In 2001, I was a first year, first grade DC public school teacher. I had 16 students in my class. No textbooks, no pencils, no makers, no paper. 5 days into my first year, 9/11 happened. Our school was down the street from The US Capital. Our school building shook all day from the planes overhead. The sirens, the energy, the noise in and around NE DC. I stayed in my classroom with the 6 year olds, until the last one was picked up after 4pm that day. I drove home on empty streets, quite happy to be alive. Shocked, mostly. Crying.
Later that school year, I developed a horrible pain in my hip/glute that was relentless. This pain left me confused about my body. And my body was something I almost NEVER thought about. I lived in my head, my very capable, highly educated, well traveled mind which had led me ( or so I thought) out of every bad situation I managed to get myself into and had given me EVERYTHING I had ever wanted. Ivy League Grad School, a great boyfriend, a full and impressive resume…My brain had encouraged me to push and force and do more and join everything. My brain loved being so busy. I felt very comfortable with busy. My mind chattered and chattered repeating thoughts, pulling my attention there there and everywhere. My favorite word was YES! I became ANGRY with my body for slowing me down. I had NO time for this pain.
I made a phone call to the local studio.
“I heard yoga is good for people with injuries. I have excruciating pain in my hip and my leg. I am 22. I have to exercise. I don’t stretch. I don’t want ANYTHING spiritual. I just want a workout. Do you have that?”
“Yes.” she responded.
“Come to Devon on Monday night. Beginning Ashtanga. Let me know what you think.”
And from that moment.. when I stepped into the yoga center. The SLOW, STEADY process of paying attention to my thoughts, my life, my mind, my choices.. started to unfold.
My life, a series of accomplishments and successes & wins were all part of this “illusion’ of enough-ness. An illusion that I am FINE and that I was strong enough to power through it all- that I could achieve “just as much as anyone else” even though I thought MY story was so sad.
But, it’s just not true. You see, before yoga- I thought it was JUST ME who was in pain. I thought it was JUST ME who had a traumatic childhood- and I was so wrapped up in proving myself to the world- that I lost ANY connection I had to my body, looking back I think b/c there was so much pain there. SO much right under the surface. So much my body was holding on and since I would not sit down and feel it- I became more tightly wound. I took on more jobs, roles, responsibility as we do..
16 years later…
Somewhere along the way, I made the commitment to live a joyful life. Ironically, I feel the most joy in daily life when I accept and embrace of all the human emotions ( even anger and shame and fear and sadness)
Somewhere along the way, I took my seeking heart and began to share with others the teachings, as I learned them. You guys, read this! Oh man, you have to listen to this! And it’s sort of all I have ever wanted to do…
I found teachers and books and leaders and retreats that took me by the hand and whispered, “YOU TOO! You can have this. You can feel good- No, wait BETTER THAN GOOD! You can feel ALIVE AND AWAKE not only in your mind, but in your body too.”
I began to feel the WHOLENESS that that has always, always been here. By integrating the emotions and experiences in my life with energy and mind body practices, I was slowly able to sleep better, improve ALL my relationships, leave jobs or careers or projects when the time was right. Was I really able to tap into my “intuition” this esoteric thing I had always read about but never knew could be real?
In order for me to radically change my mental and physical health it was going to take more than just yoga. And over the years when the time was right, one thing led to another, led to another….
Eventually, I began to experiment with food and become a Health Coach and a few years later learn more about Ayurveda..
And then I noticed, yep, this too helps.
Eventually, I met a teacher who taught me to meditate.
Yep, this too helps. New things began to happen in my body, in my heart, in my mind. Is that forgiveness? Is that pure love? Did someone say compassion? Until meditation, I’m not really sure I had ever felt these for myself ( let alone others!)
And then intentional journaling, morning pages, writing and painting and taking SUPER DUPER good care of my body with baths and gentle yoga and oils and foot rubs.
And now, this. A deep, profound trust for my life and about my life- no matter what the road ahead brings.
We are all perfectly imperfect. I accept myself for who I am. I know that when I take REALLY good care of myself, my life feels MUCH better. It feels more joyful and I feel at ease with whatever pops up. I’m not as controlling about my time, or my life or my expectations.
I stick the basics and I keep it simple- When I limit TV and get plenty of sleep, I’m more creative, playful, energized and I make better choices. When I eat simple, healthy food I am able to move my body and be strong and my back does not ache when I meditate. When I spend more time in nature than on the couch, I feel connected. When I show up for myself & keep my commitments, I learn to trust and befriend myself.
I’m not “somewhere” that you can attain or not attain. I just am very curious about what works well for me, at this stage, in this season and there is NO WAY I could have done it alone. Meaning, we do this together. This exploration- this deep dive. We say- NOW is the time to wake up to my life. What choices ARE working for me, what choices ARE draining me? Am I living ONLY in my head? DO I need to take it down a notch? Do I have chronic pain or fatigue or need a ton of pills to sleep or wake? We were never meant to do this alone- remember when the aunties and the sisters and the mamas all lived near one another and cooked together and folded laundry together and raised the babies together? Yeah, it’s kind of like that.
I created Thrive as the playground for these wellness habits. A place to explore and try things on and see how they feel and keep asking, how does this feel?
What would your life look, feel, be like in 16 years? in 10 years? in 6 months if you experimented with more of what (truly) feels good and less of what drains you?
In Thrive we explore…..
Planning/Mapping- The how & why it’s SO important for all the other self care practices. And how to love doing it.
Night- What are our evening rituals and routines to help us sleep better. Why are so many of us so exhausted?
Morning- Set the tone for your day ( your life?) Be inspired to FINALLY make getting up early part of who you are.
Move– Variety, enJOYment and consistency!
Stillness- Why practice stillness/ meditation and what are the ways to formally and informally develop this habit.
Nourish- There are so many ways to FEED our souls and ourselves. What are you putting in your sacred vessel?
Journal- This goes beyond the “dear diary” We learn about money love journals, scripting ( law of attraction) and morning pages.
Service– Why service and giving to others is of UTMOST importance to our well being.
Mindset– What are the stories we tell? How do we get in our own way?
Creativity- Our lives are creative. How we dress, eat, play, move, sing, dance- how can we embrace our inner creatives and give them a little love?
Wealth- Alright, yep- $$ is totally part of Thriving. How we make it, what we do with it, how we hide it or throw it away and WHY? Reveal your $$ habits- the good, the bad and the ugly!
Does this feel like a lot to you? Don’t worry- you get lifetime access to explore these topics AND once you start to dive in to 1 area the others TRULY do fall into place. They happen more naturally once we start to pay attention to how they are related.
If you are scared, I think that’s great. It means something is calling you. You are ready.
Let your self love be your self care.