It's a beautiful day...and the world is falling apart.

It's a beautiful day outside...and the world is falling apart.

My dogs and I had a wonderful, peaceful walk in our neighborhood park...and our current administration is attempting to oppress its people.

There is a still and sweet silence in the air...and anxiety is epidemic all around us. 

There is newness in every moment...and history is repeating itself once again.

How is it that two opposing forces can exist so simultaneously? How is it that life is so messy, and so perfect at the same time? 

I think I'm learning that this paradox is just how it is

A new life is born...and its mother went through severe pain. A warm fire is burning...and the remains of a tree are destroyed. This contradictory state is the way of the world.

If that's the case...how will we be in the world? Who will we be? How will we act?

We lean in. We see both. We honor both.

May we laugh until our hearts explode...and weep for the injustices in our society.

May we give sincere thanks...and criticize the motives of our institutions.

May we enjoy everything we do...and feel the pain of those suffering.

May we sit, be still, and know the Truth...and stand up, get loud, and fight.

 

-Carly 

 

Season of Stillness

I have always been an active person. I feel most comfortable in my skin when I’m in motion. At every point in my life I’ve been involved in some sort of physical activity; from dance to track and field, from lifting weights to practicing yoga, I’ve always found a way to move my body.

This year, particularly this month, all of that has come to a halt.

You see, I injured my shoulder at the start of the year. This forced me to stop practicing yoga at various points throughout the year. But each time I had my eyes set on my next practice. I would dive right back into my practice, going as hard as I could, until the pain came back.

This month, the pain came back like never before. Every yoga pose (even gentle ones) made the pain worse. In fact, just about every kind of movement made the pain worse. Washing dishes, sweeping, reaching into cabinets, brushing my hair, and even walking were all difficult on my body. Luckily, some physical therapy exercises started to bring me back to normal.

However, days after I began my PT regimen, I got sick. At this point I no longer had the energy to do my exercises…or anything else for that matter.

And right when I started to heal, I got all four of my wisdom teeth removed.

So here I am, on my ass again.

Over the last year, I have gotten super frustrated every time I was forced to be still. I couldn’t wait to move again, and I did everything I could to avoid having to sit still with myself. I knew that my meditation practice was there waiting for me, but I was just so resistant to it. I didn’t want to sit still. I wanted to fight against my body instead of listening to it.

This time though, it’s pretty clear that my body is begging me to sit still. So I’m finally ready to listen.

I’ve been pondering the season of winter lately. I’ve started to notice the subtle stillness in winter. This is the season where the trees have shed their unnecessary leaves, green grass has withered away, and the animals have gone into hibernation. There’s even a subtle quietness in the air, unlike any other season.

But up until this year, I’ve been too busy to notice the silence. I’ve been waiting in anticipation for spring, too preoccupied to sit still and simply notice.

I realize now that I have a lot to learn from winter. As I’ve said “yes” to this season my body is asking me to enter into, I’ve begun to notice and feel stillness in a whole new way. My meditations usually consist of manta, breathing techniques or visualizations. Now, I just sit there (or lay there, depending on how I’m feeling) and allow myself to not think; to not do anything at all. Nothing extravagant happens, but the profundity is deep.

And what I’m learning from this season of stillness is that if I get quiet enough inside, I find that there is a place inside of me, underneath my thoughts, underneath my personality and my ego. This place inside is simply still. And this place replenishes me, much like the hibernating animals are replenished by their long sleep.

Right now, I have no choice but to embrace this season of stillness. All I can do is participate in it, and hope that it gives me the fuel to start my 2017 off with skillful action.

I have to wonder what my life would look like if I took these still moments on a regular basis. What if I took a “Sabbath” of sorts, to do nothing but listen? I imagine what would happen is that I would be more in touch with myself than ever. I think that if I regularly took rest and refuge in that still place inside of me, I would be able to show up more fully for myself, my loved ones, and for my work.

Even though I am in pain, even though I am dying to go on a run or take a yogaHour class, I give thanks to my body for bringing me to this place. I give thanks to this body that knows what I need at all times. In 2017, I resolve to actively give thanks to my body by taking time to truly rest within. I make this resolution because I see no other choice any more. This body is all I’ve got. It’s time I start listening to it.

What do you resolve to do in this new year?

xo, Carly

I am a Perfectionist.

If you were following my blog posts before, you may have noticed that they suddenly stopped. 

Well, I'm back, and I want to share with you why I stopped writing. And why I'm back at it again.

If you couldn't tell by my previous posts, I've been on a journey of self-exploration for a long time now. Particularly since I started teaching yoga, I've really had to ask myself a lot of questions about who I am. I started digging deeper into the yoga texts. I started practicing more. I saw a health coach. I started taking better care of myself. And I started writing on a regular basis. 

Out of all those things, writing was the most amazing to me. I was connecting with myself and others on a whole new level. I was searching within myself, and doing the work to articulate my deepest thoughts and emotions. 

Then, I hit a wall

Every idea that came to me seemed incomplete. I was displeased with everything I wrote down. I couldn't make myself sound articulate or smart. I began saying to myself, "if you don't have anything profound to say, maybe you shouldn't say anything at all."

 So I stopped altogether. No blog posts, no rough drafts...I couldn't even bring myself to write in my journal.

I've been wrestling with this since I stopped posting on my blog (5 months ago), but in reality I've known all along why I stopped writing. And unfortunately, the reason is that I am a perfectionist.

There, I said it.

The thing is, although I know that I am a perfectionist, I'm only recently seeing how much it limits me (thank you, therapy). You see, I've hit these sort of "creative walls" before. 

In my childhood up until high school, I wrote songs ALL the time...but I never thought they were good enough to share, so I only ever revealed a few of them. Eventually, I thought that none of my songs were good enough at all, so I stopped. I haven't written a song since I was 16.

I learned a few chords on guitar in high school. Man, I played those 5 chords to death! But when I started having a difficult time learning more, I gradually stopped playing. 

These are just two examples that I'm not too embarrassed to share publicly (believe me, there are more). Time and time again I've abandoned creative endeavors because they weren't as perfect as I wanted them to be. My flaws-and my limits-made me so uncomfortable that I ran to the next thing. 

That's exactly what happened with this blog. 

All of my self-exploration was making writing way more challenging. As it turns out, it's not that my ideas weren't "good enough", it's that I was faced with the fear that that would be the case. That's the thing about perfectionism...it is not rooted in reality, but in fear. That "perfect" place I strive for does not exist, but that fear is very real and visceral to me. 

So I ran. I avoided.

But now, I'm ready...at least in this moment. And what I'm learning each and every day is that if I truly want these fears and limitations out of my life, I have to transcend them. What that means to me is that I keep going

So regardless of whether or not my writing is spectacular, I have to persevere. I have to look my insecurities and fears dead and the eye, and STILL decide to keep going. For my own sake.

I'm reminded of something my teacher challenges me with often: "what is keeping you small?"

Today-for the thousandth time-I am deciding to keep going. To move beyond my limits into a much more fulfilling place; one that is not reliant on my unrealistic expectations. All that's required of me now is to keep. fucking. going. 

Orlando and the Energy Shift

This week, the deadliest mass shooting in US history occurred in Orlando, Florida. Like all acts of murder that occur in this country, it’s left me feeling so much sadness, confusion, anger, weariness, pain, and some other indescribable emotions.

We are in the age of social media, and because of this I’ve seen that our most popular attempt at grief is to share and put out content. Whether it be an article, news story, Facebook rant/debate, or photo, we feel the need to speak. And I’ve partaken in this as well. I’ve been producing and sharing content on social media since I was really young, so to me this has become a natural form of expression. It is for a lot of us.

But what I’ve been noticing the last couple of days is that, for me, our shared content has felt inadequate.

Yes, there is power in words and action. They are necessary for our progression, and we do need to take action to come to the aid of those affected by this tragedy, as well as prevent these tragedies from happening so frequently.

But when it comes to grief and mourning, I think we’ve forgotten how vital it is to be silent.

In every spiritual tradition there is a reverence of silence; of stillness. I believe it to be one of the greatest human mysteries that healing, solidarity, and even divinity can reside in the simple act of intentional silence.

But our world is so loud. Our world is overflowing with content. Yesterday, it felt like I spent almost half the day reading and watching content on the Orlando massacre. But the thing is, all of this content will never be adequate in explaining how my heart, and the hearts of people all over the world, is aching over this loss.

When the news of this tragedy became known to the world, there was an energy shift.  And this is something we all know, because we’ve felt it. So after being submerged in the world of content, there came a point where I knew that this would not suffice. I just needed to feel.

I don't make this call for silence as a way of advocating inaction. On the contrary, I wholeheartedly believe that allowing ourselves to truly feel the weight of the pain in our hearts through intentional silence is what will catalyze compassion-based action.

As for me, I’ve done enough talking. I’ve probably said and shared more than I needed to say or share. Now is the time that I sit in stillness. It’s the time that I enter into the energy shift, rather than try to explain it, because ultimately there is no explanation for this senseless event. But I know that in order for me to make the next steps; to give love, take action, and serve; I must first listen to the energy. And I believe that listening to this energy will give me the strength, patience, and wisdom to listen others. 

When Shit Gets Hard

There’s a big misconception out there about awareness.

We know that on the journey towards positive change, awareness is the first step. Which makes sense; you can’t deal with something unless you know that it’s there. So awareness is the first step. You’re on your journey. You’re moving closer to being who you want to be.

But the misconception about awareness is that it will make things easier. “I can see clearly now, the rain has gone,” right? The problem with this, is that awareness is actually one of the hardest things in the world.

No one tells you how hard it is to become aware of yourself in a whole new way, at least in my experience. The message I was always given about self-improvement, growth, and change was that awareness is the first point on an “up and to the right” line graph.

So then why does awareness brings such turmoil?

Imagine for a moment, that you live in a dark house. You’ve lived your whole life in this darkness, and it’s all you’ve ever known. You wonder why you’re always stubbing your toes and running into walls, but since it’s all you’ve ever known it’s normal. It’s your version of normal.

And then imagine that, one day, you realize that you can open all of the curtains, and the light from the windows illuminates your house, only to reveal that your house is a total wreck. There’s stuff all over the floors. There are walls in places you didn’t know about. The sink is full of dishes. Nothing has been cleaned and nothing is in its place. You don’t even know how things are supposed to be, you just know that something desperately needs to change.

 Can you imagine the sensory overload that would come from this? What was once your safe space has now been exposed as a harmful place. Can you imagine how overwhelming, even emotional this would be?

This is awareness. That bright light illuminating the dark places you didn’t even realize were dark. And that light, at first, is really harsh.

In those moments, it can be really enticing to just go back to the dark house; to live in a place of ignorance, unaware of what lies behind the curtain. However I think that time of intense, overwhelming awareness is a necessary and vital part of transformation, because in those times you must learn how to navigate through the stuff that lies in front of you.

But even though it’s the necessary beginning of a beautiful journey, it’s still so, so hard.

That being said, I’m learning to take the hard times as a sign. I can look back on my past and see that the times that I was becoming more aware of myself and my surroundings turned out to be the most pivotal, beautiful moments of my life. So now, I know that when shit gets hard, shit’s about to get beautiful.

What I wish for all of us, is that we stop with the notion that “beautiful” and “good” are synonymous with “easy” and “painless”. Some of the most wonderful and necessary parts of life can be the most brutal.  As for me, I’d rather live a life of awareness. I’ll take those moments of harsh light rushing into my dark house. I’ll take those moments of panic when I don’t know how to deal with the mess in front of me, because I know that those moments are teaching me to move more skillfully through my life. 

If your growing awareness becomes so overwhelmingly hard, take it as a sign. It's a sign that you've got some learning to do; some growing to do. But that knowledge and growth are leading you closer to your most authentic self. 

 

The Myth of Monotony

I once heard despair defined as “the belief that tomorrow will be exactly the same as today.” I don’t know about you, but this sounds about right to me.

The most prevalent moments of despair in my life have been when I saw my world as stagnant…unchanging. Despair had the tightest grip on me when I thought “Things will never change.” Can you relate to this?

 I specifically recall the summer of 2013: for that entire summer I did the same things, day in and day out: wake up, work, eat, sleep, and hope that things would be different tomorrow. I felt stuck, and that my universe was static.

One of the coolest things that we now know about the universe is that it is ever-changing. It’s actually the opposite of static! So if the universe really is constantly unfolding and shifting, how is it that despair and monotony can even exist? Or maybe the better question is, what is it that we’re missing?

I take my dog on the same walk every single day, twice a day. We walk through the same park. We visit the same spots in the park. We see the same trees, the same grass, even the same people sometimes.

This task could so easily be a chore, a burden, and monotonous. (I think for a lot of people it is, by the way.) But for me, a lot of the time it’s the best part of my day, because I have chosen to make those walks visceral, magical, real moment of presence.

See, the thing about our ever-changing and shifting universe is that we can see it. We can see how wonderful and brutal and amazing and destructive and creative our world really is. We can see all of it. It’s right in front of our very eyes.

But on the other hand, just as we can see the moment that’s right in front of us, we can instead see a million other moments…moments from the past, moments that may or may not happen in the future, or false moments we create with our egotistical imaginations that say "This is it."  

For me the shift happens when I move from “I have to” to “I get to”.

In other words, I do have to walk my dog twice a day every day. I also have to work, brush my teeth, shower, teach yoga, pay bills, etc. But I don’t just have to do those things…I get to! It’s a privilege to be able to take care of my beloved little animal, and walk together with him in the beautiful place I call home. It’s a privilege to create a delicious cup of coffee for my customers. It’s a privilege to honor and care for my body every day, and it’s a privilege to provide for myself.

But most importantly, when I shift my mindset from obligation to privilege, I see the people around me for who they really are: beautiful, wonderful beings that perfectly resemble the ever-changing universe we share.

So the question is, do you actually see the things you see every day? Do you see your loved ones? Do you see the seasons changing before your eyes? Do you see the privilege that is your job/chores/children/life? Or are you simply a passerby?

I firmly believe that once you see, you can’t unsee. At least that’s the case for me. Once my eyes were opened to the wonder around me (and they continue to open wider and wider every day), I could no longer stand the myth of monotony. And I work really hard to cultivate a sharp vision, so that I can actually be a witness to the action happening in every moment.

If you are in a job, relationship, neighborhood or set of tasks that you’re bored with, or that you think will never change, what I have to say to you is that the action is in those places. There’s really exciting and interesting stuff happening right where you are. Maybe that action is inviting you to dive in deeper. Maybe that action is showing you that there’s a different, better place for you to move towards. Whatever the case may be, I am convinced that your circumstances are not enslaving you, they’re speaking to you. They have something to say about the ever-changing universe that you’re a part of. Are you listening? Can you see?

Knowing and Knowing

For a while now, I’ve been experiencing a lot of growth and change. Specifically in these last few months, as I’ve dug deeper into my issues with eating and self-care, I’ve seen and overcome so much. Something that’s helped me during this time has been to close myself off a bit. I’ve created this metaphorical bubble around myself in order to better evaluate the things in my life, removing what’s unnecessary for my well being. It’s been really tough, but without these boundaries I may have fallen apart.

What’s happening recently, though, is I’ve come to a bit of a plateau. My old patterns (thoughts, habits, tendencies) are still kind of lingering around. And I think the reason may be that I have outgrown my current “bubble”.

So the thing about my boundaries (if I’m being totally honest) is that I’ve always been pretty good at that. Boundaries are easy for me. I know not everyone is this way, but for me putting up walls around my heart is kind of like second nature. When something feels like a threat, I know how to distance myself.

Oddly enough, I didn’t know this about myself until recently. I’ve always felt that who I really am is someone who is open; someone who looks past the walls we build around ourselves and sees people for who they really are. Who I’ve always wanted to be is someone who is okay with being seen, but my reality has been much different.

This vulnerability is a concept I’ve known about for my whole life. The concept of being open and looking past the walls is something I’ve heard about for as long as I can remember. I could write essays on this topic. I could advise people how to be more open all day long. But I’m learning that there is a difference between knowing and knowing. And although I may intellectually understand how to expand my boundaries, in my own heart, I’m actually clueless. And it’s really fucking hard for me to admit that.

It’s so funny the things we think we know so well, but I think life is constantly inviting us to know on a deeper level; to experience the broad concepts we intellectually understand in a real, meaningful way.

Even though it’s scary, I want to say yes to that invitation. I want to let life work its way into my little bubble of safety, and challenge my notions of what it means to be human. I want to be the open and vulnerable person I’ve always known that I am.

I’m not suggesting that boundaries are not important. They are necessary. They play such a huge role in what makes us human. But our boundaries are not limited. They are not fixed. They move as we move, and change as we change. And I think the way that we truly grow is by getting to know our boundaries in an honest way, so that we can move with them.

I only realized this halfway through writing, but today is the birthday of Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, a teacher and guru whose teachings are so close to my heart. I’ll leave you with some of her words, because she says it best:

“Sometimes you seem to think you know what love is all about. Sometimes you think you know and find out that you never knew at all…

…Now is the time to die, time to let the Ego pass. The time to light the fires that will last, the fires of the Ego-less place of the soul. The time for the Mother’s child to become whole.”

Convenience and Connection

Most of my life in Atlanta, I have not had a car. I've relied on walking, uber, public transportation, and (most importantly) my beloved bike. It wasn't until about 7 months ago that I finally gave in and bought my mom's old Buick Rendezvous. And when this vehicle made its way into my life, so did something else: convenience.

Convenience, sometimes, is really good. Laundry, groceries, and big purchases became much easier. And not only that, but if I didn't feel like riding my bike to work, or out to dinner with friends I no longer had to. It's been a blessing in this way-we as humans evolved to love convenience. But I saw myself starting to cherish convenience more than what biking used to give me: connection.

When you're on your bike, you become connected to everything around you. You no longer are encased by a big metal container, but you are thrown into your environment. You breathe in fresh air, and you breathe in smog and pollution. You smell fresh bread, coffee, grilled meat, and pastries arising from local restaurants. You see everyone's faces, hear everyone's music, and witness just about everyone texting and driving. You experience the roughness or smoothness of the road underneath your tires, making its way up your frame, finally onto the palms of your hands through your handlebars. Your senses are heightened, because they have to be. It's energizing, life-giving, and mind-clearing.

I was really reminded of this in the last couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, one of my friends was hit by a bus during her bike ride home a couple of weeks ago. She's doing well and is recovering from the accident, but can't move around freely, let alone get back on a bike. Yet even still, after this terrible accident, she speaks so fondly of riding her bike. She longs to experience that sensory experience of riding a bike through the city again, and referred to it yesterday as "the most freeing feeling in the world".

This really put things into perspective for me. All of those times that I choose convenience; all of those times that I let my anxiety and worry tell me "you don't have time to ride your bike to work" or "it would be easier just to drive" or "you can just ride your bike tomorrow"...all of those times, I'm doing a disservice to my primal need to move and be connected to my environment. What if one day I couldn't? What if one day my ability to experience life in this visceral way was taken away from me, even if it was temporarily?

So, for this, and so many other reasons, I choose to ride my bike. To me, my bike represents a sense of freedom and agency I have in my life to move, to feel, to experience. 

And on this National Bike to Work Week, (or any other week for that matter) I would encourage you to challenge your love of convenience. Give yourself a little bit more time to get to where you need to go, and bike there. Make it a visceral, sensory experience. And if you don't have a bike, walk! Anything to get yourself our of the little safety bubble that is your car and out into the world in which you live. Give thanks to your environment for taking care of you by truly enjoying it in all of its glory. And don't take one moment of that bike ride for granted. 

 

***A special thanks goes out to Patagonia for giving back, and encouraging its communities to ride their bikes to work! 

you are the center of the universe

Omnicentricity is a theory about the universe that says, since the universe is ever-expanding, then every point in space must be the center of the universe.

If you're like me, you'll need to read that a few times to grasp the concept.

So in other words, we understand the universe to be an ever-expanding thing. First there was a point in space, then a bang, then particles emerged from that bang, which bonded with other particles to create atoms, which bonded with other atoms to create molecules...so on and so forth, until you get to us. We as humans are products of this forward-moving, expanding and growing universe we call home. 

So if this is the case, omnicentricity says that we are not only products of the expansion, but we are made up of the stuff that has been bonding and expanding for billions and billions of years. And that bonding and expanding is happening in and around us all. The. Time.

We, and everything around us (including what we can't see) are centers of the universe. We are hubs of expansion, forward movement, and creation.

WOW! I don't know about you, but that is SO exciting to me. That idea that the stuff of the universe is moving in and through me constantly makes me feel elated, free, boundless.

But...if I'm being honest, that boundless feeling lasts for about a second, and then I enter back into the "real world".

Why is that? Why can't my heart hold onto that sense of integration with the universe? 

As my yogi-self would put it, the reason is the ego. 

I think of my ego as the part of me that is defined by all of my little identities. All the things that I would list off if someone were to ask me "who are you?". I'd say "I'm a woman, I'm 22, I'm multi-ethnic, I'm a yoga teacher, I'm a student, I'm a barista, I'm a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, a friend..." That is what the ego tells me I am.

And the thing is, none of those identities are inherently bad! They are practical ways of thinking about my life, and navigating my way through the world. These identities are boundaries I've set around myself, in order to say "I am me, and you are you." A good skill to have if you want to get practical things done. 

Although the ego isn't necessarily bad-and it's even useful-it creates boundaries nonetheless. And if there's one thing I know about my ego, it's that it really likes boundaries. 

My ego is way more comfortable thinking in terms of boundaries. My ego can't grasp the concept that it is a part of everything else, and everything else is a part of it. My ego wants to be an individual.

So yes-it's hard to immerse my whole self in those moments of oneness and expansion. My ego sees this as a threat to the precious identities it has created, and intervenes almost immediately. But I can't help but wonder, what would my life look like if those boundaries weren't so tightly wound around me? Would I be more at peace? Would I have a more hopeful, optimistic view of the world? Would I love deeper? Would I be able to look into the eyes of more people? 

If the theory of omnicentricity holds true, recognizing that I am a hub of creation for the universe will align me with the inherent direction of things. And in this reality, I can allow my dreams and ideas and desires to move through me out into the world, not bound by any small identities.

I don't think it's an accident that we subconsciously think of ourselves as the center of the universe. Can you imagine if we actually held our lives with such reverence, rather than hiding that brilliance that lives inside us with boundaries and smallness?

So I will end with a few questions: what is keeping you small? What identities do you cherish so much that you've forgotten how massive you are, and makes you so afraid of being so massive? What boundaries are keeping you from being your truest self, and allowing your dreams to move through you out into the universe?

I think it'll take me lifetimes to figure out this skill; to stop keeping myself small. But it is a practice, and it is work. And I have a hunch that it's worth it. 

 

***A couple of things that inspired this post:

This video by Jason Silva

https://www.facebook.com/jasonlsilva/videos/1688923991371879/?pnref=story

This talk by Rob Bell (and honestly, this post is just my interpretation of this talk! Thanks Rob)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT09JbaEh_I

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mental Minimalism

A movement that has intrigued me my whole life is minimalism.

Minimalism is the lifestyle in which you don't own anything unless you use it, or it adds value to your life on a regular basis. Minimalists don't own things "just in case". The idea behind this lifestyle simply isn't to just have less stuff, but to remove the physical clutter in your life in order to create room for more depth and meaning.

This movement appeals to me because I've seen it work in my own life, and I bet you have too. You know that feeling when you finally knock out all the dishes that have been piling up? When you donate a big bag of clothes you haven't worn in years? When you clear the table before sitting down to eat? We all do better without clutter. De-cluttering makes us feel lighter, more ourselves. It gives us a moment to breathe when we didn't even realize we were holding our breath. 

Again, I've seen this happen time and time again in my own life, and I've tried to maintain as minimal of a life as I can. I almost can't stand the thought of going back to that cluttered room/closet/desk. And when it does happen, I feel it.

But even so, the clutter runs deeper. I find that I'm regularly in need of a "mental spring cleaning."

I started to ask myself, what other "clutter" is taking up the spaces I create? What destructive thought patterns are fogging up my mental clarity? What habits and tendencies do I have that are piling up like dirty dishes in the sink?

One of the reasons I practice yoga is because there comes a point in your practice where that "clutter" begins to weigh you down. When it's just me and my mat, I don't have room for the bullshit anymore. I have to clear out those thought patterns, physical tendencies and habits in order to give my full self to my practice. 

So what's your yoga? What's that thing for you that forces you to check in and do a "spring cleaning"? For me it can also be bike riding, walking my dog, even just eating in silence.

But I think for a lot of us, it's a foreign concept to make that time to de-clutter. I think the reason minimalism is a movement is because it challenges the norm of our culture, which is to accumulate. To accumulate clothes, dishes, trinkets, trash, tension, injuries, negative thought patterns, judgments...the list goes on. We've wandered so far from that feeling of freedom that comes with making room. And so we've forgotten how to take walks. We've forgotten how to stand and move throughout the day. We've forgotten how to turn our phones off at night. 

This is one of my greatest passions, because I have seen the effects of de-cluttering. And once you see, you can't unsee.

So I challenge you to find your yoga. Find that thing, whether it's walking to the grocery store instead of driving, putting your phone away while you eat, kickboxing, running, or even..yoga (: But find that thing, whatever it is for you, that leaves you no choice but to de-clutter. To make space for your full self move freely. To breathe. 

 

 

***If you want to know more about minimalism, check out The Minimalists:

 theminimalists.com 

 

The Space

"yoga is the dance between yes and no."

---

Last week, I had to make a tough decision to let go of something; to say no.

I had been wrestling with this decision for a while. I didn't have a back-up plan. I didn't have something to fill the space that I would be creating. But still, without fully understanding why, I felt the urge to create space

The other day I watched a video of Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) and her husband. They announced in the video that they were closing down a shop they owned together after many years of success. They seemed to love that shop, but just felt like it was time to move on. And one of the most striking things to me about this video, is that they openly admitted they had no idea what they were doing next...and were overjoyed about it! They hadn't formulated their perfect plan to move on, they just knew that it was time for a space to be created in their lives. They decided to put their trust in that space; that the space itself would guide them to their next adventure.

Sometimes, saying "no" does not mean an opportunity to say "yes" is right around the corner. Maybe sometimes saying "no" means that you are creating space between the "no" and the next "yes". And for whatever reason, you need that space. That space is calling you, and it's asking you to nurture it. To move within it. To be in it.

 Sometimes that space is necessary in order to receive what you need.

So this is what I felt like I needed to do in my life. I have no clue how things will pan out. I have no idea where the next opportunity will come from, or if it will. I don't know where this space will lead me, if it will be a smooth transition or a bumpy one. What I do know is this: I will be okay. 

And let me just say that I didn't go and quit all of my jobs, and I'm not saying anyone should. It was definitely a mini leap of faith for me! I'm still providing for myself, and I'm still moving forward in pursuing my passions. But in this mini leap of faith, I'm finding myself in that dance between "yes" and "no". I'm so grateful to be here - in this dance; this yoga - and I'm putting my trust in this space. 

 

This May Take A While.

A few years ago, I decided that my life was going to change. 

I was at a point in my life where I was battling with depression, disordered eating, and a toxic relationship. And when that relationship ended, I felt that from then on my life was never going to be the same again. I decided to start anew. I decided that I wouldn't be someone who lets anxiety run her life, and that I would honor my body with the food I ate and the environment I put myself in. I decided to live out the love I believed in. Even though there was pain and emotion, it was such a beautiful time in my life.

Three years later and the work is FAR from over. 

In fact, I've made this "big decision" to change multiple times since then. It seems like there is something more for me to work on every single day, and I've watched myself fall back into old patterns and habits time and time again, and it's SO frustrating. I'll think, "I've dealt with this already! Why is this coming back? Haven't I learned that lesson already?"

I don't blame myself for thinking this way. Everything I've ever known has worked in an automatic way.

Let me explain: I turn a lever, and instantly I have water. I flip a switch, and my home is the exact temperature I want it to be. I tap a screen and I'm immediately talking to a loved one who lives miles away. I go to a store, pick out any food I could want, swipe a card, and just like that I have everything I need for my weekly meals. 

The universe is at our fingertips; anything we could possibly want comes to us, with the flip of a switch, turn of a nob, or swipe of a card. It's a beautiful thing!

The problem though, is that I am not a machine. Nothing about me works in this instantaneous way.

We are not made of switches and levers. We are very complex things. Much like the Earth we live on, changes (both negative and positive) occur over long periods of time. No illness, bad habit, or wrong-thinking appears overnight. That said, health and wellness don't either.

It may take a while. Maybe a really, really long time.

And in that time, there will most definitely be failures. It's just part of it. Unlike our automatic world, we can't flip the switch on ourselves and say "from here on out I will eat no processed food! Processed food switch, off!" Oh, no. In my experience at least, at some point there will most definitely come a time where I buy myself a cookies and cream Hershey's bar.

What would life look like if we viewed those failures as an essential and necessary part of healing?

When I buy that damn Hershey's bar, it's not a step back. There's no need to "start back from square one". Rather, noticing myself falling back into an old habit-giving into a craving-I can skillfully decide how to move forward on my journey from where I am NOW. And just as importantly, I can take that opportunity to practice loving and forgiving myself, just as I would my partner or a friend. 

So this journey I'm on, of being the best version of myself I can be...it may take a while. It'll definitely take a while. And the only way for me to actually be on this journey is to understand that the work is not a setback. The work is IT.

 

 

Quality Time (with myself)

I was given some homework on Tuesday: spend at least 10 minutes a day doing nothing. 

No email, no eating, no instagram, no reading, no bike riding, walking, or driving...

Nothing. Just me and myself.

The past few months, and especially the last few weeks, I've kind of felt like I'm dancing on the surface of life. My schedule has been pretty full, with sporadic gaps in time to go on grocery runs, walk my dog, eat, clean the apartment, and MAYBE hang out with my friends.

Don't get me wrong, I love what I've been keeping myself busy with! Teaching yoga has brought me so much joy and growth. And even my "day-job" of being a barista has been fun, challenging, and rewarding in it's own way. I love my jobs. BUT. I started to notice something happening.

I started to fill my down-time too.

Maybe you can relate to this: Let's say I have an hour in between running errands and teaching a class. In that hour, somehow I manage to make and eat food, check instagram, "listen" to a podcast, answer all my emails, straighten the kitchen, check facebook, , and frantically get dressed when I realize I'm almost out of time. 

Or how about this: I'm in line at the grocery store, and I instantly grab my phone. 

I quickly started to feel the effects of not making time to just BE with myself.

When all of your attention is outside of yourself-when you're not nurturing yourself-your self will eventually cry out for help in whatever way it needs to in order to grab your attention, as if to say "HEY! Remember me? Your self? Do you even know how I'm doing these days?" For me, I've heard the cries in the form of binge eating, under eating, exhaustion, and random bursts of emotion. I got to (*am getting to) a point where I MUST listen to these cries.

I realized that I felt like a baby bird inside of its egg. I've grown big enough that the walls of the egg are pressing against me, and it's uncomfortable. To break free, I've gotta do that tedious, sometimes painful work of breaking my way out so that I can live the life that's in front of me.

So far, these alone times have not been pretty. Turns out, suppressing thoughts and emotions is something you can do without realizing it (who knew??). But although it's not butterflies and rainbows right now,  it's still good. I feel that this is good. This is my work right now. And I choose to honor that. 

So we'll see how this continues! We'll see how much more uncomfortable I'll get. We'll see how many mini epiphanies (say that 3 times fast) I will have. We'll see how I transform, grow, and chip away at my little shell.  

xoxo, Carly