I have always wanted the complete opposite of all that makes up my own genetic makeup.
Naturally I am a curvy woman with naturally blonde wavy long hair and deep big blue eyes. But, most of my life I wanted to trade it in for dark long hair, a thin and elegant figure, and exotic dark skin and features.
And there are women who would kill to have my genes. And vice versa. An endless cyclic nature of never being happy with our own bodies.
As a whole, our society has trained us to never be comfortable or content with who we are. We are always wanting to be something we are not.
What makes us this way?
Why can we not embrace how delicately and intricately we were made?
Because in our society, we are taught that physical appearance is everything. If we don’t like how we look, then we can change it.
We can diet, we can exercise, we can have plastic surgery, dye our hair, get colored contacts, get braces, and an endless amount of makeup and clothes options to choose from.
This shows us that if we have all of these means of change, we should do just that—change ourselves.
In a world where eating disorders and body dysmorphia are at an all time high, I feel it is appropriate for us to educate each other, men and women, to love ourselves and accept ourselves for all that we are.
We must build each other up and not break each other down for being different than one another.
We need to learn acceptance of ourselves. We should be proud of our heritage for that makes us physically and mentally who we are. We should embrace the concept that we are all uniquely different from every other soul on this planet.
We must learn that our appearance is not, ultimately, what makes us who we are as people.
Our souls make us who we are.
So while we are consumed with our personal appearance and how we wish we should look, we should recognize that our looks are only a shell for the deeper, more meaningful essence that makes us us!
As we get older, our looks will fade. Our hair will gray, skin will become thin, our breasts may sag, our tummies may become more round and spherical, our eyesight and hearing may go, but our soul stays the same.
Through each journey and life lesson, our soul stays the same. We may grow and learn and become more aware throughout our life—but our soul, it is our one constant—to me, that is beautiful! Aging is beautiful! We are growing and evolving!
If we can learn to love ourselves for what we are, physically and mentally, we can learn to embrace ourselves for all that we are and others for all that they are.
So next time we catch ourselves being envious of someone for having the complete opposite of what we have, take a moment to embrace and be grateful for all that we have ourselves.
I embrace my blonde wavy unmanageable hair! I embrace my breasts that can’t find shirts or dresses to wear. I embrace my sensitive blue eyes. I embrace them all because they were given to me to make the physical essence of Hannah. All that is me. They are only a shell to the deeper corridors of my essence, but they are mine, and I shall forever be grateful!
I embrace your body, all that is physically and intricately different than mine. I embrace your shell. And ultimately, I embrace your soul for all that it is!
Let’s help each other out to be grateful for all that they are, build them up, embrace their natural beauty, and ultimately we can all learn to love our mind, bodies and spirit!
My hands Together they make life They will create a beautiful masterpiece Bringing about beauty Bringing about green Bringing about nourishment for the body…the mind…the soul… Many hours we shall spend Our hands in the dirt Tending, nourishing, giving life and breath to those precious plants Our garden will grow… An abundant garden Never will life be so precious… Our garden will teach us patience Our garden will teach us nurture Our garden will teach us not all survives the winter… However, unlike the flowers from the frost We are still blooming Like a Lotus flower We have emerged from the murky waters The muddy depths of our soul A blue bloom in a slow and steady breath So my love, come away with me Follow me to the secret garden You can watch my flowers grow You can tend my soil Feel the dirt between your hands Our hands Together in the dirt Where we make life Where we make love
I feel as though a heavy blanket has lifted itself from my body, exposing me to all that is real and true. Nerves exposed, traces of healing wounds, battle scars, and pure elation.
It all began one morning with a compilation of events.
It started with a yoga class where I focused on my third eye while in savasana. I gently closed my eyes and began to move them to look upwards, between my brows.
While doing so, I felt warm sun shining on my face (a day of overcast was upon us and the idea of the beach brings me unadulterated contentment). My skin felt as though I was laying on the beach—just engulfed in all that is the blissful beach.
My happy place. The intensity of the peace that swept through my heart literally made me feel lighter—free. Hands down, the best savasana of my life, and to think—I didn’t even want to get out of bed for yoga that morning.
If that wasn’t enough delight for the day, while driving home I was listening to Trevor Hall “Chapter of the Forest” when a hawk flew right over my windshield so close I could have touched it if I wanted to. It was beautiful, soaring past me, letting me know that I am meant to be in this moment at this time and to be grateful for the hiccups in life that lead you to your destination.
I’m not sure where my journey is taking me. Or really where my final destination is. But I choose not to get too caught up on the finality of things. I try to live just in the moment, but moments like that reassure me that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. Moments like that give us faith that we are doing right by doing nothing at all but living a life of purpose.
As I continued to drive, home a flock of birds danced in flight. Right above me they stopped mid flight and danced then proceeded back onto their course. This was a remembrance to take a moment out of my journey to stop and dance and enjoy my life.
I felt this day was meant to be.
It washed peace over my skin and I gratefully soaked up every ounce of it within my pores. I listened to the Universe and all that came my way that day.
I was alive!
I was living with each breath bringing about a new discovery.
It brought me to the realization that too often we are unaware of our surroundings. We are unaware of the little gifts Mother Nature gifts us because we are too caught up in the hustle and bustle of this life we are all trying to achieve- big house, fancy car, nice objects.
Let’s all stop for a few minutes throughout our day.
Birds singing. Each breath. Each sunrise. Each sunset.
This is what our life is about! Learning to be grateful for everything in our life. Everything in this life is to teach you about yourself so we can leave this place better than it was when we found it on the day of our birth.
We can change the world with each breath. What a simple concept.
With each breath we can wash away the negativity. We can make room for the positive. We can earn gratitude with each breath. We can learn acceptance with each breath.
We can learn our soul with each breath.
So let’s do it! I accept the challenge. With each breath I set my intention to change the world with positivity and love.
It feels like forever ago that your eyes looked deep into mine…
It feels like forever ago that you held me in your arms… It feels like forever ago that your lips brushed across mine… It feels like forever ago that your tongue explored my body… It feels like forever ago that we made that initial connection when we knew, “He/She is the one”… It feels like forever ago that we spent countless hours exploring one another, making love like no other… It feels like forever ago that we twisted and curved our bodies in so many shapes… It feels like forever ago that your hand searched for mine as we made love… It feels like forever ago that our feet were entwined as we slept such sweet slumbers… It feels like forever ago that you were telling me you loved me and for me not to say it back… It feels like forever ago that I whispered those words in your ear… It feels like forever ago that this whirlwind began… It feels like forever ago that you were taken from me… I must know… Will you remember my face? Will you remember my scent? Will you remember my kiss? Will you remember our bliss? Time is a cruel cruel concept… You cannot get any of it back… It feels like eternity has passed…
Is it wrong that I feel so alive as the leaves on the trees die?
I feel a sense of awakening with my body.
As the seasons change from winter to spring, the world blossoms and blooms. Everything comes alive. From spring to summer we experience the warmth, like a big giant hug from our mother.
But fall to winter, this is when I come alive—when the leaves die.
The fall brings a crispness to the air. And the sun, oh when it just kisses your skin ever so softly, it’s the one of the most sensual feelings. It’s not like the summer’s rays that are harsh and right upon us; it’s a soft and delicate kiss that lingers and warms us while the crisp air dances through our hair.
And the leaves! They turn to such radiant colors, exuding Mother Nature’s beauty to the utmost level.
My soul radiates just as the leaves do.
My soul turns a deep passionate conglomerate of all fall colors.
The red represents the love, the desire I feel, I yearn for. The inner passion that dwells deep within my heart for loving life and love itself.
The brilliant yellow represents the happiness and joy I feel deep within my soul. The smile upon my face.
The pep in my step.
The deep embering orange represents the constant fire I feel. The drive, the passion, which makes up everything about this soul, mind, and body of mine.
As the leaves change to immaculate art, so does my mind, my creativity. Fall brings out from the depths of my soul the words, the movement, the song that my soul was meant to sing.
It brings about a freshness where as the last few months I have felt stagnant and worn down.
Then as the leaves die, I stay so alive, so aware of my every being. I am fully aware of myself, of what I want, what I need, what my life purpose is. Fall brings about in me a sense of conquering myself, my own demons, my own setbacks.
With each falling leaf I am letting go of all the things that do not serve me.
Mother Nature has given me Fall as a gift each and every year. It’s her way of saying “Here you go Hannah, here’s to your creativity and love of life! Enjoy it!”
I crave her gift! I crave the crackling fire. The cold crisp air. The sound of the acoustic guitar and our voices singing along.
I crave you comforting me while are wrapped up in wool blanket I’ve woven for our slumber. I crave the smells of apples and cinnamon, pumpkin and spice. The warmth of the whiskey heating up my blood.
As each season passes, I patiently await the gift from my Mother. The gift of life.
Fall is a time to sit back and reflect on the importance of the cycle of life. Embrace the beauty of the life you live. Embrace the change that is coming your way. Embrace each moment for it is yours.
Each leaf falling to the ground is the Universe’s gift to you allowing you to let go of all that does not serve you.
Fall is a time to build an empire within ourselves…the one we are destined to inhabit.
Take time to make your way outside. Grab a blanket, a book, a journal, your favorite tunes, and a cup of tea.
Sit amongst the earth and let Her fill your heart with Her love.
I was looking for feelings/thoughts/emotions during a certain time in my life, when I came across a bunch of sad pathetic entries. These entries just made me sad and overcome with grief for that broken woman I once was. Every one was the same damn thing, now mind you it was over an extended period of time, but I only wrote about the negative, never the positive.
I didn’t even mention the love I found in my heart during that summer with a soul I had always cared for. I just wrote about the darkness that I let consume the molecules that make me Hannah.
What a shame that I could not see that there was positivity around me—love and caring—all that I needed to bring me back from depression.
It led me to the subject of negativity/positivity. I was very depressed and no one knew it. I hid it, or maybe I just thought I hid it.
I let people know my pain, but not the depths—I kept that for myself.
I searched for myself in others; I wasn’t there.
It took me being alone to find myself. Others were there to offer love, light, laughter, etc., but I just didn’t want it. I wanted to be blue.
Depression is contagious and I was of a weak mind.
I soaked up the blue days around me and made them mine. I fed into the pity, self-loathing and clinginess. I was a mess! I honestly thought that it would never end and I would always be so unhappy with life that I would never again experience the joys I had once embraced.
There are so many people suffering from depression, yet there is still a stigma that we shouldn’t be depressed. I want everyone to know it is okay to feel down and wallow just a bit in your sadness because it makes the sweet that much sweeter, it shows you what you want and don’t want, and it helps you to find your true feelings and rawness! I encourage you to talk about it too. Let’s end the stigma!! And if you have thoughts of ending your life, please reach out for help! Please!
Your life is worth living, I promise!
I personally believe in the power of thought, that what you put into the universe is what you get back. So all that time I put negativity out in my journal, I received it in my life. When I put out positive affirmations, positive things happen! Living the proof of that delicious pudding!
Be careful how you speak throughout your day. It’s okay to complain, we all do it, but don’t let it consume you and don’t let it be a daily habit.
After reading that horrible journal I wanted to burn all that negativity, but I won’t because it gives me insight in to where I was and where I came from. Who I am now is not the same woman I was before and I fought damn hard to be different from that negative Nancy!
A little lesson I try to live by is, for every negative thought I have or word I say, I try to put out two positive thoughts or words. This is a method of counteracting my poor thoughts, feelings and words.
Let’s stop breaking each other down.
Let’s build each other up and share compliments and love!
I felt a pain in that intense back bend—so distraught, my heart open, offered up to those around me—and then someone would sweep in and take the opportunity to swiftly samurai my heart in half.
Or so that is how it feels every time I was in camel pose for the first two years of my practice.
I felt that I was opening my heart to those around me and they were just taking each breath as an opportunity to stab or slash my vital organ into a million little pieces.
Every single time I took camel pose, I was setting myself up for a minute in child’s pose just to recover.
Camel pose, or Ustrasana, is one of those poses that releases so many hidden emotions. Most of us are unaware of them until we are on our knees, back bent, our face searching for the back of the room, holding our ankles, and sweat rolling down into our eyes like the Chattahoochee River.
The reason camel pose can be so intense because our heart is open and vulnerable. Also, because our backs are often under stretched, over worked and so tight from holding in emotions that are under lock and key.
So many of us think, “Oh yeah, I’ve got my stuff together. I know exactly how I feel about my life and all that encompasses me,” but in reality, many of us find ourselves in this pose begging for the teacher to tell us that we are on our last breath so we can take a child’s pose.
Most teachers will warn you of this before you take camel. They will assure you that it is okay if you cry or giggle. All kinds of emotions are bound to arise when you least expect it and this is one thing that we yogis and yoginis understand—yoga is a journey and on this journey we will discover things about ourselves that we may have been completely oblivious to. But, through the power of yoga and being self-aware, we can find who we are deep within this bag of bones and skin.
The teacher is also an important part of achieving this posture. The times I began overcoming the spitting camel (that is what I call it—vicious spitting camel), I had nurturing positive teachers coaching me on how to move through the pose. Their soothing and loving nature eases the deep emotions brought out in the pose. It’s like the times when we end up crying in savasana for no reason, other than to feel, because that is what yoga does—it makes you feel. It makes you feel alive.
It makes you feel everything that this Universe intended you to feel in that moment. So soak it up, buttercup.
Camel is just one of those asanas that with patience and the right environment, we can unlock all that holds us back as we bend and hold our ankles.
Other backbends include: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose), Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), etc. The list goes on.
We can benefit immensely from these asanas. We can relieve anxiety and stress, relieve chronic back and neck pain, allow the back to work to its fullest expression—which is to be flexible and healthy—we improve our breathing and we open our mind and heart.
Who knew that hanging out upside down could give us a brand new perspective?
If you have a yoga practice, or you are starting one, consider adding backbends to your practice. However, make sure you first know the proper set up so you do not harm your back.
An expression I am so exhausted of hearing. We spend so much time working, doing chores, griping about what we want—just trying to have the perfect everything: the perfect home, family, car, body, job.
We lose sight of all that we really have, of all of the blessings that are graciously ever present in our lives.
We should take time each day to do what makes our souls sing, whether it is spending time in nature, writing, reading, enjoying your children, your lover, your family and friends, gardening, producing music, yoga.
All of these things should be enjoyed and entertained daily.
Replace griping with reading a book. Replace the countless minutes spent trying to find the perfect outfit with practicing your headstands.
We are all stuck on the daily grind. Hit snooze a few times. Rush to get ready and get out the door so we can rush to work.
At work we dream of being anywhere else. We then leave work to rush home to settle our selves on to our couch where we numb our brain watching mindless television shows and shove food down our throat without even being cognizant of what we have consumed.
There are so many things that we are missing. We miss the enjoyment of watching the sun rise and the sun set. Drinking our coffee in peace while contemplating all that we are grateful for each morning. Enjoying the company of your lover and not playing on some sort of social media where you forget that the most important kind of socialization is laying right beside you.
There are 168 hours in a week. We have so much time! I actually calculated my hours on my busiest week of work. 20 hours of driving, 8 hours of sleep a night, and working about 68 hours. I still had 24 hours of free time in that crazy busy week—a whole day!
Think of all the singing my soul could do: yoga, painting, writing, cooking, getting crafty, practicing guitar, and spending time with my loves. I could do all that in a day for sure.
Work and providing for our families is very important, but we cannot let that be all we are composed of. We all have dreams and ambitions for our personal life.
As children most of us had some sort of after-school hobby that we were required to partake in and we were forced to practice that every day or every other day for an hour or two, whether we wanted to or not.
Moving into adulthood, we started working and cooking, simply providing for ourselves so that we can live. In this, we may have lost sight of doing what we love. We have lost a part of ourselves.
Let’s get that back! Let’s all make a conscious effort in making time to do these things.
Have you ever been in a hot yoga class, just thinking to yourself “What in Buddha’s name am I doing here?”
You know what I’m talking about. You have been holding chair pose in a 105 degree room, your legs are shaking, your butt muscles are clenched so tight you fear they will never relax again, sweat is dripping down your brow into your eyes, and you can’t breathe, but the teacher is oh-so-kindly reminding everyone to breathe—“yoga is about the breath.”
Yes—there have been numerous times where I have questioned my intentions in that pose: the uncomfortable feeling running through my muscles; the increased heart rate.
Why am I doing this to myself?
Yet I keep coming back. I enjoy it enough to endure yoga teacher training.
Either I am a masochist or I’ve found that yoga is the true teacher of a peaceful life.
I love that pain. I crave that pain. That pain has led me to pure happiness. And at least 10 percent of the United States population is right on board with me—they love yoga too! Yoga has taught me the most important philosophy that you can apply to your life, every single day:
When you are ready to give up, your body feels that it has had enough, and you think “I cannot physically do this anymore,” know that the pain is not permanent, but it is perfect.
In that moment, you are exactly where you are supposed to be: sweating out those cocktails from last night’s dinner, legs shaking, skin crying. With each drop of sweat, with each ounce of ego —letting it all go!
This is where I have found myself.
When I’ve wanted to give up on that ledge of uncomfortableness and unfamiliarity—I let go, and I found my truth. While sitting on that edge, you can consciously see everything that serves you and everything that does not. You discover what to nurture and what to dismiss.
In my most trying times, yoga has been the outlet that saved the shine in my soul. Whether it was a breakup, the loss of a friend, problems at work, or just the daily grind—yoga has been a place where I feel safe to let go and be.
I dive in to my practice and I let the sweat, the pain, the tears, and the edge sort out where I am meant to go next.
I let it be in each breath.
There is something so inspiring and spiritual in enduring that uncomfortable period of time and to arise from it with a strong, shining soul. If you’ve yet to experience the gift of yoga, I highly encourage you to give it a whirl. Imagine it as a counseling session where your mind and body are wrung clean of all negative thoughts and emotions.
To me, there is nothing better than that “yoga high.”
When I first began my serious yoga journey, my soul was dull. My heart was broken. I was stuck in a negative mindset. I didn’t even want to breathe anymore, let alone go to a class where all I was told to do was focus on my breath. So like any other masochist, I dove in headfirst into a 30 day yoga challenge.
With each inhale I felt alive. With each exhale I let go.
Did I finally discover the place where I could find happiness? Myself? My calling? Was I finally blooming?!
For us to blossom as individuals, we must endure the muck, the dirt, and the unclear waters. We must suffer to know happiness. We must endure pain to know pleasure. We must live to know death. And just as the beautiful lotus flower, we emerge from the murky waters with the most captivating colors and petals. We embody nature’s beauty and her grace.
We change with each breath, with each new experience.
Full of life. Full of brightness.
As humans, we were made to endure struggle so that we may grow and blossom—so that may discover the true nature of the world.
Just remember: it is not permanent, but it is perfect!