You are Enough


In some bizarre-alternate-world-freak-circumstance, I’ve actually managed to sit down at my computer two days in a row. Whether I’m able to write anything remotely shareable remains to be seen. This may just be another draft to add to my growing collection. (In a later edit, it’s actually been another day because I wasn’t able to finish my thought processes yesterday).

I talked the other day about the need for us to have a safe space to share our struggles, our overwhelm, and to receive support. A way for us to feel less alone. We can be so very connected today, yet at the same time incredibly isolated, and fall prey – basically –  to the feeling that everybody but us is having the time of their lives (thanks Facebook and Instagram!). I’ve been thinking about all that for several days now, and I feel like there’s more to say on the subject. I think it’s very easy to translate the need to vent and reach out for support and solidarity into something dangerous and poisonous.

The poison to which I refer is that in our minds. It’s what happens when we continuously allow ourselves to engage in negative self-talk. Let me give some examples: “I’m not enough,” and “I’m a bad parent/person/friend,” and “I’m not worthy”. The last one is particularly venomous, and I’ll get to that in a minute. The problems with these thoughts, and all their many variations, is they start to circulate through our minds, and as they circulate, they begin to carve deep, deep grooves in our brain. This is not a metaphor. Neuroscience has shown how our thoughts actually change the physical shape of our brain. Just like the paths you walk the most in your house become worn and the carpet becomes mashed and matted, so do the pathways in your brain. The truly miraculous thing in all this? We can actually change the paths in our mind. We can replace these harmful, hurtful thoughts with uplifting, hopeful thoughts and, literally, change our minds.

In my yoga classes, part of what I try and impart to my clients is the concept of self-gratitude, and self-love. I often ask my class to place a hand on their hearts, or abdomen, or anywhere on their bodies they feel comfortable, and, in their minds, speak a kindness to themselves. Just one kind phrase, as simple as “I am here for you,” or “You can do this.”  This simple act can be immeasurably powerful. Try it now. Close your eyes, and give yourself a little mental love. It doesn’t have to be anything major. Feeling your hair today? Really proud of the dinner you cooked for the kids (whether they ate it or not)? Give yourself a little love and gratitude for it. A big misconception people have is that to make big, dramatic change you have to have to have big, dramatic actions. In reality, small, powerful actions, practiced over and over can create amazing, lasting change – for the good!

As some people may know, my personal mantra is “you are enough”. My goal is to repeat it, over and over throughout my day. When I start to forget, my thoughts start to be taken over by other, less constructive thought. Sometimes (often) I do forget, and get caught in the dangerous circular pattern of negativity. When this happens, I find my fuse shortening to, well, very short. My patience with my children becomes nonexistent, I’m ill-at-ease with everything and find myself flying off the handle – constantly. It’s very exhausting to be this crazy. The real bummer about all this is that I know I possess the tools to help with these kinds of feelings, but sometimes I just find myself unable to use them. As I’ve said many times recently, sometimes life is just freaking overwhelming, and we need a little (or a lot of) help to get back on track.

My favorite ways to help myself when I get caught in these cycles of destruction is to immerse myself in my yoga practice and meditation. Unfortunately, I am a person living in the modern world. In addition, I am a mother of three children, one of whom is still at home with me – all the livelong day. Total immersion in my yoga practice, and long meditation sessions are a distant dream. So I squeeze it in where I can get it, meditate for fifteen or twenty minutes here and there, and try and remember to repeat to myself, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day: “you are enough”. You. Are. Enough.

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Does Everybody but me have it Together?


So I’m just logging into my WordPress for this first time in forever, and I see that I have three posts that I’ve started! Three entire thought processes that I’ve begun and, for whatever reason, never gotten around to finishing. I would like to say I’m going to commit to finishing this post before I get off this couch, but the truth is, it probably won’t happen. People get hungry. They pee in the floor. They walk in the pee. The lizard’s eye explodes. Stuff happens around here constantly, and all of it seems to require my immediate attention. Constantly.

I like to think of myself as a very real person. I try and offer to the world a very real representation of what is happening in my mind and in my life at any given moment. But I’ve been thinking lately: am I really as real as I think I am? I think, like most of us, I want the world to think I’ve got it together a little better than I do. Maybe that I’m a better mom, or at least more confident in my parenting skills and choices than I am (to be clear, for the most part, I’m pretty confident in my choices for my children. But sometimes, that doubt does creep in.). That I handle all the chores and duties in my life with ease and grace. That my house is always clean, and I never go to bed with dishes in the sink (I always go to bed with dishes in the sink. And, I only make the bed when company comes over, or I’ve just washed it).

Here’s the truth. Lately, I’ve been feeling freaking overwhelmed. Like, hide in the bathroom and cry for an hour overwhelmed. I have so many goals, and hopes and plans, and they’re just sitting there on my shelf, collecting dust, because I spend all day trying to just keep my head above water. So, here’s my conundrum: Do I tell people how hard it is right now? Do I make public my perceived failures, my shortcomings – the fact that, maybe – I just can’t do it all? What will they think of me? But then I wonder…What will they think of themselves?

I teach one yoga class a week at a local eating disorder treatment center. Something I see, and hear, constantly, from clients is that they think they’re the only ones who don’t have it all together. That other people, perhaps those who aren’t in treatment, have everything all figured out. I can say, pretty conclusively, they do not. We truly have no idea the struggles everyone faces on a day-to-day basis. Because we’re not supposed to talk about it. In fact, we’ve been taught that it’s rude, or offensive, and that by sharing our struggles we’re burdening others with our problems, and that it’s not polite. The truth is, I suspect, we’re doing just the opposite. By walking around, pretending to be fine, and together, when we’re so not, are we creating an entire culture 0f women (and men), going through their lives, sometimes in agony, feeling silently inadequate? Who might you help by sharing how you really feel? Who might feel less alone and more supported as a result of shared struggles? Might someone who needs more help than friends can give seek treatment sooner, if they have permission to say to someone, anyone, “No. I’m not ok”?

To be very clear, I’m not suggesting we spend all day sitting around bemoaning our fates and discussing how inadequate we feel. How we’re tired, and don’t like our bodies, and can’t seem to get everything done. This sort of thing is counterproductive and will subtly but corrosively undermine our confidence and that of those around us. But when life is really hard, and we’re overwhelmed by trying to care for and raise our children, or our job is stressing us like crazy, and we can’t ever seem to do everything on our endless to-do list, we need to have safe spaces to share. We need to have people we can call and say, “help!”, and not feel judged. We need to know that we are not alone. We live in a world where we are constantly connected. Email, social media, text messages…everything is instant these days. We can stay in touch with so many people. So many people, who only show us the good moments. The moments where it looks like it’s all together. It’s easy to stop and take a picture (or 100, until you get one that’s “share”-worthy), when everything is all shiny and bright. It’s so easy to fall into the trap that the lives people project on their media is real. And it is real. It’s just usually the shinier, prettier parts of the reality. I think it’s important to remember that there’s a whole other mess o’ crap that goes on in people’s lives that we just don’t see. But looking at all these images of people’s lives that seem so great, and easy, and shiny…can make us feel lonelier than ever before. It’s like a sitcom. You only get to see that half-hour a week when all the interesting stuff happens. What about all the other stuff? The day-to-day life?

This is your invitation. How real can you be? Who can you lift up by giving them permission to share their realness? To share their struggles, and ask for help, if they need it? Can you share the parts of your life that happen when the cameras are off?

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I’m Going to Explode, and Other Tales of Woe


Currently I’m not quite yet six months pregnant, and appear to have swallowed a school bus. Or at least all the children contained therein. Thus far, I’ve been told I appear to be stretching the limits of the spandex of my yoga pants, and asked by more than one person if I’m sure I’m not carrying a litter, or at the least, triplets. This raises the age-old question of why people seem to leave all their tact behind when addressing pregnant women. It seems like a dangerous thing to do. At my best, I’m only moderately stable. During pregnancy, my sanity is entirely up for debate. I’m like a tossed coin, constantly in the air, and there’s really no way to judge what side I might land on. The nice, pleasant reasonable side, or the…less pleasant, reasonable side. I try not to be too touchy about my size, as I am aware that there is something rather comical about all my lumbering lumps and bumps. But still…

Another delightful aspect of the whole I-swallowed-a-busload-of-kids phenomenon is the frequent and excessive need to visit the ladies’ room – everywhere I go. I have grave concerns about my bladder. By necessity, my errands are now planned around when I will be irresistably compelled to visit the facilities, how long I can last between visits, and which places have the best (read: cleanest), most convenient bathrooms. I think things like, “I don’t really have to go yet, but there’s a nice clean bathroom right here, and if I use this one, I can go to this place next, and if I’m quick there, I can make it out and to the next place with more desirable facilities before I explode and die.” It’s very sad.

The notorious “they” says that you’re not supposed to sleep on your back while pregnant. “They” could really save their breath. Every time you get so uncomfortable sleeping on your side, because your shoulder aches, your arm is asleep, your knees hurt and hips are being crushed, that you roll onto your back (you know, accidentally, ’cause you’re asleep) the pressure of the bowling ball now resting on the 13 drops in your bladder wakes you up, forcing you to traverse the dark, cold hell hall yet again.

Speaking of sleeping, there is another little-known fun-time trick your body pulls during this special time. Drool. What is up with all the drool? And why does nobody tell you about all this? I was seriously concerned during my first pregnancy when all of a sudden I couldn’t fall asleep without turning into a big old slobbery mess. Like all the other prenatal party tricks, it just comes on earlier and harder with each successive pregnancy. None of my research (obsessive Googling) has ever turned out any cause for this excessive drool-making. Why, you might ask, don’t you just close your mouth to hold in this river of drool? A wonderful idea, except I would suffocate due to the fact I can’t breathe through my nose, thanks to chronic pregnancy boogers. Apparently, pregnant bodies make a lot of mucous, and really don’t discriminate between mucous-making areas of the body, so…boogers. So the mouth stays open, the drool pours out, and I carry on snoring like the dead. Gorgeous.

Regarding the afore-mentioned yoga pants. I’m still carrying on teaching a few classes a week. I’m not sure if the students are just being kind, but they haven’t yet taken to outright laughing at me. I laugh at myself, but they remain politely silent. I feel certain I look like a one-person comedy routine, especially when I attempt something ridiculous, like balancing my enormous girth on my arms. Or touch my toes. Yet, I persist. And I shall as long as I can manage to drag myself to teach.

Being pregnant isn’t all bad. Sometimes people go out of their way to be nice to pregnant ladies. For example, last week when I almost fell out (that’s what we do down here) at the Full Moon because I got too hungry, they gave me a free piece of pie. Chocolate pie.

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