don’t know what to title this one

I just got back from Bishop on Tuesday night, and I’m still adjusting to sleeping in a bed and not being cold and people honking and televisions and the sounds that the city makes.

This Bishop trip felt different than others. The moon was full and larger than usual, its light kept the tent glowing throughout the night. The first day we woke up to wind, and as the morning went on the winds picked up to speeds I had never experienced in Bishop before. Mount Tom was clouded with a brown haze, tumble weeds rolled through the streets and my hair stuck to my lips. As we hiked into the boulders, sand and dirt sprayed our faces, our eyes, my contacts turned to sandpaper and we had to spit every once in a while to get the grit out of our teeth.

The air felt drier than Bishop usually does. My lips chapped, the skin on my back felt tight, my nose started to flake, my elbows were raw, and my knuckles cracked.

Climbing felt hard. My body felt heavy, moving felt dramatic, and I was continuously sore. I couldn’t stay hydrated.

But I was so happy. We all were. Having friends that smile and laugh as the wind pegs us with sticks and sand and dirt is the best thing in the whole world, and I am so lucky.

I think people are sometimes surprised by Bishop. Bishop is a high elevation desert, but the way I talk about it you’d think it is some kind of paradise (well, to me it is), with palm trees, cool breezy days, lush with greenery and forest, lots of little critters running around. But it isn’t like that. In the winter time Bishop is cold, nights and some days are far below freezing, the sun is intense but not always warm, winds whistle through the rocks, and coyotes howl in the early hours of morning. The boulders are made of quartz monzonite that cuts up your hands, sands them down until they’re raw. The climbing in most of the areas is hard. Don’t expect for anything to feel easy, no matter how strong you think you are.

Bishop is not comforting in the modern day sense. It is in your face, challenging physically, cracks you open emotionally, and tests your mental limits. But we all love it. Because it’s our test. Living in the city rarely tests our fundamental humanness, our ability to survive, to adapt, and to act like a human being. We are so often surrounded by luxuries. And that scares us. We get warm in our beds and wonder, will we still enjoy the bitter cold of a night in a tent? We have to find out, so we go.

***

Are you okay, I ask. Dexter is on his back in between two rocks, and he’s kind of laughing because he just slipped trying to scramble up to see the moon rise over the White Mountains, but then he looks down at his leg. His brow furrows. No, I’m not okay. I broke my leg. 

My mind flashes back to Joshua Tree last spring, when Chris popped his ankle from a fall, and how glad I was to have Matt with me to help me carry Chris and keep me calm. But then I realize I am all alone. And my friend has a broken leg. That I can’t freak out, that it is up to me to get all six foot six and two hundred pounds of him to the van. I help him up and he puts his arm around my shoulder. I was trying to keep my head from hitting the rock, so I rolled weird and I broke my leg. I have a broken leg, George. My leg is broken. He looks at me with a pale face and intense eyes.

I don’t say anything. I can’t. We eventually make it to the van. I scramble back up the hill to get our gear. I start the drive down bumpy Buttermilk Rd. and I’m quiet. He’s talking. He’s making jokes. He turns on the CD player and blasts Robyn and starts singing along, CAUSE YOUUUUUU JUST MET SOMEBODY NEWWWWWWWW! Every once in a while he looks to me and says, George, I broke my leg, it hurts so bad. I broke my leg. I don’t say anything. I know that if I in any way do something as emotional as expressing myself, through simply talking or even putting a hand on his shoulder, I’ll lose it. I’m scared and about to cry and thinking about his head hitting the rock and suddenly I can’t remember where the hospital is that we drive by almost every day, and I’m trying to go slow over the bumps because he moans every time I hit one, but not too slow because I need to get him to a doctor as fast as I can and the moon is huge right in front of us and my cell phone is buzzing and I’m remembering I left his sandal and I can’t believe it happened, in a flash, like that, one moment you’re eating cheesecake then next you’re carrying your friend out of the Pollen Grains, and then all of the sudden everything gets quiet and the only thing I can hear is my breath. It is calm. It is strong. It is smooth. Deeper than usual. Yoga. Yoga is happening. I have laser-like concentration, get him to the hospital, inhale, exhale.

Dexter laughs with the nurses and tells them that he wants to hug them. A doctor takes a pair of scissors and shoves them into an open gash on his ankle, making sure the bone hasn’t poked through his skin, and Dexter says, wow…that feels really good. He isn’t on any pain medication. This is Dexter, dealing with life. This is how he does it.

I am silent. I just watch. I push him in a wheel chair from x-ray room to waiting room to exam room to bathroom, I help when I need to help, I answer questions that I’m asked. I don’t laugh, I don’t say anything unnecessary. This is me, dealing with life. This is how I do it.

Bishop has taught me the best way for me to deal with life, namely the bad things in life, in a way that doesn’t hurt others. Because it is easy to do that, to lash out at others when you’re hurting. At the root of it all you want their love, because you need it but can’t ask for it because that would just be way too easy and mature. For me, I best deal with things by getting quiet, that is how I’ve always been, more introverted and observant. For Dexter, he blasts Swedish pop music and tells nurses about his amazing health insurance coverage plan.

Climbing and yoga has taught me how to react in the way that is best for me, in the way that honors who I am. Of course, sometimes I am not very good at containing my emotions and reacting in the best way. But when you’re in a situation when your friend has a broken leg, you don’t really have a choice. React well, or suffer consequences way larger than just having a bad rest of your day.

I am so lucky to be surrounded by friends who not only know how to be content with freezing nights and dirty hair, but also know how to react to truly horrible situations in the way that is best for them. I think that being outside teaches you this and never stops teaching you this. Yoga does the same thing. Put your body in a certain shape and breathe, keep your mind still. Just sit with yourself. Deal with yourself, with this life.

I admire you all so much. Climbers, yogis, all of you. I look up to you when you react in that honest way, the way that makes sense to you. I know it’s not easy. Let’s just not hurt each other. Keep learning. Keep testing yourself. Keep practicing.

And if  you could just take one moment to send Dexter some healing thoughts, whether you know him or not, I’m sure he would really appreciate it.

Moments of honesty

photo-2

 

My friend sent this to me and it made me want to write about it, to expand it, to create something of my own.

This is why I fall in love with just about everyone I meet. I am such a sucker for people and their honest moments. I used to think that moments like this were extremely rare. But they aren’t. If you open your eyes, they are happening everywhere. Catch it if you can.  

I love when my girlfriends do something, pause, and say, I am becoming my mother. I love artists. I love dogs. I love it when I lock eyes with a stranger, we both look away, and then when I look back we lock eyes again. I like seeing people singing in their cars. I love the look on your face when you open a cupboard and a million things come tumbling out. I love live music. I love the sound of my friend’s voices when they’re telling a story about when they were a kid. I like riding shot gun and not having to say a word for hours. I love when I ask a new yoga student if they have any injuries, and they say, no but my heart hurts today. I like being in the same train car as someone who doesn’t know English. I love when that woman with loud bracelets realizes she is actually pushing my cart in Berkeley Bowl. Good lord, I love dancing. I love it when the dark roots of that bleached blonde start to grow out. I love the look on girls’ faces when their date rings the doorbell to pick them up for prom. Even better is the look on their date’s face when they open the front door. I love when we’ve all been in the city for a while and we take a trip to the mountains. I love confessions. I love it when bros with flat brimmed hats tell me about this girl that broke their heart. I love airports, seeing people leaving each other and seeing reunions. I love it when four year old boys hold on to my leg for two hours because they are afraid to try rock climbing. I love when little girls grab the hand of someone at the farmer’s market and realize it’s not their mama. I love flowers. I love watching the sun set with my friends. And sunrises. I like it when people fall asleep on my shoulder. I love seeing people laugh in a cafe at a book they’re reading. I like old photos, old love letters, and boxes of notes we passed in 7th grade science class. I love the noises people make when they hold puppies or kittens. I love when I’m somewhere it’s inappropriate to laugh, but then you lock eyes with a friend and get the giggles. I love truth or dare. I love watching people try really really hard on a rock climbing route.  I love breakdowns, like throw yourself on the bathroom floor and tell your friend about how horrible your day was kind of breakdowns. I love single tears. I love how these moments are everywhere, and it’s just a matter of showing up for them.

 

I think that one of the worst things we can do to another person is to make someone who is in a moment of honesty feel foolish, stupid, or embarrassed. Some of us do this often. But why would we, when honesty is so beautiful and downright adorable? Be good to each other.

Have a great day, and search with your eyes, ears, and hearts for these moments. They are happening all around you!

We need Valentine’s Day

Today, my Valentine’s Day is looking a lot like the last year’s, a long hike with my pups just as the poppies are starting to bloom here in Northern California.

Can we all just agree on the fact that today is so not about Hallmark cards and teddy bears and having some handsome dude or beautiful babe to share dinner with? It’s about love. Recently that’s all I’ve been writing about, all I’ve been thinking about, all I’ve been trying to do. And dammit, it’s working. I am happier. Or maybe happy isn’t the right word, because sometimes I am sad. But I feel more like myself.

When you make love your ultimate goal, when all you do and say is out of love, when you relentlessly choose love over fear, you will never fail. Love is your trump card. It is your not-so-secret weapon, your magic spell. It always works.

Yes, sometimes it will hurt, you will cry, the love you give may even be rejected or taken for granted. But any love you give is never wasted and it is always received, whether the receiver knows it or not. So keep giving. Don’t stop.

And above all, love yourself, because you are adorable.

Some people think Valentine’s Day is stupid or unnecessary because we shouldn’t need a day to show love, we should love all of the time. And while that’s true, what’s even more true is that we need today, despite whether we “should” or not. We need Valentine’s Day more than ever. I don’t blame us for needing it. Love is hard, it’s messy and hurtful, and now a days it feels pretty unnatural. But it IS natural, the most natural thing we can do, because we are made of love after all. And it’s worth it. Always, every time.

Love for love’s sake. Take shelter in one another.

 

A poem I wrote, and I wanted to share it with you all today:

 

 

Lately all I’ve been dreaming is of the sea

Soaking in its salt and letting its sands polish 

the winter from the soles 

of my feet.

Breathing and seeing under her surface, blue

for depth

blue for the winds above and

I crave her relentless strength, how she pushes

and pulls with loyalty

Swelling for true love.

It’s the only way she knows how to move.

 

There are birds in my chest, beating 

their wings against my sternum 

and for so long I have ignored their calls,

masking the cries with songs of sweeter truths

and temporary salves. 

 

I let the water splash the wound on my ankle,

cleansing the open gash

stinging as it heals, sizzling as she glides away. 

I clench my jaw. 

Her currents do not waiver.

 

Waves are proof that grace still exists, 

as the sea gives

in to gravity, bowing to its control

and allowing its body to be moved by

something that unexplainable.

 

Salt in my eye lashes, salt running down my face.

 

xoxo,

Georgie

 

 

 

To my students

I have tried to write this post, or a version of this post for months now. But I didn’t know how to say these things in a way that did my yoga students justice, that actually expressed how awesome they are. Here it is, I tried my best!

 

Dear yoga students,

Thank you.

Do you even know how much I admire you? Your willingness to unroll your mats, to do the work, to breathe, to attempt a handstand, to hold pigeon pose for five minutes–that is so refreshing to see, and it gives me hope by the truck load.

Do you have any idea how insanely beautiful it is to see you drop to your knees, lay your chest forward, arms stretched into a child’s pose as I call for another vinyasa? Do you know that I know you are almost all physically capable of doing crazy arm balances and super advanced versions of poses? I know it. But the most amazing thing is when I give you an advanced option for a pose, you try it, realize your breath is getting shallow or something just doesn’t feel good, and so you go back to the first version. God. I want to come over and hug you, tackle you to the ground and squeeze you tight. Don’t worry, I won’t. But know that I want to.

I don’t care how your poses look. They are all perfect. Even that time you laid on your belly for half of class, just breathing. I can tell when you’re being true to what your body needs. I can tell when you’re moving like yourself. This does not go unnoticed.

Sometimes, I see your tears. I don’t know all of your stories but I know you hurt. I hurt too. Some days all my voice does is shake. I see that in you. You still came to class. That kind of strength and fearlessness is rare and I am so proud of you.

I see your smiles. Hot damn do I see your smiles! There is divinity in how you wobble out of dancer’s pose and how then corners of your mouth turn up. Not a pity smile, but a full smile–like how you know falling out of a pose doesn’t mean shit, but somehow it still gets to you. And so you smile. Because it’s all funny. Yoga is funny. Things in this life that we allow to get to us–hilarious. You have a great sense of humor.

I know that my classes are sometimes extremely challenging. Not physically necessarily. But for the ego. I will not congratulate you for a handstand, I will not tell you that you have a beautiful practice. Because handstands don’t matter and of course your practice is beautiful. I will teach a balancing section of class and you will probably wobble and wish you were in a different class, with that teacher that doesn’t teach the annoying poses. Class will be uncomfortably silent at times, I will be metaphorically in your face about staying with your breath and staying true to your body, you will hold forward folds for longer than you’re used to. If you go into an advanced version of a pose and I see your breath grow shallow, I will come over and physically put you into a different pose. Sorry. But I care way more about your health and safety than fluffing up your ego as you stay in a pose that isn’t good for your body.

I am truly amazed at how understanding you are about the times I have left you to go travel. Thank you. Thank you for letting me be 24 years old. Thank you for remembering how it was when you were my age, or how it will be in a few years when you are my age, and that sometimes you too like driving your car across the country for a few months for no real reason other than to climb up some rocks. Thank you for letting me be human, for not feeling abandoned when I get my class subbed out so I can do things like go to dinner with my Dad on his birthday.

You are my teachers. I learn so much from you, watching you practice, watching you learn, and it makes me a better girl. You give me guidance and clarity and comfort in the most confusing of times, the darkest of days, the saddest of situations. The moment we all open our eyes after class has proven to be my most favorite time of day.

And I remember all of you. Even those of you took my classes back in the day at the RAC at Georgia Southern. I remember you from Diablo Rock Gym at 6am. I remember those of you at Lava Fitness after your workouts. I especially remember you all in the orange or blue room at Savannah Yoga Center. I remember all of the retreats, the private lessons, the times at the beach I helped you into a handstand, those of you who after a day of climbing ask me how to stretch out a hip flexor. And now, I will not forget all of you from Square One, the little girls at Ironworks–spot me in a backbend Georgie!, the Facebook messages asking how to get started practicing yoga, the studios that allow me to sub. THANK YOU. You all are just the best. I am honored.

Love,

Georgie