Confession: I Will Always Love You

When I was little, I used to ask my mom what I could do to make her not love me anymore. 

 
I started testing people early it seems, and my mom was my first participant. She would tell me “I will love you forever. No matter what. I will always love you. I would challenge her frequently, the little four-year-old antagonist that I was, never fully comprehending this concept of forever love, often testing it, yet desperately wanting to believe it. So I would ask, and she would immediately and unwaveringly answer:

 
If I’m bad, will you still love me then? Of course.
If I yell at you, will you still love me then? Definitely.
If I run away, will you still love me then? Undoubtedly.
Even if I hurt you, will you still love me then? Yes, always. I will always love you.
 
This memory came rushing back at me this morning in my favorite yoga class, what we fondly call “yoga church” every Sunday morning. The theme was comfort, and our teacher asked us to think of something that has been said to us that brings us comfort. She offered a few suggestions but I chose the first thing that popped up in my head, the thing that is always somewhere in there but needs to be brought into consciousness so much more often.
 
I will always love you.
 
Ironic that what comforts me is also what I have the hardest time understanding.
 
As I moved through the warrior ones and the tree poses repeating my mantra, “I will always love you”, I pondered if it could really be true. Could we ever really make that commitment to someone, to love them unconditionally? Does it only work with your parents, or your children, or your spouse? And could love possibly transcend time and circumstance and everything else that life throws out to test us, and really be forever? How could I believe it from someone else when I wasn’t sure if I could extend the sentiment myself?
 
I thought about all of the people I have loved in my lifetime, the four-year-old contrarian now in a 35-year-old body, still questioning everything. When I’ve said I love you, when I’ve used the word forever, did I mean it? I think of the ones who broke my heart, and the ones whose hearts I may have broken. I think of the ones who grew apart, or replaced me with another. The ones who told me they were going, and the ones who simply left without a word. Is there truly love left there?
 
I am surprised to discover the answer is yes. 
 
Through any lingering anger, through pain that may never fully heal, through tears and hurt and confusion and acceptance, there is still love. Love for what once was, love for lessons learned, love for being a part of my past and for leading me to where and who I am now.
 
LOVE. 
 
And if I can believe my own love exists for others unconditionally, I should be able to believe it when someone uses the words forever and always with me. I should be able to use those words too.
 
We went around the yoga studio this morning before savasana, each person offering up what their words of comfort had been. Everyone had something, and they were mostly variations of the same “everything is going to be all right” message. It seems everyone has the same basic needs: to feel safe, to know things will work out, to feel loved.
 
Maybe all we need to feel safe is the promise from someone else that we will be. Maybe this is why we call it yoga church, because it challenges us to rely on faith–faith in our bodies, in our minds and in our hearts. And faith in each other. Maybe what we can offer back to each other most for comfort…is love. 
 
So to all of you, I echo the sentiments that my fellow yogis voiced this morning:
 
It’s going to be okay.
I will be here for you. 
Things will get better.
You are loved.
 
I will always love you.
 
xx,
Katie

Confession: A Yoga Retreat Changed My Life

I am so honored to be featured on The Travel Yogi’s blog today, describing my amazing and life changing experience on my first yoga retreat.

“I made the decision to go to Bali on a whim. An LA-based yoga teacher, Jen Pastiloff, whose class I had taken once or twice, mentioned she would be leading a weeklong trip there in November. I knew virtually nothing about Bali, except for the magical feeling evoked whenever I heard the word. She had probably announced it in those previous two classes as well, but this time I heard it. I took a flyer, exchanged a few “what can I expect” emails with The Travel Yogi, and was booked on my first yoga retreat one week later.

How do you prepare for a life-changing experience? You can’t, I guess. You can simply take the leap, open your heart, and allow it all in…”

Please click here to read the rest, and consider one of their upcoming retreats for yourself!

xx,

Katie

Sunrise at Soulshine

Sunrise at Soulshine

Confession: I Am A Lazy Perfectionist

laziness2

I didn’t leave my house today.

 
meant to meet my friend at yoga.
meant to clean my closet.
meant to give up sugar.
meant to be productive.
 
And yet here I am again, sitting on the couch at 10:00 at night, my body imprinted onto the beige couch, eating cookie dough. Un-yoga’d, un-showered, un-moved, un-motivated. Chastising myself about my perpetual laziness, which seems to rear its ugly head all too frequently. Wanting everything in my life to be perfect, wanting to check off every item on my to-do list until there is nothing left to do, until I can say to anyone who will listen, “just look at everything I did!”
The only things on my calendar today were “yoga” and “spring clean the closets” and I didn’t do either of them. Instead, I stayed home. Instead, I shoved more shirts into my dresser drawers, forcing them closed even when they resisted, clothing all bunched up and not even folded. Instead, I hid things underneath the bathroom sink, and loaded dirty dishes into the dishwasher half-full of clean dishes to avoid putting them away. Instead, I tossed the laundry into the linen closet and slammed the door so I wouldn’t see it anymore. See, now it looks perfect even when it’s not.
 
It’s a pattern you see, and patterns don’t really like to break themselves.
 
During my sophomore year of high school, we performed the musical Peter Pan. I was cast as the mom, a cameo role given to me in part because I was talker than most of my classmates. Since the character only appears in the beginning and end of the show, I was given the opportunity to play a “Lost Boy” as well. I declined, citing my need to “stay in character”for the entire show. In reality, I just didn’t want to learn the choreography involved in the other scenes. I already had to sing, while tying Mr. Darling’s bowtie in under a minute in a ball gown, while comforting my “children” who were actually older than I was. I didn’t need to learn anything else. I took the easy way out and hung out backstage every night in my elaborate updo and makeup designed to make me look older and waited for the finale while those Lost Boys sang and danced for the crowd.
 
Taking the easy way comes naturally to me it seems.
 
(Scene fades; cut to twenty years later)
 
This week I considered quitting yoga.
 
It has been so difficult for me in class lately. Showing up is not the hardest part as I had previously thought; making it through an hour is. My hamstrings again refuse to stretch, my triceps quiver after just one plank pose, my core wants nothing to do with those crunches. It’s so ridiculously hard. Maybe yoga is always going to be this hard for my body; maybe my body has already quit even.
 
Or maybe it’s because my mind does not want to open. It wants to stay as shut as those dresser drawers, keeping all of the mess and chaos and secrets inside where no one can see them. It refuses to let those overstuffed, full of shit drawers stay closed. It tries desperately to pry them open, those drawers with their sweaters mixed with tank tops, and socks and bras all tangled up with tights. It begs, “look at me, all of your crap in this drawer and deal with me.”
 
Or just maybe it is the self-acceptance that you are expected to bring to the mat with you, that is supposed to sit down beside you while you move through your tree poses and crow poses and child’s poses. That is supposed to tell you just in case the teacher forgets, “Listen to your body. If you need a break, take one. No one is judging you. There is no perfect. Just honor your truth.” I think I forget to bring that voice with me, like I sometimes forget my water bottle. Or it’s talking to someone else. Or it’s speaking a different language. Or I just can’t hear it. Maybe that’s it.
 
I just want everything to be easy.
 
I want someone else to do the work. I want the drawers to clean themselves, I want the handstand without the practice, I want the jeans to miraculously be loose and I want to just be open without all of the pain of getting there.
 
If only life were actually easy.
 
But it never is, is it? So we do whatever we do to keep going.
 
I fill up my calendar. I make my to-do lists. I keep showing up for yoga, and I give up sugar (again). Knowing that one day, one time, I’ll work all the way through the list, where maybe the perfection is waiting for me and has been all along if I had only worked harder before to find it.
 
I’ll keep going and going like this, until one day I’ll finally let go of the notion that perfection only comes when every box has been ticked. That notion that perfect exists when there is an Xin front of handstand, and skinny, and organized. That notion that perfection exists at all.
 
I will then let go of it and all that will be left is a shadowy reminder of this long held belief. It will be washed away like the pollen after a rainstorm, flowing down into the gutters and only leaving behind a faint yellow tinge to the earth and a memory of a sneeze now almost forgotten. All that will be left is just life, wrapped up in all of its imperfect perfection, that can never be erased with the rain.