The 6 most feared words in the English language.
“Can I give you some advice?”
oh no. please, it would be great if you didn’t. nope. actually not interested. I’ve heard the horror stories from pregnant students, clients, and friends. I’m sure I’ll fall victim myself one day. unsolicited baby advice might be the most terrifying breed. unsolicited marriage advice might not be far behind. Diet advice in a not so distant third. “let me just tell you one thing…”
Its not that input from others isn’t important. its often pretty crucial. and that unsolicited, dreaded, eye-roll inducing advice can actually sometimes be pretty helpful. but its the idea that we need advice, thats what gets usually gets us.
Some people are really good at asking for help. at reaching out. I’m not one of them. Priding myself on a Can-Do attitude, asking for advice doesn’t really fall under the umbrella of independence and fuck-off-I-can-handle-it that I usually carry around with me. Its an ego thing. I see that now. Countless hours on my mat, an unbelievably supportive partner, and a lot of Brené Brown books have made that clear. but somehow I still find myself wanting to muscle through it all. for better or worse, it was me responsible. I suppose its a control thing too. ego and control.
Those are big words. ego. control. kind of big scary words. and yet I have a feeling I’m not the only one who is affiliated with them. they seem to have a fairly big following, lots of influence. If they were on instagram they’d be posting 5 times a day and collecting followers like Kylie Jenner’s tiny new puppy.
Allowing someone else to jump into our lives with their own insights, however ludicrous (or grounded) feels unwelcome. it can feel like an assault on our own authority. its easy to take personally. but have you ever been the advice giver? oh c’mon, you have. I have. I’m a doula and a prenatal yoga teacher, I’ve caught shit coming out of my mouth to students, however knowledgeable or prudent, and immediately realized – nobody asked for that.
for the advice giver though, those 6 little words are nothing more than words. little words. soft words. well-intentioned words. words meant to make your life easier. they don’t always. of course. but isn’t it supposed to be the thought that counts? no matter how much we grit our teeth, we can’t go it alone. advice, help, its necessary. its crucial. without it we’ll crumble into a fist pumping heap of ‘I’m-fine-I-swear’ and then still wonder why things didn’t work.
So I’m gonna be that asshole.
Can I give you some advice?
Take the advice. maybe take it with a grain of salt, but take it. stop deflecting. soak up the well intentioned and sometimes ill-advised advice of your peers and coworkers, your in-laws, the random stranger in the checkout line. keep what you need, toss the rest. You might just find that what you end up keeping can’t hurt, and what you toss is a just a teeny tiny bit of that ego.
Well Australia, its been a pretty stellar 5 weeks and you’re a pretty special place so we’re certainly going to miss you.
Until next year
It’s time for a paradigm shift, next stop – India.
It’s a funny thing, making a home and then leaving it. I mean, we’ve all moved right? we’ve all packed up our shit, taped up the boxes and hauled it off. sent it, sent ourselves, off to our new ‘home’.
we’ve all invested the time. hung pictures, scrubbed floors, bought shelves. filled those shelves. organized those closets. settled into those walls.
so what happens when you pack it all up, but there’s no where to go?
at this point, we’ve taken our home on the road. we’ve switched over from the literal sense of home, to the figurative sense of home, and while its beautiful and free, its also difficult.
We’ve been living in a state of constant transition, of constant travel and home and away and back home again for years. its nothing new. but there’s always been a ‘home’. there’s always been a bed and a kitchen and a couch with that perfect 2 person indent waiting for us.
As this wild life of travel and teaching and exploring continued to evolve it became abundantly clear that that couch was no longer getting the love and butt time it so desperately deserved.
So we packed it up. we called it a day on ‘home’. which meant that we needed to delve a little deeper into what home really was.
I was in mourning. truthfully, I think I’m still in mourning.
I didn’t think I would be, but I am.
I grew up in a city I liked, but I didn’t love. I wasn’t getting the skyline tatted on my sleeve anytime soon, and I wasn’t ever dying to get back no matter how beautiful the mountains were or how much I love my family. but then I found it. and I fell in love. with the people. the vibes. the food. the laid-back enthusiasm for everything and the passion for personal growth. i found Portland in all its weird (not actually that weird) glory.
portland is kind of a sublime place. and I’m really going to miss it. In fact, i do already miss it.
but we’re off.
like way off. well into week 5 here in Australia in fact. We sold the needless shit we’d collected over the years. well, sold most of it atleast. the comics stayed. the books and the records, the art and the hats. we’ll keep those.
the rest, it’s yours.
I’m in mourning.
We did our best to soak up that wondrous little northwest city we used to call home. that home and the people as much as possible before they became a twice-a-year occurrence. I tried to ingrain the feeling of our lonely couch that usually sat untouched for 3/4 of the year but that somehow I’m just starting to miss. this time last year I was writing about the beauty of having a home. of having space to roam and create. poetic as that is, its not what is calling us. it’s not whats on the table right now.
coming back home when home is no longer a physical presence. its a doozy.
maybe can someone cross stitch me a “home is where the heart is” piece to hang on every hotel wall? multi colored would be nice. maybe some flowers too.
some places its easy. almost too easy. lets just buy a beach house and say fuck it and move here because oceans are magical and oh hey they have good organic grocers here too. there’s so much good nut milk here, we should totally live here.
and then we leave.
we pack up our stuff, we say goodbye to our new friends and students, and we move again. sometimes we fall in love with a new imaginary home all over again. sometimes we don’t.
to and fro. as silly as it seems, it really is the little things that pull you in. like a sweet little neighborhood co-op, or a coffee shop with good music and comfy chairs, maybe a yoga studio with just the right vibes. I think that’s how I stay sane without the physical grounding of a home. its finding that home within your surroundings no matter what or where they might be. settling into yourself, and into your life, and into each and every little bit of home that offers itself up to you each day.
It’s the push and the pull of this practice. the ever important balance of effort and the ease that turns up far off of the yoga mat just as it always seems to do. this life is a ceaseless dance of east and west, north and south, when all you’re trying to do is find the fucking center. ceaseless dance perhaps, but a glorious one, certainly.
We’ve traded in our tables and chairs for plane seats and never ending yoga mats. for boundless new adventures and body, breath, mind, and world exploration. traded them in for meeting phenomenal people, for sparks of friendship and eye opening sights. The generous communities we are lucky enough to step into each week are the reason we do what we do, wherever we are doing it. Its that connection that brings our gloriously discombobulated lives into focus.
I’m still wearing black (I’ve only got 5 outfits in my bags these days), and I think we’ll always mourn our first real home a little bit. but for now I’m letting go and leaning in, leaning way in, to where ever it is we wander.
Sure, we occasionally like to live it up at the local Whole Foods/Co-op/extremely expensive health food store. $8.00 kombuchas, $10 raw chocolate bars, $1 million dollar nut cheeses and coconut yogurts, you know how it goes. (if you don’t, check out our recent trip to Australia’s most expensive grocery store!)
However, on an average day you can find us eating much more simply. and much more cheaply. tonight we were on the hunt for something fresh, but filling and warming on what has been a very blustery day here in Bondi. The dates and spices anchor this lovely salad, while the lentils provide some hearty-ness to remove any threat of the wimpy salad blues.
So while the idea was sparked by a urge for some Mmmm, it was fueled by its simplicity. at only a handful of ingredients, this meal comes in at whopping $3.75 per serving (even less if you’ve got a well stocked fridge and pantry and don’t have to buy olive oil, salt & pepper like us!)
that’s a whole lot cheaper than the Whole Foods hotbar, and it comes without the color coded register lines and the $18 granola displays.
Moroccan Spiced Lentil Salad
1 cup whole brown lentils
1 bunch kale
1 large or 2 small green apples
5 dates, pitted & chopped
hummus, 1-2 tbsp per serving
4 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp Moroccan tagine spices (paprika, coriander, cassia, allspice, chilli, cloves, cardamom)
salt + pepper to taste
bring 2 cups water to a rolling boil. Salt and add 2 tbsp spices to the water.
sift through the lentils to check for any rocks or dirt. Add cleaned lentils to the boiling water and reduce heat down to a strong simmer for 30-35 minutes.
while the lentils cook, wash and de-stem the kale, chopping or tearing into bite sized pieces and massaging slightly.
pitt and chop the dates, set aside.
check lentils tenderness periodically, remove form heat and drain when they are tender but still hold shape and have not split yet. once drained, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil + salt, pepper, and remaining tbsp spices (adding more to taste)
slice the apple finely. combine kale, dates, apples and remaining olive oil, tossing with the juice of 2 lemons. add the lentils, toss again.
serve with a spoonful of hummus.
I wish I could say that we are always super organized and well researched. I really wish I could. It would make sense, given that we are always in places we are unfamiliar with, places where a little research couldn’t hurt.
but wheres the fun in that?
Perth was one of those mysterious places. We knew our studio contacts were great people, we knew that Perth was the name of a great song by Bon Iver. We knew Perth was in Australia and that we were going there. We knew that people jokingly told us that it was the end of the world. and that was about it. What we didn’t know was how great it was. how dedicated the yoga community was, or how insanely epic the sunsets would be.
Maybe that’s their secret, they keep everyone in the dark so that they don’t spoil their beautiful, beachy, laid back corner of the world.
We spent the week exploring the endless (and windy!) beaches, teaching a whole lot of yoga, and getting to hang with some of the most generous yogi’s and rad families we’ve been lucky enough to get to know.
you are not your thoughts.
you are not your thoughts.
We’ve got billions of neurons, interconnected by trillions of synapses in our brains. billions. trillions. thats whats happening in there. its an ordered chaos that somehow produces our thoughts.
We aren’t even truly aware of whats happening, or when its happening, life just seems to happen. our thoughts just seem to happen. and often times it feels like its just happening to us, rather than being created by us.
I find it easy to crumble under the weight of my own thoughts some days. I know that may sound a bit melodramatic, but some days, ‘crumble’ really is the most appropriate descriptor.
I’ve had a few recent crumbles. a few disintegrations. heaps and piles of Carling shaped puddles and thoughts strew about our various hotel rooms and airport terminals.
anxiety is a bitch. self-doubt blows. and self-love can be hard. really hard.
our thoughts run our worlds. and sometimes they can ruin our worlds.
swirling around, dive bombing us with ‘not good enoughs’ with comparisons, with past memories, grievances, or future yet-to-happen woes.
and I’m not talking about the Drake kinda WOES. I’m talking about the kind we latch on to even as we try desperately to shoot them away
but what if we understood, and what if for once we actually accepted, that we are not our thoughts.
that we have the choice, the opportunity, to simply say no thank you. to rearrange our association with our consciousness.
We talk a lot about observation in yoga. about stilling the mind. ceasing the rampant thoughts. discerning.
discerning. that’s the stuff of gold. that’s the winner-winner-chicken-(or tempeh)-dinner kinda stuff i’m talking about.
what do i need. what can i let go. why do i keep circling around the same bullshit over and over again. why wont my thoughts just give me a break.
It took me a
long time, forever, still working on it, to see that I needed to be the one to give myself a break.
my approach here is less about taking responsibility for your thoughts and more about simply saying nope.
nope. we’re not doing that today random brain synapse. I see whats happening here and I’m not sure I need to engage.
I see that you’ve been busy. that there is a lot going on up there. you’ve thrown about a billion (trillion) thoughts my way and I simply don’t need them all.
Not every pitch is going to be a strike. we have to choose when to swing and when to let that bottom corner curve ball zoom past. discerning the balls from the strikes. finding the mindfulness, the discernment, and ultimately the self-love and awareness to let some of that chitter chatter go. just let it float on by. resisting the urge to latch on. to let it drag us down an unnecessary, and quite frankly, often random and detrimental path.
Its not always easy to tell the difference. i suppose i wouldn’t be writing this if it was. if it wasn’t something that was a constant work in progress. a practice. its easy to latch on to them all. to give every thought acknowledgement. to give them credence. our brain thought them, so they must matter right?! there must be a reason! a deeper meaning. a freudian slip, a subconscious underlying motive for our brain to send us this message. our thoughts must matter.
I’ve got news for you. they don’t. certainly not all of them at least. they don’t necessarily mean anything. our practice becomes discerning what is worth a closer look, and what is nothing more than a fly on the wall. When we sit and observe. when we watch our thoughts float in, observe the patterns (if there even are any), we begin to notice which ones we can go ahead and let float right back out just as simply as they floated in. with no story. no narrative. no big bullshit.
its about changing your relationship with your thoughts. because its not so much about getting rid of them. about hoping you’ll never have those thoughts again (spoiler-alert: you will.) its about what you allow them to mean to you.
For workshop bookings please contact Jennifer Squires