Here is a collection of the various lessons I learned in 2014, in the hopes of maybe inspiring something in you.... and remembering what this year felt like twenty years from now when I'm actually in Bali with my babies.
1) I feel best when I listen to my body. I've been practicing yoga consistently for six years now and the tendency as you progress in your practice is to see how much further your body will take you. "Got one leg behind the head? Great! Now, how 'bout both?" Well, a series of minor injuries and wisdom imparted upon me from seasoned teachers made me realize that this year, what my body wanted and needed was more breathing and less accomplishment-based yoga. No doubt, I practiced my handstands and backbends when my body was feeling strong, but the rest of the time, I focused on what my body needed in that particular moment to thrive. I realized that I love how it feels to honor my body and give it exactly what it needs.
2) Find your tribe. In learning more about myself everyday, I'm understanding how important it is (to me) to feel part of a community, connected to a group of people that truly understand you and support your path. This year, we created a movement called #mermaidyogis that welcomed in anyone who feels a deep love for the ocean and yoga. We connected online in the thousands, met up locally here in San Diego by the hundreds, and a smaller, super passionate group even joined us in Mexico for a week of mermaid and yoga adventures. Many of our tribe have found soul-sisters in each other. It's incredible to see people unite around a common cause and make magic happen.
3) Connections in person are SO good for your soul. While building a massive following online was fun, it made me value my in-person time with other humans even more. I crave hugs and eye-contact and remain devoted to taking people from behind their screens and into real life, creating connections that will last a life time.
4) How to take calculated business risks. Something came over me this year. After spending the first four months soul-searching and frolicking in the jungle, I felt compelled to give other people that experience. It felt wrong to hold onto all that positive energy just for myself. I became committed to creating travel experiences in which other people would be able to let go for a bit and tune back into nature. Then, I woke up one day in July and realized I had booked 3 yoga retreats in 6 months. Holy moly! How was I going to pull this one off? Had I oversaturated myself? Were my 3 different business partners going to be mad that I triple booked and never work with me again? The fear started rushing in, so I decided to breathe. And I realized that everything was going to be OK. I took a big business risk, but I did so in a calculated and caring way for all parties involved. The retreats were spaced out enough and themed differently enough that they didn't interfere with one another. I'm happy to report that all 3 were hugely successful and I'm still on good terms with everyone. Clear lines of communication and taking actions with mindfulness and attention to detail go a long way in the business world.
5) Friends don't have to be your business partners; not all business partners have to be your best of friends. As a textbook Gemini, I loooooove connecting with all kinds of people. I love when those people become life long friends and you make magical projects happen together. In an ideal world, this is how it would happen every time. But in reality, there is no need for everything to blend together. Sometimes, it's 100% normal to do business with someone and leave it at that. And most of the time, your best of friends don't need to be your business partners. Keep them as friends, it will last longer that way :)
6) I LOVE home cooking. Speaking of business, 2014 was busy. In the most beautiful way. My husband started his very own law firm and I embraced my inner yoga-entrepreneur. Everything was on the up and up and up. Except our time in the kitchen -- that was on the way, way down. We ate out a lot. More than I'm happy to 'fess up to. Eating out is easy when you're busy, you feel like you've "earned" it on some level. But there's nothing better than putting love and elbow grease into your meals. A little preparation and looking at cooking as a form of meditation goes a long way.
7) You MUST love yourself first. Speaking of food and what we put into our bodies....this year, I deeply connected with the idea that love must first come from within. While I've got an adoring husband and an amazingly loving family and friends, you can't fake true self-love. As a 90's child, I grew up with the energy of eating disorders, body dysmorphia and self loathing all around me. It was cool to cut yourself and/or be a mean girl. But now, coming into my adulthood, I'm so over that mean girl shit. As women, we must uplift and bring out the best in each other. And the only way we can do that is if we truly love ourselves first. When we love ourselves and fill our hearts with authentic compassion and joy, it pours out onto all those around us. Goddess energy flow is what I'm all about these days. Together we rise.
8) It's OK to check-out of life sometimes. Real talk: there is way too much pressure on women these days. The struggle to "do it all" is real and it's just not possible. We need time to re-boot and fill our souls back up so that we have more to give when we come back home. I was so impressed by the mamas who came on my yoga retreats this year. Some with babies as young as 9 months old, full-time jobs and husbands to care for, packed their bags and met me in Mexico for a week of self-care. There's no need to feel guilty for taking time for you. In Spanish they say, haz lo que amas - do what you love. And do what makes you feel love.
9) We are all connected. One of my favorite memories of my time in Mexico this year was hitchhiking with my friend Jenny. We didn't know where we were going, we just trusted that the Universe would provide. And it did. Getting into the cars (or mostly trucks - everyone in Mexico drives trucks) of complete strangers is something so taboo in the US, understandably so. There is lots of fear, mistrust, and frankly, lots of dangerous people, all around the world. But, what we found was that when we put out good energy, it came right back to us. When we looked into the eyes of these strangers and asked about their families, their eyes lit up and in that moment, I realized - we are all connected. We are all made of the same dust and particles as the stars and the grass and the trees. No one is better than anyone else. We all have beating hearts and the same capacity for love. That being said: In full disclosure, I've promised my husband I won't do it again....unless I reallyyyy need a ride and a reminder that we are one. ;)
10) Do what you're most afraid to do. That's where the growth will occur. I had never heard of a temazcal until early in 2014. My friend Ana was doing a tribal sweat lodge on her yoga retreat in Mexico facilitated by a tribe of local Indian healers and it hit my core. Something about it intrigued me to the max. I contacted her for more info and it turned out this particular ceremony would occur on May 24 - the day after my birthday, first day of my 28th year. All the stars were aligning to offer me this purifying experience as I traveled into my womanhood. I didn't think about it too much until right when they shut the sweat lodge door and I had a minor panic attack. I couldn't be that white girl that came and had a freak out! I had to do this - there was no other choice. In a way, I gently forced myself through the process and am so glad I did. It was a beautiful experience that allows you to step into the womb of Mother Earth (pachamama), tap into your inner child, and come out re-born. I loved it so much I completed my second temazcal ceremony on Decemeber 31, the last day of 2014 with my friend Fatima in Tulum. I feel re-born full of love and ready to do more things outside my comfort zone in 2015.
11) Be Strong, you never know who you are inspiring. I got a call from my former yoga student a few weeks ago out of the blue calling to thank me for all the support over the years. Even though we barely talk and haven't seen each other in person since 2012, we keep in contact online. She called to tell me she had just left her lawyer's office to file divorce papers from her husband of almost 20 years. 3 gorgeous children and a seemingly perfect life together had come to an end. She was ready to leave a toxic situation and love herself again. I was blown away by her courage and strength! She said I was an inspiring force in her life, whether I knew it or not. A truly humbling moment for me and a good reminder that each of us has the potential to inspire and uplift each other. Keep your vibrations high, you never know who might need them!
12) Fear is LOUD. Let your love and gratitude for life be louder. Towards the end of 2014, I finally committed to participating in Gabrielle Bernstein's 40 day fear-detox challenge. Her book "May Cause Miracles" has taught me this: fear resists gratitude. Fear wants you to stay low-vibration. The ego seeks out problems and looks for what's lacking in life. Everyday, you must work to build your gratitude muscles and trust that your love is stronger than any fear.
13) Don't settle for a spark, light a fire instead. As women, many of us prefer to dim our lights and let others shine first. On a stormy night in Mexico, during our #mermaidyogis retreat, we were doing a visioning exercise and I was unexpectedly overcome with frustration and sadness confessing to the girls that I do not believe I deserve all the greatness this life has to offer. Caught in a rare moment of vulnerability, with tears running down my face, one of them pulled out their phone and read the group this Marianne Williamson quote: "Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
It was my a-ha moment to wake up and realize that I am worthy -- we are all worthy -- of living out our highest goals and dreams in life.
14) There's so much more to learn! I adore being a teacher, but there's nothing better than being a student. I can't wait to see what other spiritual lessons and assignments the coming years have in store for me. May we never stop learning, growing and expanding on this beautiful journey called Life.
most of my photos here are taken by janalyn yanover @horizonlightphotography