Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Around this time of year there is a lot of chatter about resolutions.  I don’t really buy into all that. Break the word down and it’s “re-solutions”, meaning, we have perhaps gotten lost in the problems in our lives and for this day forward we resolve to be different. But the issue most folks have is that by January 31st they are back to their old behaviors.

I personally choose to apply the notion that we get to start over anytime we want, even if that is several times a day. Being in recovery taught me this.

I am starting over in many areas of my life. Of course, most obviously would be the dynamic of my relationship, which I wrote about 2 blogs ago. What I know about relationships is that they require effort and flexibility but most of all: interest. A healthy relationship means that both parties have a common interest in keeping the Garden of We vital as it expands and contracts with inevitable change. For most folks it may not be as grandiose as a gender shift, but there are many other intense types of change: divorce, job loss or change, death, illness, infidelity, children being born or moving out. Or if you’ve had the year I have had, almost all of those.

I have exercised a great amount of observation over this last year. The practice of Svadhyaya, self study, is paramount in my life. This isn’t always pleasant.  Most of the time it’s not, because I must face myself. It’s stated in several yogic philosophies that the path of a yogi quite often is a solitary path, and that’s certainly true for me. I have found I have less and less interest in mundane superficiality that is hyper-blasted everywhere in our lives. I tend to gravitate towards and draw to me others whom are on the same path, for we speak the common language.

As I have mentioned here and there, I have strong opinions about social media and how it has caused incredible disillusionment in humans as a whole. We are an addicted society. We compulsively check our phones. We are obsessed with the little red icon showing activity. We garner our self esteem by the “likes”. We compare our insides with other peoples strategically posted outsides. It’s an emotionally political battlefield.  If you don’t agree with me, try going without facebook for a week,or hell, even a day, and see how squirrely you feel.

In the yoga world, it is almost expected that there is a strong social media presence, because yoga is a business now. I have talked to many, many teachers about their feelings with this.  To me and others on the path the Energy of it all feels frenetic and crazy making. So, I am letting it go for the most part. For awhile, or forever, we shall see. Now, it’s not lost on me that this blog has a tag onto social media. And lest I be misunderstood, I don’t hate facebook. I quite like it……in moderation. I connect with friends and family and feel a sense of my various tribes. However, I needed to get really honest with myself about how it’s all affecting me.

A few people I interviewed regarding this topic agreed that what’s behind the fear of letting go of facebook is this fear of being forgotten. That’s so sad to me.  What if we all faced that fear?? There was life before social media. How did we all connect before? Do you remember that? True connections are now striving to be encapsulated into a singular “like”. That is how we now show our interest in each others lives. I do this all the time myself and like I said, I do love that feeling of connect. But not at the expense of true face to face interactions. Or at least phone to face. 🙂

Yoga has been a practice for thousands of years. The deeper I go into it the quieter I become, which is the point. Many people are terrified or even unable to sit and be with themselves without distraction. Social media is a fantastic distraction, yes?  But it can become unhealthy. My invitation is to get honest with Self.

 

Much love,

Leslie

Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers “Grow, grow.” – The Talmud

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Yoga is an Eight-Limbed path. The first limb holds the Yamas, the moral restraints or ethical behaviors. In other words, we are asked to behave ourselves and act appropriately. Well, crap.

I spoke about the first yama in class today: ahimsa, meaning nonviolence or chilling out our knee-jerk reactions to people, places and things.  In recovery we learn to ask ourselves “do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy”. Well, for me, I’d like a little of both please, with some whip cream on the side.

I had a situation this weekend regarding my dog, Otto, and a student having issue with my dog being allowed to roam in the studio. Now, if you follow this blog or know me personally, you know my nerves have been jangly, meaning, I’ve been way more susceptible to being reactive rather than responsive. This student issued a complaint about me and my dog, said I made her feel as though she didn’t belong. My first thought was to….uh..my first thought was not very nice. I was leaning way more towards himsa rather than ahimsa. I allowed the feelings to be there, because I know to stuff or deny them isn’t healthy. However, to act on them, well, that’s a different thing.

I decided to write the student directly, to thank her for reminding me that not everyone likes dogs **wtf**. I also explained the situation of how adored my dog is at this studio,  that he had nearly died and his fans were anxious to see him upright and alive. The biggest thing I did though, was I validated her experience. Doesn’t mean I agreed with it. However, I would rather be happy than “right”.  I know that behind anger is pain, and this student felt hurt, so I responded to that pain with compassion. She later wrote back to me and apologized for being rude. This is practicing ahimsa. It’s not easy, it’s not fun, but it’s worth it.  As Rolf Gates said “The belief that it’s possible to heal the world without healing ourselves first is what the Yoga Sutras call a lack of true knowledge”. And as Ghandi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

What does it all mean??? It means, the path of a yogi is the path of a spiritual warrior. It means getting to know and get honest with the dragon within and to love its underbelly, its ego, its darkness. Practicing yoga does not mean we are always shooting rainbows out our asses, dudes. That’s not a fully rounded human experience for most of us. In fact, I’d wager to say that the biggest work we do in yoga is learning to embrace our shadow selves. The one that doesn’t make it to social media. The one we want to hide and deny.

The good news is that it’s yoga “practice”. As long as we are in human form, most of us will have to stay in the realm of practice, and as my teacher Christina says “It’s all a deposit in your yoga bank. Some days you deposit a nickel, some days it might be a hundred dollar bill. A deposit is a deposit.”

So. I still get my whip cream.

🙂

 

 

We are as sick as our secrets

“Leslie, are you writing about this”?  So have said many whom are close to me and then finally today, my mentor.  I shrugged my shoulders, implying “kinda-sorta-ish”.  See, I’m in a very unique relationship. I met my current partner as a “she”. I came out, on purpose, to be with a “she”.  My partner looked very  male, in fact, had facial hair when we met, and I was like..”oh shit, I don’t know if I can do this”. But, I was swept off my feet and before I knew it I was engaged and married. We had a flaming wedding full of Pride rainbows. It was small, sweet, and very gay.

Discussions of the pronoun were happening from day one. My partner was in the purgatory of trying to land, and I wasn’t able to land until my partner did. This took weeks, and she landed on she. As my partner already passed as a male, I had to have many, many explanations to people when I made reference to “she”. I didn’t really realize how much this was exhausting me until this summer, right after the one year anniversary of my mother’s death, when my partner fully landed. “I am not a lesbian. I am a trans-male”. Bam. A life of living in a body that did not accurately represent the Being. My partner, after more than 50 years on the planet, finally allowed the truth to proclaim Itself.

The secret lives we hold inside keep us captive in a life un-lived. Whether it is sexual preference or identity, addiction, or codependency, hiding and denying may not rock the boat or ruffle feathers, but it will keep you withering on the vine of regret.

We so fear what others will think of us. Why?  People will of course have opinion and that’s all it fucking is…opinion!  I am fully aware that my raw way of writing will turn some people, some students, away. So be it, dude. For every person whom I offend is another person privately messaging me saying, “thank you so much for what you wrote.”

I practice my yoga off the mat daily by being truthfully who I am, whether you approve of it or not. I do not blast smiling pictures of myself on facebook while inside I feel like I’m dying.  As I wrote about in prior blogs, I practice my yoga by catching myself in compulsive, addictive behaviors, even if it is compulsively running to my mat. I practice my yoga by admitting my shortcomings rather than trying to act like I’m above it all because I teach yoga.

My partner had top surgery today, which means removal of the breasts. I have been fully aware of this crazy fucking roller coaster of emotions inside of me with all the death and then yet another loss, the loss of my gay relationship. I have felt invisible. I have felt like I’ve lost my gay-card status because I am now married to a “he”. Let me just shout this from the rooftops right here, cuz this is my blog: I AM NOT HETERO!!! My partner is not hetero. We are Queer. We are in uncharted territory and we are now educators of what trans truly means. Let me assure you, being gay is not a choice. If you love the color purple, can you make yourself not love it? Being transgendered is not a choice. Gender and orientation are in the mind, not the genitals.

I know I need extra support right now. I’ve needed it for over a year, intensively. I work with my mentor, I go to therapy, I practice my yoga, I teach to students and I show up in my life. Messy. Real. Happy. Sad. Excited. Defeated. Laughing. Crying. Sweating. And lots of dark chocolate.

Onward, ho.

Peace out, homies.

 

 

You can only fix what you can face

I first found yoga years ago when I was recovering from what I call my Epic Time. I’ve had a few plummets way down into the murky-under in my life, mostly due to addiction, but my Epic Time was something different. I won’t go into too much detail here, but lets just say I became psychotic, because that’s way more glamorous sounding than I wanted to off myself. I completely lost my sense of “me” during this time and it was frightening. I wasn’t able to show up as a mom and my relationship at the time crumbled under the weight of mutual floundering.

I showed up to my first class intimidated and lost and in my head.  Working in the poses and finding my breath was challenging and that gave me reprieve from being me. I couldn’t get enough and practiced nearly daily, desperately…..addictively. And just like with stopping the drugs and alcohol and eating disorders, it was very intense in the beginning. I compared and competed as we often do when we are new to our mat. I allowed my neighbors accomplished pose to define my worth and value. I ran from myself until I could become quiet enough to feel me. To face ME. And to me, that is the real work we do on our mats, because we can only fix what we face.

Fast forward several years to present day: I am still facing ME. Not the facebook nor instagram worthy me, but this one. The one who feels depleted from death and from navigating the waters of being in a gay relationship and having my partner transition to male. Who..the..fuck…am..I..now??? The rug has been pulled from under me. I am floating in space, wondering where exactly I’ll land.

If you haven’t figured it out by now: I don’t do superficial bullshit. What you see is what you get. I thoroughly appreciate others who can be just as raw and as bare and I tend to draw that type of student to my classes, which is awesome. The light in me recognizes the light in you, but the broken in me recognizes the broken in you as well.  The good news is, we have yoga. We have the choice to remain broken or to begin piecing ourselves together .  We have the opportunity every day, every moment really, to feel our breath, to connect our thoughts into the timezone our feet are in; to get present. We get to practice being kinder, especially to ourselves. We strengthen our bodies as we strengthen our ability to be truthful. That addictive, compulsive running to our mat evens out as we learn to moderate ourselves, to cool our jets. Our mats will always be there. I’m not saying this path is easy, but I’m saying it’s possible. And if like me, you didn’t often hear that you are enough as you are, let me tell you:

I believe in you.

Love,

L.