Describe a scene: a beach in north Seattle

One of my biggest fears with growing older is getting stuck on memory lane with no off-ramp in sight. Yes it’s a cliche, but the phrase going down memory lane gives me shivers. I’ve seen it imprison many a loved one, who begin every sentence with “do you remember when?” and end every conversation with “that was so much fun back then.” Or something along those lines.

describe a scene: a North Seattle beach

describe a scene: a North Seattle beach

But memory lane can afflict anyone, at any age, at any moment. Especially when visiting a long ago place from the past. A visit to my hometown of Seattle last week required a steely sheath of willpower at every corner: the marina where my ex and I once moored a boat I never felt welcome on; the tucked away neighborhood park with a backdrop of Seattle’s skyline I practiced cartwheels on; the dive bar that used to pour cheap strong bloody mary’s now turned hipster joint serving frilly overpriced whatchamacallits. Horrors…

So when I considered visiting a favorite beach of my younger years, I hesitated. Am I gonna cry? Pine for the old days of gossiping with girlfriends atop neon beach towels over who stole whose boyfriend and how did that space cadet ever make it into the honors program? Would I wish for a way to get back here more to watch my nieces grow and cuddle with my mama’s new 7-pound Shih Tzu? Stare at the distant ferry and reflect back on past training rides around hilly Bainbridge Island? Actually I did all that. But I also recognized exactly what I was doing: going down memory lane. And then I sought a way out. And what resulted has since inspired a new category for my blog, that aligns with my overall theme of And Pause Here:

Describe a scene: a beach in North Seattle”

nature's art

nature’s art

Getting present, or living life as it is happening, as opposed to playing dead by ruing over what already happened (memory) or anticipating what has not yet happened (future) and may actually never happen, requires conscious attention. Seeing what you see in front of you. Hearing what you hear around you. Smelling what you smell near you. Feeling what you feel physically. Yoga is an incredible conduit into presence. Through action in the flow of the poses, through conscious breathing and drishti (gaze). If you teach, through observation and giving tools to your students in the moment based on what you see.

drifting to wherever...

drifting to wherever…

But writing a scene as it unfolds in front of me is also, I discovered through this exercise, an avenue into presence. I didn’t have a pen and paper handy as I typically do, but the Notes app on my iPhone worked fine. The phrases that emerged through the exercise isn’t of much importance to me, because looking back at the result now is really just another trip down memory lane. But the very act of recording my experience got me more present than I recall being in a very long time, and for that I’m intrigued and inspired by how describing a scene can be a huge awakening into my life as it is unfolding right now.

 

see what you see

see what you see

Here’s what I recorded, and remember, the purpose here wasn’t to create some poetic masterpiece or generate any oohs or ahhs, but to simply describe life as I saw it in the moment:

  • dried seaweed mottled shades of pickled green underfoot giving off an odor most would pinch their nose at but made me flare my nostrils wider with remembrance
  • a familiar marine breeze tickling my skin on this late August afternoon – neither dry nor humid, something else entirely, specific to this northwest corner of the world
  • rogue doggy turds here and there that missed the scoop bag
  • driftwood turned sculpture via nature’s moods
  • small laps of Puget Sound waters curling at the rocky edge
  • giggly kiddos bent low foraging for interesting rocks minded by back packed parents not quite warm enough to ditch the sleeves
  • multi car freight train competing with the water’s symphony. Not sure who won…
  • pointy-topped evergreens providing the backdrop behind me
  • stiff bottom atop a splintered half log I can’t yet bring myself to leave…it’s become this morning’s silent narrator of the magnificent scene surrounding me, keeping me present, and protected from the past
  • off-kilter seagull happy to let the tide drift him to wherever
  • shadowy, ghostlike mountain range peering back at me, only revealing a silhouette of its soul
  • my own shadow reflected back at me through the meandering foundation of sand, seaweed, stones and wood particles – so that’s the shape of me knee, my elbow..

 

I’m not a Master teacher. Nor need I be.

Scan a few studio websites, read a few yoga bios, and you’re bound to land on it: so and so is a Master teacher. Not just a pedestrian, dime a dozen yoga teacher, but a Master teacher. Supporting the designation will perhaps include several bullet points highlighting credentials earned; years trained; lineages studied; trainings led; books published; Yoga Journal covers graced and so on.

All awesome. Really. I’ve followed and trained from a totally valid list of Master teachers since developing a life long obsession with this practice, and wouldn’t question the validity behind their designation for a second. Except that where my own path of yoga teaching is concerned, I’m far more interested in the process of mastery than ever becoming a Master. The minute I call myself a Master of anything (though I think I’m a Master of loving up any dog – from pipsqueak pug to massive mastiff – that comes within petting distance), the book sort of closes for me. As in, chapter over, you finished it, go find something else. Labeling myself a Master teacher doesn’t allow for the natural fuck ups and foibles that go along with the process of discovery. The process of mastery.

So you’re a civilian today, are you?”

Choosing mastery over the pressure of being a Master lets me continue what I love most: being a student. As I rolled out my mat in a fellow teacher’s class this morning, one of my students scratched his head over seeing me set up in the back of the room as opposed to the front. Yes sir, I’m a civilian. A student just like you, working to master these poses and all the internal crap that followed me into the room just like you. Today and every day after.

It’s what makes me a better teacher. A better student. A better human being.”

Warm Potato Salad with Love

Warm Potato Salad with Love

In fact, the more I suck, the more motivated I get to getting better at whatever it is I currently suck at. Two days ago I was tasked with preparing a simple hot veggie dish for a volunteer organization (Community Cooks) that distributes a nice meal prepared by a team of six of us to low-income down on their luck good-hearted people in need. Because I sort of suck at cooking (the book says 15 minute prep time; reality is 60 minute Shan time, as I discern the difference between a colander and a sieve, sigh…), I’m all in. All in for nailing this motherf****er of an epicurean warm new potato salad with grainy mustard. And as the dish left my door for the truck, I delighted in pure gluttonous satisfaction over mastering this one-dish challenge. Because God knows I am no Master in the kitchen. Thank God for that.

Shannon Brady: Non-Master Yoga Teacher…”

If I had to include the word Master in my teacher bio, I think the description would go something like this:

  • She mastered the ability to fall on her ass, laugh loudly, get up and do it again until eventually she held Half Moon pose.
  • She mastered accepting the reality that some students, no matter how much heart and soul she puts into her classes, aren’t coming back. And won’t ever tell her why.
  • She mastered the act of calming her hyperactive mind, restless body, and about-to-sob-out-loud state of emotion through breath, focus and rigorous flow on her mat. Every time.

So yogis, if you’re hung up on whether or not you’re a Master at anything at all, let it go. Try mastery instead. It’s more fun without all the pressure.

Savasana is a yoga pose too. So please stay put already.

Teaching all levels yoga classes presents some interesting challenges. How to accommodate the gentleman in back floating on his hands with clear Drishti (single-pointed gaze) and audible Ujjayi (breath) set, while assuring the young woman grimacing in angst that a gentle twist, not a spine-crunching shout, will do just fine in Revolved Crescent Lunge. But this teacher likes a challenge, and from what I’ve observed, newbies and longtime yogis can co-exist beautifully in all levels classes. In my best classes, there is a palpable spirit of give and receive:

  • Newbies reigniting in longtime yogis a once-dormant passion for the practice through multiple epiphanies (woo hoo! I hovered in Crow Pose! Oh shit! I fell out of Half Moon but I’m laughing at myself!)
  • Longtime yogis giving permission through example that yes, you can breathe like Darth Vader if that’s your thing, or take a breather in Child’s pose if you damn well please.
Sweet Savasana

Sweet Savasana

Which brings me to Savasana, sometimes referred to as Deep Rest. It comes at the end, and involves nothing more than lying down, quieting your mind, and resting for five or so minutes before leaving the room. Through my own practice and teaching I’ve come to believe this is the most challenging pose of the practice. Yes, you read that correctly: lying flat on your back with your eyes closed doing absolutely nothing is the most challenging pose of the practice.

I shouldn’t have watered the lawn at dusk…”

At the end of a powerful 90-minute practice with Jane Cargill at Baptiste Yoga Boston, sweaty and a little shaky from several two-minute holds sprinkled throughout class (Forearm Plank, Downward Facing Dog, Wheel), my mind gushed forth with thoughts like a hose I couldn’t turn off. The mosquito bite on my second toe, unnoticed up until this point, screamed at me with reminders to never water the lawn in bare feet at dusk. My sweet niece needed her letter of recommendation for fall sorority rush completed in a few hours. My cat hasn’t received enough hugs today. And on it goes…the mind. Savasana is Deep Rest not just for the body, but the mind. And it can be oh so hard.

Is your boss, spouse, or dog really gonna notice if you’re away just five more minutes?”

I smile and gently open the door prematurely for at least one student in every class that ‘has to leave 5 minutes early’ for one reason or other. And they always tell me beforehand, and I am completely fine with that. One of the guiding principles of yoga is non-judgment, and I’m grateful for every student who shows up for my class and shares their energy and spirit with me and others. But I’m also a little sad, because they’re missing the opportunity to practice the most challenging pose in the practice, and reap the rewards before heading back out into the chaos of life. There are so many benefits to the pose, and I’m hoping that listing them here will help me appreciate and practice it with intention as well, even with an itchy mosquito bite:

  • Savasana is re-integration. I think of it as my halfway house of support to transport me out of the period of time working on myself and into being of service to others. Leaving the room in slingshot fashion out of a latter-part-of-class pose (classic Headstand or Shoulder Stand for example) and before Savasana leaves me feeling agitated and incomplete. Not how I want to greet those I’m about to come in contact with.
  • Clean the slate of mental anguish. Paint over a wall with too many coats and the texture changes. It gets mottled, hiding the purest, sweetest form of itself. Savasana, when I can put aside the nagging thoughts and itchy bug bite on my toe, helps reveal the purest version of me. Not all my stories, anxieties, checklists and judgments. Just a calm, relaxed, strong woman who loves yoga.
  • The perfect marinade. Lying in my own sweat, shaky from effort, in full surrender I feel totally at home. Because home is in my own body, which has proven once again all that it is capable of and all that is possible from this point forward.

Next time you practice, do take Savasana. Because sometimes it really is better to stay put.

The unexpected yoga teacher’s challenge: how to stop teaching while practicing

Sometimes I wish I could be the wide-eyed, tender-footed yoga newbie I once was – absorbing every cue and bon mot uttered in class as though it were gospel. Little sages floating around the room, my then teachers sprinkled feel-good dust over our mats and magically appeared at my side when my knee caved in or my jaw clenched with frustration. First time I heard I didn’t need to fix anything about myself I nearly cried with relief. When told to soften my knees to grow a longer spine in Downward Facing Dog, I was convinced I grew an inch by the end of class.

Teaching from the mat

Teaching from the mat

It’s different now. I’ve completed a 200-hour teacher training, several Baptiste teaching bootcamps, and countless workshops covering the art of assisting, the under-appreciated iliopsoas muscle group, and balancing on my head, hands, and forearms. Tack on thousands of classes and one-on-one mat sessions with mentors helping me to serve my students without boring, confusing, or irritating the hell out of them for a 90-minute stretch and you’ve got a pretty good idea of how deep into this yoga thing I’ve gotten.

By now, one would think I’d be rooting, reaching, flowing and balancing with the grace and joy of a totally enlightened spiritual goddess. Not exactly. Not at all, in fact.”

At times, the commitment and discipline associated with teaching my best can mess with my practice. Home practices get hijacked with frequent pit stops to jot down ideas: ways to cue a pose, oh now this would be a clever little sequence variation, perhaps I should share my encounter with that adorable little poodle in my next class, and on it goes. Until I realize I haven’t made it past the first sun salutation. So much for a home practice. Solution? I now schedule – yes in an old school day timer – separate sessions on my home mat: one for teaching practice, another for practice only. Music, soft lighting, and a space devoid of all writing materials helps.

Harder still is the ability to take another teacher’s class uninterrupted.”

We implore our students to get out of their heads and into their breath, dristi (gaze) and bodies, and yet I struggle to not let my mental highlighter take over…recording and storing every inspiring cue or phrase I could bring into a future class of my own. If you see me reach for my phone in the lobby post-class, trust me I’m not texting or calling anyone. I’m adding to an ongoing list of bullet points in my “yogi inspiration” notes app.

On a recent trip to Montreal, I caught myself again struggling to put the teacher within me aside. Here, in an unfamiliar space, surrounded by unfamiliar bodies and a style very different from what I practice and teach, I started inwardly Yelp-ing before opening Ohms.  Of which there were none. It went something like this:

  • Oh God, this studio has mirrors…
  • No Ohms? Must mean no community…
  • I think the teacher just sneered at me…
  • What’s the purpose of this weird drill hovering our right heel off the mat in Downward Facing Dog?
Practicing without distraction

Practicing without distraction

And on it went. Until I caught myself and begged the Yogi Gods to bring back my breath, sense of exploration and compassion. My once wide eyes, I realized about ten minutes into class, had somehow narrowed into judgmental slits. When I recognized it happening however, and shifted my attitude toward receptivity, I created an opportunity – just like that – to experience an amazing ride on my mat. So much so I left class with a smile on my face, a seriously sore butt (those heel hovers in Downward Facing Dog had a purpose  after all), and a new friend (the amazing teacher).

I went back to that class three more times before returning to my home studio (Baptiste Yoga Boston) with a commitment to get on my mat and practice. As a student, not a teacher.

 

I’ll be in badass company. And 22 other lessons I learned from taking on the 22 pushups for 22 days challenge

Mercifully, I somehow managed to escape that ice bucket challenge clogging my Facebook scroll a couple years back. But now there’s a pushup challenge going round. And this time I got tagged: 22 pushups, 22 days, 22 pals to pick (and in some cases piss off) to do the same. The purpose, I learned, is to bring awareness to the sobering statistic that 22 soldiers commit suicide every day because they aren’t getting the support they need.

Day 11 of #22KILL pushup challenge

Day 11 of #22KILL pushup challenge

I don’t like pushups. And the guy who tagged me, God love him, makes pushups look obnoxiously easy. No huffing and grunting in his videos. And why limit oneself to plain old pushups when you can throw in a hand clap or leg lift? Sigh. But hell, how could I say no? It’s a critically important cause, and I actually like a good challenge. Especially when it pulls me away from eating another fistful of animal cookies whilst viewing other friends’  pushup challenge posts. And since posting my first video sporting  a “Do The Work” slogan muscle tank (actual muscles to come by day 22), I’ve picked up some pretty cool lessons along the way.

In the event you get tagged:

22. Count backwards. It makes a difference, I swear.

21. You’ll realize how pathologically quick you are at making excuses. My arms are too long. I did multiple chatturangas in class already. I don’t want to mess up my just-coiffed hair. I don’t have time. For 22 pushups? It takes roughly 30 seconds. I can’t eat 5 animal cookies that fast.

20. Do your version. Knees down, hands against the wall, flat-sided dumbbells to support your wrists. You CAN do 22 pushups. Let ’em be ugly.

19. Do it. Do it NOW. Procrastinating means staring at your bed at 10 PM, knowing your dreams will end up in Loser-ville unless you crank out 22. Like I did in my pajamas before allowing myself to crawl in. Do them in the morning. It’s so much easier.

18. You’ll start carrying heavier shit. 20-Lb. bucket of laundry detergent in one hand, four bags of groceries on the other shoulder. Carts are for sissies.

17. Go to yoga. Not just to counterbalance all that muscle contraction, but to work all the elements that will make your daily 22, well, at least tolerable: breath, mental focus, core integration, and a massive degree of gratitude for the amazing body God gave you.

16. Your un-messable factor will go up a notch. I sit taller now. Especially behind the wheel of my pickup truck.

15. Know you’re in Badass company. You can share with all honesty that you do the same exercises as Navy Seals and firefighter calendar boys.

14. Broadcast your progress. We’re in the Instagram-era. Go ahead, be a narcissist. You’re bringing awareness to our soldiers who need our support.

13. TuPac will get you through. Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, Beck…crank up the volume and you’ll be done before realizing you didn’t stop until you got enough.

12. You’ll be stronger than you were at 22. At 22, I couldn’t do 2 pushups.

11. You’ll get to see your brother’s new carpet 3000 miles away. While he’s cranking out 22 in his living room in Seattle, I’m smiling at his FB video and missing his giant heart in Boston.

10. Log it somewhere. On your iPhone, tablet, or go old school like I did with a pen and journal. Don’t just record “22”, add the details: time of day, what you were wearing, how it felt, any colorful dialogue that came up in the process.

9. You’ll get a bonus six-pack. Because pushups work the abs too. As long as you avoid the other six-pack in the cooler.

8. Manage Felix and Fido. Naturally your pet’s gonna want in on the action. But that can be a good thing. My cat’s purring back under my belly forced me to improve my form.

7. You’ll see and feel measurable progress. I put that muscle tank back on halfway through the challenge, and my husband asked where the guns came from.

6. Make your husband drop and do 22. Now his guns are getting bigger too.

5. You’ll spice up your dreaded Stairmaster-to-hell-while-watching-a-Law&Order-rerun routine. Because pushups will also get your heart rate up. In a fraction of the time. With a whole lot better result.

4. Do it for someone else. Because a lot of people would love to move their bodies but can’t. You CAN. Therefore you must.

3. Don’t stop at 22. Taking on one challenge can lead to bigger challenges. I’m up to 47 a day to match my age. Not all at once, but that’s the next challenge.

2. Temporary discomfort is good. Daily bouts of discomfort are doorways toward building mental and emotional strength. Get through 22, and you’ll deal with whatever other life shit is cluttering your path more effectively.

1. To bring awareness to our military, who desperately need our support. You can find out more here: #22KILL.

 

A tension buster that doesn’t require fists or tears. Well, maybe just a few tears..

Stuffed in my purse is a tattered notebook titled “300 Writing Prompts”. It’s got coffee stains, a couple of rogue croissant flakes wedged between the pages, and a few fountain pens worth of ink capturing whatever was occupying my thoughts in response to the prompt I landed on.

Today’s Prompt: Periodically we have tension build up in our lives that requires a release of some kind. Some people cry; others punch; some find a creative outlet. What is your release?”

Of course I cry. Hell I cry over just about anything…the squirrel scurrying across the busy street in front of my house (is the little guy gonna make it? Can he outrun the asshole texting behind the steering wheel?). Punching is useless. Just ask an old black belt pal of mine who tried to teach me the finer points of nailing an impactful karate chop. Natch, my fist rarely made contact with his blocking mitt.

Frog Lotus Training, 2012

Frog Lotus Training, 2012

No,  the quickest route to release for me has never come through a punch or kick. A permanently purple pinkie toe from stubbing too many bed corners reflects as much. I get my release through a deep, predominantly-physical (with ample sweat) yoga practice. This may or may not include tears, but as long as I give my practice 100 percent attention through breath, focus, right effort (neither teeth-clenching angry Warriors nor half-assed hip circles for 90 minutes…there’s a balance to strike), and purpose then whatever heavy-hearted crap is clogging my thoughts will find its way out of my head. At least temporarily until it brews up again. Because I’m human, you see.

There’s an umbrella in here.”

Prior to rediscovering yoga, (I say rediscover because I first discovered yoga at age 23, and it took me two decades to learn that yoga involved much more than showing off headstands on Dad’s living room carpet before Christmas dinner. No one gave a shit. Except perhaps his dog Reggie, who out-posed me in his impressive Downward Facing Dog) I retreated when life got dicey. Self-sequestering seems to be my instinctive tactic in dealing with whatever woes creep in, but I’ve learned through several moves, a painful divorce, newfound love and all the joy and fears that can accompany it that the way out of woe is into connection. And a practice surrounded by others working through their own woes under the guidance of a loving teacher in a peaceful space is where I get the most release.

Room 403 Casa Fuster

Room 403 Casa Fuster

As I scribbled through the prompt in my notebook I conjured memories of the many extraordinary spaces I’ve been privileged to practice in. An old textile mill in the Berkshire Mountains. A NYC loft with bright pink graffitied walls and crystal chandeliers. The studios, parks, beaches, basements, and lofts I’ve practiced in have left positive imprints on my heart that keep me coming back every time I feel tension or woe building. A sampling:

  • Is that an umbrella in the corner? I completed my first teacher training at Frog Lotus Yoga in North Adams, MA. The studio is housed in what was once an industrial mill that dates back to 1833, and overlooks Natural Bridge State Park. There’s an altar in the corner of this spacious sanctuary with a white parasol, which I later learned was a gift from Amma, the Hugging Saint who spends her life fully embodying selfless love and compassion toward all beings. Gorgeous murals canvas the walls and when it rains you see, hear, and smell the miracle on the trees just beyond the giant windows. Tears on your mat by Svasana guaranteed.
  • A yoga class sounded great amidst an ultra leisurely ten-day stretch of poolside mojitos, cobblestoned window shopping, gelato cones and yes, I’ll have another plate of octopus tapas. Alas, this girl doesn’t speak Spanish. Contorting my neck to try and lipread a Barcelona lovely’s sequence directions for an hour just wouldn’t do. But my hotel floor would. Snuggling my mat up next to the half-opened French doors in my Hotel Casa Fuster room allowed me to flow in step with the sounds of school children in the courtyard below and catch glimpses of the Sagrada de Familia in the distance. Bliss.
  • So what if my Eagle pose teetered. At this studio, I could actually blame the floor. The upstairs of an old building across from the Princeton, NJ, campus served as the ultimate oasis for a girl living on the east coast for the first time six years ago. Chanting, incense, precision and homage to the Ashtanga roots took me out of my loneliness and into an entirely new world of new friends, new accents, and new love I won’t soon forget. The studio has since closed, but the teacher and his embodiment of what it means to teach, practice, and live his yoga remains in my heart forever.

These days I find release at Baptiste Yoga Boston, where I am blessed to teach and practice. It may not be forever, but as long as I’ve got my mat, and a willingness to step into a new space I know I’ll find release. Maybe even with a few tears.

How do you release tension? Where do you roll out your mat?

how pig tails and lipstick are pulling me out of a yoga teaching rut

working toward cute again

on the road to cute again

Cotton balls and a prescription. That’s all. I’d planned to get in and outta there before the rows of eye-squinting fluorescent lights overhead at the corner CVS could have a chance to deepen the fine lines forming on my 47-year old face.

Ninety minutes later I made it out, thanks to a wall of Loreal Colour Riche lipsticks daring me to step in closer. I did, and to my total astonishment walked out with a lovely little brushed gold tube of Divine Wine lipstick. I haven’t worn lipstick in years. I work in a 95 degree room wiping sweat off my face between calling out Sun Salutations. What was I thinking?

Don’t let what you do define you.”

A family friend who has since passed away implored me to not let whatever current line of work I was in precede how I describe myself to others. I was in my 20s at the time, working as a concierge in hospitality and totally unclear on who I was or where I was going. We were in the library of my parents’ home, with several guests, glasses of wine, and what do YOU do? inquiries flying around. He caught me stuttering aimlessly for a valid description of myself during an interaction with a guest, and pulled me aside. I am many things, he knew and highlighted: a writer, a dancer, an athlete, a daughter, a traveler, a lover of fashion and self-expression. To name just a few, he emphasized, complimenting me on the out-of-my-typical-character coral shade of lipstick I’d chosen for the occasion. This late friend of mine, a talented artist and photographer with an incredible portfolio helped me realize in that moment that he, me, and everyone in the room could, and should, be defined far beyond the boundaries of how they earned a paycheck. How we present ourselves, he added, should be an expression of whatever tiles on the vast mosaic of our being is calling our attention.

That conversation came to me now, in the fluorescent-lit aisle of CVS. Because right now, I wanted the world to see a girl rocking a bold shade of Divine Wine lipstick. So what if I hadn’t washed my hair in three days. So what if I have to wipe it all off in an hour as I head to the studio in my lycra uniform of tights and t-back tank.

You’re a proper lady. You need to wear pig tails once in a while.”

Times used to be different. When I quit my corporate job in Seattle six years ago I couldn’t wait to consign away the Stuart Weizman stilettos and don’t-eat-that-extra-croissant pencil skirt collection gracing my closet. Yoga tights? Bare feet? Strappy little camisole bras and matching head bands? Woo hoo bring it on! But somewhere along the way, after a few years of teaching I let my hair get scraggly, gave up on mascara (it’ll end up looking like the anti-glare eye chalk favored by linebackers by the end of class anyway…), allowed my neon green Nike Airs to pass as stylish, and forgot the joy of expressing myself to the world as someone other than a yoga teacher.

The other extreme, of course, is reflected in photos from my corporate days: buttoned-up, hair blown straight to perfection, don’t-you-dare-ask-me-to-smile woman in dire need of discovering her inner bohemian.

There’s a balance to strike here I’m finally discovering. And after being referred to the hairdresser of a pal who’s side career could easily be modeling four-figure shampoo products, I got an honest assessment of how to find the balance. “Honey, you’re a very proper lady. And that’s all good but you need bring out your fun side,” he shared, having no idea how spot on he was with the crossroads I’d found myself in of late. “Pig tails! Or a barette! Or a tuck of a strand behind the ears!” I walked out with an entirely new look and re-ignited passion for looking cute again. No matter my age. No matter what I do for a living. No matter what anyone else thinks of me.

5 Must-Haves For A Kentucky Derby Party!”

Never been to such a party. And definitely don’t find favor with the requisite pizza-platter sized hats that go along with Derby-dom. I just spent a half-month’s mortgage on the aforementioned hair transformation after all, why hide under a hat? But the headline from an online fashion consultation site caught my eye. Could a few sassy millennials actually put together a hip ensemble based on my ten-minute personal style survey?

One of the side effects of getting older, and losing the ability to distinguish between workout wear and real clothes (another hoodie sweetie? don’t you have enough of those?? my poor husband regularly laments), is that shopping fashion trends is rife with land mines. My own initial attempt ended with a three shopping bag assortment of variations on a singular theme: gray, loose, conservative. So I gave the site (StitchFix) a whirl and received a few things that have since contributed to my journey back to expressing myself as I am right now: grateful, joyful, goofy, fashionable, and addicted to an eye-catching turquoise tote bag to liven up a closet full of gray.

So go ahead, yogis, ditch the tights and paint on some fun lipstick every now and then. Bonus points for pig tails.