All the love

For the longest time during this…shall I say utterly amazing experience [this = Costa Rica], I’ve wanted to share so many different stories and random thoughts that I’ve bottled up inside of me. Honestly, I just haven’t found the ability to pull my collection of thoughts together into something comprehensive. I don’t find it helpful to me or anyone else to feel like I need to share for the sake of sharing just to meet some sort of quota for the amount of posts that I’d like to generate in a span of a few weeks.

Writing shouldn’t feel like a chore. Nor should anything else that we find pleasurable in life. Words should be guided from the heart, grabbed from some form of inspiration in hopes that those words are crafted in a way that’s genuine and meaningful and that others enjoy reading. Otherwise, at this point in my journey, you all would be over hearing me obsess about avocados, almond butter, and the amount of mosquito bites that I’ve acquired.

I find it easy to tell other people what I love, or what I love about them. I love watermelon soju in the summer and red wine with dinner. I love cinnamon in my coffee and almond butter in my smoothies. I love my mother’s patience and heart of gold and my dad’s humor and excessive use of “LOL” in emails (all caps, all the time). I love the contagiousness of another person’s smile and the giddy feeling that I get when I look at a new menu for the first time. I love the friend that gives me brutal honesty when I need it and the friend that gives me reassurance when I feel a bit uneasy. I love how it feels to give to others and seeing the excitement on their face when they receive it.

So many of us hold on to this mindset that we should constantly be giving and providing for others. Selflessness and giving is indeed a beautiful thing, but I have been reminded here that self-more is just as important. We give and we give, but we sometimes become hermits when others try to do the same to us. We are told that we are amazing, beautiful, strong, intelligent…and we roll our eyes as if we aren’t worthy of receiving those words. Someone is telling us those words for a reason and we should accept it with generosity and thank them for their kind words. It’s a practice of self-love, a vicious cycle that we face throughout our lives.

A few weeks ago, someone in our yoga teacher training asked me what self-love meant to me. The look on my face must have been that of a deer in headlights. That was certainly a loaded question that I had never been asked before. I can’t even remember the words that came out of my mouth, trying to make sense of it but just rambling in a way that I have a tendency to do.  In that moment today as we were sharing our experiences of this journey and what we would carry with us to share with others, I revisited that night that I was faced with that question. Self-love is certainly not something that can be defined, but it can surely be felt. We practice self-love each time that we show up on the mat and take those sixty minutes out of our day for ourselves. As teachers, we radiate with self-love when we stand in front of a room filled with others looking to share their practice with us because deep down, we know that we have taken the time to utilize our creativity and all that we’ve learned to guide them with courage and confidence. And then you begin to notice that the same individuals begin to come back to your classes each week because they want more of you. That has to be one of the best gifts as yoga teachers that we can receive. 

I loved how at ease I felt this past Monday leading a practice with an intimate group of five others, starting on our backs with our hearts wide open towards the sky. We set an intention, did a bit of creative exploring, balanced through a sequence of warriors and engaged our energetic hearts. I could finally leverage my creativity without any doubt, constraints, or others knocking my ideas into the ground. Yoga is my creative outlet and I can color outside of the lines whenever I damn well please.

You see, I sure can’t do a headstand or a crow, but I love the way I feel when I’m in a deep backbend and the rush of energy that I feel when I come out of it. I love when I see the definition that’s building in my arms, something that I’ve never had before, as opposed to fixating on something else about my body that I’m not particularly as fond of. I love how comfortable I feel in my own skin when I’m on that mat. Perfection, judgment and ego are thrown right out the door, and it’s just me there accepting all of my strengths, weaknesses and imperfections.

And in these words, that I wish I could call my own:

“I am convinced your relationship with yourself will not only determine your relationship with others, but will also set the course for the life you will live. Know yourself in all your strengths and weaknesses. Begin to expand those “one-worders” that were too narrow to be you. You are more than a word.

One must never sink back in despair when receiving the call to be great. Shy people can be bold, extroverts can be fruitfully introspective, and the realist can dream big. All must never lose their voice.

Writer and activist Parker Palmer says it well when he states “What a long time it can take to become the person one has always been! How often in the process we mask ourselves in faces that are not our own. How much dissolving and shaking of ego we must endure before we discover our deep identity – the true self within every human being…” - Lesley S Roberts, M.S., M.F.T. [via Darling Magazine Issue No. 1]

And what’s all this talk from me about self love without some nourishing, heart healthy recipes to share? At least a few for inspiration to kick off next week with some self lurrrrrve.

Heart Chakra Smoothie

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Keep your heart happy, keep receiving, and treat yourself.

Allison