We’ve established sharing is caring: so here’s some road rage.

I’ve been minus one laptop for a total of three weeks, but that issue should be resolved by tomorrow. By that time, I hope to resume to a regular blogging schedule, although I hesitate to make any guarantees. I’m still on the fence about running a blog, especially once that deals with depression, and body image issues, and the other life filths that people normally don’t talk about. At times it feels courageous to tackle uncomfortable topics on such a public forum. Other times, I feel like I’m airing my dirty laundry in front of strangers. On one hand, people are as interested in my dirty laundry as they are in watching a car wreck. On the other hand, I’m opening myself up. My guts are leaking on the pavement, my car is destroyed, and people are just watching it happen. I’m creating a space where I’m really raw and vulnerable, and everyone can see my cracks. I really like writing. I like the process of coming out through words. It’s definitely a conundrum for me: some days, I want to destroy the blog, and other days – I’d like to keep sharing.

As of late, I’ve been feeling very isolated from the people that I love. A couple of weeks ago, on a fantastic hike, I was sharing accomplishments with a friend. I told her that in this time of my great depression, I have gotten a lot of support from family and friends. A lot of people have offered to be a shoulder to cry on, a support beam to my faulty foundation; and I consider it a great accomplishment that I have never taken anybody up on that offer. Crying in the middle of the day, I have never called a friend and asked to spend some time together. I have broken all the bowls in our house. Alex and I have had the same fight, on a loop, for the past two and a half weeks. I’ve beat myself into a frenzy, lied on the couch sinking deeper into sadness. But I haven’t called for help. Instead, I have gotten incredibly skilled at pushing people away. I cancel plans and I convince myself that it’s in my friends’ best interest. I shy away from explaining the roots of my depression, because I’m afraid that oversharing will make my friends love me less. (And at this point, I need all the love I can get) Pushing away the best people in my life because I don’t want to be a burden is in no one’s best interest. It serves no purpose, does no good.

It’s really hard to ask for help. It’s really difficult to reach out. There are days when I prefer to spend sunny afternoons in a dark room with all the curtains closed. On those days, it’s near impossible to reach for the phone and admit that a distraction would be nice. Last Wednesday, when my therapist stood me up for what was supposed to be our last therapy appointment (at least for a while) with no explanation, I made a lot of jokes. But I was distraught, and drained, and fighting off a lot feelings of abandonment and anger. It has been a terrible past couple of days. It’s getting better, but I still don’t have a written out happy ending to this story.

I promised a friend that I would try to get a little more uncomfortable. So, now, fingers hovering over the mouse button – deciding between post and delete, I’m sinking deeper into a little discomfort, and hoping that it’s the right decision.

A story of one pair of Vibrams.

On a chilly Sunday morning in February, Alex ran a marathon. My involvement included holding up signs, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and providing pizza and cookies after the race. Running a marathon is an epic accomplishment, and something that has been on Alex’s bucket list ever since I’ve known him. With a glimmer of crazy in his eyes, he used to say that one day, he would run a marathon. So, in August, I surprised him with a registration to the Tallahassee marathon, because sometimes the only thing standing between a dream and reality is the paperwork.

Alex’s running career began with me. I was running three days a week, and he wanted to spend more time together. At first, I hesitated – because his average pace per mile is two minutes faster than mine. I projected my love of competition onto him, mainly because I could never be fast enough to compete and he could. He insisted that without me, he wouldn’t log any miles at all. For me, running has always been about a love of running. For Alex, running was a way to be closer to me.

Alex excels at racing short distances. When we trained for our half marathons, the speedy days were his favorite – while the long runs were my favorite. If our running relationship could be described in childhood tale lingo, he’s the hare and I’m the turtle. My body was built for long distance running, although a marathon has never been on my bucket list. (A long ago time, before knee injuries, I wanted to skip the marathon and run ultras) When I signed him up for a marathon, my finger lingered over the computer mouse like it was a trigger. I had strongly considered how fantastic it would be to run this together. Six months would be full of long training runs and history lectures, sweaty post run showers, rest days on the couch watching Netflix and refueling with burritos.

Finally, I decided that Alex needed to do this on his own. In part, I opted out of running the marathon because I was scared. I was afraid of knee injuries. I dreaded running twenty to thirty miles a week. I didn’t want to give up my social life for the sake of running. In part, I also opted out of the marathon because I felt like Alex needed to do this alone. Alex always tells me I inspire him. He tells me that I push him and that I allow him to find greatness within himself. He tells me that together, we can accomplish magical and fantastic things.

It’s true, our relationship possesses the kind of magic that fairytales only dream of. We are so incredibly lucky to have one another. We dream together and build a fantastical reality together. Our love is the greatest thing in my life. At the same time, I have always been a believer that love is not all you need. I’ve always believed that not all things are possible through love. Alex is an amazing man, who doesn’t need me to find greatness. I wanted so badly for him to see that within himself. He ran 26.2 miles. He trained for it all alone, and he completed the marathon all on his own. I didn’t volunteer any training advice (which was difficult). I didn’t push him to log more miles. The accomplishment of Alex’s marathon rests entirely on his shoulders. He achieved something incredible, and nothing will ever take that away from him. The marathon isn’t ours, it belongs to Alex.

Valentine’s Day; Shmalentine’s Day.

Ramblings of sentimentality are brought to you by my distress over Valentine’s Day. On one hand, I hate Valentine’s Day – because I feel that it’s important to remember love every single day. On the other hand, a special day for hugs, kisses, and chocolate feels like an important holiday. I miss middle school, where I’d make up bags of individually wrapped candy and assemble Valentine’s cards for each one of my classmates. These days, Valentine’s Day is packaged as a holiday for couples, and I feel silly celebrating the platonic love in my life. There is no day dedicated to the celebration of friendship; and sometimes my self restraint is stronger than my desire for constant silliness. At the same time, greeting cards always make me feel vulnerable and exposed, and I have yet to find ways of showing affection without baring it all. So, I want to write cards, but I won’t.

I’ve always been great at filling up greeting cards. My gift for seeing the best in people (especially those I love) combines with my ability to put words on paper and makes me fantastic at writing cards for every event of the season. A birthday card from me is equivalent to a mug of homemade hot chocolate: warm and genuine. I often see birthdays and other holidays as a great occasion for sentimentality. I don’t vocally express love on a daily basis. Alex gets to hear that I love him every day; but my friends assume that they’re loved until a birthday card comes along and reaffirms their assumption. “I love you” is a very intimate phrase, and I’ve only spoken it to two people outside my family. This isn’t because I don’t love my friends. (I’ve just managed to convince my friends to give regular hugs; I’m not going to push my limits by trying to vocalize my love for them) Greeting cards give me a chance to get creative and expressive. I bask in the opportunity to do so.

Once upon a time, a close friend told me that my cards were tedious and annoying to get through. She said that no one reads my sentimental ramblings, she told me that I shouldn’t waste my time on something that’s going to get thrown out anyway; and I stopped writing love letters to my friends. This past year, I have started to write birthday cards again, only to see them thrown out and get left behind. It’s disappointing to see my heartfelt words get tossed aside, dismissed so easily. I wrote a card for all my friends this past Christmas season, and I only got one card in return. Sentimentality and handwritten notes just aren’t in fashion anymore. So it goes.

There are three lessons to be learned from this story. The first one is that I have never written these cards for my friends, I write them for me. The hugs that I share with my friends aren’t for them, they’re for me. I need to express my love in this way, and there’s no shame in spilling out my words on the back page of a greeting card. There’s beauty in it for me, and I don’t need validation from other people to be able to see and feel that beauty. The second lesson is one that I’ve been learning over and over again. Everyone says and hears “I love you” in a different way. To be a good friend, it’s important that I learn to listen closely. My friends show me love every single day, each in their own way – I just need to pay attention . My final lesson is about vulnerability. In the past year, I’ve opened up in a variety of ways to many different people. In this time, I’ve never regretted being vulnerable. There’s no reason to allow that fear to creep in now.

This is a hippy dippy post on what love means to me.

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Love is a choice that I make every day. Every morning, I wake up to a dance and I fall a little more in love with my goofy husband. Three days a week, I lift heavy weights with my friends. In this time, I feel quad pain – but I also feel so much love. When I want to find love, I know where to seek. I know to reach for my friends’ toddler. I know to wait til Monday night yoga classes. When I want to find love, I search for it on the St. Mark’s trail, with wind in my hair and puns on my tongue. When I seek love in my life, I seek out the first (and last) bite of baklava. I sit in the passenger’s seat and listen to incredible music, seeking the edge of another heated debate. I find myself in the kitchen, stirring pots and pans, praying that my love for my friends translates into every bite I make. I choose love. I choose love everyday.

Since I’ve been going to therapy, I’ve been learning to shift negative emotions out of my mind space, and that leaves a lot of empty space. I choose to fill that space with love. This may sound hokey and cheesy, but I’ve really been feeling an infinite amount of love in the world around me as of late, and I’m just beginning to skim its surface.

Open Hearts & Open Hamstrings

There is no leveling up in yoga. There’s no “you have to be this tall, this lean, have this build, wear these pants” in yoga. You don’t have to look a certain part and no one is going to grade you on your abilities but yourself. There are yogis of all fitness levels, flexibility capabilities, body types. People find yoga for many different reasons, and stay with their practice for an even greater variety of reasons. So far, this is my favorite part of being a yoga teacher. People’s capabilities and desires are vast, and it’s very exciting for me to be a part of their yoga practice, to learn from their yoga story.

So, I have students now, regular students. I’ve been teaching my Monday night class every week since April 2013. Three people have been coming for that whole time, and two more recently joined in. There are wrist injuries, back injuries, knee injuries. There are people who constantly push themselves to the edge, and there are people that stay away from the edge. There are people that are there for a stretch, and there are people that get more mental benefits than physical. And it’s fascinating to watch it all unfold before me. It’s fascinating to watch their stories change and grow. It’s amazing to see bodies mid practice, and smiles mid savasana. My students are wonderful. Their practice is a dance that I’m lucky to choreograph every week.

My own yoga story is also expanding. Sometime in December, I realized that I was forsaking my own yoga practice in order to become a better yoga teacher. I decided to reverse the effect this was having on me and finally establish a home practice. Since then, I’ve been doing at least thirty minutes of yoga, at least five days a week. I’ve been trying new routines and revisiting old ones. I’ve dabbled in a variety of styles. I’ve reawakened old loves and learned to visit enemies that serve great purpose. And… I touched my palms to the ground. I raised my hands up to the sky in beginning my sun salutations, folded forward, and as if by accident – pressed my palms gently against the ground. Brushing my fingertips against my mat, I smiled at my own story, and lifted up, just so that I could experience sinking into the stretch again, from the beginning. I stayed there in complete bliss for minutes.

There are different kinds of yoga poses. I have conquered some of them, and haven’t attempted others. I’ve played with arm balances of all kinds and kicked up into inversions against the wall. These are advanced postures that require a great deal of strength and flexibility. Arm balances and inversions (my favorite yoga party tricks) are built on core and upper body strength. It has been great to add them to my repertoire as I get stronger and bolder. But nothing has felt as good as folding forward and resting my palms on the floor.

As a kid, I’d never been able to touch my toes. I did ballet (and other forms of dance) for years. I took gymnastics. I failed every sit and reach test that I’d ever taken. I’d never been particularly flexible. When I started yoga, I hoped to develop strength, but I never even dreamed of touching my toes. I had written it off as impossible. And now, I’ve placed my palms on the ground – and I wonder what other things that I’ve written off as impossible are still well within my reach.