I’m Not OK, But It’s OK

At almost 38, I’ve had this conversation a thousand times:

SOMEONE: Hi! How are you?

ME: I’m good. How are you?

SOMEONE: Good, thanks!

And so on.

Lately though, I’ve changed the script because what I’ve realized is that I’m fucking tired of lying as part of a social nicety. We normally aren’t asking “how are you?” with the goal of actually learning the answer. We’re asking it because we feel like we should, because that is what people do when they encounter another human and are expected (forced) to engage in small talk so that you won’t be mistaken for a curmudgeonly asshole with a field completely devoid of fucks.

Well, people — my field isn’t just fuckless. The earth has been scorched, salted, and more closely resembles a lava flow than a meadow filled with fucks for others.

I’m worn out. Worn out in a way I haven’t been in years. Not since all of the medical nightmares with Dad’s cancer and complications have I been this worn out. I’m perpetually tired to the point where I am tired of being tired. And then I’m tired of being tired of being tired.

I can barely stand myself right now.

Last weekend, I was in a deep low. I couldn’t get out of my own way. In an attempt to make myself wake up and feel better, I decided to take a shower — use the water and the warmth to feel something. I grabbed my towel, stripped down, turned the water on, and then…no hot water. Lukewarm at best. I walked into my bedroom, curled up into a ball on the bed under the covers, and then proceeded to cry. I wept big squishy tears. The lack of hot water was the last straw on my simmering bonfire of sadness and I had no logic left to find a solution or an alternative. Scott came upstairs and simply curled around me while I released irrational, bewildered tears. (Husband points were gained that day).

So, my answer to “how are you?” is not “I’m good” or some other version of the bland positive nothingness we normally give. My answer to “how are you?” is that I’m shitty. I’m depressed and I’m NOT OK. And guess what? There is nothing you can do about that. And that is OK. The only way out is through.

When I’m not weeping big squishy tears over lukewarm water, I know that this happens to me often during autumn. The leaves changing color are a double-edged sword laced with foreboding joy: they are a beautiful harbinger of what is to come – winter. When the leaves change, I feel awe at the stunning magic of nature, but I also feel a creeping gloom because that means that stick season and its evil  of seemingly endless neutral color is nearly upon us. And what follows after that? The cold white horror of snow and diminishing daylight.

Things are also simply HARD right now. I love teaching, but school is currently extremely difficult. Students are more challenging with each passing day. I’m actively writing a brand new class and that entails an intense amount of preparation (aka time and research). I’m the highest my weight has ever been and I’m pissed about it, but I can’t seem to find the time, willpower, energy, etc. to change it. Scott’s job requires him to be gone for much of the week, and even after 20 years we like each other enough where we want to spend as much time together as possible, and that’s not happening right now.

I say all of this because I know I am not alone. I know that when I too commit the sin of social niceties, the responses I’m receiving aren’t the truth either. We try not to burden others with our woes as we know they probably have their own woes to deal with, but in many cases sharing our woes is exactly what we should be doing. This is how we help each other, by listening.

At some point in the last month or whatever (time has no meaning to me anymore), it was mental health awareness day/week/month/fortnight/kerfuffle and many people shared their stories of struggling with mental illness. We need to keep doing this on days other than whenever instagram or facebook tells us to. It’s OK to not be OK. Talking about it can keep the shadows at bay. It can keep the loneliness from creeping in. It can help you find the other end of the depression wormhole. And no, social niceties aren’t truly evil or wrong, but pretending you’re OK to the people who love and care about you is not always the best move. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a strength. Be the strongest, baddest bitch and reach out. That’s what I’m doing.

I am 100% that bitch, and I think Lizzo would be proud.

Ferdinand Doesn’t Care.

I lost my job last week.

Ferdinand doesn’t care. He’s still snoring away on my desk while I type this.img_20200405_1034131873426113875091919.jpg

I haven’t been able to get an interview yet for a teaching job and I’m panicked. Ferdinand doesn’t care. He’s clearly dreaming now – all twitchy and cute.


I have to create an entirely new schedule for myself, having always operated around my work priorities and fitting it all in. Ferdinand doesn’t care. He’s just going to stretch and get as looooooooooooooooooooooooooooong as possible across my keyboard before continuing his comfy slumber.


Doesn’t it put it all in perspective? My cat could give two shits about how I have always had a job and I now feel adrift and anxious while I hunt for a job in my newly-chosen career. All Ferdinand cares about is that I keep him company while he naps on my pile of to do lists, student work, copies of Hamlet, and unopened mail.


He reminds me that I am not my job. I am his person, and goddammit that’s much more important. My most important roles are: The Opener of the Cans; The One Who Comforts Me When I’m Scared; The One Who Snuggles Me; The Person Whose Pillow I Sleep On; among others. My worth is determined in my softness and warmth. Do I pet him enough? The answer is probably that I could never pet him enough, but so far he’s given me five-star reviews.


As a recovering perfectionist, being laid off was pretty catastrophic, even if I had been planning to leave that job in a few months. It hit my self-worth and I was scared about the future. I sobbed when I got off the phone with my former boss and HR. How much more change can a woman take? How much more pressure can I endure? You know who doesn’t care? Ferdinand. He just wants company while he’s peacefully dreaming.


I’ll figure things out. It’s not the end of the world (yet). I have amazing support from my family and friends. I think I’m slowly heading toward the silver lining that is the first *real* break in my adult life. The Summer of Katie (to borrow from a friend). Everyone who has ever been in a similar situation has told me that their period of unemployment was one of the best things that ever happened to them – that it allowed them to reconsider their priorities and spend some time on important internal work.


And well, there’s always Ferdinand.

There’s Never a Good Time


As of this weekend, The Hubs and I went back up to a four-cat household. Yes, we are crazy cat people – we own this moniker with pride. We have not been at four cats since my beloved Oscar passed in October 2017, but the opportunity to take in an adorable nine-week-old kitten arose, and we couldn’t resist. He’s adorable, as a tiny demon equipped with soft kitten fur, tiny samurai swords for claws, and an internal nuclear energy generator must be in order to survive. Scott named him Ferdinand Porsche when he was only three weeks old (all of our cats have car-related names), and that’s when I knew we were keeping him. My one rule was that he had to test negative for feline leukemia and once he passed that hurdle he was in my arms the next night.


Is it a good time to take in a tiny ball of energy that is equivalent to a furry neutron collision? Nope. Would it truly ever be a good time? The answer is also nope. Most of the best things in life come to you when the timing sucks. The Hubs and I will be traveling for almost the entirety of August (at least it feels that way). We are gone for the first four weekends of August, including a week in the middle of the month to fly to Vancouver, Canada. This may be the craziest month of the year for us, so should we adopt a tiny kitten who is currently at war with our other three cats? Probably not. But honestly, fuck the idea of “should.”

Should is what keeps us from following our dreams. Should is the monster that chips away at our mental health and makes us feel guilty for taking some time for self-care. Should is the chainmail we (especially women) wear every day when we don’t sit down and take a break when we get home from our full-time jobs, but instead we make dinner, do laundry, and bathe the kids. How often do we find ourselves with a spare ten minutes, but instead of sitting down and reading a chapter in a book we get up and vacuum the carpet? Should robs us of our joy.img_20190727_2017317504245644831324397.jpg

I’m working to burn “should” from my mental dialogue. Instead, I’m trying to ask myself, “What do you want to do? What actually needs to get done and how does that fit in with what you want to do?” If we don’t take time to ask ourselves these questions, we go through life doing what we think we should be doing, rather than following our own path. It’s just like the societal push that everyone in happy, stable marriages should have children (there’s that damn word again…). No. You shouldn’t do anything of the sort. You have to WANT to have children. Otherwise, you’re letting someone else make decisions for you. The next time you hear yourself saying, “Ugh, well I guess I should do that,” stop yourself right there. Should you do it? Or do you WANT to do it? We ultimately only know for sure that we have this one crazy, beautiful, heart-breaking, amazing, life. Why spend it waiting for a time when you don’t have anymore “shoulds” to get through first?


So, SHOULD we take in a kitten right now? Nope. Big ol’ bag of nope. Are we? Absolutely. If I had let should completely rule my life then I would be missing out on the experience of taking care of this amazing little life that brings me equal amounts of joy and exasperation (everything, and I mean everything, is now on the floor and/or under the couch). We all need to take more control over our own lives and focus on the needs and wants, not the shoulds. We’re not always going to win the battle. This mentality is built into us from when we are very young, again, especially for women. The guilt of not doing what we know we “should” do is real and it is very demoralizing. The standards are set up so that we fail because there is simply too much to do to do it all and to do it all well. But if we don’t start focusing on our own needs, when are we going to get to them? I don’t want to be at the end of my life and be pissed that I chose vacuuming over reading a book that changed my life. When vacuuming gets to a need, I’ll handle it, but until then, you’ll find me on the couch reading – probably with a kitten on my lap, playing with my hair and being so damn cute while doing it I’ll forgive him for ripping the corner of the page of the book he’s standing on.


My Reading Partner

It’s late. I should have gone to bed hours ago, but the new Nora Roberts book released today and I couldn’t help myself, I had to at least start it. As an avid Nora fan, I knew what I was getting into when I opened the book on my Kindle tonight. There was no way I could only read one measly chapter…my goal was to avoid reading it in one sitting, and I’ve accomplished that for the moment.


The newest Nora Roberts – released July 9, 2019

Nora Roberts’ books will always have a special place in my heart. They were the books Nan and I looked forward to reading and sharing the most. One of my most cherished possessions is the copy of the Irish Born trilogy that was Nan’s. It’s a paperback copy, bereft of its cover and adorned with various tea stains. She had probably read that tome twenty times at least. I’ve read it several times myself and it always makes me feel close to Nan. That’s how I always feel when I read Nora. Tonight, lying in bed, soft light from the lamp on my bedside table giving just enough illumination to keep my eyes from straining, but not enough to keep Scott awake, I smiled as I read the newest book, thinking of how Nan would have done similar in that very room. When I read a Nora book at home, in Nan’s house, I can feel Nan reading right along beside me, smiling and just as captivated with the story as I am.


My treasured copy.

Nan will always be my reading partner. When she first passed and I would read a book I knew she would have loved, I used to feel a great sadness that I couldn’t share it with her. But now, I know better. I know she’s with me reading every word. I’m sure shes still picking out the murderer well before the reveal, still approving of a hot leading man, and still rooting for the plucky heroine. When she and I finish this one, I imagine we will both be eager for the next; it’s already pre-ordered for automatic delivery.


The woman herself, holding my nephew ten years ago. I miss her every day, but I know she’s reading along with me.

Hello, Again.

img_20190527_131951_492527947541356276226.jpgHello, Again. I’m saying hello to you, dear reader, as well as to myself. The self that isn’t just surviving and moving from fire to fire anymore. The self that has the space to do things that fall into the ‘want’ category instead of just the ‘must/should’ category. The self that is reemerging stronger and more vivid than before the dark times of this past year.

School has blessedly ended for me for the next seven months. Dad’s health has begun to not only stabilize, but improve. The cancer is shrinking thanks to the amazing medical miracle that is immunotherapy. Work has calmed down a smidge since we’ve hired a new person. I can actually breathe deeply again for the first time in truthfully a year. I saw in my Facebook memories that just this day last year I received my 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training certificate, so it feels fitting to be coming back to my mat and myself now.

Life has been so intense and crazy for the last year and I haven’t had a chance to pause. Adding therapy and yoga on a consistent basis wasn’t doable. I didn’t have the space for it. Trying to make the room and the time to fit those in was going to add too much stress to an already stress-filled plate. As I said in a previous post, you have to make the space for self-care, but the type of self-care can change over time. The self-care can’t add any weight to your already gravity-filled inner and outer world. Self-care during these rough times needs to be nourishing and easeful. It needs to support your mental health without adding complexity. I love yoga and it is so important to my life, but I simply couldn’t make the space for it. Part of it was the fact that yoga opens us up to being vulnerable, and I didn’t even have the space for that vulnerability. Being vulnerable was too risky for me. Opening the door to vulnerability could have released the floodgates of emotion that I couldn’t handle at the time. Part of it was simply time management, and part of it was sheer exhaustion. Even setting up my mat and picking out a class to follow or coming up with my own felt like too much. Things were simply too dark, too exhausting, too damn much, for a really long time.

Then this weekend I finally returned to my mat. It felt so good. I was excited about being there again. I wanted to try new poses, focus on my teaching, feel the movement in my body and through my breath. Without strain, I moved through a practice for over 40 minutes, just going with my own inner flow, doing what felt good, stretching into the muscles that needed some attention. There was joy in rediscovering this part of myself when I had the space to let it expand within me. It wasn’t just going through the motions. It was pure happiness. I felt alive in a way I haven’t in some time. I had gone to Bikram earlier in the week and had enjoyed the sweat and the camaraderie of a studio class, but it didn’t generate the great emotional connection I felt when doing my Vinyasa practice. It’s hard to describe the feeling except to say that it felt like coming home after being gone for a long time to find a home full of light and wildflowers.


The Princess demanding her lovins.

Of course, being the catmom that I am, I had some company on my mat. Bentley visited during child’s pose and demanded her lovins. When you have the space, you can pause your practice to give hugs to your adorable cat and see that as part of the practice. Even The Hubs commented on how clearly my passion and excitement for yoga had returned, how he enjoyed my commentary on the poses and how they would work in my teaching, etc. It was nice to feel awake again and to enjoy simply being alive again. Traveling through dark times can force us into survival mode – and that’s ok! – but we can’t stay there forever or it starts to take pieces of us.

I have struggled with the way my body looks and feels since putting on a bunch of weight from stress and poor eating choices over the last year or so. It has weighed on my mind and made it hard to get out of my own way mentally. Being back on the mat connected me back to my body and helped me come back to the understanding that this physical body may not look and feel my best, but it is pretty fucking awesome all the same. It allows me to do so many cool things and to work through this amazing physical practice. Really, regardless of what that fucking number says on the scale, I need to be more consciously grateful of this body of mine. I celebrated a bit of this by dyeing my hair purple- and I love it! It’s a pretty great sign of the person I feel that I have been becoming over time. I’m starting to feel like a motherfucking butterfly, and I’m ready for it! This vivid version of the person I am is both new and old and refreshed, all at the same time. It’s Me 2.0. A model that has come out the other side of testing and QA/QC and is shining brightly with new confidence and a better mindset than before. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be glitches, that sometimes I’ll still need reboot or a virus removed, but that’s ok. We’re all human and no one is perfect- hard lessons I’ve learned over the last year and then some.

Hello, again. It’s time.


Scapegoats and Bullies – Managing a Classroom

Along with being a yoga teacher, I’m currently in grad school to become a certified ELA teacher for grades 5-12. Right now I’m in one of my final classes before I start my student teaching in January and it requires some in-school observation and teaching. Instead of doing the undergraduate experience like I did last semester (which required me to be at an elementary school several days a week and was simply undoable right now while we’re down a man at work), I’ve been set up independently with a mentor teacher at a different school where I have completed two days of observation and will be teaching three days in a row starting Monday, April 1st. It’s exciting and scary and awesome and anxiety-inducing all rolled into one.


High schoolers are a completely different animal compared to middle schoolers. They have this amazing ability to talk to you like a fully-formed human one moment and then devolve into a whiny, petulant five-year old the next. It’s challenging, and sometimes that challenge is good and sometimes that challenge finds you sipping a glass of wine at home after a really long day. The day that I will describe to you here is one where I imagine Ms. Abba* may have gone home and had a glass of wine and binge-watched some episodes of The Office to wind down.

*All names have been changed to protect the identities of the teacher and students.

The 10:10am class started as it usually does, with five minutes of students milling around, chatting with fellow classmates, and handing it work to Ms. Abba. After the students settled down, Ms. Abba explained the activity for the period: they would be reading aloud from their class text, taking turns reading and using the little sticky note flags that Ms. Abba handed out to mark interesting, surprising passages or bits that generated questions. Ms. Abba started off by reading the first few paragraphs and then called out a student’s name to ‘pass the torch’ of reading.

As the students read aloud, I noticed that three of the boys that sat together covered one of their sweatshirts in the little note flags that Ms. Abba had passed out at the beginning of class. Instead of using these as intended, Queen and AC/DC covered Zeppelin in the note flags, all over the back of his sweatshirt. When Ms. Abba noticed this, she stopped the reading aloud and admonished Zeppelin, telling him to take those off and use them as he had been instructed. Zeppelin’s response was to blame Aerosmith, a student across the room who was sitting by himself and had never even been near Zeppelin for the entire class period up to this point. Zeppelin’s flippant response had a thread of bullying in it, this felt like a normal instance, where Aerosmith was their scapegoat for all unruly activities. This was confirmed when later in the class, Zeppelin was reprimanded again and he threw the blame verbally back to Aerosmith. Ms. Abba told Zeppelin that Aerosmith was across the room and had clearly not interfered with Zeppelin at all.

There were a lot of things going on in this revealing little incident. The first thing that this incident highlighted was the overall lack of engagement with the materials these three students had. Instead of paying attention to the reading happening aloud in the classroom, these three were goofing off and playing with the supplies, distracting each other. The second thing this highlighted was the group dynamic, both the three students sitting together and creating the mischief, but also the singled out student all the way across the room, being used as a verbal scapegoat for their antics. Aerosmith, the student sitting by himself, looked like a loner in general, having all the hallmarks: dark clothing, headphones around the neck at all time, sitting by himself, only participating when asked by the teacher, but not against reading aloud when asked. I wonder what happened between this group of students where this negative dynamic was created. Is there a peer relationship outside of the classroom that created this animosity? Is Aerosmith the injured antelope for the popular/alpha Zeppelin to prey upon? The room held tension during this interaction and there felt like history between the students. The third thing I noticed is how Ms. Abba did her best to mitigate the interaction to keep Aerosmith from feeling singled out, but there is only so much one teacher can do. She diffused the situation as best she could and moved the class along.

This incident forced me to think deeply about the importance of classroom management, but in the same breath think about how there is only so much a teacher can do when these students all have relationships in and outside of the classroom. How should teachers best manage these potentially tense relationships? And when do you decide to investigate if this is actually perpetual bullying and not just classroom antics? Is it ever OK to assume it’s just classroom antics? Where should we draw the line in the sand? This too highlights the importance of knowing your students. I imagine that Ms. Abba knows her students well enough to know that she didn’t need to interfere or investigate bullying between these two students. It was eye-opening to realize how large a role the social dynamic between students plays inside the classroom. This interaction made me come to terms with the fact that a lesson plan is really only as good at the classroom behavior management will allow.

What do you think? When and how do we draw the line between goofing off and harmful bullying? How do we best defuse these tense situations in our classrooms? What should you do when you have a student who is mean?

Accepting it all

I had to write an assignment for school recently that ended up being about my journey to yoga. The assignment was to write about some aspect of your identity and before I knew it, I had words on the page. Enjoy.


Me and my kindred, short-armed spirit animal.

I am not a traditional yogi. I’m not lithe and graceful. I’m not a beautiful blond in a handstand, flat stomach and perfect hair, glowing with peace and happiness for my one million Instagram followers. I don’t go running on the weekends and only wear Lululemon. I’m short and stumpy and cannot get my foot behind my head. I came to yoga in my late 20s and early 30s when anxiety was taking over my life and my therapist recommended a local class to help manage it. I came to yoga because I needed it to breathe. I eventually decided to teach yoga because I realized that there needed to be more plump, inflexible yogis out there to show people that the whole point of yoga is NOT to look like some uber-flexible 22 year old, but the point is to gain mobility, a sense of self, a break from the everyday rush of things, and maybe some spiritual grounding in a practice that reminds you that life is exactly that – a practice.

I always thought of myself as a confident person, but debilitating anxiety and terrible, unsupportive (borderline malicious) bosses throughout my 20s chipped away at my self-esteem. By the time my grandmother died, a moment unlike any I had ever experienced before, I was a complete mess. I was drowning in failure and to numb out the frenetic stress and anxiety I was drinking wine every night like it was water. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t focus. I was at one of the lowest points of my life. Then one day, after I revealed my inner monologue of anxiety and sense of failure to my family, I finally dragged myself to therapy. I loved my fruit-loop of a therapist. She had these two adorable dogs she brought to her office every day, a wolfhound and a whippet. They somehow understood their job and were forces of kindness at every session, snuggling with me while I struggled to understand how anyone could breathe without feeling anxious about it. Dogs somehow make everything simpler. My therapist was this wild yet calming, untamed creature who somehow understood me and my need to relearn how to breathe and function. She taught me about Buddhism and meditation and was the person who suggested I go to yoga. It would change my life.

Yoga is not a religion. It has its roots in many spiritual disciplines, a dash of Hinduism here, some Buddhism there, but it is not in itself a religion. Sure, there can be chanting and the poses all have names in Sanskrit (an ancient language of India), but this doesn’t make it a religion. When I first came to yoga I just thought I wanted to work out the anxiety, to figure out a way to breathe so I didn’t feel like my head would explode at any moment from the sheer stress of living. I would go to class and move through the motions at first, feeling so uncoordinated and out of breath. How the hell does this woman bend her body in that way? Are you kidding me with that arm balance stuff? Again and again the teacher would say, “your pose might not look like my pose,” and in my head I was thinking back, “well, screw you then.” My first class I wanted miracles. I wanted to be fixed, to not be broken any longer. But things don’t happen like that. When you’ve spent years building walls, they don’t come down in just one day. I came to yoga a failing perfectionist and it was a solid year before my ego slowly chipped away, as yoga will do, and the meaning of the teacher’s words finally sunk in.

I bought an unlimited class pass and was going to yoga a minimum of two times a week, but more often then not was there three of four times a week as the magic of the practice started to work its way through my body and my mind. I was slowly starting to sleep better and my body was regaining strength I had lost to disuse and stress. You hear the phrase sometimes, “I was beginning to feel more like myself,” but that wasn’t really the case for me. I wasn’t beginning to feel more like myself. I was beginning to feel like a new version of myself. One with more confidence and an understanding of how my failures were not really failures at all. They were human moments because humans aren’t perfect. Humans are this beautiful, messy, wonderful, infuriating ball of existence and it is ok to falter. I understood that my pose was not going to look like my teacher’s. That my body was my body, with all of its amazing qualities and limitations. No, my t-rex arms will never be long enough to grab each hand behind my back in cow-face pose, but that’s ok. That’s what yoga props are for- to help you where you need help, as long as you’re willing to accept it.

As the words and movement of the practice started to truly take hold of my mindset, I realized that I wanted to share this with the world. The magic that was happening inside me needed to be shared and brought to others. I needed to give to others what this practice had given me. I signed up for a 200-hour teacher training program that would meet for nine weekends over the course of nine months at a beautiful studio in North Haverhill, NH. The studio was on a working farm and one wall was all windows, looking out over the fields where the Highland cows were grazing or the geese were walking around. I knew after the first class I went to there to meet the teacher that it was exactly where I needed to be.

Teacher training is not just about learning the poses to instruct others safely. Teacher training is as much a road to self-discovery as it is a program to help people teach yoga. Your success in a program is dependent on two main variables: your willingness to go deep within yourself and discover who you are and what truly matters to you, and having a teacher who is the right fit to help you journey down that path. Without the right teacher, you may pass the course but you will not be truly prepared to teach the practice. Teaching yoga is about giving, every class taught requires you to give a part of yourself away to your students, so you need to understand who you are so you know what you have to give.

When I met Carolyn, I knew she was the teacher I needed in my life. Carolyn is my polar opposite: tall, slim, beautiful in an interesting way, flexible to the point of inspiring envy. Yet despite these oppositions, we clicked. She is uncompromising, but not in a way that discourages. She holds the line when it is vital, but also provides space when you need it. Her confidence is contagious as is her kindness. I knew from the first meeting that I would learn from her. In yoga there is a sense that the universe has your back and will move things in front of you, both obstacles and advantages, when the time is right. The universe had my back in this case.


As seems to be the theme in my life, shit tends to hit the fan all at once and from all sides. Part of this is related to my Go Big or Go Home nature –  I never do things halfway and most often go overboard, expecting too much of myself and then struggling to get through (a common aspect of perfectionism). When I signed up for teacher training, I was in the midst of grad school. I figured I was only doing online classes at the time, so I should be able to balance grad school, working full-time, and teacher training. The problem with this sort of thinking is that it leaves no room for anything else to get complicated. My very first weekend of training, my beloved cat died on Saturday night. His death wasn’t a surprise, he had been in decline, but it was devastating and the grief was instant and debilitating. The month of my first week of training, work became intolerable. My office mate went on maternity leave and I ended up having to do all of her work, my own, and most of my boss’s work. I was buried. Add in travel and house guests, and well, it was not an auspicious start, but through it all I knew that I would not regret teacher training and needed to stick with it.

Things didn’t get easier in my life throughout the training, but each weekend at the studio improved my life in a multitude of ways. I started to become more confident as a teacher and a person, my voice unwavering in the front of the room, my pulse steady as I moved students from pose to pose and not concerned about always filling the silence. I began to understand myself and what was important to me, truly beginning to understand my purpose – I was meant to be a teacher, it is where I felt at home when I could let go of the anxiety and desire to be perfect. I became more aware of how important it is to be accepting of ourselves and where we are at any given point in our lives, that we are exactly where we need to be, no matter what is going on around us – my heels will never reach the floor in downward facing dog, it’s ok, that doesn’t make me a bad teacher or a failure, that’s just where I am in the here and now and I can give my students the freedom to accept where they are too. I became a better teacher and student, and understanding how those are ultimately one and the same.

The biggest breakthrough came the last weekend of the training. As part of the ‘final exam’ you teach an entire yoga class to the rest of the trainees and the teacher observes. I had been having a really terrible time at work, feeling like I was failing in every way, and this caused my anxiety to spike to levels only seen before yoga entered my life. I had an event the night before as well, over-extending myself and burning the candle at both ends. I was so nervous about the practicum, despite my teacher’s assurance that she wasn’t worried about my passing, that I couldn’t sleep the night before. I walked into the studio to teach my class and I could feel myself coming apart at the seams. Then it happened, my tired brain jumbled my planned class and I KNEW I had failed. I taught the rest of the class with my head screaming at me the entire time, “YOU FAILED.” By the time I closed the class with a final, “Namaste,” I was in tears and bolted from the room.

See, perfectionism is a nasty habit. It’s pernicious. It invades your psyche and makes you think that you can’t be doing well if you’re not perfect. It’s especially harmful when you must operate in a culture of perfectionism, such as where I worked. When I’m feeling good, anxiety in check, sleeping well, breathing fully, I can keep the perfectionism at bay, it is ok to do ‘enough.’ If things are not in order, it creeps in like a plague, taking hold and rendering me sick and helpless. When the tears had stopped and I returned from my walk around the farm, my teacher said nothing to me other than, “We need to talk in a bit, your class was great and I need to know what’s going on in that head of yours.”

This is a perfect example of why you need to have great teachers in your life. She got me. This is also why I needed a practice such as yoga in my life, because just the fact that it is called a practice is a clue to its power. It can remind you that not every day is going to go well. There will be great days where you feel like you get everything right, and there will be days where nothing goes as planned. Life is a practice where every day is a chance to do over, try something new, expand who you are and be a better version of yourself. There will be days when things will be completely out of your control and you just have to accept the circumstances and do the best with what you can control. Carolyn understood and she understood the words I needed to hear. I had taught a lovely class that hit all the right points. I had passed with flying colors. I was elated, but she didn’t let me off the hook at that, we talked through what happened and I left that day with a better understanding of myself and what I still needed to work on. I needed to work on changing my default mode of perfectionism, because it would only hinder me if I let it continue, even on the days when my threshold has been reached and I’m just trying to survive, if anything, those are the days where I needed it most. I needed to believe in myself no matter what, and to remember that the students looking at me for guidance do not know what my class plan was and if I can just keep going rather than faltering at the first sign of mistake, they will still have a great class and I can walk away with my head held high.


I left teacher training a better version of myself, and I continue to bring that version to my yoga classes. This better version works hard to not hold herself up to the standards of others, or even her own impossible standards. I make a point every class to share my own limitations with my students, “If you can believe it, the ‘perfect version’ of this pose says that your head will touch your knee. For me, that’s never going to happen because my body is just not constructed that way, and it’s ok if that’s the same for you. Any amount of the pose is the pose.” Any amount of the pose is the pose, it’s something that Carolyn said over and over again during class. It stuck in my head and it became part of my own vocabulary because it is so true, both in yoga as in life. I want my students to understand that it is not about being able to force your body into the ‘perfect pose’ because if you have to force your body that means it is not the perfect pose for YOU. Your perfect pose is making sure to have the pose meet you where you are in that moment and accepting that as where you should be that day. You don’t need to be slim and young to do yoga or anything you really want to do in your life. Accepting who you are at any given moment is far more important than hitting some standard set by others. Yoga taught me, and continues to teach me, about acceptance. It is an ongoing practice that has improved every day of my life.

Easier said than done, but you find a way.

12291816417774352923811136602.jpgMy last post talked about how hard the previous year had been. I realize now, months later, that that was taken as a challenge by the universe. A “hold my beer” moment. I get it, Universe, bitch and moan and boy will you show me how wrong I was.

The last six months have been nothing short of horrendous with brief, beautiful moments of joy and peace (Looking at you, K & B!). Otherwise, it’s been nothing short of a shitshow. It made the previous six months look freaking golden in comparison. How do you cope when you’re getting it from all sides? When there’s no safe space? Where there’s not a single part of your life that doesn’t include deep, complicated suffering?

You keep going. You just fucking keep going. Every goddamn day. 

My dad has been battling several, intense health issues. Cancer. Pulmonary Embolism (PE). Kidney Stone. Inability to eat food. Sepsis. The universe really has had it out for him this year. Our family is super close, regular BFFs, so this has been an emotional struggle of a magnitude I was truly unprepared for. We head into battle as a family and I do not regret the effort and emotional toll for a second (because LOVE), but it’s so disorienting it’s hard to describe unless you’ve been through it. This is round two for all of us, the first round we battled was with Nan (my paternal grandmother), and I thought that everything we went through with her would prepare me for this. I was wrong. It’s different. It’s not any less hard or emotional, it’s just different.

Along with Dad’s health battles, I am entrenched in the most intense part of my graduate program. I spent the entire fall term (while Dad was in radiation and dealing with the horrible side effects, see also: PE, kidney stone) driving back and forth to Plymouth Elementary School (PES) to teach 7th graders as part of my graduate degree and teacher certification. The day Dad went into the hospital via ambulance for the PE, I went to PES, taught, and then drove straight to the emergency room at DHMC. I was at school four days a week for most of the semester. It was hellacious. I wrote a 40-page final project. I am still not sure how I managed to get that done. I’ll be doing the same sort of class, plus an extra online class this term (yay?).

Add on top of this my full-time job working for a demanding consulting firm, and well, you can start to imagine how it’s just been about survival. This fall my coworker was also out on maternity leave (having the most adorable child), so we were down a woman and no one at work figured out how to staff things properly in her absence. My job is not a 40-hour a week job. Some weeks it could be done in 30 hours, others it’s 60 hours. Nothing is predictable other than that things won’t go as planned and the deadlines will be completely unreasonable.

Here’s the thing. I have felt like I can’t take a break. That’s what all the damn articles say you need to do. “Don’t forget self-care.” Yep. Totally aware that I need to fit that in, but when exactly do I have time for that?1229181641a2924485318701250632.jpg But here’s the real kicker, this is exactly the time when you need to take a break. 

My friends and family have been amazing, constantly showing support, and for that I am immensely grateful. They’ve been nagging at me to take care of myself, which is good, because I need that. Even when I’m snapping at them, being Queen Bitch of the Martyrs drunk on self-pity, my support system comes and hits me over the head with the self-care bottle and drags my body out of the Wallow Bar. It’s what we perfectionists, we survivors, we warriors need. We need someone to be That Guy and force us to sit our ass down with a cup of tea and a good book and a warm blanket and an adorable damn cat, even if only for an hour.

We can’t keep fighting if we don’t find the time to recharge, but holy shit it’s hard. I am constantly worried about how I should be doing this for work, reading that chapter for school, etc. My brain thinks taking a break is quitting. And sure, finding the time to take an hour to yourself is easier said than done, but you find a way. YOU NEED TO FIND A WAY. You’re worth nothing to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself. So take it from someone who sucks at taking a break and who actually decided to make their 2019 New Year Resolution: Take fucking care of yourself, even 10 minutes of quiet, non-rushing time can save your ass in the long run.

Take care of yourself, peeps. I’ll be trying like hell to do the same. ❤

Sometimes you have to break down to break through.


It has been a very hard last year or so. Probably longer, if I’m being honest. Grief, stress, constant change, constant obligation, exhaustion. It all adds up until one day, you hit the bottom really hard and the only choices you have are to stay at the bottom and wallow or use the event to inspire good change.

Last weekend, I hit rock bottom. I hit it so hard I bounced. Let me set the stage:

It was my last weekend of yoga teacher training. One of my closest friends was getting married on the Saturday, so I would miss half of my classmates’ practicum classes. I was teaching my class second on Sunday, right after lunch. We got home from the wedding on Saturday not too late, but it didn’t matter because I couldn’t sleep a wink. The anxiety I had had in control for the last month thanks to acupuncture, yoga, and meditation, was back full force and there was no way I would find sleep. I still rolled out of bed and drove to teacher training Sunday morning, doing two hours of asana  practice before finally getting to my class. I felt prepared, I had practiced the shit out of my class, even teaching it to two co-workers all the way through. I knew this class in-and-out. It all started out fine, but I could feel the pressure of expectations, my own and my teacher’s. I made a mistake, not that the class knew, but I KNEW. Then it started to unravel like a ball of yarn in a hurricane. I unraveled. I managed to teach the entire class without any of the students (and even my teacher) from catching on to my disintegration, but I broke down hard at the end. Bursting into tears, I quickly picked up my mat and books and ran from the studio.

When the time came for the last practicum class, I pulled myself together and took the class, managing to stop crying for the entire hour. Then Judgment Time had arrived- final assessments. At this point, I was so certain I had failed and I was already trying to figure out what to say to my family and friends about my failure. I walked in and sat down with my teacher and the first thing she said was, “You taught an AWESOME class, so what the hell is going on in your head right now?!” She and I speak the same language, I appreciate her directness and it allows me to respond in-kind. “When you’ve internalized that a single mistake equals absolute failure for five years, it can be hard to get out of your own way, especially when you’re exhausted.”

When my teacher hit me with that direct question, it charged my brain and the reason hit me like a brick. I have always had high expectations for myself. These were never imposed by my parents or teachers because they could always see that I didn’t need outside pressure to perform well, I had enough intrinsic motivation to do well. This only becomes a problem when you start working for a company (or start a relationship with a person) that recognizes your intrinsic motivation and exploits it to demand perfection at all costs. In my case, it’s my job where my perfectionism is exploited. At work, anything less than perfect is failure. There is no positive feedback, no recognition of effort or that you’re even a human being who will make mistakes. It’s merely, you made a mistake- you failed. Five years of that can be incredibly damaging to the psyche.

Dr. Brené Brown talks about perfectionism and its relationship to shame in many of her books, and I highly recommend you read them (links below) because they are making a huge difference in my understanding of myself. I broke down at teacher training because I felt deep shame for making that mistake. I wasn’t good enough. I failed. All of that hard work, for naught. Five years of that attitude forced on me at work, and I had internalized it as if it were truth. We live in a culture of perfectionism and shame. I think about all of the young moms I know who are in constant fear of being perceived as a bad parent. The level of judgment and expectation has gotten out of control and it’s part of what is contributing to rampant stress and mental illness (IMHO). Talking about what’s going on in our head is still somewhat stigmatized. Breaking down is seen as weakness in a world that has no room for weak moments.

Breaking down at yoga teacher training is probably one of the best things you can do. Why? Because where are you going to find a more spiritually enlightened, safe, open place to breakdown? Where are you going to find more kind, compassionate, understanding people? Yogis are an exceptional group of people on a good day, but they really shine on a bad day when you’ve ripped yourself apart from the inside out. To my fellow classmates: I have so much gratitude for your kindness that day and every day.


The good news: this absolute breakdown helped me have a breakthrough. Five years of repressed emotion burst through the walls I had built to keep them at bay so I could function. I didn’t just cry on the way home from yoga teacher training that night, I sobbed myself dry. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed, tears I should have shed so many times and just couldn’t because that too would be a sign of failure. I sobbed away the weight of perfectionism that had me stressed and anxious every day of my life after starting at my company. I came out the other side of those tears a different person. A person who was going to do her best not to let other people define me. A person unwilling to except the unrealistic expectations of others. A person who could make mistakes without feeling like a failure. It was the beginning of something.

It’s been a week since all of this. The Hubs told me last night that he can’t believe how different I am. He told me I’m so much more relaxed and lighter, that he can tell I’m not sitting next to him on the couch and thinking about all of the things I should be doing. I’m more present. My new goal is to maintain this to the best of my ability. I do not want to go back to that world of repressed emotions and feelings of constant failure. Life is far too short and beautiful to waste it letting other people define you.

Books I’ve read by Brené Brown:

Rising Strong

I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t)

Waltzing Together


Lord Huron’s new track 🙂

A new song came out from one of my favorite bands, Lord Huron, and as soon as I heard the first few measures, I knew I would be in love with it for one simple reason: it was a waltz. For some reason, I am sonically attracted to waltzes. I can’t resist them. Most of my all-time favorite songs are set to a 3/4 waltz time. Music has always been not just an important part of my life, but a crucial and vital element of my every day. It’s core to who I am. When I can’t focus, music helps me. When I can’t sleep, music helps me. When I’m feeling lonely, music helps me. The deep love of music is something The Hubs and I share. Some nights, we’ll sit on the couch and surf Spotify together, listening to new music or playing Name that Tune or simply enjoying an album we both love.

Along with being sonically attracted to waltzes, I think that music at it’s most base existence, vibration, is what also attracts us to the people in our lives. Think about it- sometimes you just don’t like someone and can’t explain why. I think that the reason for that is dissonance on a vibrational level. I think the same goes for the idea of ‘love at first sight,’ it’s not really sight that does it, it’s our energetic vibrations.

When people meet The Hubs after knowing just me for a while, they’re often completely confused as to how our relationship works. We’re very different people and we don’t make sense on the outside. Where we do make sense is vibrationally. We all emit energy, and I’m not talking about auras or anything like that. Humans, as do other living (and many non-living) things, emit energy, and those waves of energy (vibrations) match up to other human beings in my beliefs. It explains the weird friendships we have, the ability to start a conversation with someone in the supermarket line as if you’ve known them for your whole life, and why some people become your ride-or-die and others will always be warm acquaintances.

It explains why when you’re having a bad day, that hug from your significant other or best friend or parent or your dog is the only thing that can make you feel better. Their positive ‘vibes’ help change the negative frequency of your vibes. Your vibrational energy affects the people around you. I can always feel when The Hubs is not feeling 100%, his energy changes and there’s dissonance. He doesn’t have to say anything or make a face or anything, I can just feel it. Some of us are more sensitive than others, but we all can feel that kind of energy, whether we want to admit to it or not. It plays into our interpersonal intuition.

This energy is equally crucial when teaching or participating in a yoga class. If I teach the class and my energy is low and negative, everyone will feel it and it will take the class down with it. There will be a strong dissonance and none of the students in the room will feel as positive after class as they should. If I teach from a place of positive energy, emitting positive vibrations, the whole class will feel it and will leave class feeling better. These vibrations are the same as emitting confidence or not. What are you putting out into the world?

A waltz is a great analogy for teaching a yoga class or interacting with your friends or presenting something at work: are you in time with each step? Is your energy matching or bringing up the energy in the room? Are you creating dissonance or harmony?

I plan to do some work on my waltzing.