Put on some makeup!

My dear friend posted a sticker on instagram, asking if her followers had questions. One, mouthly, follower wrote back, “Put on some make up *puke face*”. 

She responded eloquently and maturely, simply stating that she intends to share her honest self with her followers, and that putting on make up to cover up her beautiful essence does not resonate with her values as an influencer. 

But what the heck? Really? What makes a person feel the need to respond to someone who is trying to engage an audience in a meaningful way (via yoga and self-reflection), and tell them they need to wear make up (a mix of chemicals designed to hide the reality of a women’s (usually) face in order to make it look more doll like? Or fake? Or more “perfect” but in a not-real sort of way)?

Now, nothing against make up itself. I think it can be a beautiful form of artistic and self-expression. However, if a woman NEEDS make up in order to speak authentically…we are in real trouble. 

So what’s the truth of it? Why would someone feel the need to write that?

Well, I can’t say for sure because I have never been actually motivated to reach out to someone to do that. But I believe it is due to their own self-hatred. Their own inability to be with themselves, truly, whether they are male or female. What I do know is the need to write that couldn’t have come from true honesty. It had to come from some selfish personal desire, otherwise, why say it? Why would you go out of your way, to share hate and negativity with someone else, if it didn’t somehow make you feel better or look better in your own head? 

So I ask you - what do we do when someone comes to us like that? Do we bark back? Do we ignore? Is it like my dog, when he’s barking to get attention, I have to ignore it and not give him the satisfaction of a reprimand? 

Well, if we consider the reality, it’s likely that this person, the one that wrote “put on some make up”, is going through something. Perhaps their boyfriend is stalking my friend on instagram, and she was so upset she took it out on her. Or, perhaps it’s a man that keeps getting turned down or broken up with, and felt the need to put down a woman to assert his power. Who knows! But regardless, this comment came from a place of desperation. This comment, is a cry for help. Not that they would know that, or would actually be open to receiving help, but that, it is absolutely a clear sign that they are not ok, in some form. 

It’s important to take these moments as an opportunity to introspect. Notice the moments in yourself when you feel the desire to put someone else down (even if it’s just a subtle judgement in your head). And start to inquire to yourself, what is that really about? Is it really about the other person's lack of makeup? Or is it likely about your own need to be perfect, insecurity of being that vulnerable, and perhaps even envy of being able to be so free? 

When we do that with ourselves, not only do we get the opportunity to inspire some personal growth, and release some negative, even toxic, feelings and actions. But we also get the opportunity to understand another person better. So next time someone does something like that towards you (even if it’s your mother over Christmas !!), you can perhaps empathize with where it’s actually coming from, and know that even if whatever they are saying is “true”, that you ultimately have a choice in how you take it, and how you respond. 

As much as I wanted to punch that person in the face (the one that told my friend to put on make up), I also felt their pain. I hope that one day they find the courage to ask for help, or go to yoga :D, and take responsibility for their own fears and insecurities, to be kinder to themselves and others. 

Here’s your monthly reminder: when someone does something that is rude/disrespectful/inconsiderate/wrong to someone else, it is ALWAYS about their own sh*t. That doesn’t make it ok, but it does free up the burden of the hurt, and allows us to be there for each other, even when it’s uncomfortable. 

All love. 

Take the leap

This last weekend marked my first Take It Off Yoga Retreats Staff Training. I, along with 5 other ladies, took a trip to Tahoe, where we worked together to not only develop ourselves (like we do on every retreat), but to also work on our facilitation as individuals, and as a brand. 

Throughout this weekend, each of us led an activity and a yoga or meditation class. Each of us had a chance to really make an impact on the group, and level up as a teacher, communicator, and coach. It was such an awesome opportunity to experience our own leadership, while still getting to be students for each other. 

By the end, everyone had made such huge strides in their personal growth, and their growth as leaders of their own (future) retreats. But there was a fear that I saw coming up, and after communicating with them, it became clear. The fear was something like, “I can’t lead a retreat if I don’t have my life together,” or, “Who am I to guide these women through this, when I can hardly do it myself?”. 

So here’s the thing. I know this feeling. All too well. I feel it almost everyday, even if it’s only a fleeting moment. And sometimes it really consumes me. 

And, I think it’s an important thought because, we don’t want just anyone teaching us important things like how to love yourself, and to become a better you. So in some ways, the fear is valid. 

However, I think it comes with a misconception, and therefore a limiting belief. The belief is that “teachers” are supposed to be these beings that stand at the front of a class and write on a whiteboard, or put up a powerpoint and give you information. This information is expected to be true, because, well, the teacher said so. But who were your best teachers? The ones who made the greatest impact on your life, not just your grades? Were they the teachers that told the facts the best? I doubt it. Were they the teachers that had the neatest powerpoint? Probably not. They were the teachers that captivated you. The teachers that told stories, and related the information to things that were important. The teachers that weren’t afraid to say, “I don’t know,” and look it up with you. The teachers that were human. These are the teachers that not only communicated information to you, but had you learn and grow. They inspired you to step up in your life, in some way, even if it was simply to do the homework. They taught you how to understand the material, or how to get excited about it. They showed you passion, and you felt it, so much so that you were inspired to move forward. 

So a teacher, is not really someone who passes on information. A teacher, in this case, is like an illuminator. The teacher guides you, and brings to light the things that you need to look at in order to further understand the material. (In fact, the Sanskrit definition of a guru is a person who shines light on the darkness.) The teacher lights up a path for you, so that you can choose to walk through it yourself. But the teacher doesn’t have to be all knowing, nor do they have to do the work for you. Instead, the teacher inspires you to do it, sometimes by not knowing. By encouraging you to dive in to yourself, and understand deeper. In that way it becomes the job of the student, to acknowledge that everything can be a teacher. A successful, growing student is always looking for the teacher in all things.

And what’s more is, often the teacher’s personal experience, as they are learning and growing themselves, serve the students further. 

So this fear of not being good enough to share knowledge or growth - what is that? 

I mean,

Tony Robbins talks about how if it weren’t for his mother abusing him, and him being very stuck in a victim mindset - he wouldn’t have been able to create big change in the world.

Ed Mylett says that he believes it is because he is actually very insecure, shy, and anxious, that he can really connect with people, and inspire them to grow. 

For truly, seeing the person in the gym who is super buff, doing everything perfectly, and looking sexy while doing it, is not nearly as inspiring as the person with one arm, showing up to the gym and putting in hard work, regardless of their circumstance. 

It is your “flaw” or “defect” or “setback” that qualifies you for the job, actually. Not the other way around. 

Now of course that’s a pretty vulnerable way to be. And, there may be a long way to go before you can really be impactful in the way you desire. But, how do you get there? 

You begin. 

Take the leap. It is in the leaping that you get to experience your own strength and courage, and begin to develop a deeper faith in yourself. 

Hindsight is 20/20!...?

The other day, a friend said to me, “yes but, hindsight is 20/20.” I was telling her about a past event, where I knew better, and I felt I could have done better. She was using the term to remind me not to be so hard on myself. In other words, that of course now I can see how I could have done better, but it doesn’t mean I should have at the time, because, well, I couldn’t see it then. 


And while I agree with the concept, and I appreciate the comfort for my overly-critical-OCD personality, it got me thinking. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, which might imply that present sight (the opposite of hindsight), is blurry. So perhaps, at the moment something is happening, my vision is blurry, and therefore the decisions I make are less than precise. And I do think, in many cases, that is how it goes! You never truly know what you are going to get when you make a decision, especially a risky or scary one, so that makes sense. 


But also, you can often feel something deeper than that. For example, let’s look at two scenarios. 1) You make a smart decision based on all the information you currently have, and you believe it could possibly create the outcome you want, and…it doesn’t. 2) You make a smart decision based on all the information you currently have, but you feel this tugging at you. You feel a small voice inside of you saying, nuh uh, that’s not the one. But you go with it anyway because it feels good, or other people are counting on it, or it rationally makes the most sense and can’t rationalize any other choice, etc. And then, it doesn’t go the way you want. In scenario (2), you did actually know. And you chose to go against what you knew, deep down. 




A few weeks ago, my Ayurvedic healer-friend came in to my yoga teacher training program to do a lecture on Ayurveda. In the lecture he shared a quote that said something like, we use our willpower to go against our gut intuition. (You know, that moment when you look at the tub of ice cream, and you decide to finish it at midnight, even though everything inside of you is saying no!) We are different from animals, in that we have willpower - the ability to make decisions based on more than just instinct. And when we use that to go against our truth, we are doing ourselves a disservice. We are taking ourselves further away from ourselves. 


When we do that, when we use the power of choice to choose something that goes against what our truth is, we subtly tell ourselves that our truth isn’t worth listening to. And if we made a decision that we knew was bad when we made it, we end up so mad at ourselves for the outcome, instead of simply evaluating the situation and learning and growing. We build up anger, resentment, fear, and distrust for ourselves. 


So we can connect to this internal voice, this “gut intuition”. (By the way, I don’t particularly like that phrase because it tends to be overused and misused to portray things like psychic abilities, or emotional feelings, etc. By intuition here, I mean, the ability to use energy data to make decisions in the immediate moment (definition by Caroline Myss). The ability to trust yourself to do that.) 


There are times where you truly did not know, you made a decision, and it didn’t go well. And in that case, it’s important to use hindsight to look at the facts, evaluate what happened, and proceed with more knowledge and understanding, so that next time it will go smoother. And then there are times where you did know, deep down, and you chose to use your willpower to go against it. And in those moments, hindsight can still be useful, but in a different way. I think it becomes less about the circumstances, or the facts of what did or did not happen. And more about the fact that you knew and you ignored that knowing. Get better and better at catching the moments you know, but hide it within yourself. That way, you can actually choose in line with yourself, and what you know is right. You can actually use your willpower to enhance your power, rather than suffocate it.


Trust yourself. That voice is there to serve you. The tricky part is just to quiet down the noise of fear, other people’s voices, and habits, so that you can actually listen. Xo

Stop Screaming, Start Listening.

So today after teaching my yoga class, the wonderful staff at the front desk were telling me about a lady who, before taking class, refused to pay for a yoga mat rental, grabbed a mat, and stormed off and in to her yoga class. The front desk employee at the time didn’t know what to do, so she let her go. When the manager got in, she was dealing with the situation, prepared to take disciplinary action when the lady got out of class. When the lady returned to the front desk, before the manager could even say anything, she teared up, told the front desk staff that she didn’t know what got in to her, or why she did that, and she deeply apologized. 


As the manager was telling us this story, we realized so clearly: the woman’s outburst was about whatever she was dealing with, not about a yoga mat, or the yoga studio, or the staff. It was about HER, and her upset. She just happened to take it out on yoga mats at that moment. 


What I think is important to look at here is the fact that the manager, disciplining her for her actions would have done no good. I mean, perhaps she would have learned her lesson not to steal yoga mats, but she wouldn’t have learned her lesson about how to interpret her own anger/upset/reactions. Luckily, in this case, she did it on her own (well, through the power of an hour of yoga, baby!). But in other cases, the manager would have had to deal with it. 


So what is the best course of action here? We spent about an hour talking about this, diving into related topics. And I was reminded of this:


Every time someone does something rude/inconsiderate/disrespectful/wrong to someone else, it is about THEIR own problems/upset/trauma. EVERY SINGLE TIME. 


This one is hard to remember, so let’s think about it. When someone cat calls you from their car in a super disrespectful manner, it’s about them not having power in their own lives, and needing to grab it from anything they can. When someone screams at you for cutting them off in traffic, it’s about them not taking into account the amount of time it would take them to get somewhere, and being pissed at themselves. When someone breaks up with you via text message and refuses to talk again/ignores your attempts to communicate, it is about them being too avoidant/cowardly to deal with their own feelings, and how to talk about it. (And I won’t dive in to this because I know it’s complicated, but even abuse and violence comes from the same thing - their own shit.)


So YES. Every. Single. Time. 


If every single time someone does something to disrespect you, it’s about them, how should we treat them? I mean, does yelling back at them really make a difference? I don’t know. I think yelling back at them, in a way, gets them what they want (subconsciously), which is you being affected by their upset. *Note that this is most often not on purpose nor a conscious decision. It is usually based on some lack of power in their own lives, so you responding to their upset whether in a good way or a bad way, makes them feel important.


What can we do then? 


We can be there for them. I mean, really, be there for them. Ask them if they are okay. Figure out a way to communicate to them that you are not okay with their disrespect, AND be kind and compassionate towards whatever it is they are going through. Because what happens if we get upset by their outburst, is that we go into this cycle of triggers. What I mean by triggers, is anything that causes you to react based on fear; a reaction based on a pattern developed at a young age, usually due to some sort of trauma (small or large). So, if I let myself get triggered into a fear-based reaction because of them, then they will most likely get triggered into their fear-based reaction once again, and then back to me, and so on and so forth. 


What would it take then, to step out of reaction, and into response? How can we respond intentionally, rather than based on some defense that we developed when we were 7 years old? We have to locate our defense. What is your go-to fear-based reaction? It might be something that has been useful in the past. For instance, mine is “baby Jessie”. Baby Jessie has been useful in the past in various facets, one of which is that I know if I cry, you will probably feel bad, and you will stop pushing me. (Oh yes, the guilt trip of all guilt trips). And that gets me out of confrontation or dealing with difficult situations. I mean, I can literally remember getting pulled over for speeding, and crying to the cop. He felt no empathy and wrote me a ticket anyway, but the point is - yep, that’s my defense. 


Identify your defenses (there could be more than one). Notice when you are doing it authentically (for instance, sometimes my sweet side is a little bit like baby Jessie, but it is authentic and loving), and notice when you are doing it based on fear and protection. The more clearly you can see it, the easier it is to untangle it. Then, when it comes up, look at it, question it. Ask it if it’s real, or if it’s defense. Ask it if it’s serving you. Instead of simply reacting, and getting triggered by their trigger, look to respond intentionally, thoughtfully, and peacefully. Perhaps, even considering that they must be coming from their own upset, and offer them some love. 


Stop screaming, start listening. Stop fighting, start accepting. Stop defending, start trusting.