• In Memory of Tobey Martin

    The last time Tobey and I spoke was October 30th, 2019. I had (now, painfully ironic) sent him a Facebook message asking if he was still alive. Joking, but also slightly concerned. It had been months since we last connected and I know he avoided using a phone or social media.

    He had told me that he just finished a yoga teacher training in India, had left New Life, and the world was his. Happy Days, he said.

    I found out this morning that he was in Southern Thailand. I had wondered where he was in the world. I had thought many times about reaching out to him again to check on him. I was curious how COVID was affecting him. To see if he was okay and if he had gone back to Australia.

    But I didn’t. We had dated for a little while and ended up agreeing that it was better that we went our separate ways. I went back to the U.S. to start a new life and he was happy being a free spirit in Southeast Asia.

    Before we parted ways in Thailand, I bought two smokey quartz crystals. I gifted one to him and kept one for myself. I still have mine and keep it on my windowsill. It’s been there since I left Thailand.

    Tobey knew so many people. And he had beautiful connections with all different types of people. I was lucky to share a connection with him. And I thought that maybe our connection was insignificant because he was loved by so many.

    But he made a big impact on my life and who I am today. He always made me feel safe enough where I could speak my feelings and be vulnerable. In fact, I remember sharing bits and pieces of my story and saying wow I never told anyone that.

    I was lucky enough to know his heart. I loved hearing about the stories of his tattoos. His son. That time he spent way too much money in Hong Kong. His car accident. His childhood, how his family home was always filled with people, energy, and voices. The uncomfortable moments of his healing and recovery. How his lucky number was 3. How he fake married a girl he just met on the beach.

    Tobey was a beautiful person. And I am not sure if he knew how amazing he was. Or how much people loved and looked up to him. Leaders always have to be strong and I think he felt that burden sometimes.

    My favorite part about him was his teeth actually. They were so wild and out of control in his mouth. So imperfect and jagged. I loved the recklessness of them and how sincere they were when they popped out when he smiled.

    Tobey was wild and free and I am happy that he was able to live the life he did. Filled with travel, adventure, connection, and community.

    I wish that I had listened to my impulse to send him a photo of the smoky quartz, ask him if he still had the other one, and wish him well with words instead of keeping it all inside. It shocks me that I will never have the chance to talk to him again. That all we have left of him now are our memories.

    I send my gratitude to his spirit for holding my heart so softly, for bringing joy and adventure into my life, for showing me around Chiang Rai on the back of his bike, for holding my hand in the market, for teaching me what a healthy relationship is, for his smile, for his honesty, for his strength. Thank you. I love you. And I am sorry for all the difficult moments you had to endure in this life. We will forever miss you.

    May Tobey Martin rest in peace.

  • Hot Stone

    It is just past midnight here right now. I noticed light streaming in through my bedroom and went outside for a spliff and to gaze at the moon.

    It was just past a full moon – glowing brightly in the low sky. I started seeing sparkles and illuminated dust in its aura. Was it truly energy flowing out or were my eyes getting dizzy? My feet began feeling heavy as I stood sinking to the earth.

    My sensations and feelings don’t make sense to me. I ask myself directly: what do you feel right now? I don’t know. What if I knew?

    It doesn’t feel good – scared, insecure, cold, alone, lost, guilty. A heavy, concave feeling in my heart, my throat, my jaw. Uncertainty. Pressure. Anger, shock, the urge to explain myself. But there is nothing to be said or that I am allowed to say. Restricted because I can’t go back to change me or control them.

    The hot stone has been thrown to me and I am forced to hold it and let it burn the insides of my hands. I don’t understand. I think about why I’ve been thrown the hot stone rather why I am holding onto it.

    Drop it. Let it go. It’s not mine and I don’t have to hold it anymore. I never had to hold it. Release it. And learn to dodge.

  • What it’s like To Own A Yoga Studio

    It has been exactly one year since I first opened my studio and it is has been nothing but a whirlwind. Emotions that come to mind are stress, exhaustion, freedom, despair, and strength.

    The yoga industry is very saturated

    Yoga teachers are fighting for work and yoga studios are nothing less than competitive. You have to be unique, different, offer extras, while also being affordable. People have to trust you, know you exist, and want to keep coming back.

    It has been time-consuming work to provide social media content, customize the website, advertise, talk with people, post flyers, etc. The hardest part is getting new clients through the door.

    The amount of free classes and workshops and TIME that I’ve given away frustrates me. I work so much that when I finally have a day off, I sleep for 12 hours, lay in bed all day, and take another nap. I even find it difficult to make myself a meal or shower or brush my hair. I’ve also had to work 2 other jobs just to survive.

    People

    Through my experiences with people, I have found that people are mostly unreliable. Whether they say they are going to come to class and not show or that they want to help and end up causing more stress, I have been left with a bad taste in my mouth too many times to count. Always have people reserve their space in a workshop or class with money not with a verbal promise!

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  • To Teach or Not To Teach Yoga at a Nursing Home

    I quickly realized that in order to survive, let alone be successful, as a yoga teacher, I needed to expand my horizons. This meant that only teaching at a studio was not going to cut it. So, I got creative.

    I looked into what it would be like to teach Chair Yoga at a Nursing Home. After calling and emailing a number of different places in my local area and offering some free demos, I landed a few gigs.

    I had never taught Chair Yoga before. So, I looked up Youtube videos and read articles about what to do. I discovered that it would be easy enough.

    Here are 5 things that I noticed about what makes teaching yoga at a nursing home different than any other setting and what I learned:

    Not everyone will participate.

    Most of the time, I felt like I was an entertainer instead of a yoga teacher because no one really participated. I had one or two people out of twenty who would try and follow along with me, but most of the people in the room were sleeping, telling me to stop, trying to leave the room, or too confused and/or sedated to do anything.

    I also volunteer at a non-profit Adult Day Care facility as well and it is a small group of participants (about 8 people) and they all participate. This facility is much more organized and chooses to bring people in the room who actually want to do yoga. Sometimes, it depends where you are teaching at.

    Find ways to get them engaged.

    Since I was having difficulty getting everyone to participate, I tried adding in fun little extras to get them engaged. I started bringing in my speakers to play music. I tried so many types of music, from relaxing to rock music, and found that if the music was calming yet upbeat, it created a nice energy in the room.

    I also utilized my essential oils. This worked the best! I would put a drop of oil in my palms and go to each person and have them take a breath. One time at the beginning and another at the end. They all really seemed to enjoy this.

    I also experimented with the lights and closing the door to the rec room, so that it felt more like an experience. Nevertheless, people were always in and out whether it was nurses or visiting family members, it was difficult to avoid a disruption.

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  • Isolation & Connecting Back to Yourself

    For a long time, I have felt that people’s biggest problems all stem from the fact that they are moving too fast through life and don’t take a second to breathe, pause, and think about where they are going.

    Although a world-wide pandemic that is taking lives, keeping us locked up in our homes, and hurting the economy is, ultimately, not the best situation, let us find something positive from it. Like all tragedies, there is always a blessing that comes from it.

    For the first time in a year, I have only had to work one job. Before, I was working three just to survive. And, although I am not making as much money as before, I have more time for myself. More time to rest and think about my future.

    Because of COVID-19, I had to close down my yoga studio. Instead, I have adapted and I am now teaching yoga online. This is something that I have always wanted to create, but never had the push.

    I have had time to think about where my life is going. Am I doing what I love? I have not been writing or painting as much as I used to. Any free time I have, I use it to sleep or spend time with my boyfriend. I miss having lunch with my family. I miss taking long walks and exploring the woods. I miss having energy.

    Am I where I want to be? What pulls at me the most is the fact that, in my heart, I know I am not done traveling. I know that I am not ready to settle yet. I realized how young and full of life I still am.

    And, now, I can begin preparing for where I want my life to go. What is going to make me the happiest? What is my truth? And, I am hoping, that people all over the world are starting to realize what their heart is calling them to do. With work, relationships, family, going out, our heart can’t compete with all the outside noise.

    I feel that once this is all over, we will be changed. We will evolve and grow and make our lives better. Perhaps some of us will jump back into the grind, but I think a lot of us will be more mindful.

    What does your heart call you to do? How do feel about this time of isolation?

  • How To Develop Resilience & Compassion

    I seem to attract and be drawn to some dark, haunted energies as partners: Addicts, mental disorders, convicts, abusers, people not aligned with their truth and lacking self-love.

    There is a theory on the law of attraction: like attracts like. From my experiences, I can’t confirm that that is always the case. I feel that we signed up to have certain experiences before we came down to this earth. Earth is like a school and we are given tests to develop certain skills so that our souls can evolve. We also have karma with certain people that needs to be resolved. A lot of my past relationships have been about resolving those karmas. And sometimes certain souls just want to hurt you–whether they are conscious of that or not.

    I will say that my life has been wild and intense. I’ve had some difficult lessons to absorb in short amount of times. I’ve had to develop particular skills like communication, managing emotions, and boundaries. These experiences have sparked a passion within me to help those that struggle with addiction and mental illness.

    Some trauma I experienced in childhood, but most of the trauma from this lifetime has been from my relationships and different encounters with particular people.

    But to be honest, I’m quite proud that I’ve had these experiences because, somehow, I found a way to transform my pain into a tool for knowledge and awareness. It’s made me wise, sharp, and compassionate.

    We also have to consider our abusers. An abuser does not become that way without being abused themselves. There is usually some sort of illness or trauma that has made them that way.

    We cannot look at some one, no matter what they’ve done, and say oh they’re just a bad person. We are all good, but sometimes people can become ill or carry around demons and ghosts.

    We are so valid to be angry. Anger has been a strong emotion as I try to heal from my personal traumas. And it is ok to be angry, but not to wish revenge or bad things upon them. Send them love and healing just as you would wish it upon yourself, even if they don’t deserve it.

    This is what strength is– To be pure, innocent, and loving even when some one has casted their shit onto your light. Wave your abuser away with a warm smile, let them go, and work on forgiving them.

    Treat them how you would treat yourself. Consider there traumas and try not to react from their bad energy. Because when we interact with their dramas, we allow a pathway for their negative emotions to enter us.

    We can practice this for all situations big or small. From dealing with a clerk with a bad attitude to a narcissistic parent putting you down. Observe without reacting and put up your boundaries kn any instance when you are not being treated with respect.

    It’s so difficult to be loving in these situations. Everything inside us tells us to be rude back, to give them what they gave us, but it is very important that we stop the cycle.

    People who hurt you are just hurt themselves. Look at them like a lost child and teach them to heal by being a kind, loving, and patient soul. You are strong enough for that.

  • Graceful Fire – moving on, letting go, feeling nothing, and being free

    Each individual must be the one to take off their own blindfold.

    It’s all very simple how life works. It’s just a little river that we have to be patient and flexible enough to flow with. I’ve been working on letting go piece by piece and healing. And it is not a quick fix situation. It’s a full on process of transformation and grieving. A lot of grieving as I release. And it’s interesting because with loss you can be absolutely fine going about your day, but then you will hear a song or have a dream or just absolutely randomly the switch will flip and you will feel all that sadness come to you. Sometimes anger. Surprising emotions.

    It’s been a lovely experience going through all this. Well, of course, it’s also been terrible and gut-wrenching. But I’m at the end now. The rain has already come and I am sitting in a field of fruits, basking in all the rewards of my labor. So, I’ve literally never been better. Physically, professionally, emotionally, and spiritually. There is so much abundance and the world is mine.Read More

  • Fading Retribution: A Letter on Loss & Grief

    Grief surprises you in waves. Sometimes there’s nothing to feel and other times bedridden. I’m not moving on, I am moving through. This process takes time. Be patient, be strong, be weak, and never be ashamed for feeling what you feel no matter how long it has been.

    Even after months have gone by, there are still memories that I replay. Things we used to watch, inside jokes, that song you loved. I’ll laugh alone and feel like you are in the same room with me. I’ll listen to that song you showed me over and over and think of you stopping our conversation to sing the lyrics. I know that it was true. That what I felt was real, but I still don’t understand your convolution of feelings. Sometimes I diagnose you with personality disorders. It is easier to put you into a category when I feel angry at how much you lied and led me on a trail of bread crumbs to a goddamn nuclear wipe out. But you are much more complex than a narcissist. I think you do care how fucking lost and tangled up you are, but lack skill in climbing out of the holes that you’ve dug.

    I think about all the other people who have taken up space in your heart. All those who have passed through you and haven’t stuck. And those that are cemented in. I hope that I will not be forgotten, but I know that you are trying to. Out of sight, out of mind they say, but I know we still haunt each other.

    I think that out of everyone, you’ve hurt me the worst . This wound is gaping and it still fucking bleeds. Not everyday, no. I do forget. But I am often reminded. It is fucking ridiculous how much I feel. This hangover of grief that still lingers in my spirit. And it feels unfair because I know you are not going through this. I know that you’re better at turning it all off and burying yourself in distractions.

    I don’t know what it is like to be you. What it must be like to lose yourself. To lose some one you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with. To need some one, but they cannot be reached.

    Actually, I do know a bit about what that is like. You’ve passed that pain and loss onto me. A burden you had no right to give me, but I happily accepted because I would have done anything for you. I would have died for you. And it sounds fucking dramatic, but I am profoundly amazed at how in love I was. Our connection. It was stunning.

    I hate the way you treated me, how dishonest you were about the situation, and how you fucking destroyed my heart. It’s never going to be the same. And I hate the way I’m still grieving. I hate the way I don’t trust anyone anymore. I hate the way I’m scared of losing my power again. Of being abandoned.

    I have dreams about you sometimes. I fucking hate dreaming about you by the way.

    I have so much love for you, I just don’t know where to put it anymore. I miss you so fucking much, but you have lost any sort of privilege to be in my life. The moment you stopped valuing me, the moment you allowed your demons to sink me to the bottom while you stepped on my head for a breath of air is when you lost your right to be in my life. You are home to me, but you are also a flesh-eating disease.

    I just hope that you figure it out. That you grow from this and blossom into a person who is healthy, happy, and open. You always said that you just wanted me to be happy and I was so happy with you. All I’ve ever wanted is you. But it is you who needs to figure out how to be happy. I am fine as I am. I don’t need you, but it would have been nice to take on the world with you.

  • My Self-Care Regimes

    I have noticed that self-care and self-love have become an issue of neglect for us humans. I want to share all the little things that I do to nourish myself and what I experience when I lose track of things. If you have low-energy, feel lost, or stressed, it could be because you are not taking care of some aspect of yourself.

    Below is what I do to take care of myself.

    My Space / Environment

    When my room is cluttered, it means that my mind is cluttered or it is about to be. It is important to keep my space organized and tidy at all times. This means putting away my clothes as soon as I try on another outfit (life of a girl), making sure everything is folded and in its correct spot, setting my bed every morning, taking out the trash, doing dishes immediately, and getting rid of things as soon as I realize that I do not need them (recycle, give-away).

    I loved living out of my backpack while traveling because I had less items to keep track of.

    I also love to light incense, sage, and use essential oils to keep the atmosphere clear and smelling good. I open the windows and prefer to have natural light.

    Mind

    I love to exercise my mind by researching different topics that I am interested in (health, astrology, yoga). I read poetry. I also love reading up on psychological and sociological studies on the internet. I try to give my brain information so that it does not stagnate. Learning new languages and trying new skills helps this, but it is not a daily task for me.

    I also turn to meditation if I am having trouble overthinking and worrying. If this does not solve the situation, I write. I go to my journal and begin a stream of consciousness to get down to the root of my issue. I find that there are lots of things I need to get out that I did not realize were hiding inside me. If I have not written in a while or taken the time to sort out my thoughts, I will feel it as clutter in my head, rumination, confusion, and feeling lost.Read More

  • Coming Home to America – Reverse Culture Shock

    After traveling for the past 3 years (mostly in Asia), I have returned to the place where I was born and grown: Connecticut, USA. I would have continued what I was doing: volunteering, teaching yoga, and exploring foreign places, but my bank account directed me back. Also, I missed my family (friends included) and the familiarity.

    I thought that I would be overwhelmed by people trying to meet up and hear all about my adventures. That people were eagerly waiting for my return. But it wasn’t exactly like that. Just my mom crying at the airport. And seeing some friends and relatives here and there.

    My 20-year-old brother is more interested in his new kitten than catching up with his long lost sister. And it feels like I have to twist arms to get people to make time for me. Unanswered calls. Delayed responses. Scheduling. It is not as easy to flow here.

    People have gone on with their lives in the same manner. While I feel like I have been whipped around in a hurricane of rainbows and storms in lands far, far away that they could only fathom as a fairy tale.

    And that’s what it feels like. Everything that I had experienced has been lost in the winds of time and I am stuck here, in cement, as I wait for the clock to tick forward. It is gray and quiet here. Like there are underground, rushing waterfalls repressed by designer clothes and cars and overpriced, rented apartments.

    Americans pay a lot for everything. And what they don’t realize is that they are living in luxury. Air conditioning, potable water from the tap, washing machines, no sounds of geckos mating at night. But it comes with a price…Read More