Monday Night Nonfiction: Who Showed Up

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Last week, I had a yoga class with only one student. This happens a lot. It’s just part of being a yoga teacher in a small studio, especially when you’re subbing. If only one person shows up, I still hold a class. If no one shows up, I try to stay and do my own practice. This time, I wasn’t feeling so great. I was recovering from the flu, I was groggy from NyQuil, and I’ll admit I would’ve been happy to go back to bed.

The person who showed up was woman in her early 50s who we’ll call Liz. Liz has been a pretty consistent yoga student for some time now, and we’ve practiced together a lot over the summer.

Liz let me know that she’d suffered a dizzy spell in another teacher’s class last week. The episode was a total surprise to her, and she was pretty alarmed by it. The other teacher suggested that it could be caused by dehydration and/or a drop in blood pressure, so Liz was making sure to stay hydrated and had gotten her blood pressure checked. She even had plans to see the eye doctor next to rule out any vision-related causes. I know she has a strong yoga practice and can hang with a pretty intense vinyasa, but this new information made me glad I’d planned a gentle class.

We had a really great practice together. It was slow, meditative, and focused. Rather than moving quickly through a lot of poses, we slowed down and connected with the breath more deeply in each pose. By the end of class, Liz definitely had a greater sense of calm around her. Still, in our closing meditation, her eyebrows were furrowed and her face was tense. Her chest seemed tight, as though her breath wasn’t moving freely. When I closed my eyes to meditate with her, I felt the strangest sense of holding, like a jaw clinched so tight it starts to create dizziness. I know that sounds nutty, but that’s really the sense I got.

When class ended, I said, “Liz, I should’ve asked you this earlier when you told me about your dizzy spell, but … how has life in general been for you lately? Has it been kindof chaotic? Or are things going along normally?”

She immediately began to cry. She told me about a death that took place in her family several months ago and how she simply hadn’t felt the same since. She felt powerless to help her loved ones in addition to some intense grief that she couldn’t really talk to anyone about. It seemed like she mostly needed someone to talk to, but those intense emotions were also creating some major anxiety for her. I told her about a meditation technique I use when dealing with intense emotions in hopes that it would help her.

When Liz left, she seemed a little bit comforted. Maybe being listened to was all she needed. Maybe she’ll try that meditation technique, and it’ll help deal with the emotions. I’m glad she’s checking out possible medical causes for sure! Maybe it’s a little vain of me to think I might have helped someone. All I did was listen and give some potentially useless advice. But I dunno. I felt like I had an opportunity to help someone, which was cool. She left smiling. She gave me a hug. It was a good day.

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Weekly Assignment: Make Contact

Day 090/366 Outtakes - March 30th

Who would you like to be friends with?

Who would you like to work with?

Who would you like to brainstorm with?

Why not just reach out to these people and make contact? We often consider networking a scummy, insincere activity done by shifty people who intend to take advantage of you. But actually, making a valuable connection can be simple, sincere and enjoyable.

This week, write an e-mail, tweet, or Facebook message to someone you’d like to have a connection with. There’s no need to be salesy if that’s not genuine for you. Just be nice. Be sincere.

Why do you want to be connected with this person? Why don’t you just say that? For example: “I have a new project that I think you would find interesting.” Or you know what’s always nice? Compliments. “I really like the work you’ve been doing and just wanted to let you know.” If it’s someone you’d like to be friends with, just try sharing something of interest to you.

Most people appreciate any sincere contact from another person, but if they don’t respond the way you’re hoping, it’s not a big deal. They might not respond at all, in which case it’s best to assume they’re just really busy. The worst thing that could happen is they respond rudely, in which case you obviously don’t want to be friends with that person and you can just let it go.

This one will feel like a risk, but I promise it’s worthwhile. You’ll get more positive responses than negative. Branch out.

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The Saturday Special: Unreasonably Happy Edition

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Hey guys,

This has been the kind of week during which I feel constantly on the verge of happy tears, kinda like the last time I went to San Francisco. It’s the kind of week that’s so good I’m not sure I can handle being this happy for this long. Like the dopamine receptors in my brain are actually worn down and going, “Dude, can we just calm down a minute?”

Ellie and I have done a ton of work on our podcast, Write Against the Machine, and I’m really proud of how it’s looking. I’ve been managing the tech side of things with backup from my genius husband while Ellie has whipped the design into shape. Check out them sexy graphics, right? This week, we released Episode 4: Creative Super Friends, Assemble! This episode is all about how to build up your creative circle of friends with people who both support and challenge you.

AND I started teaching online yoga classes. I was mentally prepared for a lot of snags and hangups, but once we got started, it was super easy and fun! If you missed the first one, don’t worry: I’ve added more classes to the schedule already. Right now, online classes are just on Thursday, but I’m considering adding another day. If you want to put in your vote for a particular day or time, let me know in the comments!

Finally, here are the tasty bits from the rest of the internet: 

That’s it for me this week. I hope you’re all well and happy. Take good care of yourselves!

xoxo~

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the lineage of their suffering

I have a good friend who’s going through a bad time. His downfall is that he believes more in the world’s cruelty more than its possibilities. He’s fascinating because he’s incredibly smart and motivated and full of ideas, yet essentially a pessimist. He believes that things are meant to be done the traditional way, and that they are meant to fail — love in particular — that life is a struggle and work is misery, even if it’s work you love. I like him, but I don’t buy his shtick. I’ve seen it before. Some people just are that way. And I do wish I could change their minds, but it doesn’t work. You have to enter their orbit to even talk to them on that level, have to adopt their vocabulary and in so doing even their worldview for a moment. These people are so convinced of the inescapability of their misery that they come across as disarmingly, startlingly, overpoweringly intelligent. They speak eloquently and with conviction of how they’ve been wronged and how they fucked up. As if reciting from the Bible, they trace the lineage of their suffering and point to their names at the end of this long list an say, “See? I was born for this.” And they’re wrong, but you can’t argue, so I guess that makes them right by some bushy logic.

What would I even say to convince my friend otherwise? If not the words of a friend, what experience could make him shake off that sense of misery’s unavoidability?

He would have to be tired of his misery. Tired of wallowing. But further, he would need to experience a deep sense of wrongness. Some animal inside him would need to screach loud enough to be heard by the guy in the next cubicle. He would have to wake up. He would have to feel fear — true fear — not just the anxiety of a little rejection but the full weight of reality — that you exist, that you are alive, that this is it. That this is your life for real now and if you’re waiting for the starter gun to go off, you’ve already conceded defeat.

And that’s a realization nobody can give. I sure as hell can’t, and believe me, I’ve tried. And I continue to try even though it’s no business of mine. Because they’re on their own path, to use a cliche. Because I can’t know where they’ve come from or where they’re headed. Because this moment is as much a step in their evolution and my evolution as the eons that lie behind us and ahead.

We’re getting into karma territory here, which gets tricky. Let me unravel for a second.

There is, within each of us, a wisdom that is sharper and brighter than the rest. We are each like planets with molten wisdom cores. Call it a divine spark or a shard of God if you like. Call it instinct if you must, but there is something in each of us that knows where we’re going and how to get there. Around that spark is constructed the temple of the heart. The spark can’t be diminished or destroyed. It’s always there, always shining, always sharp and ready. It can, however, be burried if we neglect the temple. We can forget it’s there and begin to see ourselves as just this pile of rubble. Sometimes we can be reminded by a friend or lover. We can remember when we let the world stir us with art or nature. Once we remember, all we have to do is call to it — silently, inwardly — and the ember begins to glow. Breath into it, and this little flame begins its work, burning up the debris of the years.

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friendship and other acts of subversion

I have decided that the core way for me to engage as a feminist is to be friends with other women. Yep. Just being friends. But like … doing it overtly. Intentionally. Sometimes even loudly.

I believe that supporting other women unconditionally is an act of delicious subversion.

I believe that being honest about my own struggles both professionally and personally frees me up to be true to myself and gives other women (and men) permission to do the same.

I love cheering for my friends’ successes.

I am thrilled when I can introduce two women to each other and see their friendship take off.

I believe there is enough love to go around, and if we all open up a little and share where we can, everyone benefits.

I have never, not even once, lost something by being happy for someone else.

Why am I telling you this today? Because my friend Ellie is amazing. She’s celebrating the first year of her business today by launching a rad new program on her site. She’s following her heart and doing the work she loves, and I am so fucking happy for her.

This is an accomplishment not just for her (although she did an awful lot of work to get where she is now) but for all of us young women in our 20s and 30s to see one of our own having this kind of success. It’s inspiring to see her radical bootstrapping ways. It’s heartening to see her work through challenges and come out stronger every time. And it’s an honor to be her friend.

So, here’s to chicks who are friends, creative ladies who share their inspiration, and girl geniuses banding together to change the world.

Here’s to you, Ellie. Thanks for being your brilliant self.

xoxo,

MissDirt

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