Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Amidst the Chaos... anxiety


I like for people to think my life is easy. I plot and plan how I present myself so I always look like that person who has it going ON. I have so much to be grateful for, that I often don't give myself permission to think my life is not 'okay'. I've spent my life wishing I was normal and that I'd have a normal life. I had this idea that 'normal' people don't have anxiety and they have awesome, simple lives. I have no idea if I am correctly defining 'normal' but it certainly isn't how I am.

Lately, my life has been so full of anxiety sometimes I can hardly function, forget being normal. Writing that is scary. I want people to think I have my 'act' together. I'm good. I have it all under control. I'm up for this. Nothing truly phases me. I'm a good mom. I'm a good teacher. I'm a good person.

Lately, I don't feel that way about any of those elements of my life. I feel like my life is screaming unregulated down the tracks and I am barely holding on... and I hate that feeling. I hate feeling so out of control and on edge. I think I'm angry at myself for not being in control even though I long ago realized that in life... I never had control to begin with. That isn't how life works. I can't control anyone else, can't make myself feel safe by relying on my ability to think I have my act together.

I've been trying to meditate. Trying to center and focus every morning. But it doesn't lift the elephant that feels like it is sitting on my chest making it hard to breathe. I'm torn between not knowing what is 'right' anymore and what is 'best'. Do those words even have meaning? How can I possibly know what is right and wrong and best and worst? I know that anxiety makes me question everything. Right now, when I listen to my inner voice, and my inner voice has always been strong and has guided me my whole life, my inner voice is as conflicted as I am. Do this and you'll be okay... No! Wait! Changed my mind... do THIS. No, WAIT... Don't do anything. Which leaves me feeling paralyzed and overwhelmed.

Two weeks ago, I went to a tarot workshop on Lummi Island. It was amazing. A wonderful group of women all spending the day playing with myth and the mythic. It was the happiest and calmest I have been in months. I left feeling renewed, confident and alive. It was magical. I just don't know how to hold that space. I don't know how to allow myself permission to be confused and unclear and not have that bring on these waves of anxiety. I feel like I'm spending a lot of time fumbling in the dark. It's exhausting. I have moments when I can breathe and feel okay, but most of the time I feel like I'm just holding my breath from moment to moment until I remember to breathe. This is what anxiety feels like... touching grace and being at peace, and then *BAM* it's gone and I'm back to forgetting how to breathe. At least it is what it feels like in my world.

And I keep thinking I can't talk about this with one more person. I feel like I whine a lot about not knowing what to do, and I can't keep dumping my conflicted self on others. Even people that love me, can only hear my struggles so long before they think... look... do something about it. I think that about people at times... how could people not think that about me?

So I struggle. And I wonder if I am doing anything right. Today I listened to a TED lecture where the man said, "Sometimes good enough *is* enough." And I wanted to argue with him. I wanted to say, "But I don't even feel good enough at anything right now!"

And I wonder if this is what every parent feels. I wonder if this is what 'normal' people feel. Because I've never found normal and I don't even know what it looks like. I wonder if this is just me overthinking everything and being too hard on myself. And I wonder if 'normal' people get like this. Where they wonder and question everything about what they're doing and then question themselves all over again. If they feel like they are drowning in their own doubt?

And maybe it is this situation. It is this moment in my life. Because there have been times when I was so clear even when it was difficult. I knew when it was time to walk away from bad relationships and a bad, anxiety producing marriage. I knew when it was time to take on a challenge and when it was time to say... "Uh, no I'm not going to go night cave diving with manta rays in Hawaii." That may have been amazing, but it was clear to me it was not for me at that time in my life. Maybe now I'd go cave diving at night with manta rays... oh wait. Nope. Still the right choice for me. Maybe I'll get to the places where I can just sit, calm and relaxed and think, "whatever happens I will have the courage, fortitude and grace to deal with it." That's my goal. That's who I want to be...

I'm just not there yet.



Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Last Jedi and Letting Go


I want to talk about why I loved The Last Jedi. I don't want to put spoilers in the first few sentences, because I think spoilers are unkind and selfish. So instead of talking plot points right off, I am going to say that I spent the whole movie mourning Carrie Fisher. Her loss impacted me so much more when I watched her on the screen. She was a true hero in real life as well as the Star Wars series - a bright, powerful woman who never gave up. Even in the movie, when she passes the torch to the next generation, she never stops being a hero. Losing her in both the real world and in a galaxy far, far, away crushed me. As a woman, I ache that we have lost such a role model. But as a writer, and having read a few articles about how other people interpret the movie, I know in The Last Jedi, it is exactly how it had to be.

I've been reading and watching a lot of Joseph Campbell lately and rewatching the 80s tv show with Bill Moyers - The Power of Myth. I love this series because I love the story of the Hero's Journey. I love the awakening of the hero and the journey to that awakening. And yes, I think a hero, like Rey and Leia in Star Wars, can be a female. I think what makes The Last Jedi so powerful, is that it is the true culmination of what happens to heroes. So often we end the hero's journey with the intrepid hero triumphantly returning to the village and dispensing wisdom, then either going off on another adventure (Indiana Jones, Katniss Everdeen) or writing down the story and going away (Bilbo Baggins), but most often the story just 'ends' with the victory and maturity of the hero being the end of the story (Gilgamesh).

However, the true resolution of the Hero's journey, is with the realization that the old generation of heroes must give way to the newer generation of heroes (Bilbo giving the ring to Frodo). Luke is given one last chance to save the resistance, by NOT training Rey to be a hero (as Yoda trained him). After she leaves, his Jedi master, Yoda, comes and with a lightening bolt burns down the 'tree of life'. The Master sets fire to the sacred tree of the Jedi and puts the past to ashes. Yoda enlightens Luke even as he burns down the old order. Yoda laughs through the fire and says about the sacred Jedi texts, "Wisdom they held, but that library contained nothing that the girl Rey does not already possess." And that is what happens, when the tree is set on fire (of course Rey has run off with the sacred books, but Luke doesn't know that). The past is burned away. Luke's way wasn't going to save the universe. He tried and he failed. He failed as a mentor with Ben Solo, and he failed himself when his shame caused him to run away. It seems to me, Luke's real hero's journey was never about him saving the galaxy, the real hero's journey was letting go of a way of being that wasn't working. Luke embraces change and his redemption comes when he offers his own life (Jesus) to save his community and allow 'hope' time to escape. Luke and Leia both learned from their pasts, and were ready to set aside the old ways that weren't working. The Resistance is all but wiped out. They all fit into the Millennium Falcon. When everyone turns to Leia to ask her what to do, she nods to Po and basically says to ask him.

The Last Jedi isn't a happy, warm, fuzzy movie. It is as much a tribute to the past, as it is burning away the old canon. It destroys our clinging to the original three movies (I'm not even addressing the ridiculous second trilogy of movies); this movie forges a whole new story - like a good hero's tale should do. The old hero should die - after contemplating both his or her success and failures. That is what makes Star Wars so beautiful. It doesn't stop with the happy-ever-after scene of Luke and Han and Leia getting awards and everything being perfect. It stays with the story. It unflinchingly reaches beyond what we know and touches the great Mystery. Or, as they say in Star Wars, it embraces the Force.

I loved that about this movie. I loved that Luke is broken and angry. I love that he has turned his back on the Force - haven't we all at some point in our lives? Haven't we all said, "ENOUGH! You ask too much!" Or, "Why???" In our own ways, we all struggle with what we hold sacred.

I remember when my mom passed away. She left behind a whole house full of collections that meant something to her and were sacred to her; the menu from the hospital on the day I was born, costume jewelry she loved,  a thousand little things. Those items, some of them were sacred to me as well and I kept them, as my sister kept some sacred to her. But many of them my sister and I sold or gave away. There is no reason to hold on to something that was sacred to someone else when it is not sacred to you. Giving those items it to someone who can find a new joy in them brought my sister and I great joy. In the end, I realized the sacred part was inside myself... not in the things or places or people around me.

That is why I loved this movie. The sacred canon it destroyed was balanced with the sacred it handed down in a new form to the next generation. It's beautiful and it's powerful. I can understand why some people didn't like this movie... who wants to see a hero die? Who wants to see a hero fail?  Except struggle is eternal. Light isn't mean to win over darkness; it can't. Learning to navigate between the light and the dark, between the male and female, between the duality of humanity and spirituality - those are the dualities we navigate every single day. But there is more to life than duality, as Joseph Campbell says, "People say that what we're all seeking the meaning of life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive." In other words, we all seek the experience of feeling the 'Force' in our own lives. I think that is what this movie says - it says the Force must be open to all - not to a select few that hold that knowledge so tightly they smother the light.

I can see that some people want a victory. They want the Jedi to beat the Sith. They want the light to win once and for all. They hold so tightly onto Luke and the old Star Wars characters and movies, they end up strangling the story. They don't want anything to change. They fear what is next. It is... well, a lot like our current political situation. So many in office right now hold on tightly to the past, instead of stepping aside and making room for change. Our government isn't working right now, but so many politicians and people are afraid of change that we are literally strangling our own story of democracy.

I know, in my life, the greatest experiences come from letting go of being angry and stuck in the past, and moving forward with joy and happiness. I can't change the past, but I can let go of what didn't work and allow myself to welcome change. Even when that change is hard, most often, that change is enlightening and empowering. And that is the true message of the hero's journey. Embrace what is unknown, and it will change your life. Maybe that is what I am doing now, embracing change and embracing those around me that support that change. That is certainly what The Last Jedi did.

As one of my favorite songs in Wicked says,

Who can say if I've been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better

And because I knew you...

Because I knew you...

(Both)Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good...

Love and Joy,


Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Power of Voice


Today marks five years since Candace passed away. I remember that day so clearly, standing next to her and talking to her for a few moments, even though she was in a deep morphine coma. I remember how it felt to see her in her bed in the living room with her family around her and the hospice nurse. Then, leaving with the kids to have breakfast in Sunbury and while eating, getting the phone call that she had passed. Telling the kids, then taking the kids on a drive to look at Holiday decorations because they weren't quite ready to go home.

My grief this year is less, but my anxiety is probably more; I suppose there is always a balance. Today I listened to all the voicemail messages from her I saved - I have four of them. When I hear her voice she is still here. Right next to me. Is it weird I saved her voice? I've kept it on my phone for over five years now. I can feel her presence when I listen to those voicemails, I feel her near me.

It's funny how powerful the voice is. Playing the recording, I'm right back with her. Sitting in the living room, hanging out. Sitting in the hot tub, laughing. But it is so real. So much more real than even a photo. Last weekend, her daughter, my sister, and I took the snow train to Leavenworth. Madi and I sang our hearts out. Candace couldn't keep a note on tune for anything. But she sang with wild abandon. She had fake microphones in her van so she and I could pretend to be pop stars and sing along with the radio. As painful as it was to listen to her sing, it was replaced with the sheer joy she had when laughing along with the music. It's lovely that Madi has such a nice voice. Maybe, just maybe, Madi somehow got that from me.

So much change has happened since she passed, and so much change is still coming. One child is off to college soon and one child will be starting high school next year.  I try to stay with my head above the water and love the journey. I never expected this journey. Never expected any of this. But I remember five years ago when I kissed her forehead as she passed and told her I would take care of them and how much I loved her. And it would be okay. I knew it then and I know it now. It will be okay.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss her. This summer, we were at Disney. Madi was handing Grant some lip balm. For a brief moment, Madi looked so much like her I gasped, same hands, same mischievous grin, same vocal tone. The two went off to ride a ride and I sat and had some coffee and basked in the energy of her. I knew she was enjoying Disney as much as I and the kids were. And, I cried.

This isn't a long tome to her, I've written so many of those. But this is a tribute to her voice and the power I feel when I hear it. And so, today, I thought I would share it. I apologize it is so clunky, but there is no other way to upload the file here :(.

Love you too, friend. Love you, too.

Love to you all,


Friday, December 08, 2017

Finding Fabulous at Fifty


I turn 50 at 11:47pm tonight. I thought somehow I'd feel different. But I don't. I still got up this morning, had breakfast (they forgot my bacon!) and went to work. I had lovely presents on my car from a friend, and presents at school from friends and from my sister. Oh and I got a 'join us' card from AARP. Am I old enough for AARP?????

My life is really good right now. I'm just riding the wave of two teenagers who can't decide on much and keep shifting around what and who they want to be. I'm learning to just smile and let it go, even when it hurts my feelings, stabs at my heart, or when I get attached to something that is gone the next day. Pretty typical life with kids. I wonder sometimes, how my mom and dad did it. How anyone does it... I mean, how do any of us survive parenting?

I realize, however, that something has changed in me - my tolerance for being around people who are unhealthy. My tolerance for misery and melancholy. We all go through struggles. I have gone through crying myself to sleep every night for months. But in terms of having people in my life that are chronically negative, or tear down the things that bring me joy - I'm not able to navigate it anymore. I can deal with depression and I can hold someone's space through trauma. But when it is pretty much a chronic state, when I find I start to feel bad about who I am because of someone else's unhappiness... well, I realize I need to step away.  I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not a good thing. Does it mean I have lost my patience? Or that I have lost my compassion? Or that I am a bad friend for walking away? I honestly don't know.

What I do know is that I still love fiercely. And I am still kind. And I will have your back at the drop of a hat if you need me. But I'm far from perfect. After all, my cup says "almost" perfect (thanks, Rachel!)

The next half of my life is going to be focused on being happy. On finding my joy. On being with people who bring me joy - I couldn't even begin to list them all here. Today, two friends from my past showed up on facebook! How wonderful! It's a joy that people I love and have loved for a long time are still in my life, showing up, being present and sharing their sorrows and their excitement about their adventures. Maybe I'm finally realizing at fifty, no one is going to make me happy. I can share my happiness with others, but I have to make my own joy. This next part of my journey I am going to pursue finding those qualities - even if finding those qualities in my life means great change and moving out of what makes me comfortable. I'm going to pursue connection and community, and I get excited even contemplating what that means.

Don't misunderstand, I don't actually know what pursuing love, pursuing happiness, pursuing joy and pursuing connection is going to look like or what it is going to mean, but I am excited to see where my newfound determination leads. 

Maybe the biggest gift I am giving myself this year, is that I am going to stop pursuing perfection. And I am going to stop pursuing the search for all the answers and feeling like I have to be in control to feel safe. Because sometimes, I think maybe I am asking the wrong questions anyhow. And maybe, just maybe, this year I'll learn to be a little kinder to myself. I'll learn my own value and maybe, I'll start to listen when people I love tell me my value... maybe I'll believe them - instead of doubting them and their honesty.

Thank you all for loving me. For being kind. For being patient while I move into who I am all the while continuing to stumble while I learn. We of the Meyer line live a long time. So I'm looking forward to at least another 45 years of life on this planet <3.

Peace and love this holiday season,


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Just the three of us, building castles in the sky...


Yesterday, I went to court to get full guardianship of my daughter's brother. My daughter, my lawyer, myself, the Guardian Ad Litem and my daughter's brother stood before the judge and said this is what we all wanted. My daughter spoke about how she felt like part of her life had been missing and how glad she was that her brother would have better opportunities now.

I would like to say that everything has gone as easily as that court date yesterday, but that wouldn't be true. Heck, even the court date was delayed a month because the docket in March was full.

Having a teenage boy here has been perhaps, one of the biggest challenges of my life. When the two were babies, my (at the time) goddaughter was colicky and almost everything made her sick. I remember holding her above my head and lifting her up and down under the ceiling fan to calm her so she could finally fall asleep. Her brother was an easy baby. Hardly cried. Cuddled a lot with Candace. Candace once told me that if she had had her son first, she would have thought she was a natural mom. That mothering was easy. She said that because she'd had her daughter first, she'd been humbled. That she understood how hard being a mom could really be. For me, I've had the exact opposite experience with those two. Having my (now) daughter come live here was a natural flow of our already close relationship. Not that it was all easy, but I patted myself on the back and told myself "You got this." I listened when people told me what a great mom I was.

That has not been my experience now. People always look at me and say, "Oh, you'll be fine, you're such a great mom, you got this." But I, most decidedly, have days where I do NOT got this.

Having my life shift so much has pushed me to limits I didn't know I had. Pushed me to the edge of patience, and frustratingly, sometimes beyond it. I've been tremendously hard on myself. Forced to create boundaries for a young person who has really not had many, I feel like often I am more of a drill sergeant than a parent. I've had to deal with anger and anxiety in someone that brings forth my own anger and anxiety. I've had to figure out how to move past my own shortcomings to try to be a better person... and often I feel I come up short of the mark.

If you've read my blog, you know I struggle with being kind to myself. I struggle with honoring my own needs, often putting others before myself. Perhaps that is part of being a parent, putting the needs of children above my own needs. But I think, when I put their needs above my own too often, I lose myself in the process.

At times, life here is sunshine and happiness. Two kids curled up on the sofa talking, me curled up with a cup of tea laughing, and all of us feeling like a well tuned family - working together for the best of all of us. I treasure those moments, and lately they come more often.

But just as often I feel like I am living in a tempest. I have to push through the outright denial of being a family. The denial of connection that comes from the fear of belonging somewhere. The push against being loved. I have had to face my own trauma and learn how to manage it when surrounded by someone else's. I've read and reread this article. I've found it both comforting and confronting, both at the same time.

Often my supportive and wonderful friends will say to me, "Oh, hey, typical teenage behavior! Welcome to parenthood!" And then I feel even worse.  I think to myself, omg, I can't even handle typical teenage behavior! But that isn't accurate. It isn't typical in my world and while I know every parent of a teenager has difficult moments, the uncertainty mixed with tremendous loss in my situation, makes this not some 'typical teenage behavior." I know friends are being supportive, I know they are trying to help and I am grateful for their love and support. I also know I'm the only one in my situation and I shouldn't diminish my experience or myself for feeling at times like I fail at parenting over typical teenage behavior.

There is therapy, there is assessment. There is no way I could do this on my own. I'm consistently and constantly amazed at how supportive the people around me have been. The people at work, the people that are my friends, the people in my family. I'm lucky to not be alone. I don't know how a single person could do it alone. For those single parents raising kids, my admiration knows no bounds.

But what I am realizing, is that it's okay for this to not be perfect. It's okay for this experience to bounce back and forth between delightful and difficult.

I know I am doing the best I know how to do. And I am learning to take my life one moment at a time to the best of my ability. I know no matter how this experience turns out, I am growing. I am becoming. And I am already not the same person that agreed to bring another child into my life. It's been humbling and I'm certainly learning how much I still have to learn.

I am looking forward to what comes next. I'm also scared and nervous. It's unknown, and I'm not always good with the unknown. But I know I will emerge from this story with many new stories of my own to tell. And I believe all of us in this story will do some healing, some learning, and some loving together to emerge from this story even better than when we stepped into it.

peace my friends,


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Four Years, Three Souls, Two Stories, One Coat of Many Colors


I've been ruminating lately on the essence of story. I don't mean the awesome novel or great poem, but our story, or to be more specific, my story. The intricacies of the story I tell myself and the story I tell about myself to others. I've been thinking about how the existentialist in me makes meaning in this world and how I create meaning in my life. I have been examining my 49 years of weaving and the coat of stories I wear around my shoulders.

To me, story is how I connect with others. It is the thread that weaves and hums itself into and out of the events that shape my life. How do the colors change when I bring in a new shared thread? What is the story I tell myself when someone I love abruptly disappears and their part of the weave goes silent? How do I learn to weave my story alone, when once, two threads danced and a shared pattern together in my personal technicolor dreamcoat?

Tomorrow will be the four year anniversary of losing one of the most important threads in my weaving. I see my coat now, and it doesn't glow quite as brightly. It feels like one of the threads that always seemed to tie the colors together, is gone.

The disappearance of that thread has changed my weave. New, beautiful threads have come into my life. Threads that are weaving joy, sorrow, responsibility, love... some threads shine all the brighter and are so important to me, I listen to them as they hum with color. The hum of the universe.

I run my finger over the thread tracing her pattern beginning to end, feeling the weft and weave. I listen to the old voice messages on my phone that still hum with her sound. With how she vibrated in the world. And I know I have this small hole in my weave. I've lost part of the words to my story. I catch moments of her in my other threads. In a smile, a crinkled nose, a series of words, or a photograph by my bed. But I can't figure out how to rewrite my story to lessen how much I miss hers. How is it that the dreamcoat I wear, feels heavier without her thread? Shouldn't its absence make the coat feel lighter?

I wrap myself in my story. I curl up at night with my coat. In my dreams, I see the entirety of my weave and I realize how beautiful my coat is, how fortunate I am to have so few frayed ends, and so few silent threads. I can only tell my story. I am the one writing it - no one else. I am the one who runs her fingers over the strands grateful for the ones still humming. Grateful for the bright, beautiful thread that reflects my soul and the souls of those who are part of my weaving. Even the ones that are only present in my coat for a brief moment, who for reasons I may never understand, go silent.

I'm getting better at tying off those threads. The ones left hanging without an answer. Tying them and tucking them up into the weave so that they don't get caught and unravel the work. Stories are meant to have conflict, weaves aren't always smooth, but the beauty comes in the working through the conflict, and the eventual softening of the rough spots in a weave.

But there are some threads, like her thread, that even though they are tied up and tucked neatly into the weave, I can't stop teasing them with my fingers. I don't think there is a day that goes by that I don't in some way revisit that part of my story. It is integral to how I relate to the world. And even when threads have been smoothed over and tucked away, even when there is some resolution to their silence, even though I am so aware and so blessed for the time they were part of mine, I miss their active presence in my story now.

Maybe one day I will write my story differently, so that the ache of that missing thread isn't as acute.

One thing I know is that my story, and our story, is worth telling.  I need that part of our shared weave and even when this time of year comes around and I find myself running my fingers over the rough spot, I still treasure that tucked up thread. And even as my coat grows with each telling, grows with new threads and grows with time, maybe the beauty and value of story is in the telling. I can't imagine that there will come a day when that part of my story, that adventure, that beautiful part of my coat, won't bring me joy and wrap me in the softest warmth - and won't make for a great retelling.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Yogatta be kidding me...


I went to Yin yoga tonight with my good friend Barb. She has told me over and over what a great experience it is. The last time I tried yoga, I couldn't walk for two days... so saying this was going to be a great experience is like telling myself to try sushi again. No, really, THIS time I will like it.

But I don't like sushi. And I can try it a hundred times more, and I am not going to like sushi... but with an open mind and heart, I drove to the yoga studio.

I met her in the parking lot. Yin yoga was going to be 'good for me'. It wasn't going to push me to a place of feeling uncomfortable. It was going to slowly get my body moving in ways it hasn't moved for a while (or I don't know, maybe ever). I walked in and was greeted by the instructor. He was a very kind man - older than me, curly hair, calming in his very nature. Unlike my last yoga experience, I could tell from the moment I walked in the studio, I was in a good place. He showed me around the building, had me take off my shoes (I wore tennis shoes... you know... noobie mistake) and my friend and I went into the studio. There was no talking and I set out my yoga mat (which I bought and have not used ONE single time in 5 years... well I used it that one time I said I would NEVER try yoga again... so I used it *one* time... but this mat still has that new mat smell) and I stretched out a bit.

The yoga studio was hot. Not stifling hot, but sitting on my yoga mat I felt myself getting warm. The instructor walked in right on time and we started doing some stretch poses. So far, it felt nice. Arms up, breathe in, meet hands above the head, breathe out, bring down the arms to heart chakra. Repeat. I could do this. My mind quieted. Then, the first real pose. Bend the right leg and sit on it, keep the left leg out straight, put the bolster behind your back and lean back.

I could not do it. I could not come close to doing it. I got so angry at my body, I felt so much shame. Everyone was going to look at me. Everyone was laughing and obviously staring at me in the mirror. And WHY WAS I DOING THIS AGAIN??? The instructor, seeing me struggle, came over to help, but I was awash in so much shame it only made things worse. Tears slipped down my cheeks, every part of this hurt. My body was in full revolt and I turned my head and looked at the door. We were fifteen minutes into the hour class. I kept trying to stop the tears escaping down my face. They mixed with the sweat, I told myself at least no one would know I was crying like an idiot. I looked at the door again. I could leave. I could get up and just leave. But I kept hearing the instructor say, "Breathe. Remember to breathe. More important than any pose, more important than any desire you may have right now, the most important thing you can do is breathe."

So I kept taking in deep breaths. And in a moment of silence I remembered something one of my great teachers, Ted Andrews, told me. He said to me once, "MaryKate, don't ever fear tears, you cry when you are closest to spirit."

And I knew I wasn't alone. It didn't matter what one other person in that room thought. Even though I knew no one was laughing at me, I had to move through every moment of shame I have felt in this body. Every fear of being humiliated that I've struggled with (which is why I don't go and sing karaoke), every thought that 'if I just hadn't let myself get so fat, I wouldn't be having these problems right now' and other thoughts that are actually too embarrassing to write here. But they all came flooding at me a million miles a second. From the depth of my own struggle I heard the instructor say, "Gently switch sides and let's hold that pose with the other leg under you."

My leg wasn't under me. It was flailed to the left of me and looked like my knee was broken and my leg needed surgery. But I stopped eyeing the door. I kept breathing. I let every moment of shame and fear pour out of me and I let that room hold it. I let it go. I kept breathing. I kept crying. But the tears no longer felt like humiliation - they felt like release. I realized how much shame and embarrassment I have held in my body for so long, I realized how unkind I have been to myself. How I have punished myself for not being beautiful, for not even allowing myself to think I was attractive. How long I have blamed my body for failing me. And the tears fell and I moved on to the next pose. 

The rest of the hour passed uneventfully. Occasionally, I felt shame rise to the surface, but this time it was met with compassion. Compassion for allowing myself to believe such negative thoughts about who I am, and worse, for letting others in my life reinforce those ideas. Over and over during yoga tonight I just let it all go. I reminded myself that I am worthy of so much more than I believed in the past. And while the rest of the hour wasn't easy, I just kept breathing and releasing.

When the hour was over, my friend asked me how it went. I was still so emotional... so on the edge of everything tumbling out. I told her it was good...  and that it was confronting. She smiled and seemed to understand.

I walked up to the front desk and the instructor was there. He asked me how it went, and I said, again, it was confronting. He smiled and talked about how it can be hard the first time trying yoga and I nodded unable to really respond. He kept talking and I sort of heard what he said, but there was a man sitting next to the front desk with the bluest eyes I have ever seen... and I have really blue eyes. And he just sat there and smiled at me. It was the warmest, kindest smile I think I have ever seen. His eyes never wavered. He just smiled and looked at me, into me I suppose. I felt so... 'okay'. I felt like there was a message in his eyes. He didn't say a word to me, he just held my space and honored where I was without ever saying anything. He hadn't been in the class, I'm sure he was waiting for the next class to begin. Honestly? At this point I'm not even sure there was really someone sitting there. 

As I walked out of the building, I said to my friend, "So, Thursday night?" She laughed and reminded me I am going to the Peter Gabriel/Sting concert. I smiled and we agreed to either go again on Saturday or next week. But I knew I would be back - because much like sushi, I may not like it in its raw form, but I have learned that there are types of sushi I can eat that I do enjoy. And tonight, as frustrated and embarrassed as I felt, I knew that the only way to change my experience with myself and with yoga was to push through it and go back.

So, here's to not giving up. To going back. To pushing past the past and breathing into the future.