Tomorrow is the first day of the last month of 2020. There are exactly 31 days left of this truly incredible year...and I mean that in every sense of that word.
There has been such a collective heaviness and trauma that we have all experienced over the last 11 months. Personally I can tell you that where I began this year and where I am now feel millions of miles apart from one another. The intentions I had set, the hopes I had, so many things have had to pivot if not altogether change. Not all of it has been bad and some of it has come with a silver lining I could not have foreseen.
That being said, here is what I am re-committing myself to doing in these last 31 days. I am re-committing to the things that nourish and nurture me. I am re-committing to my practices, my daily meditation and neurotools and weekly movement. I am re-committing to my business. I am re-committing to my students and clients. I am re-committing to my family. I am re-committing to my community. I am re-committing to my work. I am re-committing to connection.
One of the things you will also notice me re-committing to is this blog. I am re-committing to my writing. One of my biggest dreams in this life is to write a book. I have danced on the edge of getting it going over and over again, but I know it’s time to commit. To even write that “out loud” is so scary. And while this blog is not the book that is wanting to pour out of me, it is a space for me to exercise my writing and recommit myself to it daily. I hope to be writing for you. I hope to be sharing content that will make your day brighter when you need it, or feel solidarity when things get real. You can participate as much or as little as you wish. There will be a daily email in your inbox, my hope is that you read them all, but my expectations are grounded in the likelihood that you will not.
I don’t expect that these next 31 days will bring about enormous change. I don’t expect that it will be perfect. But I am not re-committing for either of these purposes. I want to close out this incredible, crazy, absurd, unprecedented year standing strong in my own intention and commitment. I want to spend the final days of a year that has been filled with heaviness and immense uncertainty, where my life has completely changed from riding the subway to driving past corn fields, with my dignity intact. I say dignity because the very definition is a state or quality of worth of honor and respect. I want to honor and respect all that this year has brought forth, even the hardest moments. I want to honor and respect it and walk out of it with a wholehearted tenderness for the lessons it has brought. And I want to create, from my own being, a closing experience that will hold and see all of it as sacred.
May some of what I write serve to inspire you to do the same as we close down 2020 in these next 31 days.
What are you re-committing to?
I lovingly dare you to write in below.
Justin and I are both artists. Our mediums are different, he creates with spoken word and at once up on a time on stage. I create through movement, written word, meditation and once upon a time on stage. No matter what Audrey ends up doing in her life, the one thing I hope she is, is an artist. I do not mean that she goes into the arts necessarily. But I hope that she fews her entire life, whatever her work may be as artistic in nature and from an artists point of view.
So today, Klutz asked her to write about Kindness because there is definitely something about the art of writing that helps to imprint the value of not just words, but ideas inside of ourselves.
And because I am sure you are wondering, here is the story that she wrote...
The Story of Kindness.
Once there was a boy who wasn't kind at all.
Then he met a girl named Lilly and she was so kind.
The boy decided that he wanted to live with her, so he became kind too.
And they lived happily every after!
...I mean I majorly love that the boy saw kindness in the one he loved and knew that in order to share his life with her, he too must become kind. What power that girl had by just her being what she is...reminds me of someone else I know...
In truth, I was feeling pretty crappy before I taught this class today. And that's ok because we accept and embrace all feelings. But I gotta tell you, after dancing around to Scissor Sisters "Take Your Mama"...I felt quite differently!
The free month unlimited ends this Saturday. Give yourself (or someone else) the gift of emotional freedom and well-being. It's both a lot of work AND a lot of play!
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Today was Sunday and our last day off as a family before a new week of school and work began. I knew that other than my eMOTION class, I was going to want to keep the day simple and so I decided to make our Klutz activity today simple as well. I think that is something we must remember when embarking on any commitment that we make for a period of time, it doesn't have to be the best and most elaborate every single day. There are days to be grand and days to be simple. Today was day for doing a bit of baking and sharing with people we love. And that is exactly what we did! Oh and we watched Home Alone, Audrey's first viewing ever. Let me tell you, I have always thought that movie was hysterical, but hearing your daughter's insanely adorable belly laugh at antics you have loved since you were a child...well it was the best 10 minutes of my life! The video below doesn't even capture it...perhaps we should plan better for the sequel...
We spent the evening watching a few videos and listening to some stories being read. The reality is that it is super important to Justin and I that Audrey understands American history as it actually was, not as it has been told. We also recognize that any form of compassion, empathy or kindness only expands when we actively work to understand or at the very least recognize cultures outside of our own.
Here are some of the resources that we used:
This is only a beginning, but an important one at that. I believe that teaching kindness, compassion and empathy to our kids can't just be words, but requires both action and inquiry. As Klutz says in the letter "A conscious mind is a kind mind". In other words, the more we ourselves become aware, the more accessible these traits within us become. Aka our Kindness Muscle!
Recently I watched season 4 of The Crown on Netflix. There are a few trigger warnings at the beginning of some of the episodes because they depict Princess Diana actively in her eating disorder. I have also been re-reading Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed lately in which she too talks about her struggles with an eating disorder. All three of us have this in common, at one point in time we used food to fill ourselves up and then promptly purge it all in order to feel empty again. I cannot speak for either of them of course, but I can tell you that for me, it was all about feeling a sense of control over not just my body, but my life. I would usually turn to my habit of binging and purging when I was feeling overwhelmed and highly stressed about something that was happening in my life. Most often, it was something that was completely out of my control and so in order to re-calibrate my emotional status, I would turn to the sensations that came from gorging myself with delicious food and filing myself until I could burst. Then knowing of the consequences that this action could have on my physical body, I punished my indulgence. In truth, it was both awful and delightful. My secret way to deal with what felt impossible to face.
How often I have thought in these last 9 months how much this year would have been filled with that behavior had I not healed from it already. How sick I would be right now in both my physical body and mind from all the moments of uncertainty we have faced, had I not been able to handle them and had other tools, healthier ones, to turn to.
What is unfortunate is that likely today, yesterday and the several days that follow, there will be messages swarming our inboxes, social media and the likes about how we need to “work off” that turkey and mashed potatoes. This serves to do two things: every time we take a bite of something we love to eat, it comes with a side of guilt and shame. And then every time we go to move our body it’s with the determination that stems from that guilt and shame, making the action itself one of deficit and “not enoughness”. This is not sustainable. This is not healthy. This is part of a collective sickness that our culture has with body image and shame centered eating.
I share my own story and the publicly acknowledged ones of two women we have all heard of simply to highlight that we are likely not the only ones who have done this to themselves. Even if it isn’t the exact same actions and form of disease, this mentality is rampant amongst so many of us, specifically women. Before I was properly bulimic, I can remember being in my room at night as a young teenager and doing a million sit-ups and pushups and thinking to myself that I can’t let myself “get fat”. But it wasn’t only about how I would look. At the time my parents' marriage was strained, there were social pressures at school and I didn’t have a very strong sense of where I belonged. And because I didn’t have the language or tools to cope with all of it, I turned to the one thing that I thought could be my asset, because we are shown time and time again that it is for young women, my body. It’s insidious how it works, but ultimately what happened was that I poured my emotional unwell-ness into physical action because it was how I could feel the ebb and flow of my feelings in some tangible way.
The reality is, our bodies can and should be used for emotional connection. When we move into our bodies mindfully, with love and care we do actually give ourselves insight into what is going on with our inner world. It is a vital tool for our own self learning and understanding. But when served with shame and guilt and for the purpose of molding it into a shape other than what it is, we dilute the power that movement has. It is one of the biggest tragedies because we take a readily available wellness tool and turn it into an act of self-punishment. The solution actually becomes a part of the problem.
This post Thanksgiving I want to say two things to you:
The third thing I would share with you is that there is another way. You can still enjoy movement, you can still sweat and feel into your body all while loving what it can do. All while loving yourself. You can feel your feelings and honor them with respect and love and not feel the need to harm yourself because of them. I would love to show you how because that is what eMOTION is all about.
Until next Saturday, when you sign up for The Movement & Stillness Subscription you get an entire month free using code: SUPPORTSMALL. What this means is that twice a week you will have access to live eMOTION classes and twice a week live Meditations. And in the even that you cannot make any of the live sessions, each one is posted for you to come to at any time on a special page of my website, just for subscribers.
Let’s create a revolution together. Let’s change the way we relate to ourselves, our bodies and emotions so that our daughters may not be passed down the burden of thinking they need to be any way other than the way they are. May that line of succession end with us.
Meet Klutz, our Kind Elf. A few years ago in response to the Elf on the Shelf craze (and a bit of a personal rebellion honestly), I started a family tradition with a little elf that we received at a Christmas party while living in Toronto. His name, Klutz, was already given and I just adored his cute little face and slightly menacing smile.
At the time, Elf on the Shelf was all the rage and while I thought parts of the concept was cute, I couldn't stand the idea of using it as a tool to facilitate "nice" behavior for the purposes of getting presents. It is so counter to both my husband and my feelings on what Christmas is about, most especially because neither one of us identify with the religious aspect of it. For us it is about spending these final few weeks of the year reflecting on what matters most to us and putting into action the kindness that we ourselves have received all year long. Even in our toughest years, this one included, we can see how kind life and the people in our lives have been to us. Our biggest struggles and hardships have come with very little suffering for so many reasons; our privilege, our families, our communities and our mindset. Therefore, this is the perfect time of year to try and pay forward some of the good fortune forward, not necessarily monetarily, but in the action of kindness and caring.
So, the very next year after we welcomed Klutz into our family, I decided to adapt the idea of an elf that shows up in a different spot each morning and put more purpose and meaning behind his presence. He still moves all around our home starting the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Even, but each morning he shows up with a little note and action for Audrey to participate in that spreads kindness and love. Yes, it's a bit of work and effort on our part, and I have definitely woken up early some mornings with the panicked thought "I forgot to move Klutz!!!". But I am more than happy to make that sacrifice if it will help to instill in our daughter a tangible and actionble meaning behind this season we call Christmas.
This year, I am going a bit of an extra mile and typing our each little letter, so now I am definitely adding a bit more to my plate. There have been several hand scrolled notes in the past, but I thought this year I would put in a little more time to print out each note on some cute stationary. This serves too as a way for Audrey to not detect mine or Justin's handwriting, as she is now to the age where she could. I know that not everyone believes in upholding these make believe characters around this time, but it is important to us that we continue to foster her wonderful and wild imagination and belief in the magic of the season. For me, it is really laying a foundation for her to believe in her own magic, not matter what time of year it is.
So, what I will try and do each day on here, is post the "Daily Klutz". This way, should any of you parents wish to do your own version of this kind little elf, you may happily "steal" from me!! Though it's truly not stealing and I am more than happy to share and spread this task. I am also positive that I am not the first and only to come up with this idea so the more kindness that gets put out into the world, the better!
This first note, was rather personal. It is no secret that we have all had quite a year and I wanted to acknowledge all that Audrey has been through and how proud we are of her.
This has been the year of the "pivot" for so many of us. Many of my friends and colleagues have faced an entire industry shut down and have had to re-examine how we go about earning money.
For me, this pivot came in the form of creating something completely on my own and learning how to offer it in a whole new medium. eMOTION classes were created for two reasons:
1. I had already been increasingly aware of how so much of the movement and yoga industry focused on how we look and shaping our bodies in a particular way. As someone who struggled with this mentality her entire life, I wanted a class that had zero focus on how it is we look, but incorporated movement to meet how we feel.
2. In the stress of 2020, moving my body in new and different ways to music became my own beacon of light. It helped me so much in navigating my own pivot of moving our family from our home, facing joblessness and uncertainty of the future. All of it in the face of a pandemic. On the days when I was feeling all my feelings, I turned to movement, not as a form of exercise, but as a form of prayer and meditation.
eMOTION classes are built to support our emotional well-being because they address that our bodies are not just an outer shell meant to look good. They are our way into our own hearts, minds and deepest self.
The beauty is, when you sign up for an eMOTION subscription, not only are you supporting a small business, but you are also supporting your own well-being. Or perhaps that of someone else.
From now until Saturday 12/5 you can get your first month of eMOTION Movement and Meditation classes for free. This means two weekly movement classes, two meditation sessions and access to an entire archive of classes to use whenever you wish!
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Support Small this year my friends. It matters possibly even more than you can see or know in this insanely tumultuous year that is 2020.
As a writer, words are often the best tool I have to express myself. For me, everything comes together when I write and the messages I have inside of me, pour out into the words that I type on a page.
But sometimes, even words can't capture what you are wanting to say fully. Sometimes it comes in the form of an example, a being.
The other day, Audrey said she wanted to teach and eMOTION class. I indulged her and set her up, similar to the way I do my own class. She chose her own playlist and I helped her create it on Spotify. Then I hit record and went in the other room to be one of her students (the other, imaginary, a girl named Elizabeth) even though I didn't have the video camera set up on our desktop.
What happened next was enough to make a mama burst with pride. But even more than that, it was enough for an advocate for emotional well-being, who strives to teach this work to adults so that we may pass it down to the generations that follow, remember her why.
This is my why:
That last part was our "snack chat" at the end, something that she learned from her Scamper Theater class, (HIGHLY recommend) along with the affirmations they do at the end of each class, though Audrey used her own words.
Friends, Adults, Women, especially those with little ones...what we do matters. Yes for ourselves, but mostly because of how our actions imprint themselves on our babies. We do talk a lot with Audrey about feelings and emotional well-being. But we also know that those words will fall on deaf ears if not backed up with our own personal action. Especially in these times of major emotional stress, I encourage you to consider your why and hold it in the forefront of your mind, heart and actions moving forward. Emotional well-being is passed down, but it isn't fixed in the past. We have the power to change generations ahead of us each time we take the time for our own healing, wisdom and inquiry. Our daughters and sons are looking at us, not for what we say, but what we do so that they may know how to be in this world.
To quote Glennon Doyle "Love does not mean slowly dying for the sake of our beloveds". And I will add on to that, that in fact, our beloveds need us to become alive within ourselves so they may have a blueprint to follow to do the same within themselves. Most especially, our daughters.
Join me this Saturday for a free eMOTION class hosted by Athelta! You will get a chance to try the class on, get 20% off an item of your choice and $5 off your next eMOTION class!
My absolute favorite quote of all time is “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” If I had to choose something to tattoo to my body, this would be it. It is from The Little Prince which we are currently reading to Audrey.
Tonight I read the following passage:
“For millions of years flowers have been producing thorns. For millions of years sheep have been eating them all the same. And it’s not serious, trying to understand why flowers go to such trouble to produce thorns that are good for nothing? It’s not important, the war between sheep and flowers? It’s no more serious and more important than the numbers that fat red gentleman is adding up? Suppose I have to know a unique flower, one that exists nowhere in the world except on my planet, one that a little sheep can wipe out in a single bite one morning, just like that, without even realizing what he’s doing - that isn’t important? If someone loves a flower of which just one example exists among all the millions and millions of stars, that’s enough to make him happy when he looks at the stars. He tells himself ‘My flower’s up there somewhere…’ But if the sheep eats the flower, then for him it’s as if, suddenly, all the stars went out. And that isn’t important?”
This monologue happens in the context of the pilot, who is busy trying to fix his plane, simply answering the Little Prince in order to get back to his work. The Little Prince knows exactly what is being done to him and proceeds to say all of this to the pilot.
As I was reading it to Audrey tonight, I couldn’t help but think about all of the times we dismiss the seemingly little and unimportant things while caught up in our focus on the bigger picture. How often do we zoom out and stress and worry about all of the things that are piled on our lists of things to do, where we are going and what it will eventually look like, feel like, be like?
It comes at quite a cost, this incessant zoomed out perspective. We miss what is essential and so often forsake the wisdom of the moment we are currently living in.
I am guilty of this. It’s likely that we all are. Even after months and months of living a much more zoomed in life, no pun intended, I still find myself in the struggle and worry of the bigger picture. And it’s not so much that the bigger picture doesn’t matter. It’s a good touch point to check in with, perhaps even often. But when the balance is being thrown and what is lost is the realization that there are smaller, much more important concerns in the moment...like the war between sheep and flowers, it matters. These are the concerns that we can actually go to work on. Solutions can actually be found in order to protect and tend to that which matters most in our lives.
The passage right before the one about sheep and flowers goes like this:
“I know a planet inhabited by a red-faced gentleman. He’s never smelled a flower. He’s never looked at a star. He’s never loved anyone. He’s never done anything except add up numbers. And all day long he says over and over, just like you, ‘I’m a serious man! I’m a serious man!’ And that puffs him up with pride. But he’s not a man at all - he’s a mushroom!”
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye. I am reminding us all to zoom in. And when we find ourselves fixated and puffed up with the pride of being serious and busy, step back, take a breath and tend to the small moments. Tend to this moment. This one right here, right now. The bigger picture is made up of moments just like these. The one’s where our children are describing to us their most important parts of their universe, where our spouses are asking for our attention because they simply want our company. The one’s where your own heart is speaking out and begging you to spend some time with it, away from the headiness and heaviness of the world. Do not take these small and simple moments for granted. Do not forsake their wisdom.
This is a reminder to myself and anyone else who needs it. What is essential to this life is in fact, invisible to the eye. May we remember that today and always.
Join me for GATHER this weekend. We will focus on all of this and how to do it. How do we see ourselves and the moment more clearly so that we value our own presence and healing and how it resonates beyond what we can see.
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.