one side of my room was pure window, and I had beautiful wood floors where I propped my Gaiam yoga mat in the corner next to a standing mirror. This yoga mat placement, although I was still not a yoga practitioner, was placed with intent for the sanctuary I was trying to create in this stressful, anxious time. I will never, EVER forget the beauty of the city lights from my room and how I could sit out on the balcony and, if only for a second, remember to be proud of myself. I started to have visions of doing yoga gracefully on my Gaiam mat outside my large glass windows, and these visions started to become reality when I took out my mat one afternoon and turned on my yoga DVD. What was different this time around is that, after the first week, I didn’t stop. In my free time, I started Googling and searching Youtube for different yoga tutorials that I hoped to practice on my own.
After the first three months, I started to get a little more financial security as well as more knowledge of ways to spread my money more evenly and even save money. The first thing I did when I had a couple extra dollars a month was research and purchase a gym membership that fit my budget. With all of my fitness classes, I always wanted parts to be like ballet or hip-hop, and then I started to mix in yoga classes. No matter how hard it was to convince myself to go to class and be the “beginner” that I was embarrassed to be, I cannot recall one time that I did not feel an amazing sense of anxiety relief. I am always very thankful that I made it to my classes, and I always remind myself how thankful I am each and every time I practice because it has NOT been easy to get to this point of my yoga career. The goal I set in August 2013 was to at least make it to one yoga class each week, and that goal has evolved into a habit of searching for a yoga class to attend almost every single day. With the loss of my job, I have incorporated the goal to make yoga class every day. With the extra time on my hands I have given myself my first and well-deserved yoga challenge. I have finally achieved control of my finances, and in the blink of an eye the universe switched the ocean tide and forced me to seek a new way to swim out. I need and connect to yoga more these past couple of days than ever before, and I am so committed to my relationship with yoga. Every day in class, I learn something new about my body and about the different ways I can get myself into different positions. It frees my mind in such healthy ways, and keeps me from all the drugs or booze I might have looked at to ease my mind in the past. It releases the hurt, the uncertainties, and gives me so much hope like nothing else in my life has been able to. Anytime anyone is going through anything difficult in life, I often think to myself, “they need yoga”, and it’s also a hobby of mine that I am hoping to bring into other people’s lives by becoming a certified yoga instructor.
Currently, I still can’t touch my toes for long, or do a split, but I did do my first sirsasana (headstand) in class the other night! I know that if I continue to stay true to my goals I will one day make it into the positions that I only aspire to now. I love watching and learning from other yogis in class as they get into their crow poses, and I stay patient with myself as I work up the strength to one day get there, too. That is why yoga is so awesome! Everyone is at their own pace with their bodies and it might all be different for everyone as far as how they feel after. I have cried, I have become overwhelmed with energy, I have become ready for a nap, and it really just depends on what kind of practice you put in and out of your mind and body. Inhale good shit, exhale Bullshit. I love the improved flexibility and balance I have noticed I have gained since I use to consider myself very clumsy. I love yoga clothing and how free and comfortable it fits, and I feel like the techniques I am learning in yoga has helped with my love for dancing, and running, too. I also love the natural, loose bun it gives my heavy, thick hair after a 55-minute Vinyassa flow class!
I hope that you can find yoga in your life, and when your life leaves you a little dizzy, you find peace in your practice. Message me if you have any questions regarding beginner’s yoga!