Girl vs. Reflection

Hello there.

Happy 2011. Happy Year of the Rabbit. Happy.

Confession: I empathize with the Groundhog. Like our squidgy little friend, from about Thanksgiving through to February, I tend to want to withdraw. Of course the cold, grey, depressing skies don’t help, the fact that I usually put on 5-10 pounds on warm, gooey Christmas goodness, and the tradition in my family as I’m sure in many of yours that no holiday can pass without some level of heightened drama sees me retreating to the comfort of my favorite armchair under piles of blankets for days at a time. I tend to spend my afternoons with Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha, and my evenings with Joey, Chandler, Ross, Phoebe, Rachel and Monica. I think any logical psychiatrist would diagnose me with Seasonal Affective Disorder (or ironically enough, SAD), however I just think I empathize with the Groundhog. And by February, I’m back to my bunny-like self.

The holiday hysteria (or the hysteria it invokes in me) is finally starting to seep from my veins. Little by little the affect of the season is dissipating and I’m starting to feel more like myself.

And I’ve found myself quite recently looking at my Reflection.  Both figuratively and literally. Not just merely out of vanity, but because I have something to celebrate. In 5 months.

November 30th, 2010 was the Eve of my 28th birthday. So to celebrate I practiced 27 rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) with the intention set that each round would represent a year of my life. I wouldn’t be who I am today at 28 had it not been for all the experiences I’d had in the years past. And as I exhaled through the rhythmic repetitions, I truly tried to focus on the year I was Reflecting upon and send gratitude to the lessons I learned that year. I can honestly say 27 was my best year yet…. although I’m guessing I had a pretty good year at 5 too…

December 1st, 2010 I proposed to my best friend. And she said yes. (I’m sure the tone of this submission would be a bit different had she not.) So within the week we found ourselves planning a wedding. Up until then, even though we knew we’d be partnered up forever, we hadn’t really committed to the whole idea of a wedding (Internet contests aside!).  Mostly because there are so many other adventures we wanted to pursue, that a wedding just seemed a bit unnecessary. So with a slight change of heart we visualized a small, intimate ceremony that Reflected who we are as a couple.

Yeah, well all that sounds very Hallmark Cardy and peaches and cream, but within days our vision began to slip away. I’d love to say I’m to blame, but what fun would that be? However, I will say that the American Wedding Conglomerates are at least 85% responsible. All other parties will remain nameless as making enemies is not my style (even if it ends up happening on a less-than-desirable basis).

Did you know a “wedding checklist” has been created and published that has over 500 To-Do items on it? As in 5-0-0? If you did know that, it’s because you’re married. And you had the big, princess, fairytale shebang. And you lived through it! So I say, “Go You. You are a better woman than I.”

In a moment of weakness and my penchant for theatrical events, I was swept right up into the Wedding Planning Tornado and I’m still recovering from her tossing me like Dorothy into a bizarre land of favors and place-cards and Save the Dates, Oh My! Soon our small, intimate ceremony was taking forms of tents being erected and $3000 cakes and I was spending way too much time talking about color themes.

Then while going over the venue contract which was written in French, my Québécois Beauty Translator mentioned how a friend of hers and her fiance discovered how much it would cost to throw a big wedding, scrapped the whole idea, eloped to a dreamy, white beach, and spent the money on a really cool vacation. They felt it was more of a Reflection of who they are as a couple.

Huh.

How ’bout that?

So you mean the way you express your love in vows toward each other has nothing to do with cohesive table linens and centerpieces? You mean the ungodly anxiety that it seemed no amount of yoga could combat is really unnecessary? You mean spending $ 20 or 30 or 100, 000 isn’t going to make our marriage a success?

When you look at your Reflection, do you like what you see? I don’t mean your literal, physical Reflection. What you see inside yourself when you look at you… that’s the Reflection I’m talking about.

I believe you can decide to reinvent yourself at any moment. And I don’t think you should apologize for that. The Buddha said “Everything changes, nothing remains without change.”

So we reevaluated what our wedding was Reflecting about us. We didn’t like it. So we changed it.

2 days ago I took a yoga class at the gym below our London flat. I love saying “flat”. It makes me feel oh-so-British. Spot of tea, anyone?… I really appreciated the way Alex, an Ashtanga yogi, taught in a very workshop sort of way. Her knowledge of anatomy was spot on. The way she broke each posture down was enlightening, and I’m a fan of any yoga teacher who can comfortably say “ass” in front of 15 people with a Zen smile on her face. The class was a practice in Arm Balances, Bakasana (Crane pose), Tittibhasana (Firefly pose), Tolasana (Scale pose). Fun. So as I found myself stepping into Crane pose, trying to find the delicate balance between my head and my Christmas-Victim bum and place all of my weight evenly onto my “Peter-Pan” hands (I’ve been told I have the hands of a 12-year-old boy.), Alex came over to stand at the top of my mat. I had just the tip of my big toe still working as a crutch, preventing me from crashing down onto my face when Alex said “Go. GO! I know you have the skill, what you need is the confidence.” Don’t you just hate it when your yoga teacher is right?! After class I lingered back to thank Alex for her guidance when she asked me what I was afraid of in practicing Arm Balances. “What is the worst possible thing that could happen?”

Nose-diving into the mat in front of 15 people! Explaining to my fiancée that my broken nose was from the strenuous practice of yoga! Never being able to get over the humiliation of that fatal fall so as never to practice a Sun Salutation again!

You could pick any one of those, I guess. So she said “May I suggest that you visualize yourself in the posture far before you even physically attempt it? You know how dancers “mark” their choreography before doing it, or climbers visualize the sequence of their climb before they head up? If you are visualizing yourself falling, your muscle memory will Reflect that.” God. I. Love. Yoga.

Now I find myself looking at my Reflection in a wedding gown. I look more like my Mother everyday.

And the Reflection I’m looking forward to the most is the one I see in *A’s eyes 149 days from now. Who needs monogrammed napkins after all?

Girl: 1

Reflection: 1

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Girl vs. Distraction

How is it possible that a month has suddenly slipped away without my notice? The last four weeks have passed me by so quickly…I mean, did you know “Toy Story 3” is already out on DVD? When did that happen?!

I’m not trying to pass the buck, but I have to place partial blame on this entertaining, seductive, overwhelming girl who goes by the name of Amsterdam. I could sit here for hours pouring over how wonderful she is, but I’d rather not fill you with envy imagining her gorgeous canals, mind-blowing museums, generous availability of… everything, or her citizens that harbor no judgement whatsoever. But please, I’m sure you can see how it’s easy to lose track of time here. If anything, this lady specializes in hour upon hour of Distraction. Only the sharpest of minds can maintain focus here.

I have to be honest, this is the third time I’ve sat down to write to you. Again, it’s not that I don’t have much to say… you know I do. But the Distraction is completely overwhelming. I seem to have the attention span of a Jack Russell terrier… look! Something shiny! And I truly have the best of intentions. “Today I will get all the things done on my list. I’ll go for a run and have a nice long yoga practice.” Three hours later I’m still sitting in the same chair talking to Monkey or ‘A’ about everything and nothing.

Amsterdam, while the epitome of everything I could wish for in a city, really makes you earn your fun here. What I remember from my last trip to The Netherlands is that when it rained, it rained directly into you. The flat landscape and powerful winds make you the perfect target for a 15 minute thunderstorm. She’s moody. And that’s okay. I know how she feels. But that just adds one more reason to jump up and hit the canals the second the sun is shining.

Look, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking the reason for my Distraction is due to the readily available supply of Amsterdam “coffee”. Well, Smarty Pants… you’re partly right. Hey, when in Rome…

But seriously, the weeks come crashing into me one after another. She’s a social city and I can’t help but feel like I want to take advantage of what she brings out in us. Every little circus freak I call my family seems to be happier, friendlier, more willing to go hard or go home. We frequently remind ourselves that in a few short months we’ll be in Charlotte, NC and will pine away for these weeks of constant entertainment.

Is it wrong that my Amsterdam playlist consists of mostly Usher, Ke$ha and Katy Perry? Or is it entirely appropriate?

I’m not even kidding, a yellow balloon just floated past my window. The entire city is conspiring to keep my attention. It’s amazing.

So what have I gathered from all this Distraction? The bonds that I have with my touring friends, or as I refer to them, my extended family have grown stronger. Everyone is bouncing along on the same vibration of positive energy. As I approach my 28th year of life I feel more loved and the ability to love more than any other moment in my life.

So I bring it back to the mat. When I was first learning how to meditate, my teacher told me “You’ll have distracting thoughts, something to pull your focus. And that is okay. Just let them pass over you like clouds floating through the sky.” I reflect on that. One of my very favorite concepts of yoga is non-judgement. She looks to me and says “Yes. You’re allowed to be distracted. But don’t hold onto it. Let it float by. You’ll return to your focus when you’re ready.” If only the rest of the world could be as non-judgmental as her.

So if you don’t hear from me in the next month in a half, you’ll know why. I’m floating along on the cloud entitled “Amsterdam.” And she’s just lovely…

Girl: 0

Distraction: 1

Girl vs. Shameless Self-Promotion

Part 1

I’ve neglected you, my friends. Of late my life has consisted of nothing but yoga both self-practice and teaching (of course), p90x, and The Contest.

Ah, The Contest. For those of you who haven’t been following my daily (albeit, annoying) status updates on Facebook, allow me to catch you up. In the last few weeks our lives have been consumed by an online contest to win our “dream wedding” (or at least a $100,000 dream, if one were able to actually put a dollar value on dreams). So let me take you back to how this all began…

After leaving glorious Vancouver, where I was living earlier this year before deciding to rejoin A on tour, I found myself in Montreal, wondering what to do with my time and how to organize my new life. Granted I’ve been on tour for over five years now, but this is a new tour, new people, (some) new cities… all in all, a new life. I went from working each day at a trendy yoga/running clothing company and teaching both in the store and privately AND still training to run the marathon… to “Well, here I am. A housewife. In a city where I know no one, on a tour where I know…8? people. This should be interesting.”

But I’m all about adjustment. Like I’ve said before, I’m a Sagittarius in every sense of the word which basically means I’m incredibly RESTLESS. Can’t stay in the same place for too long or every fiber of my being begins to itch with boredom. So there I was, in Montreal. A city that by no means would leave one bored, but when A got up to go to work everyday, and my practice was done, and my chores completed, I began a deep and meaningful relationship with… TLC. Yes, TLC. The Learning Channel. The home of reality gems such as “Kate Plus 8”, “What Not to Wear” and “Toddlers in Tiaras”. I know… completely rotten. But I suppose it was better than “16 and Pregnant”, no? Anyway, at the core of this relationship was a little show known as “Say Yes to the Dress”. A reality show all about the Kleinfeld Bridal Salon in New York City and their customers…. brides-to-be. Now let me tell you right off the bat, I despise shopping. Honestly. I’m one of those girls that has a list, checks it off as I go and then needs to get the hell out of there before the flourescent lights (which have the lovely ability to highlight each inch of hard-earned cellulite on my thighs) and Top 40 music eats away at my soul. (Shopping on vacation is a whole other story…but I digress). However, I could watch these women shop for wedding gowns for hours. Literally, hours. So one day there was an episode on and the bride they were following had won a contest on the radio which awarded her a “dream wedding” with rings and catering and all that other ridiculously expensive stuff included. I say “stuff” because a lot more than I ever thought goes into planning a wedding. Which is one of the many reasons The Wedding itself kinda fell to the bottom of our list of things we’d like to do with our money in the next few years. So this particular bride made me think “Wow, that’s genius. A contest. What a shame there isn’t something like that for same-sex couples…wait a minute….” So I turned to my trusty friend, Google, and typed “same-sex wedding contest” into the magical little box. Google thought for a few seconds and then replied to me, “freedom2wed”. And just like that, everything changed.

Freedom2Wed is a group of top wedding vendors in Washington DC who decided to celebrate the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia by organizing a contest, awarding one couple with a “dream wedding” valued at $100,000 (Say that three times fast!). All they required you to do to enter was fill out a form telling the story of how your couple got together, why you want the wedding, etc. etc. And then attach a picture. “Writing? This is something I can sink my teeth into.”

So I began pattering away at the keys, telling the story of how A and I found each other, and what a day in the life of two circus nomads is like. I’ve told and retold the story so many times. It’s pretty cute, if I do say so myself, and I’ve even considered turning into a screenplay someday. Perhaps I’ll share it with you at one point… but that’s for another day.

So for about an hour I pounded away at the keyboard, smiling as I recalled the early days of our relationship, and silently thanking myself that some of those days have passed. As a couple, like wine, we’ve definitely gotten sweeter as we’ve aged. After finishing another day at the circus, A walked through the apartment door (always with a smile) and asked what I was writing.

“Baby, I’m going to win us a wedding.”

She is a master at humoring me. I truly believe that is one of the reasons we work so well. “Oh. Okay! And how exactly are you going to do that?”

So I explained the contest to her and together we picked out a photo for our submission and with a final click!, we sent our entry on its way. Out into the universe… possibly never to return. But for the rest of the evening I fed off the high of retelling our story. Such warm, yummy, fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookie type memories. Like every single moment in my life up until that point led me directly to her.

And then, as it does, life went on. We transferred to Quebec City and began to make a new home, as we do… every. six. weeks. Then, out of nowhere, Fate decided to send me an email. And this is what Fate said:

“Hi Girl, I’m not sure how else to get in contact with you but I wanted to let you know that your couple has been selected as one of the finalists in the freedom2wed contest to win a dream wedding. Please contact me as soon as possible so you can participate.”

Sidebar: One of the most valuable elements that yoga has brought into my life is the relationship I’ve developed with my physical body. My teacher told me that yoga is the ability to diagnose your own sensations. Well, the “sensations” I had at that particular moment were definitely something to be observed.

My hands began to shake uncontrollably. My chest felt as though Thumper himself had taken up residency there. It was one of those feelings that before had only been brought on moments prior to stepping on stage, or those seconds at the top of the hill on my favorite roller-coaster right before the plummet to the earth below. It. Was. Awesome.

So I made the necessary phone call, found out the details of what we were required to do next, and discovered that we had three days, that’s three days to put together a video explaining to all the world why they should vote for us to win this once in a lifetime event. Of course this came at one of the most critical times of A’s working schedule. Setting up the circus. Bringing each show to life is something every single employee takes part in, hard-hats, steal-toed boots and all. And long days. The first day she had off would have to be the day we memorized, recorded, edited and submitted our video. With the help of another circus comrade known to you as Technology Guy-Extraordinaire, we did all that was required and submitted our video at 1:30AM, the day of the deadline. And then… we waited.

One week later the 6 finalist’s videos were posted on the freedom2wed website and the hurricane of voting began. As did my Shameless Self-Promotion. Every avenue I could think of was jammed with emails and messages asking people to support us in this contest. And most importantly, to support Marriage Equality. To allow to us finally not feel like third-class citizens. Never, in all my wildest wonderment did I think the reaction would snowball into what it has.

We have been flooded with messages of support, pride, love. Friends from past lifetimes have reached out to us, showing signs of assistance. People from all corners of the globe have rallied around us to help us win this contest. And instantly, it stopped being about The Contest. The very first night the voting was open, I lied awake, feet twitching with anxiety into the early hours of the morning. But after that initial day of worry all of that fell to the wayside. I never felt the effects of Six Degrees of Separation as I do right now.

During my teacher training, one of my teachers would always say “I am you, you are me, we are One.” He would mesmerize us with the idea that the very air we were currently breathing had traveled thousands of miles across the jungle, the oceans the desert to nourish our bodies. The prana (life force) we were sipping had also breathed life into the trees, the animals, and friends on the other side of the globe.

What a beautiful sentiment. And now, I actually get to experience that to the utmost degree. The web of people we have around us from Chile to Australia, Germany to Vegas, Singapore to good old Youngstown, Ohio is overwhelming. And it is the most evident example that we are all connected. It’s remarkable. And not only is it logistically impressive, it reminds me that no matter what, I am never alone. Which in turn means you are never alone.

We still have eight weeks left to go before they announce the winner. However, like I mentioned before, it’s not about The Contest anymore. When I went into this I simply thought that it was about love. The love A and I have for each other. The rights we should have to celebrate that love freely. I was both right and wrong. It’s no longer just about the love we have for each other, but the intense love we have from our community. You. The love you have for us. And we can only hope as this comes to fruition that you know the love and pure gratitude we have for you.

So as the journey continues, I’ll document it here. Another avenue of Shameless Self-Promotion, I suppose. And in one more plea for support I ask you, my friends and readers to share the link below with every single person you love. And help me marry my best friend. In the country that prides itself on the promotion of freedom.

Girl: TBD

Shameless Self-Promotion: TBD

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Love Freely.

Freedom2Wed.com