Life Lessons, Social Media, Uncategorized

How Yoga Selfies Changed My Life

I’ve read a few articles bashing the yoga selfie as of late. If you’re not sure what a yoga selfie is, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s yoga and it’s a selfie and they’re all over Instagram and probably everywhere else in social media land.

There’s quite a bit of controversy suggesting that those that partake in yoga selfies and the social media-based yoga challenges are not “real yogis”. It’s been said that it’s no more than self indulgence and it completely minimizes what yoga is supposed to symbolize, that yoga is supposed to be private and an inward journey, that yoga selfies are narcissistic.

While some can certainly argue all of those points quite well, yoga selfies literally changed my life for the better. I owe my entire true yoga journey to the yoga selfie and want to offer my perspective.

I’ve been doing yoga since 2007. I use that phrase loosely because for approximately the first seven years of my stint, I didn’t really do yoga. I knew the basics, I attended {gym} yoga classes and I knew I liked it. I attended what I now know were vinyasa flow classes but in my small town yoga just wasn’t a thing. There weren’t any dedicated yoga studios at the time and in the random event that one would pop up on a downtown corner, it was closed a month or two later. I was fortunate that the teacher I had was really great and she held my interest. When she left teaching, I somewhat bailed on yoga. My relationship with it was intermittent and I had not a clue as to what a dedicated practice was.

In late 2013, I realized I really needed some form of consistent exercise in my life. I had gained a few pounds and since I’ve always lived with generalized anxiety, it was time to put some work into my physical and emotional self. It only made sense that I reincorporated yoga into my life. Again, just the basics: some sun salutations and stretching, breathing.

I have always been in love with Instagram so one evening, while on a business trip in early 2014, I happened upon this amazing gallery of someone’s yoga poses. Extremely advanced yoga poses. I was absolutely intrigued and had this immediate want to imitate the poses.

{Stay with me here because I know this is where the controversy comes in.}

Yes, I wanted to imitate the poses and stand on my head. This woman was fit and awesome and balanced and quoted so much inspiration in her posts. I wanted to hashtag #inversionsmakeyouhot and just radiate this beautiful art form. I didn’t even know yoga could get this advanced, this intense, this beautiful. I was beyond inspired.

I quickly learned that, surprise, surprise, it wasn’t that easy. Apparently standing on your head required work to get there. Physical work, sure, but also? Emotional work. In my case, fear was a huge factor. I wanted to face my fears but it also made me dive deeper. I wanted to understand the poses- the asanas- and I wanted to understand why they were beneficial. It sparked this need in me to understand, research and learn…yoga. In its truest form.

I soon started to follow every yoga Instagram superstar I could find, as well as other amateurs like myself. I could not even believe the community I found in this little space of social media. All of the yoga challenges became a part of my daily routine which, yes, had actual prizes at the end of the month but I didn’t particulate in them for tangible things. I just wanted to learn, I wanted to be inspired, motivated by others and possibly inspire others.

I found myself so inspired that I would go to the local bookstore to read about the history of yoga, chakras, different styles of yoga, different teachers, and all of the benefits yoga has on the mind, body and spirit. I hadn’t felt so passionate about anything in my life as far back as I could remember. It felt so incredible to have this connection with yoga. With a new lifestyle.

It just so happened that 2014 was also the worst year of my personal life, so all of this knowledge could not have come at a better time. Yoga saw me through a divorce and major family illnesses. Through navigating becoming a single mom and through a broken heart. Through career upheavals and through soul searching. I turned to yoga for solitude and healing. Who knew that yoga could do all of this if you do it correctly?

And speaking of correctly, I am an unorthodox yogi so I truly don’t believe in doing yoga wrong, (assuming you’re learning correct alignment from an experienced teacher). I’m not vegan, I don’t meditate as much as I’d like to, I don’t practice for 90 minutes a day, I don’t love some of the yoga styles, I don’t know about every chakra or even every asana Sanskrit name. What I know is that yoga is when I breathe through life. It’s when I feel the most connected with myself and when I can get my mind to settle down. It’s when I feel good about my body and all its imperfections and its limitations. It’s when I accept that backbends may never be my thing and my shoulders and hamstrings are much too tight. It’s just…practice of so many things, it’s a journey. And yoga selfies started all of the above for me.

I never reached any kind of Instagram popularity with my own yoga selfies, nor did I aspire to. I don’t participate in challenges much anymore or even post many yoga selfies. Yoga selfies were just a starting point for me into something much more deep and meaningful and for that, I am forever grateful.

Respect others journey into yoga, try not to judge. That yogi that you’re dismissing as narcissistic on Instagram may just be changing someone’s life.


My Secret Celebration On My Daughter’s Birthday

Ever since I became a mom 7 years ago, when my daughter’s birthday rolls around every May, I celebrate. It’s a given that I celebrate her, with her, for her. But I also secretly celebrate me and the trials and tribulations of motherhood. Every mom’s journey is so beautiful and unique in their own right and I just can’t help but feel that a child’s birthday is really about the mom. I mean, childbirth is no joke and motherhood is even more difficult so why not take some time to mentally celebrate these triumphs?

On the eve of her birthday every year, around 7pm, I reminisce about where I was in the birthing process.  I had to be induced due to medical issues so I take myself through the process. The anxiety of being admitted to the hospital, the pitocin, the failed epidural, watching HGTV to try to pass the {painful} time, watching her dad sleep and remember wanting to stab him. I think about the demeanor of the room, the preparation, the nurses, the doctor arriving, the look on my mom’s face when my daughter arrived. My first words of, “what do I do with you now, little one?”, as she wailed in my arms. Just…everything.

Every year, as the hours of her birthday pass, I just remember. I remember when she was a baby, depending on me for everything. I remember how hard it was for me in those early months and the frustration I felt. I remember the laughter of the toddler phase and all the blunders I’ve made as a mom. I secretly pat myself on the back for making it through another year with a child that I am beyond proud of. I’ve kept her alive, happy, and healthy so I must be doing something right.

This morning, on her 7th birthday, I woke up at 4:43am, two minutes before I actually had her in 2009. I was so thankful that I woke up at this ugly hour of the morning to really reflect all by myself. To celebrate motherhood for a few quiet minutes, all by myself.  I laid there thinking about the past seven years and what they’ve looked like, how they’ve evolved, how I’ve grown as a mom. I thought of everything she’s been through in her young life and I wonder if I’ve always done the right thing for her in tough situations.

I know that moms have their own holiday of Mother’s Day, but that’s not the day I choose to celebrate my accomplishments as a mom. I choose to celebrate my own mom on that day for all she’s done for me. Now that I’m a mom, I feel like my mom should actually be crowned queen but I digress.

It should go without saying that I do stay in the moment and never lose sight that it’s her day and that she’s to be celebrated but I love my own, separate celebration is happening in my mind, too. As moms, we’re always told to take a backseat, to give up everything for our kids, to never be first in our own lives…and we do all of these things and we do it graciously for these amazing creatures that we birthed. That’s what being a mom is all about but I simultaneously choose to acknowledge myself and what it takes to be that person to sacrifice everything. I celebrate it. On her day. In my own mind. Call me selfish. I’m ok with that.

Happy mom anniversary to me. I’m rocking this shit so far.


Beyonce is Not My Daughter’s Role Model. And I Don’t Expect Her to Be.

Beyonce is all up in our faces in 2016. She started the year out with her controversial Superbowl Half-Time Show and now? Lemonade. Holy shit, Bey. This is too much. It’s only May and we can’t stop talking about you.

If you live under a rock, don’t give a shit, haven’t been paying attention, Beyonce’s album Lemonade is her personal journey through love, betrayal, and reconciliation as told through her music. She went to extraordinary lengths for all of us to see how scorned of a woman she really is by an intense hour-long visual, taking us from beginning to end of her album. Admittedly, I have not watched the entire movie, simply because I’m too cheap to subscribe to premium cable channels, but I certainly have the gist of the situation.

The internet’s metaphorical mind was exploding all over the place because of Lemonade’s content. We all now know what a “Becky” is and that wearing “Becky’s” skin is a possibility if she messes with Bey’s man. We get it. She means business.

It’s intense. It’s riveting. It’s deep. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s relatable for many of us.

She received accolades, calling her fierce, empowering, brave, and even that Lemonade is a Revolutionary Work of Black Feminism. On the flip side, she is receiving criticism for being vulgar, ugly, manipulative, and destructive. This criticism is also tearing down any previous notion that Beyonce is a role model for young women worldwide.

Here’s my truth in all of this: it’s all accurate. All of it. It is all of those things on both sides of the fence.

I, personally, label Lemonade as “relatable” because as a woman also scorned, I get it. I felt her words in my soul as I listened. I had chills as I watched her with a baseball bat destroy valuable goods. I empathize with that dead look in her eyes when she confronts the truth of being betrayed. I lived this and I, too, did all of those thing, minus the bat.

It is ugly, vulgar, and destructive. It sure is. But that is her truth. That’s her art for the content. And this is how she’s making millions of dollars. Because she can.

Yes, everyone, Beyonce is a brand and she is selling herself. So is every other celebrity. This is what Hollywood is, if you haven’t noticed. That’s how all of this works. You can buy it or you can leave it but if you’re talking about it, good or bad, you’re selling it for them.

And this notion of being a role model. No, I don’t consider Beyonce to be a role model for my young daughter. Why? Because I am my daughter’s role model, family members are her role models, business owners and successful women are her role models. Real,tangible people are her role models.

These brands of celebrities? They’re called entertainment. I am completely aware that young kids everywhere are idolizing these celebrities, absolutely, but isn’t it our duty as parents to explain reality and right and wrong to our children? When did we pass on this responsibility to these celebrities?

Recently, there was a horrific story of a love triangle that ended in a 16 year old losing her life at the hands of other teens in a high school bathroom. Some are bringing Beyonce’s Lemonade message into this suggesting that it’s mindsets such as Beyonce’s that influence our girls to react in such a way- to become murders. It’s awful and it’s tragic that this happened to this poor, young girl but, friends, this is not Beyonce’s fault. Beyonce is not making music specifically so young women follow in her footsteps. She’s making music…to make music. Shame on the parents for not teaching their girls that this is just that- entertainment. Beyonce shouldn’t feel as though she can’t speak her truth because of shitty parenting.

I want to also take a brief moment to talk about hip-hop music in general. Since the beginning of this musical genre, it has been violent, vulgar, and destructive, mostly by men, mostly against women. But where are the articles demonizing the male hip-hop artists for such content? Where is the outrage for poor role models? Where is the blame for drive-by shootings? Maybe if you scour the internet really, really good, you’ll find something speaking out against male hip-hop artists that are guilty of such music but I guarantee it isn’t to this magnitude of tearing Beyonce down…for writing a truthful album about her life.

I will admit that when Beyonce preformed at the Superbowl, I was confused. As a white girl, I didn’t get it. At all. But you know what? I didn’t have to. She was speaking her truth as a black woman. I viewed it as furthering the divide of races, some viewed it as a cultural metaphorical shout-out. Either way, it was her truth, her art. As is Lemonade. It isn’t her role to think of of today’s uber sensitive individual needs. That would be impossible.

So, no. Beyonce isn’t a role model for my daughter. She doesn’t have to be. I won’t even buy her album but when one of her songs comes on the radio, I might just dance, or cry, or sing in my car…because I relate. It’s music. It tells a story and we can listen or we can turn it away.

Parents of young women: we have a female running for president, we have female CEOs, we have female firefighters and law enforcement officers. Let’s focus on that discussion. Let’s make sure our daughters understand the importance of Hollywood versus reality.