To those who've made my life better

This week I thought I won’t theme my yoga classes or social media posts around gratitude. That’s what everyone else will be doing. Somewhere deep within my sixth-house, planetary, astrological need to follow the rules and have a plan for everything there exists a teeny tiny rebel. She is the one who insisted on dying her hair black when the other girls went blonde and who has refused opportunities of value because of some deep need to be different. My 36th revolution around the sun brought with it some much-needed clarity on this subject. I’m a mother fucking individual. There is absolutely no one else who is me. There’s a part of me that says I can’t believe it took so long for you to realize something so simple, and the other part of me that says I am so grateful you finally realized this. And so, this week I am practicing gratitude. I am theming my yoga classes around gratitude.

I read a psychology blog by Kathline Colvin about the three stages of gratitude.


Stage one: Expressing gratitude for the good things in your life. I am grateful for my community, my yoga practice, my essential oils, healthy vegan food, etc. This is considered the easiest stage. It’s easy to be grateful for the good things.

Stage two: Expressing gratitude to the people who have made your life better, aka the inspiration for this blog.

Stage three: Adopting new behaviors as a result of those who have helped you.


I dream of time to write letters and postcards and thank you notes, but for now I will express this gratitude in blog form.

To [some] the people who have made my life better (in no particular order)…

My dad for teaching me that it’s always easier to admit a problem right off. I am braver in admitting when something has gone wrong and taking the power from it because of that lesson. Zaundra, for forcing me to claim my power of performance. I love stages, and I’m no longer afraid to admit that. Jaron for teaching me how to be DFW before I even knew what that meant (Down for Whatever). Megan – I know I instagrammed this shit already – but I really have never been in relationship that offers me such a deep look at myself, my habits, patterns, etc. You are the clearest mirror I have ever experienced. To Prince for offering me a safe place to explore and fantasize about my sexuality. David Bowie for saying that being bisexual is just more fun. Chapelle, for accepting yourself and through that helping me to learn to accept myself. You are the most non-judgmental person I know, and I am lucky to exist in the same lifetime as you. Les Leventhal for being my first yoga teacher and setting me on this amazing life path that enthralls me with its levels of joy minute by minute. Marisa Weppner, your mentorship, friendship, leadership and experience take me deeper and deeper to ecstatic bliss and pure, self-love. Manouka – I’m not even sure I am remembering your name correctly, but that Theta healing session with you in Pai, Thailand is still with me. I am still connected to my true consciousness. Jessica for taking me deeper in Ayurveda and Marma healing.

This is hard… not because I am struggling with writing out people who have blessed my life and made it better, but because there are so many. This could go on and on and on and on.

Mom, for never doubting any of my dreams and crazy ideas. I can’t imagine what you were experiencing when out of nowhere I decided to travel alone to Nairobi, Kenya. Thank you for supporting me always. Kenya. My Kenya family; Jennie, Hank, Ink, Michung, Anena, Salome, Michael – your love brought me back from the brink of loneliness and showed me for the first time in my adult life that I was connected. Jeenal and Daniel, my Wise Living Yoga Academy teachers for gifting your knowledge and sharing your dharma so completely, and for teaching me and so many others what living Yoga really is. My Thailand vagabonds – Rosalin, Stacey, Christina, Amaris, Laura – I just really love you and am so grateful you are in my life. Jen Martinez, you helped keep my light burning when I had no tools for doing it on my own. You might even say you resurrected me. Dana, Blythe, Jenn, Seth, Marie, Tasha, Ed for sharing in exuberant joy with me for years and years, and for providing me a safe and connected place for adventures and play. I learned how to let go of my control because of you. My PPS ladies, you are the most loving and accepting bunch of ladies I know – I always feel recharged after spending time in your presence.  To all of the friends who are teachers and the teachers who are friends, I am eternally grateful to you. This list is no where near complete, but I will say, my stadium of people who I love and who have made my life better is packed full, a sold out crowd. I love you.

I am Vāgan

This morning I had a conversation with a private, corporate yoga client. He mentioned an injury and we started talking about inflammation. I get a little fired up whenever someone is suffering from severe inflammation because I know that road all too well in my own body. I have to listen to that sweet but firm little voice inside that says, “meet them where they are.” The nutritionist, yogi, holistic health nut in me wants to be like stop eating this and start taking these and blah blah blah.

And then he says, “So, are you a vegan (pronounced vāgan)?” It’s a reverse stereotype I get a lot. Whenever I start talking nutrition and wellness with people and the response is something like I’m not giving up meat, I cringe. I cringe not because they refuse to give up meat, but because their assumption is that I am here to convert you. I abide by body-led living; a gift I have procured through almost eleven years of yoga practice and a variety of trial and error practices in the realm of extremism. I was a practicing anorexic for about a year. I am always a recovering anorexic. I’ve tried all carbs, no carbs, kidney diets, cleanses, fasts… I have been practicing perfectionist-recovery for almost 36 years. I attempted alcoholism for a few years. Smoking cigarettes. I fell in love with Xanax and other anti-anxiety medications for a while. I could never commit to the sedentary lifestyle of a pothead. I became obsessed with yoga asana before I found Yoga. My body is a, won’t take no for an answer kind of gal. If she doesn’t like something then I know about it pretty quickly. Ok, so back to being a vegan.

My client this morning tells me about his inflammation. I ask, “What do you eat?”

He replies with, “Are you a vegan?”

I am immediately filled with a need to defend my own healthy lifestyle, to prove that while I am what the stereotype might call, ridiculously healthy and maybe even extreme, that is not what I am going to recommend for all of my clients. Just because I am vegan does not mean that I am immediately going to tell people I think they need to be vegan. I do believe as a culture we need to eat more plants and vegetables and decrease (read stop entirely) our consumption of factory-farmed meats. I also know that cold turkey is almost never effective. Unless you are an extremist. The greatest gift I have received from Yoga is the ability to meet myself where I am. And where I am changes moment-to-moment, day by day.

My client doesn’t want to give up cheap meat. He doesn’t want to change his diet. He also doesn’t want to be on pain medication for his inflammation for the rest of his life. We had our asana and pranayama practice, and after svasana we chatted for about ten more minutes. He doesn’t buy in to all the “fads.” He loves carbs. I listened and asked questions about his routine. When he stated that he uses artificial sweetener in his coffee, I saw an option, an easy, first step. We talked about honey and pure, maple syrup and the low glycemic index of both of these natural sweeteners. He agreed that using one of these sweeteners instead of the highly processed, disease causing, artificial kind seemed like a good idea. Then he asked me, “How do you know who to believe? Who to listen to when it comes to this stuff? There’s just so much hearsay out there.”


So, I took the opening to talk about body-led living. I mentioned the dōTERRA supplements I take that aid the natural functions of my body. I also mentioned that I don’t take the full dose of vitamins because my body was clear that ½ dose most days is plenty. When I notice more fatigue or digestive issues I will up the doseage for a week or two. He asked me about some other supplements that a friend sells. I mentioned that they work great for a lot of people, but when I tried them for a month I felt terrible. They weren’t for me. I don’t believe there is a one way fits all when it comes to our health and well-being, but I do believe in self-study and research, talking with your medical health professionals, consulting both allopathic and naturopathic doctors, increasing your self-care and meditation and meeting yourself where you are.