My Truth About Being a Yoga Teacher

I used to think that being a full time Yoga teacher would be the ultimate dream career. In many ways it has been, but the things I thought would be amazing turned out to be less important and there are a few things that have been really challenging and that has made the career a pretty tough one. Believe me it is not all comfy clothes and peaceful vibes.

Here are a few things I have learned in my nearly two decades of teaching:

  1. Teaching Yoga is lonely.

I have been teaching Yoga for over 16 years and 99% of that time has been as a solo teacher out in the great big world all on my own. I taught at a gym studio briefly where I would occasionally pass by another fellow teacher and the rare team/staff meeting lended itself to some resemblance of a community, but that is it. When I left my j.o.b. to strike out and become a full-time Yoga teacher, the thing that hit me the hardest was how lonely it is. There are no weekly team meetings to bounce ideas off of a colleague, there are no lunches together to process tough situations and there is definitely no happy hours to celebrate successes. Instead, I sit in my car all alone feeling all the feels of what I witness and celebrating all by myself the “wins” of the day or week. There are no birthday lunches or holiday gatherings and there is absolutely nobody to collaborate with. Most days I wish more than anything I had someone who I could talk to that didn’t just say “wow that is so amazing”, or “what a difference you are making in the world”, but instead was able to ask questions, give me feedback and really help me grow as a teacher, and a human being. I am making a difference and I do think it is all amazing but I need collaborating and honest conversations about the work and the clients I serve. I need someone to hold me to the line when I need it. I am trying to find a community of teachers to collaborate with but it is tough. Sadly, the Yoga world is so competitive and I am finding that someone with a YTT piece of paper assumes they know it all and sharing ideas is not something of interest to most.

2. You are also a business manager and marketing guru.

Students don’t just fall into your lap. You have to market yourself and hustle if you want this to be your main focus in your work life. I spend on average 2-3 hours per day marketing my classes, reaching out to students, and communicating with agencies. I do all of my own invoicing and accounting, which I had to learn all on my own through trial and error. You might learn a few things in Yoga Teacher Training about running a business, but it isn’t until you really step into teaching that you will begin figuring out your business name/model, how to get your name out there and you have to figure out what works for you in your location. Social media is a great tool, but not your only option, especially if you are not looking to be a YouTube sensation. Learning how to do this is tough unless you have a marketing background and you will likely be doing do this all on your own, unless you opt to hire someone. Loneliness bleeds into this area as well because there are a ton of “experts” out there there may not really get what your focus or passion truly is. A Yoga business is not your average customer service based business and finding someone you “gets it” can be tough, especially when it is your name and your passion.

3. Wearing Yoga clothes everyday isn’t all that great.

Okay this might be a silly point to make point but there is some truth in it. I mean, yes, it is nice to be comfortable, but there is a limit to feeling like a slob seven days a week. I long to wear regular clothes and look so forward to slipping on a dress or a pair of tights jeans on a day off or out for the evening. And, unlike the common myth people think, you do not get to write off your Yoga clothes because you wear them to work. This may seem like a silly thing to everyday people but I am shocked at how many people tell me how lucky I am because I get to wear Yoga clothes everyday. I thought so too, until I realized it isn’t all that great. Ridiculous, but seriously so many people think this would be amazing.

4. Being “on” and inspiring everyday can be exhausting.

I give myself so much more grace on this than I did when I first began teaching. I thought I had to have the perfect theme and say every word precisely. I still hold myself to a very high standard when it comes to being prepared for my classes, continuing to teach topics that people can use to improve their lives (off the mat or chair), and I want to also challenge myself to grow right along side my students. I realize somedays are going to be a little off. Whether I had a horrible commute, am living with a lot of pain, or simply just don’t feel it on a certain day I have to be able to still deliver. I have a set of “go-to” class formats and themes that I pull from when I am in this place and I have also learned that honesty and transparency go a long way as a teacher. Students really want a real person to guide them rather than a person who can’t expose themselves and end up being given a half-effort attempt at a class.

5. The teacher teaches what the teacher need to learn.

I have learned over the years to go there with your students–and this includes my students with TBI and dementia, or my everyday able bodied students. By go there I mean be with them, sit with them, feel with them, laugh with them, receive with them. Be willing to learn from them, be humbled in yourself and you will be just fine. Be open to learning about yourself through the process of teaching and you will not only inspire others but you will grow exponentially as a teacher and a person. The more you teach a hard topic (for me this can be something like acceptance), the more you embrace it. Be willing to learn and never think that you know everything, even if you can speak fluent sanskrit and can translate all the sutras. To me a great teacher is one willing to learn alongside the student.

I wouldn’t change a thing when it comes to what I have chosen to do with this special life. I am grateful every single day that I get to serve. Before each class, as I enter through the threshold of a doorway, I speak this words in my head and heart and then I let go. “give me the words and show me the way”. When I allow Spirit to move through me and to receive, I pass that along to my students and all is well.

About Stacie

Stacie believes that it is her life purpose to share the gift of Yoga with anyone who is willing to say yes. In addition to raising a family and being an advocate for those with disabilities, Stacie is founder of Embracing Spirit Yoga which specializes in bringing adaptive Yoga into community centers and rehabilitation clinics. Bringing her depth of compassion to the mat–or the chair–she offers students the opportunity to grow as an individual in all aspects of their life.

With over sixteen years experience, Stacie Wyatt is an E-500 hour Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance, Life Wellness Coach, Senior YogaFit Instructor, Mind/Body Personal trainer, Stress Reduction and Meditation Instructor, Pilates Instructor, and Barre Instructor. Stacie is also certified in Integrative Movement Therapy™and is also a believer in the power and application of essential oils for health and wellness and proudly shares doTERRA essential oils.

Stacie brings her personal life experience of raising a daughter with a disability and over 12 years working in special education to her everyday Yoga classes.

In addition to teaching classes at a variety of local centers and health clubs, Stacie also continues to offer Yoga and Wellness coaching individually to those seeking private sessions.

Watch Your Thoughts

This week I have been teaching my Yoga classes around this quote—

Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

Bring your hands to your heart center (thought), open your hands to a flower mudra (that becomes the words), raise your hands above head (that becomes the actions), opens your arms wide (that becomes the habits), raise your arms above head (that becomes character), lower your hands back to heart center (that becomes destiny) … and it all returns to the thought (seed).

Try that with a mindful breath a few times. And again. Breathe and move with the intent that a thought becomes a word, a word becomes an action, an action becomes a habit, a habit becomes your character, your character becomes your destiny.

For the students with paralysis they can either move their working side or I can ask to move their body with them. The students with dementia enjoy the slow movements and repetition. By the end of the class many can repeat the quote. One of the students in the group who lives with a traumatic brain injury smiled and said, “I like that. I like how that feels”.

That is Yoga.

We also talked about within all of the “doing” how do we want to BE ? (Seed/thought), then our words and actions follow. Taking Yoga into life is my passion.

Today in my doing, I am choosing to BE present.

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Choosing to Be Different

Let’s face it, the world needs help. Many of us might even find that it has become our life purpose to bring a positive light into the lives of others. I would even guess it’s how many of us infuse our lives with meaning: trying to somehow leave the world a better place than we found it. At least I hope it’s how most people think.

Today I am grappling with this. I am questioning humanity and the intent of others. I realize it is not my place to do that and I am edging on being incredibly judgmental, but I’m also striving for honesty.

On days like today when I feel isolated and out doing my humble version of God’s work all alone my head gets jumbled as I look around me.

The huge homes and fancy cars that surround me as people whiz by going to their next luncheon or appointment. The shopping centers that line nearly ever corner are packed with shoppers consuming more and more. The extravagant lifestyles may seem as though they are living their best life, yet I know that nobody escapes the pains of being human. We all have our own version of loss, disappointment and pain. The fancy houses and new cars are simply a shell that contains the human conditions we all face.

I suppose the question that begs to be answered as I ruminate with bitterness and probably envy—how are you making the world better? What are you doing to contribute to humanity?

As I wander around the big city doing my work I want to stop and ask people that question. I want to knock on doors and ask. I want to know, because today, I feel like there aren’t many people out there contributing. I see a society that is mostly focused only on themselves and consuming as much as they can.

I like to think that I am a very even keeled gal who rarely gets rattled. I go about by day doing what I believe I here to do and I usually pay zero attention to how others live their life. The old triggers rarely get pushed anymore and I have less care about what people do or don’t do with this one very precious life.

But today, nope. I am wallowing in judgment and perhaps even some disgust.

There are so many ways to contribute to the greater good and sadly so many people miss the chances on a daily basis because they are wrapped up in their own self absorbed life.

Look, you don’t have to be a hero or do remarkably hard things to create a better world. It’s starts by thinking of others before yourself.

Simple.

We can simultaneously make major contributions to society—both to help other people and feel good about our choices—while making a difference in our everyday lives. We can do things both large and small, for others and ourselves, every day if we choose to.

  • Smile
  • Be a neighbor
  • Pick up trash outside
  • Buy someone coffee
  • Listen without solving
  • Use your skills for good
  • Volunteer your time
  • Say thank you
  • Donate unused items to those in need
  • Give grace
  • Compliment others
  • Think of others before yourself
  • Stop complaining
  • Write notes of gratitude
  • Stop making excuses why you can’t
  • Get off your butt and do something

Maybe the realization that you do truly have to be different if you desire to make a difference in the world is hitting me hard today.

The mundane lives people live all around me are begging me to look inside and see that I am wrestling with bitterness and envy.

Here is the realization and lesson I dug into. Days like today bring up the old wounds of feeling like I don’t belong in a world where fancy things are the focus—back then it was because I was broke and trying so hard to make a life for my kids in a neighborhood I could barely afford—today it’s because I choose the life I have. I choose to do the work that I do. I choose to be as busy as I am and don’t have the time to longer over fancy lunches. I choose this.

I choose to be different. And, once I landed on the fact that I CHOOSE this, the bitterness faded and I remember the gift that I have and the choice I make to use it.

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Japa Meditation

Have you ever used a Mala and practiced Japa meditation? Malas — also known as yoga beads or japamalas — are necklaces that usually have 108 beads. Mala, in Sanskrit means “garland”. Malas are meant to help you focus your mind during meditation. While Japa meditation is my favorite way to meditate, the beads themselves hold a powerful visual reminder throughout the day of the statement I meditated on and the tactile sensation brings me right back. When my mind wanders throughout the day, I can simply touch my mala and I am reminded of what statement I chose.

In meditation practice, Japa meditation holds a special place. It is the process of mentally repeating a mantra or speaking a phrase while meditating using a mala. The word Japa means muttering in Sanskrit. The meditative practice of Japa keeps the human mind steady and resistant to disturbance.

Meditation could mean different things to different people. I have written and taught how to transform meditation into mindfulness and how learning to live each moment in the state of mindfulness can change your life. While sometimes I have a “formal” meditation practice, it is often that my meditation/mindfulness practice takes shape in other ways.n

Many consider meditation as a quiet observation, wherein others often consider it a practice of self-awareness or reflection upon themselves. Either way, stillness and introspection is an amazing insight to your daily life.

I love to practice Japa meditation because for me it helps me to focus on a powerful statement, 108 times. It embeds in my spirit something positive and powerful. Plus the tactile use of the mala adds an element to the meditation that my mind enjoys. I have several Malas—some are made of stones like jasper and agate but my favorite is a sandalwood mala that has become richer over times as I use it.

The practice of Japa creates beneficial mental pathways and is a strong technique for focusing the mind and harnessing the subtle powers of the body/mind. I have seen this practice in my students many times as we learn Japa together. Some have even purchased mala beads to continue on their own.

How to practice Japa meditation:

Japa meditation is practiced by moving your fingers along a mala or the strings of beads known as Japa mala. There are many types of Japa that include speaking the mantra aloud, whispering the mantra or silently repeating the mantra. I prefer to be silent. There is also a technique you can use if you don’t have a string of mala beads. You can see that technique in this video.

Now that you know how to practice Japa, choose a powerful statement and try it.

Here are some positive affirmations to try:
  • I am calm
  • I am centered
  • I am in control
  • I am loved
  • I am grateful
  • am worthy of what I do and speak
  • I am valued and loved
  • I am allowed to put myself first
  • I am safe
  • I am secure
  • I release all my shame that I am holding
  • I love my body and what it does for me.

Most often, I simply say “I am____” and follow it with a variety of words like patient, strong, healthy, resilient, powerful, etc.

Are you going to give it a try?

* this is my sandalwood mala and a Sanskrit word Shanti tattoo which translates to peace

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Twigs and Trash

In order to grow we must first remove what it is in the way.

For many years I have been teaching the concept that much like a garden we have outside, before we can plant anything and expect it to grow, we first have to remove all the old stuff, the trash and the things that are cluttering the soil. Today, as I was doing that exact literal thing in my backyard raking leaves and removing last years dead plants that were once so vibrant, I was reminded of the conversation I had this week with a group of men who have traumatic brain injures.

I teach this topic every March, regardless of who is in my classes because I think no matter who you are and what your life experience is, we all have something that is cluttering up our heart and therefore limiting the potential we have to grow. This might be something like fear, disappointment, regret, guilt, shame, resentment, anger or any other feeling and emotion that we have carried around for days or decades.

As I was guiding a meditation about visualizing a garden and seeing the old growth, the twigs and the trash, I asked them each to see a garden in their heart that may also have some things that could be getting in the way of growth.

I shared with my ‘frat house’ that they have fondly referred to themselves as, that I have some disappointment that is taking up space in my own heart. I carry it day after day, year after year and despite all my attempts to pull it out, it seems to have a root system that is deep and new shoots pop up and take over my heart at times.

As we had a discussion about this, they called me out on it and the wise man who developed a life changing brain tumor at age 23 gave me the best insight on how to manage all the little twigs and trash that take up space. He is turning 60 in a a few weeks and following his diagnosis while in his final year of college his life has been a series of assisted living settings and long term support. He lost his independence and so much more, and yet is so wise.

Are you ready for this? In my humbleness, I asked how does one remove all the “twigs and trash” from our hearts. I asked how do I remove the disappointment?

He shared that you can never fully rid of every twig or piece of trash that has landed in the garden, instead you have to learn to manage and grow around them.

Huh, I said.

Tell me more, I said.

He went on to say that the remnants of the the “twigs” and “trash” will likely always be there and sometimes they may stick out of the soil and poke you but our job is to plants things around them so the beauty takes over.

Again, I asked how.

The wise teacher said:

  • forgiveness
  • acceptance
  • gratitude

When we forgive ourselves and others we remove so much of the garbage that fills our heart. This removes resentment, bitterness, and what-if thinking. When we accept was IS we no longer grieve for what might have been which brings presence to growing today. And finally, when we focus on being grateful we see all that we have, not all that we do not have.

How’s that for insightful?

It’s not so much about removing the parts of our heart that impede growth, but rather moving them aside through forgiveness, acceptance and gratitude so that we make space for something far more amazing to grow.

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Like I Matter

Can you say that your actions give light to the darkness that others experience?

Alone somewhere in an assisted living group home sits a woman who like many I get to see had a life changing event where everything that she knew was instantly gone. She lost her family, her job, her home, and possibly her purpose.

Everyday is the same existence; eat, sleep, eat, maybe occasionally go into the community, eat, sleep, repeat. There is never a visitor and never anything that provides meaning to her day. I show up once per month to attempt some group yoga classes, however, most of the women living in this house decline to attend, except this lovely lady I will call Patricia.

On my last visit I had the opportunity to work 1:1 with her and address some of her challenges. I knew she had a painful shoulder from her accident and subsequent surgeries so I wanted to see if I could get some pain relief and mobility into her shoulder. Like all my sessions, there is a lot of dialogue and attempts to find connection. I know from my nearly two decades of teaching yoga to unique populations, the one thing that they want more than any physical practice is to feel part of something and to feel seen.

Isn’t that a universal desire? I believe our greatest human need it to simply be seen.

For the hour that we spent together, I learned about her accident and what her life was life before the event. I learned about her dreams, her mistakes, her shame and her hopes for her life. I learned what it means to her to be a mom and a grandmother. I learned that we are the same age, minus a few months difference. I learned about her hard upbringing and getting lost in her youth. I learned the details of her accident that was nearly thirty years ago.

For thirty years, Patricia has lived in this same existence. Thirty years is more than half her life. Half of her life has been lived alone, isolated, without meaning and incredibly lonely.

Towards the end of our session, I wanted to have a closer look at her shoulder and see if I would be able to get some movement and comfort into her body. I whipped out my trusted essential oil blend for pain and began to apply it slowly and gently to her arm and shoulder area. Human touch has a powerful effect and is so under implemented in our sterile world. No words were exchanged as I gently moved her arm in circles and into extension and flexion. I was careful to not do much as I did not know for sure the extent of her surgery and rehab.

I asked her, “how does that feel?”

She looked at me, and with tears in her eyes, she said, “like I matter”.

I rarely show my emotions, especially with my students. I am incredibly careful and cognizant of not coming across as a person who pities them or feels “bad” for them. That is not what they want, but her words struck my heart and tears filled my eyes instantly.

Can you imagine feeling so lonely and forgotten that simply having one person pay attention to you for thirty minutes gives you the feedback that you truly do matter?

Her answer had nothing to do with her shoulder pain and everything to do with her heart pain. I knew that in that instant, I was exactly where I was supposed to be, and she gave me such a gift that day.

I continue to think about how my actions remind people that they do matter. I get to be the giver of goodness. I get the privilege of sharing my day with them and learning how to make a difference in the lives of others.

When was the last time you felt like you matter? When was the last time you helped someone see that they matter? You just never know how your actions are influencing others. Can you say that your actions give light to the darkness that others experience?

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The Invitation

In these uncertain times I find myself longing for what I know and for what brings me a sense of feeling grounded. For many years I come back time and time again to this poem. I share it with those who I know are willing to meet me in the space of vulnerability and see me from the heart of compassion. For me this poem invites me into myself and reveals the truths of who I am, or who I strive to be.

The Invitation

By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.


It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.


I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me

is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.

And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”


It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.


It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.


It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.


I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

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Simply a Reflection

The beauty you see in me is a reflection of you.

rumi

Tell me what do you love or admire about yourself?

I asked this question in all of my adaptive and traditional Yoga classes last week as we delved into the idea of Self-Love. The answers often are so sad when it comes to my students with brain injuries. You see these people have lost what most of us value and are having to rediscover the aspects of themself that they actually like. Most have lost their livelihood, their purpose, their families, their independence, their freedom to come and go, and oso much more. When they look in the mirror they often see the challenges and the impact of the injury so finding the qualities within can usually be really challenging. I also have enjoyed asking my group of students that are all over the age of 85 and living in assisted living. I am startled that so few of them can proclaim something that they love about themselves. Perhaps it is a generational thing where they didn’t spend as much time as younger people these days who seem consumed with the Self.

The answer seem to be so hard for them to find.

I ask the question anyway and the answer is usually that they are blank on what they love about themselves.

I keep asking, though.

On one particular day in a class that included a range of ages and abilities, I asked a woman living with a brain injury who is close to my age and is often very down on herself the question. When I asked her what she liked about herself her eyes dropped down to the ground and she quietly said, “nothing”. She was hunched over with her arms on her legs looking so hopeless and sad. This woman is so kind, so willing, so sweet and is so beautiful.

I knelt down so that I was in her eye gaze and asked again. And again, I got the same response.

I knew that I was about to open a beautiful can of worms and an opportunity to teach exactly what Rumi was saying.

I turned the question around. I asked this woman what she liked about me. She looked at me and easily said, “You are brave, and strong and so beautiful”.

We smiled at each other and I looked into her eyes.

My response was this—I am simply a reflection of you. What exists in me is also in you otherwise you would not recognize it. We are indeed a mirror reflection of each other.

She sat tall and said, “really?” Yes my sweet friend, really.

I learned this concept many years ago and try to always remember it, especially when I am with someone who feels that they are not enough or someone who struggles with identifying what makes them special. I ask them to think about someone they admire and what qualities do they see in them that they like? It is those qualities that also exist in ourselves.

Consider that. What you see in others exists in you. Kindness, integrity, compassion, love, bravery, beauty, honesty, humor, etc. If it was not part of you and familiar, you would not recognize it.

The tricky and often sticky part about this is that when we also see a quality within others that we find less appealing, it is because that too is familiar in us. When this happens to me I say, “ahhhhhh yes, there you are to remind me what I am here to work on”.

When we stumble through those ordinary days of self doubt and wondering what is really good about ourselves this can be an amazing concept to return to. When we feel burdened by life’s hardness and separate from the ideals in which the world has attempted to create, and we feel so less than, simply look into the eyes of someone you admire and know that the only way you can see those qualities is because they also exist in you.

It is familiar. It is a mirror reflection of yourself.

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Fear is Big…Clarity is Bigger

If you’ve been following me you may have seen that I have chosen to put a little effort into being vulnerable this year. Looking at me from the distance – or sometimes even for those close to me – I appear to be unstoppable, strong, creative, successful, determined, and without a doubt a true overcomer. That is all true.

You may have also seen that I also opted to explore vulnerability in my life this year and dip my toes into a little “emotional exposure” as Brené Brown so eloquently says. Well, emotional exposure was proving to begin with a big bang.

Fear and uncertainity started to show up in big ways as soon as I declared I was ready to look vulnerability in the eye. It is one thing to feel these things, but I have a tendency to keep those big emotions to myself so the exposing of them was almost was big as feeling them.

So to be really open and honest, I have been fighting my way from slipping down into the depths of huge feelings of fear like I have never been over the last few weeks. Seems that since the declarative statement of what I was willing to improve in my life, vulnerability said “let’s just see how you can handle real big feelings”.

Thinking I am in complete readiness for my upcoming major hip overhaul, suddenly I was overcome with fear. Big time terror day after day. Waking up in the night fear. Shaking fear. Pit of the stomach fear. Gripping fear.

I told myself over and over that people get hip replacements all the time and yes most people do fine. But that is not a blanket statement my mind easily accepted. Of course we also hear about the 82 year old grandma who gets a new hip and is at the social club within a week which can make for some serious unhealthy comparison.

The fear began to battle comparison and I was questioning myself more than I ever have. Would my body and dysfunctional immune system accept the new hip? How much would my life be changed? How much will I have to rely on others to help me? How much time would I be away from work? Would I still be in pain? Would I ever be able to practice yoga the way I do? Will I get another blood clot? Will I get an infection? What if…? What if …? But what if…..? Over and over and over and over.

You see this isn’t a classic case of having bone on bone joint issue or severe arthritis. My joint is in perfect health and every doctor who has looked at the images scratches their head and wonders if that will address the pain. I have had three grueling tissue repairs on this previous hip and I still have a tremendous amount of pain and inflammation so the theory with my beloved surgeon whom I trust with my life is to remove the joint and closely surrounding tissue and give my body a clean, new joint which may greatly reduce my constant pain. The word “may” started to feel really scary as the days for closer.

I begged for silent moments of clarity. I pleaded with my conscious to give me insights. I walked and screamed at the sky to help me.

Is living in pain an option? Absolutely. Is enduring torturous fear an option? Hell no.

As I navigated this very unusual emotion over the course of the last few weeks I was startled at the physical changes that were occurring in my body. I am an incredibly steady and stable woman so to feel such intensity in an unfamiliar emotion was taking a toll. I had a racing heart all hours of the day, eating was incredibly hard, I felt like I had adrenaline running 24/7 through my veins, and I was experiencing deep pain in my belly every time I thought about laying on that stainless steel table for the 4th time. Of course the turmoil in my solar plexus was my first indication that my gut was telling me to listen. As the days ticked off I had more and more gut instinct knowing.

In my yogic thinking world what I was experiencing was a complete mind/body interaction where my intuition, or gut instinct, which is essentially our solar plexus where decisions are made and our personal power is being stoked like a fire. Feeling my personal power escape my body while making a life altering decision was sending my body into real time horror.

What if I chose to not listen to the language my body was speaking? What if I opted to ignore the screaming inside my body to pause and ask more questions? Despite the four second opinions there was still so much uncertainty about if this was truly the right direction to take, and yet my instinct knew it was not.

The moment that I stepped into my personal power and reclaimed clarity, it all stopped. I felt lighter. I felt myself gather up all that I know and feel about myself and feel empowered with clarity and much needed hope. A conversation with my surgeon late in the day where he reassured me that it was indeed a good decision to wait validated for me what I already knew.

I think we all have the capacity to know what our bodies need. We may not know the details to a solution like a complex surgery or diagnosis, but we do know when something feels off. We do know when our personal power is being threatened. We do know when we are right.

Vulnerability knocked on my door hard these first thirteen days of the year. But I welcomed her as a messenger and proudly reached out to a handful of safe people to pour my heart out. I revealed my fears and uncertainties. I spoke my vulnerability.

And when I did, sure enough clarity overtook fear.

I learned so much over the last few weeks about the subtle and not so subtle ways our body speaks to us, and that when we don’t feel something is right, to listen and then talk about it. Our voice is powerful and like anything, the more we do it the easier it becomes.

The hip surgery is on hold. Maybe forever but for sure in the near future. I am going to focus on the needs of my body that are determined with certainty like a quick knee scope, addressing some back issues with natural options and getting even healthier and stronger than I am—mind, body and spirit. Maybe the ol’ hip will calm itself down and all will be well.

Yay for vulnerability….round one complete.

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Word 2023 — Vulnerability

If we want to reclaim the essential emotional part of our lives and reignite our passion and purpose, we have to learn how to own and engage with our vulnerability and how to feel the emotions that come with it. – Brené Brown

It is not like I didn’t know this. I mean, I took a semester long course with Brené Brown and stepped into the world of Daring Greatly and succeeded on many levels. And it’s not like I have not practiced being vulnerable—I left a toxic relationship, quit my job to pursue my passion, bought a house knowing it is all on me and more. I nailed it and became super empowered in the process.

Vulnerability seemed to be a thing I thrive at. Give me a life altering challenge and I will without a doubt do well. But is that really all vulnerability is?

According to Brené vulnerability is uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.

Huh.

For the last couple months I have been listening to these little soul taps to look under vulnerability. To take a closer look that isn’t about becoming a badass and destroying a challenge. There was a whispering of something softer and different.

And also incredibly scary. I denied those little whispers and wanted desperately to choose a word that was easier and likely something I am already good at.

Seems to me I am able to easily handle uncertainty and risk on some levels but emotional exposure—never.

Maybe it’s my tendency to lean towards Capricorn strength and tenacity while also being a fiery redhead that gives me an unstoppable approach to life’s challenges. I don’t think raising three kids successfully alone could have been achieved any other way, but this is deeper than action. This is way deeper.

Control has always been something that brings me safety. Controlling my environment and the people I let in. Controlling my business and finances with a sharp eye. Controlling my physical health despite lots of pain by working my body to its best health. Controlling my emotions by not putting myself into situations where I might cry (or laugh). Controlling what I need by never asking for help. Exhausting maybe?

Huh.

That all sounds like emotional exposure. Doing something anyway not knowing what the response or outcome might be. Sticking my neck out and hoping for the best.

Being seen.

This is about not just being seen for what I have overcome or what I do. It will require me to being willing to reveal parts of myself that are tucked safely deep down and to do what is uncomfortable and out of my comfort zone.

I did a little exercise in my journal over the last week and here is how I see it:

Vulnerability is—
Vulnerability feels like—
Vulnerability looks like—

Vulnerability is —failing, making a mistake, exposing myself publicly, crying, screwing up, feeling scolded, asking for help, not perfecting something, feeling needy or dependent on others, asking for what I need or want and feeling out of control.

Vulnerability feels like—crushing sensation in chest, upset stomach, short breath, panic to flee, racing heart, avoidance.

Vulnerability looks like— finishing and publishing the book that has been written, asking for help, receiving help, communicating openly with others, asking to be on more podcasts, letting go of some of my high self standards (not failing), finding resolution and peace with pain, being okay with my emotions and letting my emotions be seen.

For 2023 I give myself permission to fail or to succeed. I give myself permission to not do it all alone. I give myself permission to reveal and unfold in a way that stays in alignment with my soul but also welcomes risk. I give myself permission to be seen.

Truly seen.

Emotionally exposed with risk and uncertainty.

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