31 Jan 2014

“So… what are you DOING right now?”

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Melissa and her cat

Me and my furry co-pilot

“How are you? … And what exactly are you doing right now?”

I hear those questions a lot lately. People see my photos from Kripalu and New York, know that I’ve been out doing fun things, and seem vaguely aware that my work situation is different and I’m making some big life changes. But how exactly does it all fit together? Allow me to elaborate.

I hesitate to write about this, because it’s still a sensitive area. For about a year and a half, I worked as a therapist at a treatment center. I loved it. I adored my clients and the work I got to do with them. It was challenging, but every day I got to witness profound shifts and transformations. I honed my skills teaching therapeutic mindfulness. I learned a lot. I laughed a lot. It was great.

Then, in the middle of last year, something changed. I’m still not sure exactly how or why, but relationships I valued suddenly soured and my day-to-day interactions at work became extremely difficult. I tried hard to examine my role in all of it and do what I could to improve the situation, but the details were kept from me for reasons I still don’t understand. I found myself playing out old, toxic roles in relationships. My mental health and happiness suffered. I was not able to do my best, most effective work. Then, one day, it was clear: I had to leave. For my own well-being and that of my clients, I needed to step away from work that I loved to make sure I was healthy and to end whatever toxic dynamic had developed in the environment.

At the same time, I was feeling a strong call to finally follow my dream of pursuing yoga full-time. A lot of things were coming together to suggest that 2014 might be the year I’d actually get to do that. After an incredibly turbulent year in my personal life that was finally starting to settle, I felt ready–confident, in fact–to take a leap of faith and pursue The Dream.

After a lot of prayer, meditation, and soul-searching, I turned in my notice. I cried a lot. Despite all the challenges in my work situation over the previous months, it was hard to say good-bye, especially to clients whom I cared about deeply. But on the afternoon of my last day, I felt at peace. It felt right.

Teacher Training
In the middle of all the personal and professional turmoil of 2013, I was struck with an overwhelming, all-encompassing dose of inspiration: It was time to lead a yoga teacher training. It was something I’d thought about doing off and on for years but never seriously considered. Early last year, it occurred to me that many people were leaving Birmingham to pursue a particular type of teacher training experience that we haven’t had here in the past. One day, I thought for probably the 100th time, “Somebody should really offer that kind of teacher training here.”

Then I thought: “Oh, shit. That person is me.”

With a mix of trepidation, firey passion, anxiety, and can’t-ignore-must-do-now semi-fugue state that characterizes all major endeavors in my life, I flew into action. I secured a location, designed a curriculum, and became a Registered Yoga School with Yoga Alliance. I poured my heart and soul into designing the kind of teacher training program that I believe the Birmingham yoga community deserves to have, not knowing how it would be received. On August 5th, I announced my labor of love on Facebook.

The response was incredible. I had applications within days. People were so excited and supportive. When I first conceptualized the program, I told myself I’d be thrilled if eight people signed up. As of this writing, enrollment is in the mid-teens, and the training is on track to fill up by March 1st. What’s more, the quality of yogis who have signed up is incredible. Dedicated, heartfelt, excited, fun people eager to do and learn all that yoga has to offer. I feel honored and humbled to be in their company and can’t wait for training to start on March 14th. (For more info, go to www.sacredglowyoga.com.)

Lady Sadie and the CSVY Tribe
As if all of that wasn’t enough to process, in the Fall, My Lady Sadie announced her first-ever 300-hour teacher

A group of yogis poses in front of graffiti

CSVY Tribe takes on Laughing Lotus Studio

training program. Designing my own YTT made me hungry to go out and study more. My passion for Core Strength Vinyasa had grown immensely over the 2 years I’d been teaching the style. I’d seen the amazing benefits in my own life and in my students’ lives, and I felt ready to deepen both my practice and my teaching. In some ways, the timing was perfect, as I made the leap to full-time teaching and didn’t have a “regular” job determining my schedule. I was free to travel and learn. And so I did.

Module 1 was in The Frozen North: five days at Kripalu, then a week in New York City. Oh my God, was I glad I went. The amazing people at the training were worth the price of admission. Fierce, strong, funny, inspired women who love the unique CSVY practice as much as I do. We laughed a lot. We learned a lot. We went to Laughing Lotus in NYC and partied with the incomparable Dana Flynn. Karaoke may or may not have been sung (may certain videos never surface!). Snow storms were survived and delayed flights finally allowed off the ground. It was an incredible experience.

And I get to do it two more times! I’ll be off to Austin, TX at the end of February for Module 2, then back to NYC in the much warmer month of April for Module 3. It’s a breakneck pace to complete a 300-hour training, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to train with Sadie again.

Honestly… I’m happy. Really, truly happy. The Year of the Black Water Snake ripped my skin right off and left me raw, as it is meant to do. But as wounds have started to heal, I find myself emerging stronger, calmer, more self-assured. I look back at 2013 and think, “I survived that. Not a whole lot that could be worse!” I feel ready for what’s coming in the future, but in a very grounded way. I’ve created a foundation for myself and feel confident as I stand on it.

I have lots of goals for the new year. The top of the list is “Have more fun.” I spent a great deal of time in 2013 Not Having Fun. Internalizing lessons? Yes. Practicing gratitude? Of course. Recognizing my own strength? Sure. But not a lot of fun. This year, I plan to make fun my practice as much as gratitude, meditation, and prayer. Look forward to a whole lot of party invites.

And, of course, I plan to work, as I always to. To offer out what I have and what I know from the center of myself out into the world, in hopes that it serves a great good. This year, I’ve adopted a new mantra, taken from A Course in Miracles, an ode to surrender:

“Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? What would you have me say? And to whom?”

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2 Responses to ““So… what are you DOING right now?””

  1. Lindsay Mouyal says:

    I so enjoyed reading this post ( and how fitting that I’m reading it while in motIon on the eliptical machine at the gym-one of my ways to do more and make more healthy choices for my Life this year and in the future). To choose happiness, regardless of the sacrifices and risks involved takes a lot of strength… even if done silently. But, to do it and share your experiences with others as you often do is admirable and inspiring
    Thank you!

  2. Ruthann says:

    I have those video’s of you singing & you are awesome! Great blog & so much fun doing some yoga with ya-& watching you sing 🙂 xo Namaste’ Ruthann