THANK YOU, Guatemala.

I just got back from teaching on the Solyoga Trips spring wellness retreat in Guatemala.

It was…so. fucking. awesome.

I only said fuck once the entire time I was there (which is interesting too, maybe for another post) so I had to get that one out.

I feel better than I have in years. Physically my body feels open, clean, electric, at ease, balanced. Mentally and emotionally I feel so much gratitude, I’m overwhelmed with it, I feel calm, trusting, less guilt, more open and more like myself.

And just downright happy.

I also don’t feel angry, something I had been feeling towards a lot of things recently.

Guatemala is full of sweetness. The people of Guatemala have a sweetness about them like no one else,  they will smile at you and say good morning like they mean it, like they really hope you have the best morning of your life. And I don’t know why or what it is about them, but the children of Guatemala are the damn cutest things I’ve ever seen. Their faces are adorable looking, but on top of that they act adorable too. When visiting one of the villages along the lake, the kids were let out of school and they started walking up the hill I was walking down–it was a cuteness parade. The little boys would hold hands and play jokes on each other, the girls would smile big and wave at me. I found myself squealing and melting and making that high pitched noise that girls do when they see a puppy. Too much cuteness, those kids. So much sweetness in Guatemala–all I’ve been trying to do since I got home is imitate it.

Lago Atitlan, the lake whose shores we stayed on, was the one of the most in-your-face energetic things I’ve been around. I could feel that lake for miles before we were near it, I could feel its pull. The lake was surrounded by three volcanoes that were equally as energetic, they were firey and powerful. All of it together made for a place that shook you up a little, got stagnant things moving, sucked the bad shit out of your heart, drew out the hurts that were ready to get a move on, and instead of leaving you feeling open and vulnerable and empty, it gifted you with healing and a sense of fullness.

If I could hand-pick a group of women to teach and hang out with every day, I would choose the ones that came on the trip. I had never felt so much acceptance and straight up love from anyone else before, not only towards myself but towards everyone and everything around them. I went into the trip thinking I would only teach yoga, like the way you would think of yoga–poses, meditation, breathing, philosophy. But these women were so open, so down for anything, the week turned into partner yoga, yoga nidra, chanting our little (big) hearts out, laughter meditation, and blind folded dancing to the music stylings of the Queen herself, miss Gaga.

I did blind folded dancing during teacher training and it was probably the most freeing thing I’ve ever done. It’s what you think it is, you put on a blind fold and dance with yo bad self. You let it all go–worry, self-consciousness, desire to look cool. Yeah, it’s super hippy and weird and woowoo but it’s amazing and it works. It’s a complete loss of inhibitions. Because even when you’re in your room dancing in your undies there is still that thought of how silly you look, how funny you’re being, how you hope no one walks in. But when you’re in a room with a bunch of other people who are also dancing, not being able to see themselves or you, things get crazy. Shit gets real. Especially if you’ve got Bad Romance bumping in the background.

Blind folded dancing is like taking five shots of tequila and having the DJ play your favorite song–except everyone else in the room has had 10 shots of tequila so they can’t see you and won’t remember it in a few minutes anyways. Minus the hangovers and thoughts of, oh god…did I really do that last night? Because yes, you really did it, and it felt damn good.

I admire those women because they have learned how to open their hearts in a world that encourages us not to. And I’m a complete sucker for that.

I have felt off recently, I have felt guilt and anger. But after this trip, I feel like myself again, the me that isn’t angry and loves the shit out of everything, that’s grateful for everything, even the not so fun stuff because it gives me a chance to get to know myself better, to practice yoga. I’m feeling connected again, sweet again, trusting, more loving of myself–and damnit do I feel divine.

I went into this trip as the teacher. For me this was all about serving others, my students. But I came out of it feeling like I attended the retreat as a student. I don’t know what I was thinking a few weeks back–I’ve got the whole world and everything in it as my yoga teacher.


Easter, the ranch, and how it made me believe in magic

I’m not a religious girl. I never have been. Religion has never been something that I value or devalue, although I find the religions of the world extremely fascinating. I’ve been to church maybe twice in my life, but I was so young that I don’t know what kind of church it was and I don’t even really remember being there.

But I do remember the day I decided that God is real. And since then, I haven’t questioned it, struggled with it, or even thought about it too much.

I was about seven years old. I was up at my grandparents ranch, the place where I learned about living and dying, being outside, how to swim, how to care for a horse, family, cows, rattle snakes, clothing lines, pomegranates, beds on porches, Dove soap, bringing home kittens, scorpions, herding dogs, strawberry patches, sewing machines, building fires, burning trash, watching The Sound of Music with my grandpa, sitting on the porch with my grandpa, hugging my grandpa and inhaling as deep as I could because I liked his smell, scrambled eggs, wild boars, humming birds, old books, sunburns, squeezing orange juice, getting dirty, smelling dirty, Pinny and how she’d kiss me on the cheek even when I was dirty, carrying the one year olds–Sam and Max and Cass–from the house down to the pool and how they’d slowly slip out of my arms down my hip and having to pull them back up every few steps, being shy, realizing I had a lisp, riding bareback with Molly behind me hugging my waist, losing teeth, and everything else.

That ranch shaped me as a person more than I probably even realize.

Seven year old me. It was Easter morning and it was bright outside. The Easter Bunny had left goodies in our baskets, and Cass was small enough to fit in her basket, so I put her in there and carried her around. We went on a hike down the dirt road and found eggs, the hard boiled kind, brightly colored and sparkling. I gave the best purple glittery egg to Cass because she kept reaching for it, and she immediately tried to bite into it, shell and glitter and all. Her mouth was purple and sparkley as she drooled on to Mom’s shoulder.

We got back to the house and found more eggs, hundreds of them, the plastic kind with candy inside, all over the yard. They were hidden among the trees, the bushes, the strawberry patch, the pool toys, the shed I didn’t like because I saw a rattlesnake in there one time, in the olive branches, the grape vines that hung over the front porch, in Amy’s dog bowl, in gopher holes.

I was at the age where I didn’t know if I believed in the Easter Bunny anymore. I didn’t think that a bunny came around and hid those eggs. But I did believe that those eggs got there in some magical way.

I found a handwritten note in one of the bushes. It was signed “The Easter Fairy” and it was the first note of many notes, that led me and my cousins and sisters on a day long scavenger hunt. What we were looking for, I don’t know, but I think we just wanted to search for anything. What we found was magic, everywhere. Everything we saw started to sparkle.

As I was falling asleep that night, I remember thinking, I don’t think the Easter bunny is real. But magic is real. There are things that I can’t see and can’t explain, and it’s more fun to believe that magic exists, so I’m gonna believe in it. Little did I know, that night I made the decision to believe in God.

And I haven’t doubted it since.

Happy Easter everyone. Hope you find some magic today.