Mornings are like this:

Wake up without an alarm — this is such an unbelievable gift. Although it is of course a gift to have to wake up in order to do all the things that are gifts as well — practicing in India, the opportunity to work, get your Mexican residency, have a body that can do the things. And also, alarms kind of put me in a panic mode. I like to sit in the dark in the morning. In the silence. On the floor. Maybe music but I have to pick it. In the last month I’ve received a nickname - the little troll haha. 

Sip coffee — I have been told it isn’t coffee. The best people don’t comment. They just sit by your side or keep increasing the strength with love. 4 heaping spoonfuls of Nescafé instant in scalding hot water. That’s the recipe. It isn’t up for discussion. 

We have these gorgeous high ceilings in our flat and full floor to ceiling windows that open to the warm tropical air. I sit kind of outside and kind of inside or we all pile together as the city slowly wakes up.  

You can see the ocean. I can’t believe I am here and also it feels like the only place I should be. 

I journal or read or watch little YouTube videos. I make list after list. 

Then a shower and on my mat for practice. It doesn’t really matter what time I get up. I am always the troll. And I am always not really awake until 11am. 

Most of the time now we are finding personal homeostasis - mental and physical health. De-stressing. Recharging. Home cooked meals. Gardening. Running, yoga, working out. Cleaning out our closets. Dreaming about the future. Setting up our home. 

Yesterday we went on an adventure to surrounding towns in search of baskets. It turns out baskets are the big thing that we both feel will bring our visual home homeostasis peace. Big baskets and small baskets to put all the little things in that don’t really have a place or aren’t really that visually appealing. Just little plastic bundles of advertising with things we really appreciate having inside. We want to put them in baskets. And right now baskets are not so easy to find. 

We did get our Amazon set up. But you know there is US Amazon and MX Amazon and which do you use? And where do you ship? And do they even ship to you? We ordered some wall hangers to find out. Success. We placed an order of our biggest wants. They will be here in 10 days. Like it’s 2002. But still, I’m super happy. People ask what I’m doing and I’m again and again saying “getting settled”. And eating tacos. There are a lot of tacos. 

And reminding myself to just be here. To wait thirty days before the financial stuff. (Yesterday.) Because sometimes just like in India or anywhere when you have big changes you sometimes get this urge to like organize things or control something or wipe something away, delete, leave, escape etc. And I think I managed to talk myself down with that post. ONE MONTH. You take your own wisdom and advice and you wait ONE MONTH. 

Step two though, in case you are wondering, is take inventory. Maybe that’s one for tomorrow because now its time for practice :)


About me — I walked away from corporate America / I quit my career as a successful financial advisor / detangling the finances of quitting

I don’t know what to title this. 

Maybe we start here. 

I became a financial advisor in 2015. I was an art school graduate, militant vegan, and full time yoga teacher. That’s another story. 

Maybe we start right here, right now. 

I quit last week. Generally, when a financial advisor leaves a firm the firm does not take the risk that the advisor might do something shady (steal clients). It’s an immediate shut down/lock out/walk out bye bye. That’s another story.

So we start right now. What do you do when you get fired or laid off or you quit or you retire? As a financial advisor this is a situation I helped many people get through. I guess it is my turn. 

People think (at least I did and actually still do) that being a financial advisor/aka having a series 7 license/aka being a stock broker is this very fast paced sexy life with lots of screaming into phones and partying (I’m still waiting). Maybe it was that. Actually, I know it is for some and was definitely in the past. Not really anymore. Or maybe I’m just not that cool.  Mostly it’s boring. Just like me. And just how I like it. Smooth, simple, gentle. No big waves. It’s helping people stay emotionally sober and objective. That’s the big thing. Turns out a whole lot of world travel, experiencing different cultrues, and teaching yoga for 10+ years was really helpful for that.

Yes, I placed trades as a financial advisor. I bought and sold investments, gave investment advice, built and maintained portfolios, etc etc. The thing is as a financial advisor it’s kind of like this umbrella term. The actual day-to-day activities can be so many different things depending on the clientele and the firm etc. etc.

 Also another story. 

So we focus on right now. Right now I am the client. I have just left my previous employer. What now?

The first thing is to do absolutely nothing. 

Do nothing. 

Just be totally still. 

Because actually nothing is a big emergency. 

You learn that as an advisor. There are no huge financial emergencies in general. Not in the true sense of the word. 

Not like a few hours ago when we were having coffee and the glass balcony shattered above us. That was potentially an emergency. Except no one was hurt. Except for a tiny scratch on my hand and an actual childhood fear coming true. Someone had leaned on their glass balcony ledge and it shattered. 

So even though the second you leave or quit or whatever it feels like maybe you have to start changing accounts or moving money around etc. you actually don’t need to do anything. People get paid when money moves so people (companies) will start advertising to you. It is what it is. You are vulnerable and in an excited state of moving and basically are a walking dollar sign. 99% of the time the best advice is likely going to be just do nothing. For now. 

It might be hard. You might want to run as far as you can from where you worked, taking your 401ks with you. Or be on a whole “new me” kick and it seems super iconic to make these big moves chasing a $500 credit for opening a new account etc etc. 

I can assure you now is not the time. 

Now is the time to be still and take pause. 

Do nothing. 

It’s not just some yoga jumbo jumbo. 

Because you don’t really always know when your last paychecks or bonuses might trickle in to this account or that. You don’t know when there might be a final 401k match or contribution. Maybe some severance or unused vacation will be paid out. 

As hard as it is or may be — don’t open or close any new accounts yet. 

The exception is if you are moving to a new employer and there is a 401k plan there. Then, yes, you absolutely should take advantage of any potential free money. More on that later.

Because right now is right now. Right now I am not going to work for another firm. I am done. I am grateful for the time and the experience and all the things. And now no more. More on that later. 

Right now we are staying right here. 

Right here is doing nothing. It means closing  all open tabs researching “bank promos” or “free trade accounts”. Do nothing. 

Usually it takes a couple of payroll cycles for all residuals to be paid out. Also, sometimes you aren’t allowed to move your company retirement accounts for a certain amount of time. 

Wait at least ONE MONTH before making any moves. 

You should find out when your health insurance is finished though. That’s beyond boring for me. So, no more on that later ha. 

So right now we are stopping ourselves from making any moves. Stopping ourselves from doing any research on new accounts etc. Right now we are just pausing for one month. 

You could in month two or right now also take inventory. 

If step one is PAUSE/DO NOTHING FOR ONE MONTH then step two is TAKE INVENTORY WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. More on that later. 

Right now we are just doing that whole yoga, mindfulness, meditation thing and staying in the present. And in the present we don’t need to do anything. In fact, we shouldn’t. 

Step one: pause / do nothing.


Travel Diaries aka Mostly Notes on Quitting Your Job

2024 Thoughts 

-Slow living
I like having my phone off and being off grid and not being able to be found. I like not knowing what time or day it is and taking ten hours to brush my teeth. I’m starting a garden. Cooking. Attempting to do less. Noticing how caught I have been in the busyness of it all even though I hadn’t wanted to be. 

In Mysore you get there, the yoga plus one. You realize it quickly if you are lucky. It isn’t really possible to do a bunch of things really really well. It all starts to get thinned out into nothingness and wasted efforts. 

Getting here though - from New Mexico to Nevada to New Mexico to Mysore to New Mexico to Mexico -  that took everything I had in a way. But it also felt so automatic. It was just happening like it was the only direction to walk. And now the slowing down.

With the transitions there are definitely edits that are still needing to be made. For me it starts with just taking inventory:

I miss it. I missed the ritual of practice then process. Here we are again and I don’t know I guess you just have to start somewhere and it turns into something. 

    -Living in Mexico
At times there isn’t any water. The Bici bikes are handy. I like our depto. We are busy settling in. Settling in takes time. 

    -Quit corporate job and leave finance
That happened and feels great. Actually I went to college for painting. I taught yoga full time for about ten years after that and then realized that being a starving artist yoga teacher was pretty painful. (And I didn’t think it was very glamorous anymore.) Through a lot of hard work and tons of luck and twists of fate I broke into finance. The next 9 years were sink or swim but they got me here so I am really proud/grateful/fill in the blank. 

    -Prioritize health
“Here” is Mexico with my partner and our dogs just living our little life. 

And now I have the time and the bandwidth to write again. 

Quitting Job List 
Financial Advisor/Yoga Teacher Notes
    -Make a list of all HR accounts associated with firm
        Health insurance, Dental, Vision, HSA, Life Insurance, 401ks, etc. Know when they expire. Know if you have to take steps to keep them in place (and if you want to). Know that for the 401ks etc often you have to wait a bit before you are able to move them elsewhere. Check on that. Know that sometimes all your money has been sent to you in a final check but other times there will be little trickles still into your 401k etc so maybe wait a bit before doing anything. But check on the insurance stuff as soon as possible. Also, a lot of things will be mailed as a formality so if you are out of the country that will be a thing… 

    -Make a list of all money accounts that you have elsewhere
        Take inventory for now. Where are they? How much? How are they invested? What are they earning?  Fees? Etc. 

    -Budget Beginnings
        Take inventory. Make a list of all expenses and subscriptions. Check bank activity, credit cards, Apple Pay, Venmo, PayPal, email accounts, app subscriptions, etc. Make a big list. 

    -Write it all down but don’t make any sudden movements that aren’t necessary. 
    -Journal/gratitude journal. So corny but they work.
    -Move your body each day
    -Drink water
    -Slow down

The thing is to not to try to do anything except the same process again and again each day and slowly it’s like this settling that happens. The dust settles. The boat stops rocking. The pendulum stops swinging. I’ve moved and traveled and been married and divorced and lost loved ones and I don’t know apparently have done a bunch of things where actually there is wisdom now I guess and I am really just saying all of this or typing all of this for myself. Maybe this is self-soothing? Maybe all that yoga and self help stuff and podcasts and YouTube videos and oil pulling and therapy etc etc etc etc has paid off. 

Really this is just a comedy blog. 

And really I am just honestly blissed out about starting my little balcony garden, making a smoothie bowl, and walking our dogs on the beach.


There is more

It has been a long road.  I recently published all of my blogs onto one platform.  Since 2007 I have had 29 blogs.  That’s close to 800 posts.

That sounds like a lot.

They are on a variety of topics but the main story line — my diary or travel journal — is what I’d like to have in once place.  I am slowly reading it through, editing, deleting irrelevant posts.  It is so interesting to observe all of the realizations and changes with the perspective of time.  Yet, I have already also learned from some of the lessons I have forgot. I am currently on a yoga retreat (rather than leading one) and haven’t decided yet what I’d like to publish about the trip.  Mat reflections?  Observational wormhole comedy travel essays? Gonzo journalism?  They are eating ayahuasca outside my window...  For now, I’m just going to finish my pumped up coffee and offer this: https://eliseespat.blogspot.com/


Are my nadis showing?

Karandavasana in Intermediate Series

I remember once, years ago, we were at conference in Mysore ("conference" is a talk or Q & A with my teacher, Sharath at the main shala in Mysore, India) and I can't recall if someone asked the question or if Sharath had it in mind for that day.  I remember being jarred by something that sounded close to "everyone comes to India twice".

I looked around the room filled with people of all ages and all genders and all nationalities and all shapes and sizes.  I am sure many if not most were on their first trip to India.  And what a feat that is.  You have to take leave from work or quit or be able to work remotely and you have to pay for expenses at home and abroad and what will you do when you get back?  Will work still be available?  And what if you have a family that depends on you?  What then?  Going to India just once is a massive deal.

You go back home after that trip to India and you smooth things over with everyone and everything.  And maybe that is enough.  Some people somehow choose to rip their lives to shreds in order to do it a second time -- imagine!  That's usually enough to not be able or need to do it again.  Go back to regular life.  Enjoy your local shala.  Try another traditional or brand or fitness routine.  And remember those trips to India?  So glad we did that.  What an experience!

It may have been the same conference, maybe not.  I think the number was 7.  (I don't feel like digging up my notes now.)  In order to keep practicing beyond 7 years, the intention had to be spiritual.

When you have a daily Mysore practice (that's what Ashtanga is called when you do it every day) you will eventually get bored with having to master something before learning something else unless you are there for a reason beyond the asana.  You will get bored or frustrated or angry or plateau or whatever.  You'll move on to something else.  That's totally okay.  The world is filled with so many amazing teachers and practices within yoga and beyond.  But for some, there's something deeper there.  Beyond the asana and the physical health and the teacher, even.

Crying in gomukasana

So I just laugh to myself when someone is concerned with my alignment (are my nadis showing???) or whatever it is they think I am doing that will hurt.  Or when someone tells me ashtanga is fast-paced or aggressive or really intense or whatever.  I laugh.  Yoga can be whatever we make it.  The Yoga Sutras have only one instruction for asana -- it should be steady and sweet...Sthiram Sukham Asanam.  You're lucky if you find that day one.  Otherwise, on some days, that's part of the practice.
1. Show up
2. Steady and sweet
3.  Don't identify with thoughts

Exit: "Plastic Soul" Mondo Cozmo


Day Thirty - Observing

I took an actual vacation. So nourishing practicing at Mysore Phoenix.

I can't explain why I haven't written.  Perhaps it was because I told myself that all things were on hold until the 30 days were through.  After that I would decide where I wanted to put my energy next.  Perhaps that scared me.  Because there's so much on my mind.  And decisions that will have to be made.  And when I commit to one thing, I am saying no to everything else in the world. And I'm overthinking it.  Could be so many other things and reasons and excuses.  That one just seems the most available.  The first in line. Like I said, I can't explain. I search for why but the answer keeps hiding around corners just beyond my reach.

And anyway, I suppose that is what this blog -- the first 30 days at least -- that is what it is/was supposed to be about.  Attempting to write for 30 days.  Or 30 posts, as it came to be.

The trouble is overthinking it.  And getting distracted.  1+2= no post today for a few days now I suppose.  How easy it is to just give up.

But here we are.  All my writing notes and plans and ideas tucked away somewhere in a bag and I am just writing.  Just showing up.

These 30 days of trying a new habit, a creative habit, have reminded me of a few common patterns that we share.

1.  It is easy to get distracted.
That is what the mind does.  It moves to the next shiny, loud, dangerous thing because it doesn't want to get killed in the jungle, right?  We haven't changed so much.  I try to remind myself of this.  To not be so hard on myself.  To sit with what is.  To decide how to move forward, present in each tiny step.

2.  It takes time to adjust to change.
Habits start far in the distance.  With time they move closer and closer.  Arm distance.  Warmth distance. Skin distance.  The tricky part is they have to go inside your skin.  The deeper they go toward your center, the more likely they will continue as things change.  And things absolutely will change.  And we will move with the change and leave the habit behind.  And then we remember.  And then we try to bring the habit in again.  This is normal.

3. Give from your overflow.
Everyone always says to "fill up your cup" so you have something to give.  What happens when your cup is empty again?  Exhaustion, burn out, health issues, etc.  The part where I am convinced that I just don't do things as well as everyone else.  I'm damaged...  The math is simple.  You always keep your cup full and give from the overflow.  Even little things start to make sense.

4.  If you are used to your cup never overflowing then you will be confused when it nears the top.
You don't know what it is like to be full so you think that the increased vitality that you are feeling is overflow.  You know that this is the case when you commit to something and don't complete it.  Or not the way you meant to or you nail it but then are completely exhausted lying on the floor in the dark don't talk to me please.

5.  It is really hard to be honest, open, and vulnerable.
But we are all better off when we are.  We don't have time for BS in this life.  If something can be improved, healed, helped, we have to do it.

It isn't over.  There is a lot I want to write about.  I am just taking time with the words.  Message me if you have a subject on your mind.  That will help.

Exit: "A Silver Song" Conspiracy of Owls


Day Twenty-Nine - Time to digest

Me practicing Galavasana in third series.  I seriously thought this was physically impossible.  My teacher always believes in me more that I believe in myself.  The challenge of it makes the whole world disappear.  No thinking, just being.  

That last post on yoga teaching burn out took me a minute to digest.  A lot of things do.  That is something that I am noticing.  It is like when you eat breakfast and now it is time for lunch but you aren't hungry yet.  You still have not completely digested breakfast but you eat anyway and so it is just stuff on stuff on stuff.

We all need a minute to digest, process, absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins and waste.

I notice this need for time and space -- for pause -- after I host an event or gathering or teaching... the world feels as if it is moving so fast...  Everything spinning.  Like someone has two handfuls of glitter and then tosses them into the air.  They float for quite some time and then slowly begin to settle on the chair, the table, my arms, the floor -- or not at all.  They keep twisting and turning in the air and new handfuls are tossed up too and it continues on and on.

Life moves in cycles and spirals and waves.  I can remember times of great stillness and silence and moving from some sort of sage-like tranquility.  I can remember the exact opposite.  It isn't just one thing that tosses the glitter again and again.  It is always shifting.  Age, hormones, life circumstances, relationships, food, political climate, weather, where we are in asana practice, so many factors that are constantly changing and shifting all around us.

I am arriving on the beach after a riptide and a hurricane and general stormy weather.  I wanted to swim but I can't actually live in the water.  The morning ritual is there -- a steady, reassuring hum like the sun rising and like gravity.  I wake up and I am no longer wrapped in anxiety.  Things are changing.  I wake up and I get ready for my yoga practice and I feel joyful and I am covered in glitter inside and out -- almost.  The magic is coming back.

It is the day that is the trouble and the night.  I forgot my systems and rituals.  Space for new ones arriving.  I guess it is time.  I am rounding another 7 years in this body (kind of) and it makes sense.

The seeds for the rituals for both day and night are the same.  So many threads that can easily be remembered from years of yoga philosophy study ...  Effort toward steadiness of mind.  Yoga is the non-identification with the thought fluctuations of the mind. maitrī karuṇā mudito-pekṣāṇāṁ-sukha-duḥkha puṇya-apuṇya-viṣayāṇāṁ bhāvanātaḥ citta-prasādanamव्याधिस्त्यानसंशयप्रमादालस्याविरतिभ्रान्तिदर्शनालब्धभूमिकत्वानवस्थितत्वानि चित्तविक्षेपास्तेऽन्तरायाः.  Yet the challenge is what to do when we are in it, triggered and hooked.

1.  Get in the habit of observing
-Food diary
-Screen time monitoring
-Budget tracking

2.  Notice subsequent habits that work in any moment to allow the glitter to settle before moving on to the next thing.  From breath to breath, thought to thought, meal to meal, encounter to encounter, and so on.

3.  Notice that it is a way of life.  Like a road.  And at times you accidentally wander.  Notice and realign.  Move on.  Move forward.

For people who don't have a yoga practice (or an Ashtanga practice in particular) it is hard to explain.  It is hard to explain why me getting up at dumb-o'clock, and going to bed early like a child and eating a specific way... why it is so important. It isn't about something outside.  It is inside.  It isn't like brushing your teeth.  It is more like flossing.  All the things I don't know how to process any other way except through the asana, the moving and the constant redirecting of focus... That intensity of sitting with the good and the bad, the easy and the hard, the comfortable and the terrifying.  I need that.  Yes, I have to get through the whole marathon even when I don't want to.    And yes, sometimes my digestion is great.  Basic input output system.   One in one out.  And then the practice shifts and it turns into magic and becomes something else where there's energy to give.  So much energy to give.  As tantalizing as that possibility sounds, we need both.  The struggle connects us.

I remember hearing a talk by Pema Chodron years ago.  It was something about how we all think enlightenment is this pyramid going up but we have it wrong.  It is a pyramid going straight down into the earth with slippery walls and we all slide down down down into the mud and into the shit and how important that is.  Suffering like that. We look around and we see that we are all there together.  We are all suffering.  That's where the compassion is.

We've got to simplify yoga.  Not because we are but because it should be just enough to let all that we are shine through.  And we have got to simplify our lives because we are so much more than stuff on stuff on stuff.

Exit: "Tinfoil" Rainer Maria


Day Twenty-Eight - Yoga teaching burn out

Me, up at 3:45am, practice before teaching, before a full day of work at the office.

Maybe they do tell us...but I never listened.  If you are teaching yoga, you have got to have a serious self care practice or you will get burned out.  I thought if I ate well, practiced with my teacher, slept decently, kept to teaching, read yoga philosophy, did my yoga practice that that was all I needed to thrive.  Maybe it is enough for you but it has taken me over a decade to realize that it is not enough for me to stay healthy, energized and happy.

Krishnamacharya would say that yes, you need the asana and the philosophy and the food and a good teacher but you also need counseling at times and every other holistic modality you can think of to support the unfolding of your process. I am finally ready to admit that it is true — we have to be open to our current state and to change, whatever that may be.

Teaching yoga was all I really ever knew.  Yes, I did other side jobs here and there but teaching yoga has been my main profession for the majority of my adult life.  When it is all you know and people aren’t telling you or you just aren’t listening or you just don’t think you have the money or time you forget about yourself.  And maybe you really don’t have the time and money to take care of yourself and see no end in sight...maybe teaching yoga isn’t the thing.  And that is ok.

Let’s be clear.  Burn out does not mean that I am just bored with yoga or teaching.  Absolutely not.  Burn out is when I am working so hard and pushing myself to the absolute limits without break or rest or care for so long that all systems begin to break down.  It is physical and/or emotional exhaustion.

In my 15ish years as a yoga teacher, here is what I have learned...

You know you are burned out when:

-You haven’t made the time to take care of your basic health (you haven’t had a checkup, seen the gyno, gone to the dentist, etc. in more than a year)

-You aren’t saving for retirement

-You don’t have an emergency fund

-You are always sore or tired or angry

-You have no life outside of work

-You aren’t doing your own yoga practice

-When people want to talk about yoga you need to leave the room

-You don’t have patience like you used to

-You aren’t enjoying teaching or practice

-You feel uninspired

-You are having trouble sleeping

-You are getting sick a lot

How to get out of burnout/avoid:

-Make good sleep a priority.

-Keep a food diary and consider seeing a nutritionist.

-Do your own practice first.

-Find local teachers you can drop into once in a while.  I get it, maybe there aren’t any teachers in your tradition locally.  Still, just getting in a class and letting someone else drive once in a while feels so rejuvenating.

-Find other body movement modalities to participate in once in a while.  Just moving in a new way can have enormous positive effects on the body and mind.

-Generate income outside of teaching yoga.  It takes the pressure off.

-Budget track.  This is basic self care.  We need to start talking about money.  Knowing exactly where your money comes from and where it goes is key to understanding what kind of income you need to generate and zeroing in on how you can be more efficient with your time.

-Save for retirement.  Yes, you should be doing this.

-Start emergency fund.  Emergencies will happen.  I fell in the shower a few years ago and sustained a serious injury.  I did not have an emergency fund and could not take time off from teaching.  Don’t do what I did.

-Take a break and a real vacation.  Teaching a yoga retreat or travel teaching is work.  That is not a vacation.  Everyone needs time to rest, restore, and decompress at the very least.  Rejuvenate is even better.

-Make and keep doctor appointments.

-Develop other skills.  This will give you a sense of confidence, self, and identity outside of yoga.  Diversifying is most always a good idea.

-Get body work done.  This might feel indulgent but as a yoga teacher and practitioner, you basically need to treat yourself like a professional athlete.  Because you are.  This might mean massages or physical therapy or energy healing.  Just find out what works for you and be sure to shake it up once in a while.

-Explore activities that help you relax.

-Explore activities that bring you joy.

-Explore activities that bring you energy.

-Learn how to say “no”.

-Check in with your emotions and how your body feels regularly.

-Read a book.  Give yourself permission to have true downtime.

-Make sure you are getting paid fairly and if not, negotiate a higher rate or walk away.  Time is something that you will never get back.

Me, blissed out on an actual vacation in Tulum with my favorite -  Paletas! 

Exit: “Light” San Holo


Day Twenty-Seven - Facebook detox

Wow -- Facebook really triggers me.

This morning I noticed that the first thing that I reached for after coffee was a screen.  Any screen.  I don't know why.  I haven't written in three days - demerits.  I think I was searching for a writing prompt.  I picked up a book and put it down.  Stared at my notebook in the distance and didn't pick it up. Opened and closed email without even reading anything.  Opened Facebook.  Didn't even scroll -- just an onslaught of information and things that I missed and am not a part of and a whole world that exists, a secret club that I am not allowed into.  All the things that I failed to do.  All the credit I didn't receive.

After taking so much time off from social media, my baseline state is no longer a hardy mix of anxiety and stress. Instead, it is a neutral flow.  It has taken months, actually - even years, to get here.  And so when I gaze at the open Facebook page I can notice in a very real way how triggered I am.  It feels similar to when you are off sugar for a while and then eat a processed snack.  All you taste is plastic.

Facebook didn't originally have "likes".  It was just status updates.  I forgot about this evolution until I was recently reminded by an interview with Cal Newport. (Digital Minimalism is on my reading list.)   And then came the algorithm that made sure that you only got "likes" some of the time.  Essentially following the Vegas models that made sure you lost and won "likes" just enough to keep you coming back for more.

Should I delete Facebook?  You can download your photos and always start a new page...  But all of the modern marketing teachings echo in my head: remember that it is a useful tool that offers a place for us to build supportive communities, share valuable information, and stay connected.  The key here is using the tool rather than the tool using us.

The minimalist decision tree
1. Does it feel good?
      2.  No
           3. Is it necessary?
                4. If Yes --> Only in small doses
                4. If No --> Don't do it/buy it/keep it/think it
      2.  Yes
           3. Is it depleting, neutral, or energizing?
                4. Focus on energizing and neutral, minimize depleting

I should delete Facebook.  But I can't.

Belize 2019.  Off the grid and so happy.


Day Twenty-Six - No more bullying in yoga is allowed

As the spiritual decluttering continues and I am less numb and more willing to "sit with what is", old memories come up.  Samskaras.  I kind of wish that I could just do my practice and bliss out and connect with the infinite yay.  But I am also kind of glad that I am actually moving through these things finally instead of moving around them.

So there I am practicing and I am remembering how ever since I was a child people (adults) would remark "oh, you look so ethnic".  This was not a compliment.  How kids on the playground would make fun of my nose so much that my secret forever wish was to someday get plastic surgery.  All the times my body was different than everyone else's and I was called "fat".  The first instance was when I was little -- maybe 4?  Oh, and what it is like to be "developed" when you are a kid and everyone lets you know.  Now you are a sexual being, a woman, a temptation, a liability, a distraction.

I wish I could say that all that came to an end when I reached adulthood.  That society changed and we all evolved as humans.  Not exactly.

Yesterday I am in the middle of my practice and the thought of "fear" just keeps coming into my mind and as I explore it I remember so many times as an adult that I was bullied, shutdown, made fun of, discouraged, etc.  So much so that the first thing I see when I see images of myself in asana practice is a "roll" or "fat".  It takes my eyes a minute and sometimes a day to focus so that what I see is everything else.  Everything else that I see in anyone else rather than being hyper aware of anything that might be pointed out and made fun of. Strength, grace, beauty, hard work, ease, humanness, dedication...

We used to hate fashion magazines for depicting unrealistic images of beauty.  Now we have social media doing exactly the same.  News flash: most everyone gets a roll when they squish their body in one way or another.  Also, there's nothing wrong with having rolls. News flash: I know plenty of people who do "cleanses" or "eat light" before yoga asana photo shoots.  Maybe it is to "feel light" in their practice.  Maybe.

In the yoga community, I have been told that I am too heavy, that "life has caught up with me", I am too young, too old, the wrong shape, too stiff, too flexible, that my teacher disapproves of me and will kick me out of the shala, to stop writing, take down my blog, stop teaching, that I can't make it in India, my teacher made a mistake, that things just "come natural" to me, that I should stop teaching.  In this process of spiritual decluttering, I pick up each thing, realize it does not bring value and joy, tell it thank you and kindly discard.  What is interesting to me is that none of this bullying or negativity came from my teacher.  That I do have a select group of people in my life who are very supportive and when things get cluttered all I hear and remember is the hate.

Social media is a great tool to stay connected.  To encourage and build each other up.  To spread helpful information.  We need this.  Life can be lonely.  We need to support each other.  We need to raise the lowest common denominator and operate from a place of abundance rather than scarcity.  We need to be honest and truthful and consistent and respectful and move from a place of integrity.  We need to honor vulnerability, courageousness, bravery, generosity and kindness.  If we aren't doing these things, what are we doing?  What is the point?  We need to care for each other and for ourselves.  Nourish our bodies and our relationships and the planet.  Set boundaries and respect the boundaries of others.  Admit mistakes and make things better.  Follow the niyamas and yamas.  That's pretty basic.

Oh, and it is no longer cool to comment on someone else's body or creativity with the intent to cut them down.  Even accidentally.

I want to be recognized for the quality of my character and hard work and dedication and grit and for being consistent and fair and kind and taking good care of myself.  Not for looking a certain way or just being nice or popular or just going along with everything even if it isn't right.

And urdva kukkutasana b is really hard.  REALLY hard until it isn't.  And I tell you what... I eat dinner and have a "normal" job and grind day in and day out alone and for me what it took and what it takes each day is an extreme and crazy belief that I can do it.  That I am strong and capable and light and I am just moving energy.  I repeat this again and again so much that I believe it.  I shut out "you're too heavy you're not strong you ate dinner this is too hard for you you'll never do it".  And I go back to "I am strong and capable and light and I am just moving energy".  That I am enough. I repeat this again and again so much that I believe it.  For me, that's how much of this yoga asana challenge/plateau/impossibility has come and gone.  Nose, mulabandha, positive thinking, let energy move.  Simplify.  That's where the grace is.


Day Twenty-Five - Obstacles

When you go to Mysore, India to study at the shala you have your morning asana practice, chanting some afternoons, and the rest of your day free to fill as you see fit.  On my last trip I took yoga philosophy classes (my usual MO) a few days per week.  A group of yoga students climb the stairs in the women's dressing room, grab a carpet square, and sit cross-legged on the floor in an amorphous semicircle facing our teacher.  It is usually fairly hot and humid with mosquitoes flying around and my legs fall asleep and my hips ache and I'm fairly certain all of these things only really happen to me but I don't mind one bit.  I love sitting there with atrophied feet listening to my teacher walk through yoga philosophy from an Indian perspective punctuated by the birds outside, honking and laughing in the street, and the perplexed faces of students trying to make out his accent or English in general (because some of the students don't speak English at all) and whether or not the explanations he makes and stories he tells are real.

But this one is an easy one.  Our teacher is talking to us about a monastery in the north of India and how things are done there.  How we kind of don't understand what it is like to be a student and how maybe this illustration will give us a little bit of insight.  Maybe.  At this monastery students go and they wash the floors and clean the toilets and do all sorts of manual labor.  They do this for the "first few years" he says.  Once they complete this stage, that's when the yoga teaching begins.  "How many years is a few years?" Someone asks.  "Ten or eleven."

Last year I had to get a new Visa to travel to India.  Incredibly, my ten year Visa had expired.  I thought I had too.  Washed up maybe. Too something.  But when I heard that simple story in the women's locker room in philosophy class, I realized that the yoga was just beginning.

Me, in the thick of practice (dwi pada shirshasana which is a posture in the intermediate series), photo taken in my last apartment in New York somewhere between 2008 and 2011.

व्याधिस्त्यानसंशयप्रमादालस्याविरतिभ्रान्तिदर्शनालब्धभूमिकत्वानवस्थितत्वानि चित्तविक्षेपास्तेऽन्तरायाः॥३०॥
vyadhi styana samshaya pramada alasya avirati bhranti-darshana alabdha-bhumikatva anavasthitatva chitta vikshepa te antarayah
“Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from the ground gained- these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles.”
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1.30 translation by Swami Satchidananda

Exit:  "Million Dollar Bill" Middle Brother


Day Twenty-Four - Rest day, you take rest

In the Ashtanga yoga tradition, we “take rest” one day per week from asana practice - usually a Saturday or Sunday.  I have always kept the routine of one day off per week (plus new/full moon days and first three days of menstruation). I figure if we are going to take the prescription we should follow the prescription.  In my process this year of coming back to my center, decluttering, minimizing, self-reflection - I am realizing that deep down I truly do not ever rest except for the weekly break from asana.

I am not a rule follower.  I do not do well with authority at all.  The thing is when I believe in something, I commit, and I go hard.  So when my yoga teacher says to take a day off each week from practice - that's exactly what I will do.  The end.

New Mexico is filled with an incredible variety of gorgeous natural retreats.  We found one deep in the mountains, past any road that the average vehicle would travel, so remote that phones were thrown deep into bags because service was so completely out of the question.  Roads unmarked and so questionable that we needed a local to guide us down the same road that we had previously attempted, but deeper.  Much deeper into the tall trees and wild grasses and fresh high altitude air.  Bear country.  Mountain lion country. Rattlesnake country.  As we continued deeper in, the only man made items were those that we curated.  Just the essentials. We instantly fell into the pace and simplicity and didn’t miss TV or books or restaurants or the convenience of anything.  I woke through the night terrified of the sounds of squirrels that I truly believed to be mountain lions.  We woke at peace and relaxed and completely grounded and present.

Hours later I realized that I felt happy.  And that’s when the guilt set in.  

I observed the thought.  It is a feeling that I am going to "get caught" or "get in trouble".  I asked "why?"  The answer that came was that I don’t believe that I am allowed to or deserve to rest or take a break or relax.  Again, I asked "why?"  Silence. Clutter.  System shut down.

Ok, brain.  Let's begin here.  You believe in your yoga practice, right?
Do you think that maybe you could extend that to your life?
Yes, that's the point.
Ok, great.  So, take a day to truly rest.  Or just give yourself a break.
Yes, that's make sense.
Ok, great.  That's how we live now.  Also, you're simplifying everything, right?  And it feels good?
Ok, great.  This one day off a week pattern seems to work and is established in one area of your life.  Why not piggyback on that with other areas so that you have a designated break?
Yes, that makes sense.
Ok, great.  One more thing.  Who establishes the benchmark for your success and expectations?
I do.
Ok, great.  Are you meeting all your personal benchmarks and expectations?
Well, what's missing?
More blank space.  More travel.  More teaching.  More art and creativity and flow time and shala time.
Ok, great.  Maybe that's the guilt.  You felt happy and at peace and were feeling guilty that you aren't  doing that for yourself more.  That you aren't moving from your own inner space.  Could it be that?
I feel guilty again.
Ok, let's just work on more rest time.
Yes.  Ok.


Day Twenty-Three - Missing Mysore

Day 23 of 30 days of challenging myself to write again.  I started blogging back in 2007 the day before I left on my first trip to India.  I didn’t even know what a blog was but it was easier than emailing everyone so I gave it a try and ended up writing almost every day for years.  And then suddenly it drifted away.  I lost the excitement, the motivation, my confidence, my voice.  I didn’t feel like I had anything to say at all.  It was many things.  Exhaustion and stress and overwork and trauma and bullying and self consciousness and everything.  All the things that can happen when you are more and more isolated and deeper in you go.

This year I could feel strongly that I wanted to do something new, to teach, to get back into different projects, art, creativity... but I was just exhausted all the time and between maintaining my corporate job and friends and family I just had nothing left at the end of each day.  I started seeing a therapist and a doctor to look at my nutrition.  We modified my diet and now I keep a food diary and there was the EMDR.  After starting the new year in Mexico I knew big shifts had to happen in order for me to feel centered again and to get my energy back.  I Kon Mari’d as prescribed in one go over a long weekend.  I was surprised at how well this actually did work.  I pulled back from social media until it just was completely gone.  And it is funny... All the things I was trying so hard to do...they just started happening naturally.

I started reading - easily - again.  Journaling.  Painting.  New ideas coming and inspiration.  But I had to shut out everything in order to find that.  I had to drop out of everything that wasn’t absolutely required.  I had to turn off my phone and delete apps and say “no” to invitations.  I had to stop looking and listening outward and instead go inward.  I didn’t realize how much I allowed my world to move in that direction.  I now very seriously had to set up my environment so that my mind and body could go inward easily.  A safe place to get the muscles back.

In that quiet space the memory of enjoying writing and blogging came back to me.  I was curious.  Is it something that I would enjoy now?  Something that would bring value?  Only one way to find out.  30 day personal blogging challenge.

And in the quiet the other candle that continues to burn in the background is the practice.  Yoga.  Mysore.  The magic.  The feeling of complete centering.  The peak experience.  I want to find it more and everywhere.  It is there in some moments alone and with others in my living room and it was there in moments at The Little Shala (my program here in New Mexico).  It was there when I dropped in in Phoenix and of course, in Mysore at the main shala.  It is the silence.  The sound of breathing and bodies moving through space.  The feeling of heat coming off humans and the sound of hard work.  No conversation, no bullshit.  Just a space filled with people sincerely committed to transformation.  It feels essential and primal and so connected to just being alive.

Right now I am taking a little break before my next teaching season. The Mysore room. I miss it.

My last trip to India was last year.  It was my shortest trip so far... four weeks.  Each day in the shala on my mat I would smile to myself.  There was absolutely nothing that could disturb that absolute gratitude and joy.  I would soak in the feeling of the air and the sounds outside of traffic and birds and students kicking of their sandals and women sweeping their front porches and the sounds inside of students moving and Sharath making little jokes and “one more!”  I would silently thank each person who made it possible for me to be there in one way or another.  And now when I get quiet, I can conjure up the feeling and I am there.

It feels like this.

Day 28, India 2018:  I get the spot in the front corner. The one under the overhang where if I really stretch, my fingers graze the ceiling. Where all the air feels hottest and wettest and smelliest. The floor isn’t slick, it’s wet. The wall is wet. The wall on my right somehow feels more cramped than a wall on the left or people an inch away on any side. (This is not my favorite spot.) I’m boiling. Sweating at first only and then on fire. Soaked in sweat. And then anger. Nonstop anger. The violent kind. I’m so angry. Moving through my practice in a crazy fit of rage. I listen to the conversation in my head on how maybe I’m the villain, not the hero. And whatever. I don’t care.

And I do all the asanas, all the movements even as I feel like an angry brick of cement that burns down everything.

And then I get to third series, Advanced A. Maybe this is a fresh start? No. Anger. And then I get to my latest pose, urdva kukkutasana b. And I do it. With confidence. I own it now. I jump back. I jump through. I look back at whoever and am like “that’s how it’s done #@&$$?!!$”.” And then back bending and then tick tocks and then waiting for vrkshikasana and it’s so intense and now I’m crying. 
Sharath comes after awhile. I’m in handstand and he puts my feet on my head. ‘What you did?’ I tell him ‘I did B but it made me cry’. He says ‘good. You have to let the emotions out’. And I am fully crying as we stand there. (We’ve been here many times over the years.) He does my backbends. He says ‘tomorrow you do galavasana.’ I say ‘galavasana?’ ‘Yes, without crying. You’re too happy to cry.’

Post-practice, Mysore 2018.  That same day.  Sensory deprivation tank.
Exit:  “Sober to Death” Car Seat Headrest