Gratitude Is Bliss

Day Six

I am not ready to share what I experienced today. I may never put the words on paper, but they are scribed on my heart. I am ready to take the experience of today, the most powerful yet and move into the future.

When I return tomorrow, I can’t wait to hug my family and see their eyes. I have work to do. The work has been knocking at my door for a long time and I am ready. Instead of words, I have prayers. I pray that you will SEE me, my way of being and conversation. I pray we will laugh, create and be with each other.

I am grateful to Paul for saying yes to me taking this journey. I am grateful to my children for giving space. Namaste’ to my Mayan Healers (Ramon, Julian, Cun, Chele & Issac).

Positive Thinking Empowers Possibility!

"SHINE Kid’s Teacher Training round 2 was an amazing, meaningful experience. Today 4 women received their Kid’s Yoga Certifications. As we announced their names and clapped, my heart felt so full. I feel gratitude for meeting each of these ladies and for being able to share my passion with them. I feel grateful because all four of these wonderful women were engaged throughout the whole training  and open minded to a new style of yoga. They allowed their teaching to be silly and fun! They pulled back their outer layers to find their silly child-like self and played yoga today. 

Overall, my intention for this training was being of service for others and being at service for our children. Today, I saw all 4 women show up BIG for 12 kids in their first kid’s yoga class. The kids were in tuned, engaged and had a blast playing yoga with the new yoga teachers. The coolest part of being a kid’s teacher is being able to inspire and lead the future generation to living a positive, healthy, fun lifestyle. 

Every kid left the yoga room with a grin from ear to ear. The children were ecstatic to learn from the new teachers. These women let their lights SHINE. 

One of my favorite parts of training kid’s yoga teacher is collaborating with them, bouncing ideas to teacher to student to help each of them be successful. I am anxious to see where their future yoga journey takes them. 

Yesterday, after I finished teaching them the SHINE kid’s sequence, I feel my inner fire LIT up. The feedback, Melissa and I received brought back into my mind why I got into this business to begin with. I love children and I love yoga.. SO being able to help spread the love with powerful teachers and allow them to lead more kid’s classes is pure AWESOME SAUCE. 

This all began with the power of positive thinking. I believed I could lead a kid’s class and Wanda believed in me. I was simply a desk angel at SHINE before I stepped out of my comfort zone and stepped on to my mat to lead my firsts kid’s yoga class. After that, it all became clear. Everyone has something they show up for that’s bigger than them, and it just takes some detours to land there. As I move forward, I see that there are so many possibilities. Possibilities to grow within my community of yogis with no age range required. “ 

- Rachael McFadden

I Can Do It

I take myself out to lunch once or twice a week. I work in a large grey, windowless room and it’s nice to get out of it and see the sky for an hour. Today, I decided I want eggs… off to the Colonial Diner! It’s three minutes from my job, the waitresses are always warm & they have my favorite spinach & feta omelette around.  I get seated, order my eggs, pull out my phone and open up Reddit to see what nonsense is floating around the web today. My meal comes quickly and I have a nice leisurely lunch.

As I’m sitting in the booth, taking my last couple bites, I hear a man’s voice over the diner chatter “....something...something….Red…..No? ....something...something….Red Audi….No?”  I perk up and see the diner owner. A cheerful gentleman in his 50’s whose thinning dark hair sits atop his head like a wreath. His glasses always look like they’re just about to fall off of his nose. Every time he actually wants to to look out of them he has to lift his chin way up.

I catch his eye, “I drive an Audi”

“A…” he lifts his hand & chin so his precariously balanced glasses are in line of sight of the Post-it note in his hand, “RED Audi?”


He throws his hands up and turns his head dramatically “Oh NO, why did it have to be YOU?!” I wonder if he has some sort of stick-um on the bridge of this glasses to keep them there...

He proceeds to tell me I have a flat tire and he would be happy to have one of his guys come out to help me. I thank him and tell him it’s not necessary, I can do it. Let me state, this is true. I can change a tire. It’s not hard, just takes a little muscle. If you don’t know how, for fudge sakes, learn.

I walk out and see my tire is Super flat. Ah well… I open my trunk & get the jack out. I find where the jack goes and start to spin it up. I stop short of the frame and get the lug wrench out, attach to the first lug and twist….nothing. I give it a kick…. Nothing. I try another one, same effort, same results. This is OK, I text my buddy and hope he’s still at the office. While I’m waiting for him to respond I go back to futzing with the jack I don’t think i have it lined up right and I am correct, I don’t.  

I hear behind me: “ Do you need some help?” a middle aged hispanic man in work clothes and an army baseball cap is walking up.

“Oh I am not getting the jack to work as I wish it to be,” I laugh.

“Let me help”


He walks back to his car to grab a pair of work gloves. Picks up the lug wrench and goes to work “You know you have to loosen these up before you jack up the car… otherwise..”

“The tires will just spin” I finish his sentence. I realize he didn’t see me working before and is offering friendly advice, so I check my ego.

He’s having a time with the lugs too and has to resort to kicking, the same way I did, but he has more power than me and gets the buggers to move. He looks up at me “See now you know that trick for next time”  I grit my teeth.

After he loosens all the lugs, I say “Thank you!” and tell him I can do it from here. He gives a warm laugh and says “noooooo, I got it!” and cheerfully goes on to finish changing my tire. We talk about his time in the army,  family in Philadelphia and how he’d like to move to Chicago, but there are 7 siblings you know, and he could never forgive himself for not seeing them for long periods of time.

While he works and talks I interject with an occasional “I can do that..” (Because I CAN)  and he gives me the same “I got it!” and continues to talk and work. When he’s just about done my friend pulls up to make sure I’m ok and sees that I am.

He and my friend start talking, “ It’s nice to see people out doing good!”

The man, all finished, throws my super flat tire in the trunk and says “ Well I have 3 sisters and 2 daughters, I’d want someone to do the same for them!” He closes my trunk with a flourish to mark the end of a job well done.

We exchange thank yous and well wishes before we all get into our cars and I drive the three minutes back to my job.


And for three minutes, I was infuriated.

How many times did I tell him I CAN DO IT?! Does he think because I’m a GIRL I can’t change a tire?! Was he patronizing me?! I bet he was! He might as well have patted me on the head and told me how cute I was for deigning to think I could do manual labor. That is sooooo typical of a man! DAMN THE PATRIARCHY !!


Then I was reminded of the words he actually said

“I have 3 sisters and 2 daughters, I’d want someone to do the same for them”

Immediately, my righteous fist came down.


This was just a man wanting to do something nice for another person.

Nothing more.

It’s like when you’re getting a glass of water and you say to a person in the room “Would you like one too?” Of course they can go get their own glass of water. You getting it for them in no way implies that they are incapable of getting their own glass of water. It’s just a little something you can do to make their life a bit easier.

It’s so easy to raise a righteous fist. To take someone else's actions and say “Well THIS is what it means to MEEEE!” with no regard to the actual intentions. Or regard to what actually happened!

I had made his actions mean something. Something that was happening solely inside my own head. Based off of what? Did he at anytime doubt my ability to change the tire? No. Did he say because I’m a girl I’m incapable of doing things? No. Did he actually pat me on the head? No. Did he ask me if I needed help and I accepted? Yes. Was he pleasant and happy to help the entire time? Yes. Did he say that he was BEING the thing he wished to see in the world? YES.   

That’s where it ends. Right there.  

Everything else was a story I MADE UP. A story based off of past interactions, based off of the current political climate, based off my need to be right (eous) …. All of the other stuff is just me being a self involved asshat.

I really don’t wanna be an asshat.

I’m grateful that I have the tools to check myself (before I wrigity-wreck know you said it in your head before you read it) and to remember to approach each situation as it is.

This one was simply a kind gentleman being the change he wants to see.

When I Embrace Naked Reality

Oftentimes when someone suggests or gives me a book to read I am very reluctant. It takes me back to my younger years when we were required in school to read books that I didn't particularly like or even understand (reading anything by Shakespeare was a nightmare!). I found after reading the first few pages of “Being of Power” that this was not going to be the case with this book. Since I started practicing at Shine, over two years ago, I have been on a journey of self betterment. I've realized through my practice, and things teachers have said during class, how much I let my anxiety and over thinking rule my life. This wasn't really a surprise to me, but I'm at a point in my life where I'm ready to change and have since vowed to take back my power. This is a wonderful sbook that gives great tools, exercises and examples that I feel will really help me take those steps.

Although I highlighted and took something from each chapter, Practice 7 (Embrace Naked Reality), really resonated with me. The chapter begins with an example of a woman named Scarlet who was packing for a workshop when she found her twins, being typical children, were covered in ointment. It goes on to describe Scarlet’s reaction and the fact that she added more, in her mind, to the situation than was necessary. As Baron explains “The problem wasn't that Scarlet’s twins made a was that she made the experience mean something”. I find that I do this often, not only with my children, but in a lot of other situations in my life. I add a lot of unnecessary fluff to my stories and experiences which makes it snowball into something bigger then it needs to be. 

Baron says, “We have a breakthrough in seeing that nothing has any meaning except the one we give it”. That is mind blowing to me because I never thought of it that way. It is so simple to consciously take all the unnecessary “BS” out of an experience and look at it from the facts only. I thought to myself after reading this chapter how much simpler life would be if we get rid of all the extra stuff and just “root ourselves down in reality”. 


One Little Step

I know I’m one of the more militant teachers at SHINE. I’m actually proud of how much I push my students. For an hour or so, once a week, we find ourselves in a very intense relationship. We both have expectations of each other. I tell them what I want them to do and I expect them to try their best to do it. When they feel struggle, I am expected to guide them through the fire. Sometimes it’s a mental or physical cue, sometimes touch. Sometimes it’s knowing when to shut my pie hole and give them space. Over the years I’ve become better at seeing which is needed.

In the end we each have a goal and like any relationship, they are not always the same. I ask for what I want, my students ask for what they want (usually mercy). There are dirty looks, stern words spoken, extreme emotions, fear, judgment and sometimes tears. Though this I stay true to what I want, but I also know it’s a push and pull of reading each other. The goal needs to a bit soft, moldable. In the end we need to both feel accomplished, like we were challenged, as well as heard.  I have spent years developing the skills of this relationship. Staying true and asking for what I want with love, but a firm hand and knowing when it’s time to reshape a bit.

When it came to my attention the other day that I DO NOT apply this to my personal relationships, I was flattened.

My therapist looked me in the eye. Her lovely curls (which I am suuuper jealous of) fell down her shoulders and her brown eyes fixed on mine, “You lose yourself, Sarah. You don’t say what you need or want.”

As if my body wanted to drive home the point, in case I missed it, I felt my throat start to swell shut.

The next day I’m at SHINE. I teach boot camp on Wednesday nights, so I take Stacy’s Power 75 before my class.  Let me say, Stacy was on Goddamn point. She challenged, my body accepted. When I needed to back off, she accepted. I felt safe and wobbly, mark of an amazing class.

Back bending came. What flexibility I have in my back, I’ve worked hard for and it isn’t much.  But I do the work, up, down, up, down, up down. It’s the pose after backbending, Supta Baddha Konasana, Reclining Bound Angle. Feet together, knees wide. Hand on you heart, hand on your belly, reconnect your breath and your heart beat. This is where I struggle.

It’s here, in my class, I tell my students to actively control their breath. Make each inhale and exhale a beat longer. Feel your heart slow down as your breath slows down. You have the control. Not only do I believe they do, I know they do. I watch it happen time and time again.

Even though I know, I KNOW, this works, I fear that I do not have this control. Since I started practicing, until recently, I would not even attempt to touch my heart in this pose. It was too much to actively feel my heart in such a firy state. I ignore the rapid beats and put my arms overhead.

I’ve been making attempts at this pose. Honestly, I can only make it a beat or two before I’m overwhelmed and I default, arms over head. Gina once came over and Made me do it, which I love her for, but never on my own free will.

This class, I come down after my last backend. I hear Stacy’s sweet voice call Supta Baddha Konasana. I close my eyes and default. Before my hands even touch the wood floor I hear a friend in my head, “No matter how small, take a step toward your goal.”  

The first step to saying what I feel, is feeling what I feel.

I feel my throat start to close.

Then I feel myself make a choice.

My right hand goes to my belly. My left hand places onto my chest. I feel my heart. I feel the irregular beat, I feel panic rise in my chest. I come back to breath, slow, ujjayi. The panic doesn’t stop.

In my therapist's’ office the day before I told her how this relationship thing was something that has come up for me before, many times in fact.  “I can’t believe I’m still dealing with this shit!”

“Sarah,” she sighed, “it’s ALWAYS going to be there. What you need to do is recognize it and deal with it.”

Now here I am, in class, dealing with the same shit I’ve been dealing with since I started practicing. I decided to take a small step. I stayed. For the very first time, I kept my hand on my heart and felt it hit my chest until Stacy called the next asana.

“Happy Baby”

Oh sweet Jesus, thank you… so uncomfortable.

It took me seven, SEVEN years to be able to hold my hand on my beating heart for 30 seconds. I giggle my way through the next few asanas. Partially because, how fucking ridiculous? And partly because I couldn’t contain my joy.  

One awkward, wonderful, small step toward my goal.

I take a deep breath in, my throat feels fine.




Tulum and the Lightness of Being

The Shine Yoga Retreat was a beginning for me. Very concretely, it was the beginning of a
year-long leave from my job. I knew that I wanted to do some serious soul-searching on this
leave, but I had no idea my epiphany would start so early in the year, and with a bunch of
people I barely knew.

I come from immigrant stock. My parents grew up during the depression. They expected
their children to do better – much better – than they did. My parents made incredible
sacrifices to educate my siblings and me. I’ll always be grateful for that, but there’s a down
side to all those sacrifices.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been running – yes, that kind of running, the literal kind but
not only that. Academically and professionally, running: College. Law school. Law practice.
Law teaching. Tenure. Articles written, then books. Personal life, running: more and more
miles logged, til I have more repetitive stress injuries than I can count – shoulder, wrist, foot,
knee. Even on vacation – it’s nothing to hike 20 miles a day or cycle 25 miles, SUP, kayak,
and yes, run. Up and down mountains. In the cold. No matter. Just go. A couple of years ago,
I contracted mono – and worked through it, teaching my evening classes and driving home
from Philadelphia with the windows down and the radio blaring so I wouldn’t fall asleep at
the wheel. I said to my husband, I want to stop. I do all this stuff but I’m not happy. But I
didn’t stop. Some lessons are too ingrained.

One therapist called this part of my personality Running Girl. What are you running from,
Running Girl, she asked me. I don’t know I said. YOU DO!,  she said.
And then I was granted the leave. And Running Girl set in motion! Goals! All kinds of things
to do! I had a whole list of things I wanted to accomplish – before my leave even started, I
wondered if I would have time to do everything I had on my list! I even took this approach to
the yoga retreat. This is great! I’ll do side crow! Bird of paradise! Run, run, RUN!
And then I arrived in Tulum. Full. Stop.

That first yoga class, hearing the ocean, feeling the salty breeze. Beautiful, good souls
beaming their positive supportive energy all around me. We did yoga. We ate. We talked. We
got naked and swam. We laughed. We covered ourselves in mud and walked into the sea. We
napped in the sun. We -- all of us women who work so hard, who prop up all of those around
us every day, who run all the time – we played. I was so happy, truly filled with joy and good
feeling. It was so different from how I feel every day. Where was all that irritation, anger,
frustration, impatience? Where was Running Girl?

Well, she was there – it wasn’t that easy. But it was a beginning. Just a little glimmer of
something: It is ok to do nothing. It is ok to rest. It is ok to play. You can just be. You don’t
have to do.

In what I cannot believe was a coincidence, I returned from Tulum forced to just be. In the
airport on the way home, I got news that I had to have surgery on my leg. Immediately. I
would be laid up for 2 weeks – no running, no yoga, no stress on body or mind. Just rest.
Running Girl panicked. I was going to jump out of my skin! I’ll be so bored! What will I do?
(It is typical of Running Girl that she was worried about being bored and laying around for
two weeks instead of worried about the reason the surgery was necessary. Like I said, not
that easy.).

So now I am recuperating. And I have gotten a little bored. Ok, more than a little. Running
Girl took over on the second day and I did too much walking and it hurt. I didn’t bust my
stitches but I could have. So now, I’m in my chair. I’m reading. I’m meditating. I did some
very mellow hatha yoga. I’m writing this blog. I’m remembering the lessons of Tulum. It is ok
to do nothing. It is ok to rest. Ok to just be. I say this over and over.

I’m not done with this work by a long shot, but I have started, and that is something. And it
began in Tulum, with yoga and my yogi friends. 

Musings from being OPEN to whats NEW!

When I first saw the poster for the retreat at the studio, I thought, “Wow, that would be amazing,” almost in awe – like it would be something I would never do, but how cool that other people get to do that.  “Why not me?” I asked myself.  I won’t bore you with all the reasons I came up with (trust me – there were many).  After I sat in all that yuck (aka excuses), I realized it was yuck I created and thus only I could get me out!  Armed with realization, I decided to ask my husband if he would come with me on the retreat – we had been talking about going away just the two of us and while every thought in my head was telling me this was not the vacation he had in mind, I simply asked.  Imagine my SHOCK when he said YES!  Yes, from the man that has never done yoga in his life.  He said yes for the same reason I did – it was something we NEVER thought either of is would do and we were up to new experiences.

New experiences – there were many on this trip: first time to Tulum, swimming in a natural open Cenote, swimming in a lagoon in the Biosphere, swimming au natural in the ocean (lots of swimming!), mayan mud treatment on the beach (topless!), Maitri (self love) meditation, Buti Yoga, Budokan Yoga (AMAZING!!!!!), writing a 1 year vision statement I believed in, connection to relative strangers, meditation on the beach, horizon as my Drishti, and the list goes on and on…….

These new experiences left me asking, was I seeing & doing new things simply because I was in a new place? Is it because I was open to them after making the decision to be a yes to this retreat?

I arrive back home & I’ve played around with this idea a lot.   I live in the same place, same work, same friends, same family – what new experiences are right here, in my “same” world of New Jersey?  Turns out, they’re flippin’ everywhere!!!  

Here are just some of the new experiences I’ve had in my same ‘ol place: meditating on my front porch as people walked by; going to a writing workshop with strangers on a whim and opening up about some darkness inside I didn’t even know needed to be let out;  making a knotted mala necklace;  saying mantras to my daughters; expressing myself to my husband in a whole new way; facing a struggle at work with positivity and ease instead of angst and excessive effort; signing up to row on a Dragon Boat, and this list too goes on and on……..

This trip was so much more than a vacation, it was HEATHER open to experience new experiences – can’t wait to see what comes next!!!!

I Got Stood Up

“Would you like another one?”

I look up and into the eyes of a pretty brown haired waitress. I’ve watched her over the past 40 minutes dancing through the tables of The Farm & Fisherman. She’s been equally lovely and accommodating to every table. She’s kept a watchful eye but this is the first time she’s stopped back at my table in the time I’ve been there. But, for good reason. The seat across from me is still tucked under the table and the menu laying on the place setting.

Actual Stood Up Meal

I order another drink and the goat tacos (get them next you're there, they’re bangin’). I grab my phone to text my sister, “It’s official, I’ve been stood up.”

I was never a big dater in high school or college, always a serial monogamist. Now in my late 30’s I’m, really for the first time, finding out what it’s like to date. I’ve had some great dates. Dates that were intoxicating, men who surprised me with how much we had in common and how easily the conversation flowed. I’ve had some bad dates, right down to the “Oh God, please let him finish his food quickly so I can go”. But I had yet to be stood up.

On our second date, that HE asked for. Not that I’m bitter….or writing a blog about it.

As I shoveled goat meat and pita into my face hole I tried to pinpoint the feeling that was coming up. Sad, yes. My feelings were hurt.  However, even though we had fun on our first date, I already knew that he and I weren’t a great match, so in the end, no hard feelings there.

Angry - maybe? And because everything comes back to fucking yoga, I scanned my body for my triggers. Nope, not there. Ok, it’s not anger….what is it then……?  

I let my body tiggers go and concentrated on the repeating thoughts in my head and like that, I had it. Pure, God Damn Annoyance. And there were 3, THREE, things that I was annoyed about:


#1 - I Washed My Hair.


Not a big deal to men, but try having a couple feet of it. Only two hours before, I got out of the shower, stood in front of my mirror, towel wrapped around my head and looked myself in the eye.   Every women with long hair knows this moment, it’s like preparing for war.

I knew I had a battle on my hands, the yoga classes I had participated in earlier had left landmines in my hair that were going to take special artillery to get though. I looked down at the three brushes and J&J Baby detangler lined up on my counter. They had gotten me though before, I hadn’t lost faith in their abilities now.  I look back up and give myself the nod.

With a flourish I take the towel off my head and instead of my amber and chocolate tresses cascading down my back like a Pantene commercial, they basically stay in the shape of the towel in one giant knot on the top of my head. I grab the first brush, a chunk of hair and like the first charge in a Game of Thrones campaign I go in with a gusto and lust for Glory!!  

After some time has passed my arms are limp and exhausted. I gaze through strands of hair into the mirror. I see a creature resembling Cousin It staring back at me. I’ve won this battle.

If combing is the battle, blow drying is like walking though the field and picking off the last of the opposing survivors. I think I got all the knots out as twirl my hair around the round brush. When suddenly, my hair has become ensnared! The boar bristles are trying to become one with my hair! There’s a small conflict as I basically RIIIIIP the round brush out of my hair. Some of my men have defected to the other side. I look down at the brush and see the offending knot and a few stray hairs clinging to their new leader. I sigh, such is war…


#2 - I Got Dressed Up


Both my places of employment are pretty casual. Jeans, yoga cloths, ponytails and buns pretty much sums up my daily aesthetic. To get dressed up is fun and unusual for me.  There are many things to consider as one dresses for a date. Examples:

Comfort vs Looking Good: I know there is a standard that women suck it up for fashion and sometimes I do. However I don’t want to be so concerned with choosing the hospital for my emergency pinky toe removal that I can’t hold a conversation.

Cute vs Sexy: There’s a strength in both, but I gotta choose. Women who can pull off both at the same time amaze me. I’ll watch them with the same awe and wonder as if a Bengal Tiger was walking in front of me.

Leg/Boobage Exposure:  How much boobage is too much? Too much skin might send a more forward message. Do I want to be forward? I don’t think I want to be that forward this time... (no judgement to those who do, ain't no shame in your game ladies)

Finding a balance that fits my mood for the evening took at minimum of three outfit changes. Including the all important Undie choice. Cotton, lacy, thong…. I keep trying thongs waiting for the sexy feeling I’ve been told would come once I got use to them. All I’ve gotten from them is the constant thought: “There’s a piece of string up my ass….I hope it doesn't turn into front wedg...Oh, wait...there it goes...”

Once hair and outfit have been completed there's make up. I’m not the greatest at putting it on, but I Loooooove it. I own a ridiculous amount (and I NEED it all!) which I don’t get to play with very often. It’s a little joy in my life. Something that makes me feel feminine and pretty. I like when I feel pretty and a man confirms it by telling me. It’s completely ego driven, I know.  But that feeling when my cheeks get warm and I have to look away for a second is a chemical release like no other.


#3 - He Couldn't Even Send a Text To Cancel


Now I don't know what happened, maybe something did. But my gut says he just decided he didn’t like me and blew off the date. Being that I’m Adult-ish, I’m OK with the fact that not everyone is going to like me. Hell, I’ve set up dates and cancelled.  Some out of circumstance but others out of realizing I don’t have any interest and don't want to take the aforementioned time to make myself presentable. That’s my truth.

Canceling on someone always sucks. Dates, friends, meetings. There’s an expectation and you’re not living up to your end.  For a moment in time you have be a Dick and no one wants to be a Dick. Even for a two minute phone call or a 5 word text (Sorry, can’t make it tonight) that would have resulted in me saying “Huh, that sucks” followed by pizza and beer with my dog.

Admitting these kinds of truths to yourself can be difficult. I know I push them down, mask them with drinking, or working out too much. But saying it, outloud, getting it out,  shortens my time on the Dick-o-meter and I can get on with life. So...


My name is Sarah and I’m a Dick, that’s my truth…...

and Chris, so are you.




I am 8 hours away from my flight to Tulum Mexico to lead my first Yoga Retreat in a beautiful retreat center Amansala Eco-Chic Resort &Yoga Retreat. (look it up, you may need this in your life).

Five years ago I wrote a goal:  By December 31, 2017 I will have led a yoga retreat @ Amansala in Tulum Mexico.  Simple.  Direct.  Clear.  But not really… life of a mom of four children and an owner of three yoga studios creates a very full & fulfilled life.  I lose track of my goals sometimes.

This week I felt distracted & overwhelmed.  You name it and it has come up.  A child with what feels like a serious skin condition worsening, another child who feels anxiety over her workload and back pain that debilitates her, and then another child who is heading into a Championship baseball game for his school and has always had Mom sitting on the first base line as his biggest cheerleader and she will be gone……that is my reality.  Also, I am in the middle of Leadership Training at SHINE, feel some guilt leaving during the training.  So many reasons that could steal my JOY over reaching this goal.

I wrote this vision and goal four and a half years ago - but it actually sparked 10 years ago…I was at my second Level 1 with Baron Baptiste in Tulum.  We were on a silent meditation walk in the morning on the beach and we passed by a resort called Amansala with all these women doing “bootcamp stuff” on the beach and laughing - having a great time.  I looked up and saw a yoga shala overlooking the ocean and thought “I need to be here…..I need to lead a yoga retreat in this spot”.   I felt it in my way down deep.

As I write this, I feel overwhelmed, incompetent, fear, love, joy, excitement.   I sacrifice being present with those I love the most to do this, but I also know I can choose a different kind of being Present.  Each day this week leading to the retreat, I sit and remind myself of my vision and goal.  It would be so easy for me to get stuck in the stressed and overwhelmed, but I refuse it.  I share my excitement with my kids and their eyes light up!  They ask the best questions am I going fishing (no the answer is NO, I do not choose fishing).  These awesome humans actually confirm my commitment to my goal.  I am also comforted knowing that friends will drive Jude to his baseball tournament this weekend & the other parents will cheer him on, I know friends will help Madi get to from/work,  & that our community loves on my teenagers.  I know Troy will have fun with all his practices and sleepovers scheduled. I am thankful for Skype and FaceTime, texting, emojis, email and Game Changer.  I can stay connected…..I can still be Present.

One discussion I had this week grounded me.  A girlfriend said “You always encourage your children to “GO FOR IT” to move towards their goals, go BIGGER and not let fear or doubt get in the way.  When they are stuck you encourage them to do the next right thing.  You are demonstrating this by reaching for your big goals & showing them the way”.  

All week I reminded myself to enjoy the ride (about 100 times) and I am committed to doing that - only that.  I know I am on the right path - this Yoga Retreat is part of my BIGGER.

Jianna is JOY!!!!

My name is Jianna and I’ve been a part of SHINE Power yoga for two years. I recently finished my week of teacher training and as an aspiring writer, SHINE leaders encouraged me to write a blog about my experience; after a month of writer’s block, I finally got around to writing.

I am nineteen years old, I just finished my freshmen year of college, and now I’m on my way to being a yoga teacher. I’m a huge nerd who loves anything comic book related or sci-fi, I’m very sarcastic, I curse way more than I should, I love to write, and I am ME. Before teacher training, I was kind of all over the place. My first month of community college was spent in depression because all my friends were far from home, living the life, and I felt stuck at home doing the same routine everyday. At first, I didn’t know why I was depressed, when I found the reason I was able to help myself out of the depression (I was still sad but I was able to go out and do things at least). I tried to make new friends at my college, but I suffer from social anxiety (and just anxiety in general) and I’m super introvert, so it was really hard to speak to random people I didn’t know. I made casual conversations with other students but never anything that could start a friendship, so I just kept to myself.

During this time, my mom noticed the shift, so she pushed me to focus on yoga. We took 40 Days to Personal Revolution and Leadership Boot Camp together, which got me inspired to take SHINE Leadership Teacher Training. Being the supportive person that my mom is, she paid for the whole training, which was beyond amazing. As Teacher Training got closer, I started to get extremely nervous. What if I’m not good enough? What if I suck and everyone laughs at me? What if no one wants to talk to me? These were the thoughts that were going through my head the days leading up to Teacher Training. Several people told me I was going to do fine and that I had nothing to worry about, but I was still scared shitless. Finally, the first day of teacher training arrived and I got to meet all the other teachers in training and they are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Everyone was so kind and so welcoming, I felt honored that I got to hear their stories and learned more about them during that week. Being with them and learning with them I felt so happy, it was just all together a wonderful experience doing this with them.

As the week progress, I learned so much about being a yoga teacher and about myself. Always stand in your True North, don’t fidget, speak loud and clearly, and be with the Present; although this was advice for when we eventually would teach yoga, I thought it was good advice for my life in general. There was two activities that really stood out to me. The first one, was an activity that I did before during boot camp, but it felt more meaningful the second time around. I was to write down a conflict that I had, it could have been something from long ago or something more recent, I had to share this conflict to the group, then I would cross out parts of the story that wasn’t a fact and then you would re-read only the facts. I wrote about a conflict with my best friend of six years. I first wrote about this conflict at boot camp, when the conflict was still new and fresh, and as I shared my story I could barely read one word without bursting into tears; it hurt to talk about because suddenly my friend of six years didn’t want to be friends anymore over some stupid fight. However, the second time I wrote about the conflict, months had past, and my mind was clear. While rewriting the conflict, I realized that I had become bitter and angry from everything that happened, and that was far from healthy. I decided that I was done being angry, done being bitter, if she didn’t want to be my friend I couldn’t change how she felt, so I accepted it. With acceptance came relief and I felt genuinely okay about the whole situation after sharing it with the group this second time. I wouldn’t have come to that closure as fast as I did without this activity.

The next activity, although very moving, I will not share my experience in great detail because I found it to be very personal. I Hope one day I’ll be able to share my story with others and to help anyone who went through a similar situation. I was asked to write an event from my childhood, something that hurt me or was traumatic to me, something that would cause me to tell myself a lie about myself. Then after sharing my story with the group, I would write a new way of being and say the lie that I was giving up. At first I wrote about how I was bullied at a young age, but as soon as I finished writing my story I realized that it wasn’t the story I wanted to share. I then went on to share a story that I rarely ever tell, and it led to me sobbing in front of the group because it was my first time telling a group this size my story. It was extremely personal, it left me feeling vulnerable and raw, but I felt a weight off my chest, because I let it out in the open. The LIE led me to believe that I was stupid and worthless, but now I know it is a LIE! I declared that “my new way of being is of confidence, power, and self kindness. “The lie that I am giving up is that I am worthless and I am stupid, this is what I am committed to.” Even though I can’t change the past, I can use what happened to me as a stepping stone to get me a better present.

On to the last day of the training, which was probably the best day of the whole training for me. I was sad that the training immersion was over and that I wouldn’t be able to see my newfound friends as often as I did that week, I was also very excited to finally be at this point. We ended our training sharing who we are now and what we will to change when we leave. I talked about how I always felt like I had to wear a mask when I’m around different people, that I should be this or that instead of just being me. I was exhausted all the time and I wasn’t happy at all, so, with some help from my leaders and my friends, I am done with that mask . I can be me, and by being me, I am happy, hence the name of this blog. JIANNA IS JOY!!!!!!!  Being me makes me happy. I am grateful for this process, I just needed a little push in the right direction.

At the end of the day were to teach to a class full of people (Which I was insanely nervous for, but we all ended up doing an awesome job and it was so much fun). We FILLED the studio, mat to mat! At the end of class my Mom came up to me and hugged me while crying, and I still consider it a really special moment because it showed how far I’ve come. Teacher training was one of the most amazing experience that I have ever had in my life and I can’t thank everyone enough for giving me this experience. I can’t wait to be a bigger part of the shine community and start teaching as soon as possible!                                Shine on Bitches (our team cheer)!!!