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I write a lot about challenging comfort zones because I have seen the positive effects it has had in my life.  Challenging our limits though can feel like a roller coaster sometimes. For me, it hasn’t been easy to unlearn habits like negative self talk, feelings of less than worthy or simply lacking confidence on any stage. Being the empath that I am, I have sought out many paths to healing including counseling, yoga and most recently, energy healing with Reiki.  I continue to add to the contradiction and complication of myself by looking for ways to heal and fulfill my potential.  Because of this, my conservative nature and free spirit have a lot of conversations these days.  Most of my life I have fought with that energy that I feel in my own body and coming from the world but, beginning with yoga, I began to open up to new ideas and figured, if it can help me heal my mind/body/spirit, I’m in. 

Yesterday, as I laid on the table and Neda, from Tara’s Garden (who I can’t wait to have on for a podcast next week because I want to understand so much more about her training and what she feels) gently laid her hands on me, she targeted my deepest fears in the first few moments of lying there.  I have been to see her twice now, and the accuracy with which she talks to me about my feelings and what is going on in my life is mind blowing. I tell her a few things about what is going on, kids, work, that type of thing, and yesterday she spoke to my most insecure feelings from the start.  Her words…

“What’s the fear about?”

“It’s ok to be successful. It’s ok to be seen. It’s ok to be beautiful. You are not taking away space from anyone else.”

Wow.  It’s like I’ve been sitting on a couch talking to her for years. 

If you’ve never felt these things, I can understand why it would be difficult to connect with these words, and that’s ok.  But with these words, Neda spoke to my deepest fears, the things I am working to overcome everyday. 

I came up with two practical, if not slightly quirky, tools to help me in this journey towards confidence and freedom and they are helping me beat my old mindset. 

  1. I don’t have to order off the happy hour menu. 

    I realized that so often I am looking to accommodate, to try and guess what makes things easier for people around me.  I looked at others as if they had something I didn’t and told myself that I was really good at being average, helping and pushing other people forward on their journey.  There is a lot of comfort in that, especially if you have the work ethic to back it up.  Every day hums along and I could do great things on a small scale, but in the back of my mind there was always this feeling that there was more to do, more that I am meant for.  When that feeling would come up and I would act on it though, it would cause me personal problems that would quickly rob my energy and put me back in my place. Being that I am happy with simplicity most of the time, it was easy to convince myself that the happy hour menu was where I belonged…cheaper prices, fewer options and so very safe.

  2. The only one focused on me is me.

    This thought works to alleviate the stress I feel when I believe that eyes are on me.  Most of the time, people are doing what they need to do for themselves, and I am a very small part of their picture.  This realization has also helped me to embrace the challenge of making my dreams come true myself.  I don’t have to wait for someone else to validate or give the stamp of approval on my plan.  That’s one of the cool things about the entrepreneurial mindset…I’m the only one who has to have my vision, no one is stopping me from putting it out there. Frankly, I need to be tough enough to put it out on my own, without someone in front of me telling me it’s good or it’s ok.  

In a few hours, I’m getting on a plane to travel to p1440, Kerri Walsh Jennings’s Inaugural event that is Beach Volleyball, Health and Wellness and Music all in one spot.  Sounds like heaven to me.  I’m going to connect and talk with people who you may have never heard of, but who have risen to the tøp of their field or game.  As always, I want to learn from them and share pieces of their wisdom that every generation can learn from when they are ready.  Life in so many ways boils down to small choices and what I have figured out is that it’s not about being famous, it’s about making your mark in a positive way in the world, big or small. I want to tell the stories of the people you think you already know, the ones you have never heard of and anyone in between. Anyone living their dream with passion is so inspiring to me, whether you sell books, make movies or serve coffee to strangers with a smile.

So often it’s the little things we do everyday that add up to the big results.  I have always believed this, but that belief caused me to be very hard on myself and rob me of the energy it takes to create flow in my life…I understand now, grind is not flow.  Small choices are easy, today I will take them one at a time, not take myself too seriously and have fun. 

Hope you find your flow today…

Healing…its a concept that I have always understood, but almost from an outsiders perspective.  From the time I was young, I have attracted scenarios in my life where I could provide some type of relief with my words.  Because I am so sensitive to other people’s vibes, I now understand I have to choose what to react to. My intuition creates scenarios, especially with my own kids, where I have to decide, 

“is this something I should address or let them 

figure out on their own?”  

In past relationships, I was overbearing, because I was attached to a certain outcome that I was absolutely determined to achieve. Today I believe that to attach to a certain outcome, rather than to stay present (the best way I have discovered to beat back fear and overthinking) and let the outcome of any situation reveal itself organically, is what creates a free flow of creativity and, the autonomy that we all need to create our best life. When I operate in this zone, I suddenly feel like I am strong enough to handle what comes my way, my confidence rises and success becomes more tangible in my life. 

I realized something though, as I was talking to my friend Sarah this morning.  Sarah and I have been close friends for 20 years, a concept that frankly blows my mind.  We have traveled the world together and have always found comfort and common ground in our no nonsense approach to life.  We see the world from a very similar lens and, I would say, that she is one of the toughest, most competent people I have ever met.  To put it simply, I have always been drawn to her strength, and yet we have always been able to be the people we want to be, and be completely at ease in our relationship at the same time.  I think there is a certain point in life where you realize that relationships like this are the gold standard. That trusted inner circle where you are your most genuine, and yet also striving to be your best self, without judgement, guilt or reservation, are the relationships that I treasure most in life. It’s a magical spot between acceptance and self improvement where success is born. From this conversation this morning, I understood more clearly that I have developed my strength to be able to handle my sensitivity.  

Because of my mind/body/spirit connection, I dove into 200 hour power yoga teacher training after my own yoga practice produced healing effects in my own heart and mind.  I have believed theoretically for some time in our body’s ability to store emotional pain as physical pain.  Things like tight muscles and food cravings, for example, I believe can be tied to emotional experiences and traumas we haven’t let go of.  Hippie talk for some, and a departure from my earlier days of bear down, ignore it and just get it done. What I know from experience though, is that my work ethic hasn’t changed, but the more I open my mind and soul to my own healing, the higher my energy level becomes, to the point that what used to take grind, now comes much more effortlessly.  

Last Sunday, as I was finishing up a long day of teacher training, we were learning to do adjustments and practice teaching and my theory of emotional pain in the body became real for me on my mat. As Natasha, our most inspired owner/teacher/sage at Soho Yoga came over to me to adjust my supine twist, (knowing her levels of sensitivity she knew exactly what she was doing when she got to me) and placed her hand on my tøp hip, stretching it to release.  When she did this, a lot more than just fascia was released. In a moments time, and before I could even sense it coming, a well of emotion sprang up in me and, as my lip began to quiver, one whisper of

“let it go,”

I did…and I couldn’t stop crying. I have so much to work through in my own body and heart space, but instead of that being a fearful endeavor, it’s a welcomed journey for me that is both unique and universal.  I’m comfortable today knowing that this type of journey isn’t for everyone, but, I also know that the people I am inclined to surround myself with are on a healing path.  Our stories are distinct, but often their roots are similar. Sometimes we have to be uprooted, and planted in a different soil, to create our most productive harvest. My outsiders perspective on healing is no longer, it’s a inside job, rooted in both strength and sensitivity and cultivated by gratitude and connection…and it’s bounty has yet to be realized.  

To know me is to know that I am often having a conversation with myself in my own head.  Maybe that’s why I like being alone, my thoughts and I really do have a good time together.  I have a conversation going these days about how its ok to be a late bloomer…because that’s what I’ve been calling myself a lot lately.  I’ve said it before, but there are parts of me that feel 22 and parts that feel 55.  I love the wisdom that comes with age but I know I’m not the first one to think, “I wish I could keep my 43 year old brain and have my 22 year old body.”  That sentiment is ringing true when it comes to the sports I still like to play as much, if not more, than when I was younger.  My 43 year old mentality is so much better for sports, it knows how to grind, is far less timid, incorporates my mind into my game, pushes through pain and let things go quickly.  My mature self plays for my own love of the game, not for any accolade or because of any expectation put on me.  Endorphins, friendship, stress relief, fitness…each one is enough to get me moving and make volleyball, swimming or yoga a part of any day. I don’t need a bigger stage or reason, and the thought of not being able to do these things makes me scared. 

Injuries are part of sports, but in the last year they have caused me to modify my schedule, have knee surgery, and listen to my body…and I can’t say that I haven’t fought it. My sage of a yoga teacher Jeri told us one day in class that ailments in our bodies are meant to slow us down and take inventory…that thought gave me a good cry because like almost everything I encounter in sports, it has a life meaning as well.  Slow down and feel it is what she was saying.  Man, sometimes that is so hard. The good part about my injuries (besides making it much easier to pass the anatomy portion of my yoga certification because I have spent enough time with my own aches and pains and figuring out where they stem from) is the people that I have met who do a great job holding me together.  From my yoga teachers, to my soft tissue guy Frank at The Center, (who jokingly calls himself my enabler, which is not too far from the truth) and movement guru Cynthia at The Center for Movement & Fluency, who I met when she worked some of her magic on my youngest, Matthew, that then spilled over to me, these people have become my friends and partners in keeping me moving in the way I love and I couldn’t be more grateful.  They understand the importance of the mind body connection…some people use shopping for therapy, I forgo that and go straight to these guys.  I’m inspired by their continual learning and desire to get better at what they do, and, I like to challenge them with my high arches, lack of dorsiflexion in my feet and ability to compensate in some pretty unhealthy ways!  

I’ve been around long enough to know that we teach what we know…it happens whether purposefully or not.  Having kids grow up active and learn how to be healthy and take care of the bodies they have been given is so important to me. Learning how to compete, be coached without defensiveness, be a good teammate and be mentally tough in tight moments are all things that I have learned (and am still working on) from playing sports that have given me wisdom, joy and some amazing relationships and, because of these experiences, I am better equipped to pass these lessons on to them. My body will tell me how long the mix of activities gets to stay the same, but life has taught me, I’m adaptable…so I’m going to keep getting better in some way, on and off the court, and we’ll see where we go from there. 


Senator John McCain - Picture: wikicommons/flickr

Senator John McCain - Picture: wikicommons/flickr

In so many ways, I am typical to the scene around me.  If you look at me, I dress the same, eat the same, and workout the same as the collective of people in my geographic area. As human beings we tend to try and fit in, to match our surroundings,  we are consciously and unconsciously influenced by our experiences that are most often with people more like us.  I find myself running in circles of volleyball moms, moms of teenagers, people of above average financial means living in one of the most expensive areas of the country to live. But, I am self reflective, and find myself drawn to independent spirits who aren’t afraid to buck the status quo. My creative mind has always been there with ideas and theories that weren’t always mainstream, but, up until now, I just haven’t had the courage to act on them. What this has taught me is that when our thoughts and our actions don’t line up, it creates discontent in our hearts. Over some time, I have learned to identify the feeling of discontent and wrestle with it in a way that somehow shows me new opportunity and teaches me to fight off cynicism with action. I’ve learned that to become something different than one who just accepts and runs with the pack, we have to challenge our beliefs, and critically think and ask why about 100 times a day.  What do I really think? Is it worth breaking the mold? Who do I trust for advice? What will the feedback be, what motivates that feedback and how much will I let it influence my thoughts and choices?  Each of us gets to answer those questions based on our own unique experience, there is not one right answer, but there is a feeling of contentment that comes when we get the answer right for ourselves. As humans, we want a tribe, we want to be part of a collective, but we also each have a burning desire to stand out, to let the world know what we are about. That takes courage and a decision to find where our “happy medium” is that creates the most life satisfaction and impact in our own life and for the world. It's not a balance that is easy to strike. 

 

I had the great honor last weekend to attend the Memorial Service for US Senator John MCain at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. To say that standing with a crowd of thousands, tears streaming, with that incredible backdrop, and sing The Battle Hymn of the Republic is a moment in my life that I will never forget is an understatement.  I had the opportunity to be there because of the legacy of leadership and hard work that came before and beside me.  I was raised in a quietly patriotic family where the example was set not as much by the words spoken but by the actions taken. From the time I was seven until I was 20 my dad served in the California State Assembly and as California Secretary of State.  He taught my sister and I, through his example, how to lead with virtue and humility and he attracted the friendship of other leaders with similar values throughout his career.  One of the greatest among these was Senator McCain.  My sister went on to work on both his 2000 and 2008 Presidential Campaigns, as well as serve in his Press office on Capitol Hill, and over those years and through countless hours of intense work, she built a strong bond with one of the greatest leaders of this century. When he passed away on August 25, as a country, we mourned the loss of a great American hero, but my parents and sister mourned the loss of a friend with whom they shared pivotal moments of American history that are part of the fabric of our country and had great impacts on my family. When she texted Wednesday night asking me if I wanted to join her at his memorial service in Washington D.C.,  there was no hesitation in my answer. 

Reflecting on what I took in there has been a challenge, there is so much depth and connection and so many spot on words spoken so eloquently by leaders on the world stage and those who shared their days with Senator McCain.  What was communicated in the tributes given by Senator McCain’s daughter Meghan, his close friend Senator Joe Lieberman, Secretary Kissinger, President Bush & President Obama was a moving oratory of the roles played in a lifetime, that no matter the action necessary to fulfill the role, it was evident through their words that Senator McCain played each role true to his character. Their words spoke to the effect his leadership played on a world stage and in the life of a family.  I began to think what an honor it is for a single life to have significant impact on both a micro and macro level.  To leave the world better off because you were there, as well as the individuals that you share life with stronger in their own position takes takes consistency of values forged under pressure over a lifetime.  Some may say that its easier because he was a Senator, or was born into a position of privilege, having had generations of leaders in his family come before him but no matter our position in life, everyday, we are all creating a legacy.  What we do matters to the next generation, just as the generations that came before John McCain influenced the decisions and habits that created a great American hero. The people who helped shape him, influenced a man that who spent over 5 years being tortured as prisoner of war, and then in that same lifetime work to restore normalized relations with that same country. They helped shape the mentality of a warrior who understood forgiveness and the importance of dodging a cynical outlook on life as key factors in a life well lived. His life helped us see that the life choices we make are bigger than us…they have far reaching impacts on the character of the generation that comes after us.  We choose whether to carry this fact as a burden or an honor.  The greats, the ones who leave their imprint on our history, accept the challenge and stand their ground with honor.  They shake up the status quo with their radical way of thinking  and they show us how to live with courage, conviction and confidence…thank you for the example Senator McCain. You left your mark on the world, on my family, and even with all of the power you held on the world stage, most importantly on your own family and for that, we are forever grateful.  

 

Dinner at home…I’ll take it pretty much anytime over a crowded restaurant.  Add great company and a fabulously prepared Italian meal and you’ve got the recipe for an amazing evening.  I had the best time spending last night in exactly that place, celebrating my friend Terri’s 50th birthday with my 6 Man team.  Terri is the “founder”, the one who rallies the troops every year, gets us going on the costume and holds the tradition together.  I was lucky enough to find my way on to this team 8 years ago, and have been blessed by this amazing group of women ever since.  The chef of this amazing meal was my dear friend and favorite beach partner Vanessa, her gift of hospitality overflows in her kitchen.  I think she ran a bed and breakfast in Tuscany in her past life.  

The evolution of girl power that I got to enjoy last night is a lesson in why the journey of life is such a gift.  Between us we have 16 kids, own businesses, some of us have husbands at home, some are single moms, have survived cancer, have put kids through college, provide healthcare in some of LA’s tenderest spots where love, advice and support are equally if not more necessary than medical care, have been shaped by the medical conditions of our children, have lived on different continents, taught generations of students, and driven a million miles to ASC, StubHub and beaches beyond the South Bay to support our kids and a sport that we all love.  The accomplishments are endless and that is just the short list. 

The cool thing about sitting around a table like that is that I could feel the evolution, the raw support that comes from a group that has been there. You can look across the table and feel it coming from any single one of their eyes.  I remember being in my late 20’s, maybe barely 30 and having people tell me, just wait until you turn 40…that’s when the *$%* really hits the fan…and around that table, you could say that we have each experienced that in a real way. But what is produced in by the battle testing flames of exposure are women who get it. There was no gossip, no fanfare just laughter and realness mixed in with a dance party that featured everything from Chaka Khan to 50 cent.  I couldn’t help but think as Vanessa’s teenage daughters hung with us, helping serve dinner and learning the grace of life from their amazing mom…this is what you have to look forward to girls, enjoy every minute…but life on this side is looking good tonight.

Life is moving pretty fast these days…all four of them are in full swing, we’ve had first days of school, a concussion, volleyball tryouts, football games, videos to make, and as I try to do these days…zen out and try to find the calm.  

 

Eeerily, when I think of moments of calm in my life, one of them is attached to what still is the scariest day of my life…Sept 6, 2009.  Every year since, I write something about it.  I talk about water safety…never leave a child unattended around water, not ever, even for a minute. I reflect on the horror of pulling Matthew out of the pool and the moments after when we were waiting for the first responders to arrive.  My mind goes to the day after this horrible accident when we got to bring him home from the hospital, never having been admitted to ICU, where most near drownings go, never fully recover and then even got to get him up for preschool the day after he returned home.  Had we not said something, the teachers never would have known the miraculous reality of that Labor Day Weekend.  

 

Although I have relived that day over and over in my mind a thousand times and know that I received the gift of my faith that day.  Up to that point, I felt unworthy and untested.  I believed, but in a way that was almost obligatory because it was what I had been taught (which I am immensely grateful for) and, because I had been blessed in life to that point, it just seemed ungrateful to question.  But as I knelt on the red brick driveway in my yellow bathing suit, praying out loud and not caring who heard me, the calm that came over me in the worst moment of my life was a feeling I will never forget.  It gave me the strength to go and tell my other kids that no matter what happened we were going to be ok, and I actually meant it.  My heart breaks to this day for other people who were in my same shoes who didn’t have the miraculous outcome that we did. I have been wrestled with guilt over that through the years.  These days I know though that lessons can be learned without the guilt, and my energy is better spent being present, finding the calm in the moment and honoring his survival by being the best version of myself.  He reminds me everyday that I am enough, despite my shortcomings and even almost near failure as a parent.  He inspires me to keep working, even when things are hard, because they are hard for him everyday and it’s the best way I can teach him to overcome that fact.  We learn and grow mosts from the tests that life gives us…and I study every day for the next one because there are no guarantees when we are going to get a pop quiz.  

 

Thanks again for all you teach me Bubs! So happy to be able to do life with your mystic soul.  

 

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