Don’t resign! Reclaim your power: Resignation versus surrendering

I finally made it to my yoga mat, sadly and a bit ashamed to say for the first time in almost three weeks; besides the random downdogs when I first wake up. All I can say is, “hallelujah for yoga!” Being out of touch with the deep benefits of the practice, I was revitalized with a sense of self during class. Life is always spot on to give us what we need when we need it and boy, today was my day to break through.

Waking up feeling stocked full of judgment, I started playing the usual stress tapes in my head…anything I could find about my character or image to critique as if I was a judge on life’s version of American Idol: the good, the bad and the full-out horrible. After debating whether to ride my bike, run, climb, or go to yoga, I settled on yoga knowing that although less intense, I felt a yearning to get on my mat and connect with myself. The first 15 minutes of class consisted of a back and forth between “wow this is why I do this!” and “what am I going to do after this?” — then, it HIT ME…

…I’m done! I’m done thinking I’m not good enough or worthy or beautiful enough! I’m sick of choosing to stress myself out when I don’t have to, whether it be planning, balancing my checkbook or analyzing my food choices. The time will still pass with the same seconds in a minute whether I come from hate or love. The only person who knows the truth is ME! Not you, not my yoga teacher, not some stranger on the street…you are living the reality you create and it all starts with our thoughts, ambitions, beliefs and self-talk.

The rest of the class was so much more enjoyable when I focused on appreciating my body for supporting and holding me up each day, dealing with the abuses of daily life and leading me forward on my path. When I dropped the judgement, I clearly understood that there’s a difference between resignation and surrendering.

No matter the subject: self, job, relationship, or goal — when we resign or give in to the source of power, we are losing our empowered capability to be heard. If we resign to our partner (professionally or intimately) for being “better” or “right” or “wrong” from a negative place of judgement, we give up our personal power and become defeated. But if we surrender to our emotions, rather than giving in as if we had no choice, defeat becomes victory because we can invite in conscious acceptance or a more panoramic view of the situation. My buddhist teacher, Tory, always instructs us to look with eyes from the back of our head, expanding our vision of reality, rather than from the narrow mindset easily hypnotizing us to drive forward harder only focused on what we think we need. If we get too stuck in only seeing half of the real picture, we resign to feeling powerless. But if we can surrender to the fact that we aren’t perfect and don’t always have the answer — we gain strength by letting go, not giving up!

In yoga class, I realized that I didn’t have to put up with giving my power away to my negative emotions. My ego did not have to win YET AGAIN. I think the question then becomes, can we resolve the issues with our ego, boss, significant other, mother, or whomever so that we don’t throw our hands up and “say f*ck it, I’m done!”?? You don’t have to resign to being less than anything or anyone. You can fight for your right to be you. You are the only one getting in the way or allowing an unhealthy pattern to continue. Accepting this personal responsibility is heavy. But when we do, we capitalize on transformation and satisfaction.

You can bask in the rays of your own love, living not selfishly, but self-fully! Sometimes surrendering means acknowledging that we are helpless, hopeless and/or powerless to whatever is fighting us. But then we look from the back of our heads, take a deep breath and move forward knowing that we are exactly where we need to be and who we need to be. And of course, it never stops! Only 20 minutes after I step off my mat I hurt my knee, which is becoming a normal procedure. And I’m back to square one of stopping the numerous judgements running straight at me. It comes in different boxes but it’s always the same package: learning to be at peace with ourselves no matter how awesome or completely difficult, irritating, frustrating or unfair a situation may seem to be.

Don’t resign! Reclaim your power! Your worth is not determined by what you do; it is determined by what you believe you are! It’s your choice…


The fear of becoming normal

Pushing the boundaries of comfort tends to be linked with feelings of worthiness. Either we do something outside our comfort zone in a positive way such as training for and running a half marathon. Or on the flip side, we do something considered ‘bad’ that we immediately associate with unworthiness. It is very important to tap into learning what is more true or less ideal for our unique selves; however, making the ties between worth and action are where we get in a total mind-fuck. I know for me, the worthiness game always begins with the ego as the ref, blowing a loud whistle to call what’s right and wrong. The strong categorization is where I burnt out and lose. Is it really necessary to punish ourselves? Rather than thinking we did something wrong, it can be about honoring the lesson (a.k.a. experience) and taking it to learn from, forgive and do something either different or the same when the next situation arises.

Last night, after volunteering for an amazing organization, the wonderful chef “G” offered us a piece of homemade chocolate cake laced with a delicate layer of lemon icing. Similar to my last post, if you know me, you know I do not typically fantasize and much less eat substances that contain chocolate, butter, or much sugar at all (ok, never!). But yesterday, I felt that resisting the cake purely for the ingredients was wrong and part of the old Hannah. I wanted to accept the gift and be apart of the bigger pleasure of being together, supporting a powerful cause and participating in tasting life’s goodness.

To consume the cake (with an open willingness) was more than about the taste, it was cooking up a large batch of “walking to the edge, looking down, closing my eyes and jumping off”. I had an intuitive feeling that eating the cake was the best thing to do. In that moment, I knew that the trip to calorie heaven represented living with flexibility, inviting balance so that the next time I am presented with an uncomfortable situation, I can recognize that I do not have to live in strict boundaries. Although no health magazine, life coach or vegan would ever promote it, the buttery slice was served with a dose of perspective and some gratitude to garnish. I am so lucky to love kale more than cake and be privileged enough to be able to eat the majority of my food as organic and local or fresh.

So, maybe the greatest pleasure in my life is doing what I say I cannot do…for me, it’s not about defying others’ doubts, rather standing up to my own personal restrictions; breaking down the fences that I have previously built. Can we practice NOT separating the good from the bad? Can we shift the focus to coming from love and knowing that our actions are leading us to our higher good? Life is about trying new things and so maybe my fear of ‘normal’ revolves around being stagnant. Risking letting go of what holds us together breaks the chains of normalcy and builds character. Sometimes it takes a spiritual discovery or a new exercise regimen or a relationship change to bring a breakthrough from the normal routine, but sometimes, it just takes a piece of chocolate cake to rock your world and turn it upside down. Definitely should not be complaining!! Can you find pleasure in doing what YOU say you cannot do?

In health and with love,

Black vs. White — Color in the middle?!

This weekend, I had to take an unplanned trip to Tahoe and back, adding some impromptu emotional roller coasters to the mix. With less than two months before I transform my life from city livin’ to the high Sierras, I was caught in the midst of vulnerable OT. Being at a crossroads between logically seeing how trust will overcome, but also wanting zilch to do with trusting the unknown left me to rest on a bed of needles. Confidence has now blended with insecurity and the result (besides tears and a lot of force from my ego) is a washing machine of reality – the old, dirty beliefs washed to become clean and reinvigorated.

My old tendency is to go to the ‘black and white’ extreme of putting up guards to protect my heart; thinking Miss Independent will prevail. The belief that I have to take some things with me and leave others without any compromise is a habitual go-to. But at the same time, I understand that if I resign to either side of the black and white spectrum, I will end up disappointed, frustrated, misunderstood and farther from my truth — plus in lack of serious color. If you know me at all, you know that color is a major part of my life (or at least my wardrobe…and bike!). As uneasy as I feel about not sprinting to one side of the spectrum, I am giving a shot at ‘trial-and-error’ in the middle. I am hoping that maybe, just maybe, I will wind up with a bunch of colorful compassion and faith between the normalcy of extremes.

Focusing on the present day at hand is a challenge when we aspire to burn bridges and build bigger and stronger ones. In the past few days, planning for the future has rented more space in my head than marveling in the awesomeness of what is right NOW! I feel deeply appreciative to be faced with the hardship of parting with a meaningful profession and significant relationships…and transferring to a flourishing community and positive workplace. Any yet, my mental distraction is a reminder that everything is relative because although all my basic human rights are honored and sustaining (unlike many on this planet), I still have the desire for certain expectations to mold together with ease and enthusiasm. As colorful as my ideal future is painted in my head, the actuality is that perfection does not exist and I have to paint the colors depending on the day rather than the dream.

Resigning to patience feels counterintuitive to success based off of cultural standards. However, the rawness of it all is that we are not a standard; therefore there does not have to be resignation — there is only humaness, a bold assignment to existence. As I step in to my new chapter of life, I want to cling to comfort OR to stand up to comfort for the means of protection. But really, the middle ground of tranquility is much more productive than either of the former options. Embracing the capability to act in a ever-growing noble and honest manner is only profitable after we accept that the roller coaster is the ‘amusing’ ride of our existence.

Whether it is a big life change like a move, or a simple lifestyle switch like cutting out caffeine, the descend is just as exciting as the climb — they are both crucial to the adventure. I am slowly (and maybe for the thousandth time) learning that it is not about having a situation look either this way or that way. Rather, we have to stay open to being accepting of the outcome, rather than dependent on our individual version of it. There are too many things around us that affect the outcome. All we have control over is THIS moment. And maybe by not resorting to having change appear a specific way, we will discover a vibrant rainbow of colorful light. To me, that sounds much more appealing than being stuck in dark black or dull white. The darkness and the light serve as a background that illuminates the colors. Then we can get creative about the way we paint our life — no need to erase, paint over or throw away because it’s an abstract piece, free for interpretation by each person. No one else will understand why we painted our own piece with the patterns we chose, so we have to express ourselves with what we consider beautiful. And sometimes beautiful is a concept that only lives in our imagination. So dream big, but live in today!

Personality vs. attitude

As funny as this is…I can’t help but smile at how true it is! I think this quote incapsulates how the way we project ourselves typically depends on the people with which we surround ourselves. Make no mistake, we are always the same PERSON under it all — but the context or person can sway the expression of our SELF. Recently, I have been touched to be surrounded by positive, funny, caring people who are empowering and expanding my viability. I am growing only because those around me are opening the doors to an accepting, flexible environment.

Lately, I haven’t had to ride the bus much in the city (how privileged am I, I know!) but this week, I’ve ridden the “interesting and all encompassing” MUNI system twice (nothing for some of you, I know, too). Although riding the bus in the city can include some of the best people watching you’ve ever experienced, normally in a “I can’t believe that just happened” kind of way…tonight I had an instant that reminded me how wonderful the city can be for all it’s eclectic nature that fuses together the pinnings of our existence. We all are born with a different background and urban living forces human beings to cross paths, relate, reflect, release and move forward. Kinda amazing right?!?!

So on the bus, these two men were having a conversation about their past lives dealing with drug use. One was clean and sober and one was still choosing a life on the streets. The man who had decided to come clean said to other (who was discussing his recent relapse), “you know the one thing you taught me is to focus on MY OWN STORY more than anyone else’s.” He went on to explain how one day he might choose to go back to the streets but for now, he is walking a different path and he doesn’t want to put up with the distorted life of drug use. But that he is no different from anyone else!

HOW TRUE IS THAT? Whether it’s a harmful drug that can have serious repercussions on our lives or a daily drug of self-hate, regret, fear, overindulgence, stress, miscommunication, etc., the only way we will get clean and refreshed is to focus on our own story and consciously choose the life we desire. Surrounding ourselves with people who will facilitate the clarity of our personality permits us to mold our attitude into a authentic expression.

My mother gave me this wonderful poster that insists, “Be yourself! Everyone else is taken!” But in this day and age, embodying the concept of YOURSELF is sometimes too complex to digest. We get lost in the overstimulation of our society and we end up being the ones that make a mistake between our personality and attitude. They get mixed and misunderstood!

Don’t get me wrong, I think distinguishing between the positive and negative people we encounter is crucial to sustaining any sort of social life. That the reason that not everyone is ever going to like us. But I see all too often that it’s easy to put ourselves in situations that don’t feel ideal because we feel that we have to sacrifice it for our jobs, our future, other people, our image. Like the man on the bus declared, we have to focus on our OWN story before anyone else’s…and that includes reaching out to the people who foster a supportive and liberating lifestyle. Cause really if we don’t have other people, how much fun is it anyways?  From the man on the bus, I am inspired to realize that our attitude and actions can fluctuated based on our circumstances but our personality remains embedded in our divine nature. Discovering the depth of it depends on how willing we are to get naked, run around and accept it ALL!! ~Sat Nam~

Nothing is impossible

Yesterday, I rode my bike around Lake Tahoe, a whole 75 miles full of fun, challenge, trust, frustration, doubt, and adrenaline-pumping adventure. Approaching the day, I was a little nervous because of the elevation and the unknown territory. And along the way, there were a few points that were quite tempting to stop, more mentally than physically. But at one point (probably on a descent rather than an incline!) I realized, no matter what, I was going to finish the ride.

In life we go through ups and downs, and as long as we stay mentally motivated to try our hardest, whether with grace or not, we will make it through. It is rides like yesterday that call to mind the bigger idea that whether it is physical or professional or spiritual, as long as we show up and start something, we will finish it.

Along the ride, there were moments when I started to be hard on myself for not riding harder and in the end, my ego wanted to focus on how even though I finished, I only did 75 miles and a lot of people could have done it better than me. For one, why compare? For two, why criticize my efforts? For three, why not acknowledge the successes? At the finish line of accomplishments in life, our attitude makes all the difference. The results may be the same, but the outcomes are what shifts when our attitude transforms from self-doubt to self-love. There was a moment when I was lost in ego translation that I realized, “I have to do something different right now. I have to choose a different mindset.” I knew that if I did not focus on the positive result of riding my bike for 5 hours around a massive lake at 6,000 feet, the beauty would be defeated to an overpowering mind.

Managing my own competitive nature in a constructive, more balanced sense is counterintuitive to the high-powered “try harder” mentality I’ve ingrained for so many years. For other folks, I know it is more about invoking a higher energy of mental motivation. We all have our own unique mental battles to overcome and make peace with — but we all share the common desire to grow and celebrate in a way that feels magnificent and rewarding. Me being hard on myself does not make me a better bike rider or anything else that I do…although my ego wants to believe that.

Nothing is impossible, the range of possibility lives within our mind — the intuitive, loving side. The more awareness I invite to my daily routines, the more I recognize that one common theme keeps arising despite the circumstance: equanimity. In a culture of extremes, stimulants, depressants, workaholics, and growing numbers of ADHD, cancer, and obesity, being genuine is actually considered going against the grain. The status quo is driving us to put impossible on a pedestal of ideal achievement where we drive into extremes to end up farther from ourselves.

All we can ultimately do is try our hardest without comparing or criticizing, meanwhile accomplishing the successes so that the struggles don’t seem so monumentally damaging. No matter how big a challenge seems, we will get through it! Nothing is impossible, but the second we decide to relent on our ambitions (no matter how small or big), nothing turns into everything. We are our own worse critics — but today does not have to be that day. Lets just wait till tomorrow — or the next day — or never!


Forget to Remember — Poetic memoir of disordered triumph

I was asked to submit a poem about overcoming my past eating disorder for an upcoming body positive poetry slam…although it’s quite personal, I feel that everyone can relate to struggle and also the benefit of overcoming the dark and dangerous obstacles that stand in our way. They remind us the importance of humility, vulnerability, forgiveness and gratitude. I’m immensely grateful to write this now as a distant memory!

lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu — may all beings everywhere be happy and free of suffering

Forget to remember 

Remember those days?

Those days where hate was a second language,

And tears were droplets of everlasting makeup on my face,

Painting my soul with pain, soaking up all the inherent beauty.

I am beautiful and unique,

Well almost,

Except for the fact I am broken, fat, not strong enough, nor smart enough.

I don’t match the ad or fit into the norm,

The one hanging in the designer store or pasted on the giant billboard along the 101.

Remember the darkness?

Oh I remember you!

The long nights isolated in the devil’s den,

Mapping out the next natural disaster to uproot my daily reality,

Exploding my insides and shaving off shreds of my heart,

Stoking my own fire of fear, burning away the ashes of my potential,

Swirling strength and dysfunction into disillusion and abuse,

You branded my heart,

Seized my prana until I fainted from malnutrition,

Beaten down by the poster child and the beauty queen,

Deprived, paralyzed and demoralized.

Remember those days?

How could you forget?

I am beautiful and unique,

Well almost,

Except for the fact I can run 100 miles and never be fast enough,

I can run but I can’t hide.

Run in circles until I get lost in your hypnotic maze of imperfection,

Lost at the bottom of Davy Jones’ locker,

Drowning from misprogrammed lies, never-ending goodbyes,

Dead to the truth,

Chastised and disguised,

Baptized as an ugly fiend.

Remember those days?

When you thought you knew me?

Well, guess what,

You were wrong!

I am beautiful and unique,

I have a voice, a body, a spirit,

I am left with scars that reveal a memory,

Markings that I overcame, was reborn with a gentle embrace,

My skin is now alive,

My lungs breathe grace across the sky of my divinity,

I see no evil; I choose no evil;

I breed virtuous forgiveness,

You have mistaken wounded for broken,

Repaired for damaged,

Honesty for deceit,

Cheating on me as you leave a soft kiss against my lips.

Remember the light?

I think not!

You are trapped,

Buried beneath the cherry blossom tree,

I have bloomed out of my shell,

I am beautiful and unique,

Morphed into a vibrant expression of love,

Where hate is a forgotten language,

And laughter navigates the winding road to humble beginnings.

Besides I am learning Italian,

I don’t have time for starving phrases and emaciated symbols.

I only speak bolded, underlined and italicized phrases of authenticity.

I remember those days, but I no longer remember you.

Time to pack up and move on,

Take care,

Thanks and fuck off…

This goodbye is forever!

What does it mean to heal? 5 steps to makin’ it happen!

I am a huge fan of masterwoman Brené Brown, known for her sociological discoveries and infamous Ted talk on vulnerability. Her recent blog highlights her ‘one little word’ for 2012. It got me thinking about my word…just a simple word that can make a powerful meaning in my life as I move forward day to day. At first, I wanted some extraordinary word like scrumdiddlyumptious because it’s fun to say and even harder to spell! Then, I thought my word should have profound meaning so that I am deeply influenced by my word on a spiritual level. Finally, it softly slipped into my brain, the kind of “ah-ha” moment, or more like, “DUH, why didn’t you think of it earlier!” And so I resolved with HEAL! This word is pertinent to my circumstances after 2011 was a year of pain with a capital P. But I realize that as powerful of a meaning as four simple letters can have on my daily life, ‘healing’ for one individual can be toxic or negative for others. I started looking around at friends, loved ones and even strangers in my life, noticing that to heal oneself is a much more personal experience than I’ve previously imagined. It goes beyond the neosporin on a cut or the ‘I’m sorry’ after an argument. It is UNIQUE!

The word heal can be referenced in many different ways. That’s one of the difficulties in mastering communication; the numerous definitions one word or concept can mean depending on the person or context. I mean, there are three ways to spell the word ‘there’, depending on where or who you are talking about. And ‘read’ can be about the present, future or past. It is obvious that reading between the lines of interpretation can become foggy when trying to navigate through life and all the external distractions, emotions, influences, relationships, and expectations. I think that’s why it can feel so stable (a.k.a drama-free) when honest communication becomes clear with yourself and others around you. Isn’t it simply awesome when you grasp being able to understand your own needs, acting accordingly and paying it forward to others with respect? Or when you feel that someone else understands where you are coming from 100% no matter how ridiculous the experience you are having? That is true friends; that is yoga!

The definition of heal, according to trusty google, is to “become sound or healthy” or to “have a healing effect on the body”. Of course, I end up picking a word that can apply to the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical body. Yet again, balance comes into play here. It can be a catch 22 sometimes…for example, it can be healing to practice slowing down for mental and spiritual peace of mind, but too much slowing down can be harmful for physical and emotional health. Ultimately, it comes down to shining the light back on ourselves, asking our inner self what we need (not our mom, boss, significant other, closest friend, or america’s next top model), and using affirmations, a mantra, or our “little word” to help guide the way. Make it a working definition!

At times, I want to pretend it is a strict definition, that I only need to do A and B and then poof, I’m healed! All better, no more yucky stuff ahead. Ha, if only! I think I’m just now accepting that the major healing — releasing the past and forgiving in the now is one thing that never goes away. Then, there’s also the minor healing — the daily maintenance that fluctuates from hour to hour. Coffee one hour, tea the next, a glass of wine, followed by water, water, water. Maybe the point is to avoid being perfect and just focus on maintaining a constant level of healing and support in order to sustain and thrive! It’s so easy to get bogged down by the pressure to do it all according to some book, celebrity, blog, study, 21st century marketing scheme, but what if we took all that time and attention and put it towards getting up close and PERSONAL with our own healing. It can be so simple:

1) Ask yourself, “what does it mean to heal myself?” If nothing, great job! If multiple things come to mind, welcome to the club!

2) Pick a word that will help fuel motivation or self-love.

3) Write it down all over your room, iphone, work space, car, hell even write it on your hand (preferably in washable ink!).

4) Engrave it in your mind (educators say at least 28 times) so that it starts to come to you naturally, both in times of joy and struggle.

5) Change your word if the current one isn’t serving you to reach your highest potential.

For now, my goal is to focus on my personal healing, rather than making assumptions or ideas about how my healing should look based on something/one outside of my own experiences. The more emphasis inward, the more outward opportunities start to unfold. It’s time for me to be more flexible with my definition. The only thing I can count on is being alive and healing is a fundamental part of that…might as well make it count!