Picture a hamster in a ball, sprinting through the world, bumping into life, coloring the interior with vibrant colors, rolling off ledges and hysterically laughing as she glides on her back, paws up, squealing triumphantly: reckless, fearless and joyous. Safe to view the world through her opaque walls…

This hamsters name is Amy, safe in my ball to be the real me…

Once upon a time, I was a one year old that drove my mother crazy, climbing out of my crib to sit on top of my sisters tall dresser. A toddler who would ride sleeping bags as sled’s down the steps, and a child who'd pop wheelies on my bike and flips on my skateboard.  No one ever accused me of being boring. Yes, I kept everyone on their toes. 

As I grew up, I realized not everyone appreciated the REAL Amy. Not everyone could handle the spontaneity of unfiltered silliness and so I created a safe zone…my hamster ball.  But adult life with afamily and careers cant really be lived in a ball so I compensated. I expanded my ball, letting select people in, or stepping out and building a filter to fit in.  While Reckless in my safe zone, as my sister put it, I was a deer in headlights out of it. I’d find myself not breathing out of my comfort zone and retreat back to the safety of my ball when overwhelmed. 

Then yoga came into my life…

My first power yoga class was a fundraiser for Africa Yoga Project. One of my best friends offered the opportunity one night to try it, it must've been the wine that made me say YES. As I lay on my mat the next morning in class, with the room slightly spinning, sweaty immediately from the humidity and surrounded by strangers,  I honestly thought to myself I'd better say a prayer that I don't die.
I got through most of the class playing Monkey-See-Monkey-Do. Then the teacher cued to begin back bending, I planted my hands on the mat and pushed up into wheel and emphatically said to my girl "Ohhhh, I did it!" I didn’t realize how loud the words flowed out, then the entire class met me with an equally emphatic cheers. In that wheel I reminded myself of a 12 year old Amy in her hamster ball: reckless, fearless, joyous. Day One and I was hooked.

When I entered teacher training 2 years later, I did it for me. I wanted to expand my practice and set forth on the river of self inquiry. I had no expectations for fitting in but figured that I could compensate enough to be thrust from my comfort zone and survive.  However, through teacher training and mentorship, I was accused of hiding.  I thought that the "filter" I created (because I certainly wasn't born with one) was perfectly crafted... but that damn thing was as opaque as my hamster ball.  The people surrounding me wanted to meet the REAL Amy, and I was too afraid to show them.  I honestly believed that the REAL Amy was too silly, loud, artistic, probably inappropriate and definitely not good enough to be a yogi.  I considered running back to my ball more times then I care to share, but each time I knew my path would be blocked by the amazing women who wanted me to grow.  I am so thankful that, as she appeared, they never flinched at the real Amy, only loved, and gave me the kick in the ass I needed to just accept myself as I am, knots and all.  I was perfectly Amy and deserved to shine.  They showed me how we are ALL vulnerable, imperfect, unique and beautiful. 

What I am coming to accept on my yoga path of 2015 is that my hamster ball is not a safe zone.  Indeed it is a prison with walls made of fear.  I recognize that for too many years, I hid myself away; afraid of what the world would think of the real me.  For too many years, I feared not being good enough.  For too many years I turned my back on my authentic self.

Well...fuck that noise.  Life is to short to hide. 

Let me share the knowledge that FEAR SUCKS.  It has held me back from being my best and crushed my joyous spirit.  You, like me, have vibrant colors and the world deserves to see them.  So please, don't hide yourself away in a hamster ball.  Be brave.  Step out.  Look around.  Breathe.  Then speak with your inner joyous child and love her for who she is...because she's amazing. Be reckless, and find fearless again, because when you come from love, those that accept you will FAR out weigh the ones that don’t. 

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