Do The Scary Things
I started 2018 with a blank slate. About two months from being officially divorced, struggling through my small business because my heart wasn’t in it any longer, floundering through having to be financially independent for the first time in two decades and terrified that my children would see me fail at life, I knew I had to get my shit together.
I wasn’t the first woman to be divorced and scared (good God it felt like it though!), but eventually the unwavering support I received from my family and from my friends was enough to motivate me to want to survive these changes. And not only survive, I wanted to THRIVE. To embrace the blank slate, to put on the red lipstick and to rediscover the Danie that got lost in two decades of a marriage that dulled my light.
That’s the sexy synopsis of the beginning of 2018. The reality was a lot uglier. The blank slate I was gifted with didn’t seem so promising at the time. I drank a lot of wine. And cried a lot of tears. And broke a lot of glass bottles into the dumpster behind my shop to release some of the rage I felt. I faked a lot of smiles. I went to yoga five days a week and sometimes cried on my mat. But I also read every book I could find on women and finance. I said yes to every invitation I received from friends to hang out. I found a divorce support group and made friends who would become my fierce cheerleaders because they knew what I was going through. I scored a counselor that thought my potty mouth was funny (good thing, because the shit show of my life was indescribable without colorful language). I dabbled in dating that summer to see if it felt ok to get positive attention from men ( it sure did!). And I continued to show up to yoga classes even when I wasn’t feeling it.
My yoga mat supported me. Sauntering into class always seemed to chip away at the sadness I felt. More often than not, I didn’t want to go to class. I wanted to stay under the covers of my gloomy bed, cry myself back to sleep or nap away an hour or two of the day to get closer to an acceptable time to go to bed at night.
But I showed up. I scheduled the class times in my calendar like they were important appointments. And I forced myself into a variety of class types: Yin yoga became a warm hug for me. Hot yoga was a cathartic release because I could cry in a pose and it would trickle down my face, melting into the sweat on my cheeks so sneaky and stealthily. Nidra was the meditation focus I needed to exorcise the negativity that had begun to blacken my soul. Each class felt better than the next. I mean, no one ever walked out of a yoga class thinking, “Damn. Wish I hadn’t done that.”
Yoga is life. I had been practicing for almost fifteen years. The ebb and flow of my practice always felt like it made me a better person and I had dreamed of becoming a registered yoga teacher for over a decade. But there was always an excuse. It was too expensive. I could never make enough money at it to make it worth my financial investment. It was too time consuming. It was too scary. But I had declared 2018 the Year of the Danie. I’d say yes to everything. And when the opportunity to join the Yoga Teacher Training that was starting in the fall was presented to me, I did the scary thing. I committed to the six month investment in myself. Come to find out, I am worth investing in every single time.
The six month training was intense. And expensive. And beautiful. And so substantial. And consuming. I’ve lived and breathed yoga this past year and my entire life has changed as a result of this yoga journey. The deep study into the Yoga Sutras and the beautifully unexpected philosophy of this practice has leveled me like I imagine a young adult in boot camp gets torn down to be built up to be a soldier. Studying the Yamas and Niyamas (kind of like the 10 commandments of yoga) was humbling. It became a journey into the person I am, the person I lost, and the person I want to become.
I invested heavily in the eleven other beautiful souls in that training as well as my gorgeous teacher, Jen. These women became a part of my heart. We shared a piece of ourselves each week. During long 15 hour class weekends, they became my family. Each one of them came to this training with their own story. We were all looking to find ourselves and knew yoga was saving us.
The six months of training was hard. It forced me to do the scary thing. I inventoried my life as it pertains to the philosophies of yoga and realized I have a lot of growth available in me. I opened up to these women and divulged painful parts of my divorce that I kept so tightly bottled up I was afraid they would explode out like a shaken soda bottle if I gave them even a little bit of air. I wrote yoga flows to teach to strangers. I lead friends in meditations. I mastered a lot of Sanskrit. I observed classes geared for our honored military Veterans and for broken angels of depression. I learned that yoga gets harder as you journey deeper into it. I learned that soaking in a lavender Epsom salt bath is the best way to love myself after five intense practices in two days. I now know that chair yoga isn’t for sissies. I learned that there isn’t enough time in my day to read all of the books on yoga that I want, or take all of the classes with all of the teachers that I love. I learned that teaching yoga is so much more rewarding than I ever dreamed it would be. I learned that eating meat really isn’t my jam (not in the typical yogi path way, but more in how my own body processes food). I learned that my fellow 78-year old classmate is one of the fiercest women I’ve ever met and I hope to be her when I grow up. And more than anything, I learned that I’m just starting on the lifelong path of being a yogi. I feel so much gratitude for being able to train WHERE I did, with WHOM I did, and WHEN I did.
I started teaching a few months ago. It’s not always perfect. Sometimes it’s a little disorganized. But it’s my version of a perfectly imperfect yoga flow with a bit of my soul sprinkled into every pose, every breath, and every moment of the guided meditations that bookend my classes. I aim to add a glimpse of my wit into every class, and make my victims, er-students, fall in love with their practice just as I did.
The universe has a beautiful way of presenting opportunities to you when you need them most. Be patient with yourself and with life. But at the same time, do the scary thing. Take the leap. Invest in yourself. You are worth it. We are all worth it.