Fall throwback photo of Arielle and Talal expecting at the arboretum (their sweet baby Rafi is now rounding out his fourth month)
This month has taken me to Costa Rica and back (our third time, just as beautiful and transcendent as ever), through a passionate love affair with the cherry blossoms here in DC, and has further solidified my identity as a dog owner. Poncho is keeping his ever-vigilant watch on our back balcony as I write this and I am having a hard time imagining life before him. My favorite moment of the day is when lift my head from my pillow to seeing him staring at me and wagging his tail to say he's happy the day is beginning.
Of course there is so much lifelines within it all. People I love are struggling with their health, there's been some hard transition in a few of the places where I teach, and I may have cut my bangs way too short. As always, I had a lot of fun and did a lot personal growth under a sunny sky while I was on retreat and coming back home for three more weeks of winter felt harder than I would have expected. as I change, I have to let my life change around me. One of those really interesting places is in the arena of commitments and self-care.
Twin baby girls that I've already had the privilege of photographing twice in these past six months
For a long time, I've realized that our best qualities as human beings can always be our worst. I love people and I love serving people (positive) and sometimes I so desperately want to please people that I say "yes" to everything people ask me and then I make myself miserable trying to keep up with my unrealistic schedule. Whew, it feels so good just to type that all out. It's not secret to those who are close to me. They are used to be running around and juggling all the irons in my fire and have seen me break down from tiredness and frustration as a result. They have all probably had to wait for me while I was late or been disappointed when I didn't show up at all.
Last weekend, I saw this great documentary about Krishna Das's life. He's a really powerful yoga kirtan singer who does not not sound like the guy from the Crash Test Dummies. So it turns out that he grew up depressed and didn't even start to break free from it until he met his Indian guru when he was in his 20's and realized what true love felt like. What I like most about his story was that it wasn't a straight line to spiritual enlightenment. His guru sends him home to hang out with Ram Dass and lead yoga movement in the States. He finds some happiness. Then his guru dies and he thinks his happiness is gone forever so he sinks into another deep depression which involves a lot of cocaine. He's really struggling with addiction until he gets a strong message from another teacher to get off the cocaine. Sober, he starts singing again and starts gaining some popularity in the yoga movement doing what he loves. Then he feels those self-destructive impulses again and realizes he will just repeat the cycle over again unless he gets himself to India again. He stays at his guru's Ashram until during a sacred festival he finally gets a big hit of enlightenment and in his words "finally got out of my own way."
That struck me as important. I've always talked about how important it is to look within, but hearing this gave a name to what I was doing to block my own happiness. Being over-committed makes me feel like I am never quite present with what I am doing. If I agree to something mostly to make someone else happy, I get resentful. when I am running late, I get anxious and don't show up as my best self. Also, I suspect that it makes people in my life feel like they can't quite trust me to do what I say. That's definitely not what I want.
I am willing to be truthful about this because I know that it will improve my life without harming anyone else. My goal is to be someone who says "no" to most things so I can say "yes" to what I really care about. But I know that forming new habits take time. To carry me through I am embracing the power of the word "maybe." I'm saying it to things and asking for more time to make decisions and being more specific about what I do want. A major thing I do want is rest. Naps and restorative yoga and watching "parks and rec" and writing down little things in my journal. This makes me remember that my life is good and that I deserve to enjoy it, even if that process needs some continual fine-tuning.
Last year's watercolor of the view from the yoga deck at Anamaya Yoga Resort in Costa Rica--the view continues to be incredible!