Show up

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Showing up for yourself and your people is a powerful and courageous act of love.
 
Sometimes it’s really easy. Sometimes it’s really hard. Either way, it’s always right. The giving of your time and energy in a very meaningful way is powerful human medicine to give and receive. 
 
Today was a big showing up day. I showed up for my colleagues. My students. My loved ones. Myself. Some of it was delightful and easy, some of it took careful listening, and some of it was difficult. I feel like I gave the world the full version of me today and in doing so, I feel like I’ve been rolled flat like pasta dough and put through the machine. I was flour, eggs, salt, and water, and now I’m strands of fresh pasta, so I’m the same, but a different version of me. (I also had pasta for the first time in forever tonight after Whole30. I savored every bite. More on that later.)
Here are some ways that I showed up for myself and my people today:
  • I helped a coaching colleague get really clear on her goals and work through a specific blank spot she was having trouble seeing for herself. Nothing is more fun than holding up the mirror for others and saying: “Look how resourceful you are!”

 

  • I went to work and taught my class. I coordinated with one of my international students to surprise another student for his birthday. I ate cake for the first time I can’t even remember how long. It was oh so delish.

 

  • I met last-minute with another international student who has come so far in her language abilities. Today, she told me her story today of her life and how challenging it has been, and how she has persevered. I was touched by her story and so impressed by her language abilities. Five months ago, she couldn’t say much more than ‘hello’. Really truly. Today she asked me to show up for her this weekend for a fundraising opportunity so that she can continue her studies. Holy cow. I’m so in. Anything to help her out.

 

  • Ten new international students arrived today and I got to meet them and begin our three weeks of time together. They have been in the USA for less than 24 hours. I was honored to be a part of their first impressions of my city. This was important for me to do this because when I’ve traveled abroad for work, people show up for me to greet me, to say goodbye, to help me with anything. It was a joy to be able to do that in my own country for others.

 

  • I went to therapy today as I do on a regular basis. Today I got a big and experimental assignment that is tantamount to that scene in Zoolander where Derek is brainwashed to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia. I’m terrified and ready to explore it. I don’t usually get therapy homework; usually, I just talk things out and feel better. In hearing about this assignment, I found myself crossing my legs, hugging my arms into my chest, and digging my fingernails into my arms, and squeezing myself in protection. This is a doozy that has the potential to really cause a lot of discomfort, and also be largely transformative. We’ll see.

 

  • I showed up for myself and told my honest truth to a loved one. I spoke outloud and asked for what I needed. It felt like kicking someone while they were down, but I had to say the truth in order to preserve the integrity and honesty of the relationship. I had to say what I needed. It was the hardest thing I did all day. Now being on the other side of the truth-telling, I’m glad that the conversation happened. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be heard and seen by someone who is so important to me. I do have a bit of an honest-heart-felt-conversation hangover, but it was worth it. This person is worth it. I am worth it. We are worth it.

 

  • I showed up to running. in. the. cold. rain. and. wind. for. myself. and. my. mental. health. and. it. was. so. hard. A running friend who showed up for me in helping me get clear on what I needed to express in the above conversation. Which is to say that she sacrificed her ability to go faster in order to listen to my verbal processing. And I ran a few laps with some Olympians because that’s how we do in my city. My 10:00+ minute mile pacer friends say that this act makes us Olympians by proxy. I think we can safely keep that belief and no one will get hurt.

 

  • Afterward, I showed up for my running group again by signing up for an online fundraising site for GPS watches. I run and upload my running data like I already do anyway, and their group gets money. Win win. This little gem will in turn keep me motivated to run the next time I-really-don’t-wanna. Which is often in the freaking cold snowy rain we’ve been having.

 

  • Lastly, I showed up by making myself a divinely delicious and simple meal: shrimp in EVOO and garlic, a little pasta, and a big salad. Nourishing. Full of healthy nutrients. Huge taste.
As Glennon says, let’s keep showing up for each other. When it feels right and when our baskets are full and able to let us do so, otherwise we become imbalanced givers or takers. If we don’t show up for each other, we risk self-implosion from carrying all of life’s challenges and wins.
How can you show up for yourself and for others today?
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An invitation

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Image source: http://tinyurl.com/zfkbdtt

Hi, friends.

I’m inviting you to join me in manifesting another year’s worth of dreams and desires of the smallest and largest magnitude. All you have to do is dream it and share it and we’ll make it so. It’s that simple.

Today is the last day of 2016 and I would like to go on record and say: this has been the best year of my adult life. Scratch that; 2016 has been the best year of my life, period. For real. Full of ups, downs, joys, disappointments, wins, fails, highs and lows, laughter, tears, exhilaration, and grief. All of it wrapped up together to create the most magical year.

Since this is a space for story-telling, I’m going to quote and paraphrase some of the narratives that I’ve heard at the end of this year:

“Let’s burn this bitch to the ground”

“Fuck 2016”

“This has been the worst year ever”

I hear this narrative. I’m not here to discredit it, or “sunshine” it. “To sunshine” is my verb for what happens when you open up and share difficult things with someone who isn’t prepared to hear it and instead tells you to forget the negative and be positive.

It’s been a tough year in uncountable ways. The USA presidential election ushered in a leader who won an essential election not on experience, but on bigotry, exclusion, and hatred. We lost many beloved artists. The USA continues to battle with racial and gender inequality in very real and major ways. Fresh horror appears from Syria and other less reported corners of the Earth and innocent people are being killed and repressed around the world.

When these atrocities and others inevitably show up in life, I’ve learned to ask myself:

What am I going to do?

and

How specifically can I wake up, show up, and say to my fellow humans: “Hi. I did my best to show up for you today. Let’s get back at it tomorrow.”

These questions are your invitation. How you choose to show up is the only part of life that you can control. Life can, and will, show up in the form of chaos, anger, hurt, trauma, violence, triggered memories, and these things that happen are going to challenge you. You don’t always get a voice or a choice in how those moments happen or when. You might like them and learn from them. You might experience deeply violent trauma from an attacker who is another human or maybe even one of the parts of you. You didn’t sign up for any of this violence that is so unfathomably painful.You may really resent having been dealt these situations in life. I’m here to say that whatever feelings that are associated with the aftershocks of whatever has happened to you can, and should, be part of your narrative in how you deal with the past. Because what happens next is the invitation to the life that you crave and desire. Acknowledging them is healthy and focusing on what’s next doesn’t always make the hurt go away. The pain and the progress can, and do, exist together. Equally. Or however they choose to show up.

What matters is what you do next. How you choose to show up in the next moment of this brutiful life.

So dear ones, what will make 2017 a complete win for you?

Before I answer that question for myself, I’d like to celebrate the gifts that 2016 gave to me:

  • An ever-growing circle of like-minded women who showed up to be my new circle of trusted friends
  • Fresh air time with friends and family; hiking, running, biking, walking
  • A year of being selective about whom, what, and how I spend my time
  • The opportunity to step into yoga teaching
  • Traveling to Canada, Spain, Japan, Tennesee, and California
  • The opportunity to study with Sharath Jois – the big boss of Ashtanga yoga
  • Getting to see some of the biggest names of spiritually influential women speak live in Portland: Glennon Doyle Melton, Valarie Kaur, Sean Corne, Dr. Jaqui Lewis, Geena Rocero, and Abby Wambach with my partner in all things spiritual, my mom
  • Countless opportunities to find my voice, listen in, and speak out
  • So many chances to practice being brave when I’m afraid of speaking my truth, then speaking my truth, and being loved for it
  • Winning the life lottery and being loved by the most wonderful man who loves all the parts of me and loving him right back
  • Beginning my training as a board certified life coach and meeting a whole other circle of colleagues
  • Pulling my people closer to me, spending time with them, and sharing this brutiful life together
  • Reading some books and making a reading list that never seems to shrink and continues to get longer
  • Being the authentic version of myself: the nice, the less desirable, and everything in between, and being loved for just being me
  • Showing up as a fully-present, non-victimized, empowered woman

It’s my goal to be able to say these same words one year from now on New Year’s Eve 2017: this was the best year of my life. So Universe, if you’re listening, I’d like to do the following in 2017:

  • Launch a business to help people get what they want
  • Create communities of people to help each other
  • Meet more magical and trust-worthy people
  • Spend more time with the people I already love and like
  • Stay open to learning and being challenged
  • BE CREATIVE! This is my theme for my 36th year of life

More important than achieving is feeling, so I’ve learned. So specifically, I’d like to feel:

  • good in my own skin
  • connected
  • in the flow
  • trusting my intuition
  • celebratory
  • lit up in the company of those I love

I am so eager to see how it all manifests.

Thank you 2016 for your gifts. I am beyond grateful.

Every single year, day, hour, minute, second, is precious.

What is your plan for showing up in your life in 2017? I would really love to hear about it.

Much love!

Tohoku Tsunami 5 Year Anniversary

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A Shinto Torii gate sits atop a hill in Ishinomaki, where 3,700 drowned in the 2011 tsunami. Many fled to the hilltop to survive. Photo by Elaine Hu/NPR

Five years ago on Thursday, March 10th, 2011, I did something radical and memorable. I bought airfare to go to Tokyo for the first time ever to interview for a summer teaching job.

You know that rush you get when you book a flight? That feeling of: “the dream just became a reality, TALLYHO!” That’s how I felt; I was so juiced up and excited. I could have run a marathon and built a house that night. I couldn’t sleep, so to help remedy that problem, I bought the Lonely Planet JAPAN travel guide on my Kindle to read because I was out-of-my-body excited for the adventures that I was anticipating were coming my way. Not surprisingly, travel e-book only stoked the stay-awake-and-be-excited fire, but I didn’t care! I was GOING TO JAPAN!

As an aside, the 21st century is so cool sometimes, you know? Want an air ticket? Buy one online. Want a book right now? Buy one on your e-reader. It still blows my mind, the ease with which we can consume goods and services online. More on that another time.

The next morning, I woke up and learned along with the rest of the Western world that a 9.0 earthquake had struck the northeastern coast of Japan which also triggered a huge and devastating tsunami. The scale of human lives lost and property damaged wasn’t quantifiable at that point and Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant wasn’t yet a household phrase or even a problem quite just yet.

I emailed my prospective employer and we agreed that I should continue with my travel reservations and interview plans. But the scale of damage and the logistical delays were realized on the daily throughout the week and in the end, I canceled my travel plans. I had to convince Delta to refund me and the conversation went something like this over phone, email, and Twitter: Delta: “Why are you canceling your airfare? Do you just not want to go anymore?” Me: “Uh, I DO want to go… but because they are having a nuclear ‘effing meltdown (no exaggeration), and that’s not something I need to be around, nor can I help them at this point, pls refund me kthx”. In the end, Delta did refund me and I did the interview on Skype. Again, with the 21st century being really amazing: one can interview on VoIP technology for FREE and it doesn’t cost a thing. Mind blown. This was surreal compared to the communicative options commonly available in the developed world only 10 years earlier.

It’s widely known how devastating this earthquake, tsunami, and resulting nuclear damage that was done. Photos and videos provide visuals that are so gut-wrenching and heart-breakingly devastating that they almost seem unreal:

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Photo by Joseph Friedman

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A woman whose house was washed away stands amidst debris in the Shinhamacyo area of Japan following the earthquake and tsunami of March 11. Photo by Kuni Takahashi
Japan has made impressive efforts to mourn, grieve, and rebuild from this devastating loss. More than 20,000 people were killed. People are still without their homes. Families still have loved ones missing. The trauma that this country has experienced from the biggest recorded earthquake in history and the resulting natural disaster is more deep and profound than words can accurately represent.

I did end up getting that job in Japan. I’ve been fortunate to have taught in that program for multiple summers. The experience of living and working abroad was a dream and intention that I set long ago, and through this experience, it has been actualized.

My first summer teaching there was in 2011 and I arrived four months after the initial horror was over and the healing and rebuilding had begun. Energy conservation was in full effect, which primarily meant reduced AC in the trains and in some shops, a new dress code for salary men and women that allowed them to dress down in the sweltering and humid Japanese heat, and the Tokyo neon lights were a few notches down from their original Blade Runner-eque luminosity. I saw signs such as these:

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Poster , Saving electricity, at Mita station, on July 19, 2012. MIURA PHOTO

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At the Tsukiji Fish market
 

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At the Imperial Palace
As the summer went on, after I got to know people well enough, I asked them about how their stories surrounding the Tohoku tsunami. “How did you experience March 11th?” And most every person answered the question. They told their story. Where they were on that day. The horrifically strong shaking. The unpredictable aftershocks. The worry they felt when they couldn’t reach their loved ones. How far they had to walk because the trains had stopped working. The terror and uncertainty that they felt and the fear that they felt when the situation at Fukushima Daichi began to unravel. Not being able to fully access, or trust the news stories that were updating them on the most recent horrors.

The part of this experience that sticks out to me the most is the absolute traumatic aftershocks that these people were experiencing when I set foot into their country for the first time ever. Because I was experiencing everything for the first time, I didn’t really notice how relatively calm and centered most people were despite their nation’s recent natural disaster trauma. Five years later, I still reflect on the time that I’ve spent in Japan with mostly great fondness and charm, but it goes deeper than liking ramen, fast trains, and efficiency. The experience of being in Japan has given me so much heart-centeredness. Being immersed in the calm collective energy of that has helped heal my anxious tendencies. It has given me the gift of slowing down, being more introspective. This gift has allowed me space and time to examine and evaluate areas of my life that were and are stunning, and areas in which change was desperately needed in order to end suffering.

People often ask: “So why do you keep going back to Japan?” and I usually relay a lot of the positive experiences I’ve had and refer to these as obvious reasons why I desire to return there in the summer. Also I have had working opportunities so there’s that. But professional opportunities aside, on a personal and spiritual level, the people and the place of Japan have healed me in profound ways. In the aftermath of their natural disaster and resulting nuclear disaster trauma, the people and the soul pace of Japan welcomed me, nurtured me, taught me, loved me, and modeled for me how to have the courage to hold space for my truth.

I lit a candle of mourning, appreciation, and love for the loss that has occurred, the damage that has been done, and the rebuilding that still has yet to happen. I hold the people and the place of Japan in my heart a little more tightly tonight, just as they have always held me in loving kindness.

May people as a collective find the strength to be honest and truthful with their pain as well as their joy so that we can all float up together and be the best versions of ourselves.

Thank you.

Arigatogozaimashita.

ありがとうございました

Hello, World.

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Taken from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/61305910@N06/7677228796/

Hi there!

It’s nice to meet you!

Like me, I know you have stories to share.

Like you and every other human, I have need to feel connected with others.

I started this blog because I want to share all manner of stories. The joyful ones, the painful ones, and everything in between. I want to share them with you, so as to allow them to move through me. To own them. To learn from them. To share them with you so you’ll know that you’re not alone.

When you share your story or identify with the stories of others, you are empowered. If you feel trapped, afraid, and anxious, having the knowledge that you’re not alone gives you a bridge to feeling connected, loved, and free. 

And when you are free, beautiful things start happening. I want that so badly for myself and for the world. But it doesn’t come without some work. Part of that work is sharing our stories.

I’d also like to hear your stories if you feel so brave to share them. If we get a critical mass, I’d wager that others would eat up your story too. We are none of us alone in this human experience. It’s time that we stop hiding our stories in shame and in fear and start connecting with others. Because I don’t want to get to the end of my one precious human life and think: “I never lived my truth because I was too afraid to be myself.” And I’m guessing that you don’t want that either.

The timing is so right for this. There’s a emotional revolution that has caught fire in the Western world now that’s changing how we think of ourselves and how we interact with others. The work of Brené Brown is in process of altering the societal narrative into a world where we are reminded that isolating ourselves and our stories is not working for us as a people and that vulnerability, whole-heartedness, building and maintaining trust, and facing the traumas of life is necessary for growth. Glennon Doyle Melton has inspired a whole fleet of people, women in particularly, on how to be a brave warrior and embrace our lives for what they are: “brutiful” (brutal + beautiful). Elizabeth Gilbert famous memoirs Eat, Pray, Love are a well-known example of what it’s like to hide your truth, discover it, fall hard from it, and own it is universally adored. Her recent work on harnessing creativity and her weekly affirmations of being the real human version of you are the medicine that the world needs. Danielle LaPorte is here to remind us that our desires are one pathway to realizing what we want if we get stuck or can’t envision the life that we dream of because we’ve been too socially conditioned to believe it’s not possible to attain the life you want. One of my yoga teachers, Kino MacGregor, has infused social media with images and videos of all aspects of yoga to remind us of how the practice of yoga connects us to our highest self. My life coach, Cherie Healey has started a movement called One Woman Effect and throws down that one woman getting what she wants will heal the planet. Gail Larsen wrote a book about how to be better a public speaking through telling a better story and encourages us to identify with our “Original Medicine”; a First Nations term for identifying what it is that your unique human soul has to offer up and heal the world.

That’s the short list. There are so many more of them. We are not alone.

Their stories all have a common thread: we are all out here together. It’s time that we connected to make the world a safer and more beloved place to be. 

Their messages resonate with me to my core. Their collective enthusiasm and verve is what I’ve known to be true my whole life, but never before knew how to articulate and cultivate.

I can’t help but join in on this emotional truth revolution. I feel strongly called to it. I have wrestled with my fears and apprehensions of writing about what goes on in my mind and sharing it with those I love and here on the internet, but playing safe and living in fear is longer an option for me. I have so many pursuits and people to love and I don’t have the energy to bleed out energy in excess where it does not serve me, nor others.

It’s time to listen in and speak out our truths.

We need this freedom… which is to say the world needs it too.