Self-expression

Lately I've been totally jamming on self-expression. Mike and I have been binge watching Friday Night Lights on NetFlix and it's transported us both back to high school. As I watch these kids, I remember being a freshman and feeling the need to self-express all the time. I cut my hair short to be different, rocked a Doc Marten collection that I wish I still had, and decorated basically everything I owned to make it "mine". I would cut out magazine pictures and glue them all over my day planner. I would draw on my shoes and decorate barrettes. I was obsessed with expression because it felt so good and so authentic to put my mark on everything in my ninth grade solar system.

But then high school ends and we grow up a little and gain responsibilities and make more challenging choices. We go through times when we feel like we need to fit in more than stand out. Expectations get put on us about what we should do or be, from family, society, from ourselves. We need to go to college, we need to get a job and for sure, we should not eat dairy. Bad news. And deeper than that, the truth is that there are lots of people who are threatened by full self-expression. You can't say that. You can't do that. You definitely can't post that.

Finding your flow. Be yourself. Be authentic. I hear (and use) these phrases day in and day out. And I swear, they're powerful. But such a contradictory message to what society says. So I need to fit in but I am secretly dying to stand out? How do you reconcile it? I think you can find your flow no matter what situation you are in. It doesn’t mean you have to turn your whole life upside down and move to Timbuktu. But it does mean making some choices to direct you towards a path that feels more honest to you. Maybe it’s spending your Sunday morning at a painting class instead of at brunch. Maybe it’s finally buying the fishing rod and soccer cleats or whatever your jam is. It’s taking a step in the direction of you. And if you’re not sure what your flow is… here are questions to ask yourself that are great starting points. What would you love to do if you could do anything? What type of books do you gravitate towards? What were you known for as a little kid? What activities excite you? What would get you up at 6am on a Sunday? If you were given a trip to anywhere – where would you go and what would you do?

These questions get the internal wheels in motion towards leading your most authentic life. And I can tell you, there is not much out there that is better than being yourself. Talk about liberating. Freedom in a bottle. When you are self-expressed, it feels so good. Everything is more pure and more honest. Truth be told, I spend way too much time in the mornings figuring out what I want to wear - but the days when I don't like what I'm wearing negatively influence my mood and well-being. I’d always rather feel like myself. That way I can be nicer, gentler and hold more space for the people around me. When you get to do the things that make you you on a regular basis, when you're comfortable in your skin, everything goes more smoothly.  And when you're in that “you” flow and you love how your life feels… it's magic.

photo cred matt roy

photo cred matt roy

/

Own your happy

How's your happiness lately? Mine has been a little hit or miss. It's so easy to get caught up in the ins and outs of our lives and forget that true spark that makes us really light up.

Last night I was beautifully reminded how much I love to sing and dance - Mike and I were at our friend's house, he brought out his guitar and we sang along loudly to Bob Marley and Sublime. It immediately brought me closer to me, music and self expression are some delicious soul food. A serious happiness boost.

Exactly! I'm not Mike, I'm Amy. And the things that make me happy are totally unique to me. 

Exactly! I'm not Mike, I'm Amy. And the things that make me happy are totally unique to me. 

For me, happiness is also waking up early, going on adventures with Mike, great coffee (and lots of it), grocery shopping and cooking a fresh and colorful dinner, yoga, being creative, riding my bike, being near the ocean, coming together with friends to do big things in our community… the list goes on.

When I consistently do those things, I am definitely happier. Do I feel like I'm walking on a cloud every second of the day? No. But all in all, life is pretty good. 

The more I can fill my own cup with the things that make me happy, the less the little things annoy me. Last week I only was able to practice yoga one time. I saw in my interactions with other people that I was edgier, less compassionate, less loving and definitely taking shit more personally. I had an ugly melt-down on Mike. I felt heavier, in spirit and body. I wasn't doing the things that I know make me happy, the things that I know that are true to me. And I'm totally responsible for that. It's a conscious choice we have to make every day. We can't expect other people to create happiness for us. We are a by-product of our choices.

Some thoughts to ponder… what does your perfect day look like? What makes you happy? What if you made choices every day based on what makes you happy? What would your life feel like?

The better we know ourselves, the more we can make choices that move us in a positive direction, the healthier we become both for ourselves and the people around us. Maybe you take a new route to work, or start that little herb garden that you have always talked about. It's easier than you think. 

Do yourself a favor, stop waiting for other people to do it for you… own your own happy.  

Biking, adventure and waking up early… three things in one experience that made me happy :)

Biking, adventure and waking up early… three things in one experience that made me happy :)

/

On boredom...

I was asked the other day… "Do you ever get bored of teaching yoga?" And my initial thought was "Damn. Did I sound bored when I was teaching my class? Was I super monotone? I need to record myself teaching so I can properly assess this."

Once I got over taking it personally, I started to think about it. I've never felt boredom when I'm teaching, per se. It's totally awesome and exhilarating when you're in the zone of teaching a yoga class. It's life-affirming to think you're guiding people through poses that are going to help them on and off the mat. So never bored… but what we can sometimes feel as a yoga instructor is stale. Stale or stuck. Uninspired.

It's like anything. You have to keep filling your cup. In order to grow, we need to be challenged. If I taught the same sequence with same music day in, day out, I'd probably be pretty bored. And possibly start to hate it. So we have to keep things fresh. Whatever our profession, however our lives look... we all need inspiration. We can't flourish in a vacuum. That inspiration can come from anywhere. Yes, taking a world-class yoga class would be my ideal daily inspiration, and the reality is that life doesn't always work like that. So the practice is finding inspiration in everything.

if you shift your perspective, lots of things open up.

if you shift your perspective, lots of things open up.

lovely lilies in bloom

lovely lilies in bloom

Traveling is always source of spiritual inspiration for me, as are blogs or books. For cooking ideas, I love Instagram… for inspiring quotes, Pinterest. Nature also provides incredible divine inspiration - a gorgeous sunrise or sunset is such a gift. A fun dinner with friends can give you the humor you need to clear whatever is blocking you. Or it doesn't even have to be so big. We can be inspired by a smile, a kind gesture. I bought a lily this week that had lots of buds on it but no flowers, and it has been my pleasure to see it bloom a little more each day. I am grateful to be a witness to it's beauty, completely outside of my control. 

As I ponder more, I don't even know if I believe there is such a thing as boredom. I personally think it's a lack of motivation combined with a lack of inspiration... and the shift is simple. If we want it. Through gratitude for the things that we already have and living consciously - observing the world around us for what it is - we don't have to look very far to be inspired.

It's already right here.

/

Inspiration

Mike's in New Jersey for the weekend and he sent me a text this morning telling me that I inspire him. Heart melting. It made me feel so good. You see, this is a big deal because being inspiring is something I've been working on for a while.

back in the uninspired olden days. when i wore things like navy striped sweaters.

back in the uninspired olden days. when i wore things like navy striped sweaters.

Back in the pre-yoga days, I worked as a manager for Abercrombie & Fitch (this like 10+ years ago - don't judge me). I knew a lot but I didn't really feel like I could make an impact or round up the troops like some of the other people I worked with. I remember one day asking my boss "how can I be a more inspiring leader?" And I got some nebulous answer like "know your stuff more." But knowing my stuff hadn't made me inspiring thus far and so I walked away feeling like some people were just born "inspiring" and the other people, like me, weren't. I went along with my MO of 'be good at your job and know your stuff' and for the time being, I was pretty uninspiring.

Fast forward a few years later to my time at lululemon. Immersed in the yoga and fitness world and surrounded by cool people who were doing amazing things - starting charities, leading giant yoga retreats, changing lives - I revisited this thought and began to connect the inspiration dots. I started to notice that the people who inspired me were the ones who were pursuing their passions. They were the ones actually living their dreams. It's not like they set out to be inspiring, they were simply excited about life and that in turn inspired other people… since other people craved the guidance and insight of someone who had been on that journey before. 

I realized that inspiration wasn't some genetic trait, it was a by-product of you doing what you love. How radical... I had the ability to inspire! For a leader, or for anyone really, this is an important and powerful quality. Influenced by so many inspiring people, I started setting bigger goals and achieving bigger goals. I started doing things I'd always wanted to do. Some of them worked, some didn't. But I was trying. And slowly but surely, I started to inspire.

You don't have to be a master, you don't have to be perfect, you don't even have to succeed - but you do have to try. Because when you're on your journey, discovering and pursuing whatever is meaningful to you, and you take it a step further and you go after what you want - that is so awesome and INSPIRING.

chase down your dreams! go for it! life is for living. 

chase down your dreams! go for it! life is for living. 

/