I chose love over fear

G & S Cle Elum 2012It comes up a lot in Yoga-land…this theme of choosing “love over fear”. I hear it in classes, see it on my FB scroll, read about it in asana and meditation books. Five or six years ago, I might have inwardly sighed a ‘whatever’or refocused my attention elsewhere, onto a subject more shallow. Less scary.

But as I approach my wedding day, this idea of choosing love over fear is manifesting in the most awesome way. A way that, five or six years ago, I wouldn’t have believed possible. If someone told me that choosing love over fear would result in the level of joy I’m experiencing today I would have rolled my eyes and referred them to the stack of dusty self-help books I’d yet to open.

But now. Wow. I remember the day in July 2011 when the man I’d been dating for just a few months asked me to take a leap – literally across the country – and join him in Baltimore, where he accepted an exciting new position as CFO of a biotech company. My very first, gut reaction was a resounding YES. I LOVE this man. Go for it!

Then fear set in. I was still dealing with the embers of a previous marriage that failed. Still trying to get back on my feet financially and thanking God every day for keeping me employed with a wonderful, supportive company. Still relying on my siblings, parents, childhood friends to lend me their sleeve when tears threatened to burst forth. Still addicted to my Queen Anne Hill running route, my 6 AM power flow at BeLuminous Yoga, sipping cappuccinos at the little mosaic table in the window at Cafe Laddro.

To ditch all that? With no guarantee the relationship would last? With no job? No friends? No coping mechanism for the east coast humidity that is pretty much non-existent in the Pacific Northwest? I dunno…

marriagle licenseBut here’s the thing. I did know. I didn’t need a self-help book or enlightened teacher draped in mala beads to convince me of what my heart already knew. I knew this relationship was going to work. I knew this man loved me deeply, unconditionally, and was taking every bit as much a leap of faith as me by creating a life together.

And here we are. In Greater Philly. About to seal an exciting future together on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Mark the date. And may my story convince you to choose love over fear.

You’ll be glad you did.

Advertisements

I’m going home!

photo (43)On the front of her dog run door I found something extra. Something in addition to the info card with name (Egypt), breed (pit bull terrior), color (silver), birthday, and the pouch containing collar and harness. That extra something, hanging on top of the info sheet and collar pouch was a laminated card that read: “I’m going home!” As in, adopted. Going home. In volunteer speak, Egypt had found her furever home.

Damn.

Not for her, of course. For me. My awesome friend was about to leave me. Fundamentally I know that, as a volunteer at Main Line Animal Rescue, our passion, work and dedication to these dogs is rewarded with these little laminated “I’m going home!” cards. That a family discovered how much joy she could bring to their lives is why we do what we do. And I am thrilled for Egypt. Really.

But damn. The lessons this lady has taught me since my first tentative entry into her living space have made a lasting impression. Egypt, if I were a dog, is exactly who I’d wanna be. A seriously bad-ass canine that in no way is cute, submissive, cuddly or yippy. Instead, she is everything I have aspired to be as a woman:

1. Her Strength and Athleticism. I loved admiring the ripples down her strong silver back in a full-on sprint. I loved feeling her strength from behind the leash – even with her harness on, I had to get in a full-on squat, both hands on leash, to get her down the hill without face-planting.

2. Her Patience. My first few timid steps into her doggy run weren’t pretty. Like EVERY energetic dog living in a rescue environment, when a human approaches the individual dog run and stops, some degree of temporary chaos ensues. (If ever anyone doubted an excited dog’s ability to perform Cirque du Soleil-like aerials and wall-climbing ascents, I am here to tell you…I see it every day.) Hence my initial apprehension of entering and locking myself in to calm her down and get her harness on. But after a couple of excited leaps she always settled down, shined her grateful eyes up toward me, and waited for as long as it took to get her harness and leash on.

3. Her Bass-assness. Robbie. Mason. Just of few of Egypt’s four-legged fellas who loved to run around the field with her and – as male dogs do – mount her. Each attempt to do so was a colossal failure. Not a shred of fear or submissiveness exists in this powerful lady. My fellow volunteers and I loved watching her play and wrestle with the strongest of the strong.

So, my sweet Egypt. I love you and will think of you every time I face fear, judgment, concern for looking good, or any other self-defeating thought I know you’d simply power your way through.

Asking my students to “sigh it out”? Big sigh…

YS6“Sigh it out…” our yoga teacher pleaded.

Boy did I want to. On a hot, humid, yoga floor in Tribeca (Lyons Den Power Yoga), I’d just completed 45 minutes or so of tough Asana practice under the watchful eye and strong hands of a powerful fellow Baptiste-inspired teacher who worked all of us into a state of near exhaustion. She knew this, of course, and led us into a Balasana (Child’s Pose) as our reward. The perfect opportunity to…

Sigh. Audibly. With Abandon. And with permission!

And yet…not a peep. From any of us. Dead silence. What was happening here?

I used to hate this cue. I swore as a new teacher I’d never, EVER, ask my students to “sigh it out.” It sounded dorky to me. In past practices, when I heard other students “sigh it out”, I inwardly cringed (okay, maybe outwardly. Sigh). But recently, I’ve been asking myself just what the hell I’m so hung up on when it comes to this harmless instruction. I basically ask my students to do the same thing all the time – just with different words:

“Exhale through the mouth.” “Let it out.” “Make some noise.”

Really now. What’s the difference? Aren’t I saying the same thing? After some reflection, I’m beginning to realize that no, I’m not saying the same thing at all. I’m basically asking them to release something. But not quite everything:

“Exhale through the mouth,” allows them the opportunity to release a little or a lot. There’s an opportunity in that instruction to hold back. Not good.

Same goes for “Let it out” and “Make some noise”. Let how much out? A little or lot? Make some noise? How about a ton of freakin’ noise? Clearly not asking my students to truly let it all go.

“Sigh it out” pretty much says it all. Tough to really sigh timidly. That would be more of a whimper, not a sigh.

I’m also realizing my troubled past with this cue had very much to do with striving to be in control. Even when face down in a pile of sweat on my mat after a hard sequence. To “sigh it out” meant, in my mind, to relent. To quit. To lose face. In life, I resisted sighing anything out. Sore after a dismal half marathon time? I ran harder on dead legs the next day instead of resting. Heartbroken and emotionally crushed after a failed relationship? I chose a feigned smile and everything-is-fine facade over the loving shoulders of dear friends on my side.

In time, thankfully, I started sighing it out. And witnessing a more authentic, and empowered, life for myself. So, dear students, if you begin to hear “sigh it out” in class, don’t be alarmed. Just make a lot of freakin’ noise and enjoy it.