We are on the cusp of summer solstice, my beautiful friends. The shedding of layers, the literal shifting from one season into another. The metaphoric shifting of one mindset into another, one cosmic idea into another.
I gratefully attended a powerful yoga class of my beloved teacher Melanie Salvatore-August’s this morning, which began the shedding momentum of this earthly, biannual solstice.
Melanie illustrated the necessity of “shedding.” Now especially. I’ll be honest, I didn’t anticipate my solstice celebration beginning today, as I’m attending an event very close to my heart tomorrow. Tomorrow, on the day of our summer solstice, I will have the honor of attending a workshop with a teacher I’ve heard loads about but never personally experienced: Lakshmi Norwood. We will be engaging in an outdoor yoga practice, a solstice workshop (SO right up my alley!) at the local reservoir, overlooking the water.
I. Am. SO. Excited.
Time to don my Ren Fest flower wreath and be a goddess with my fellow spirits, welcoming the solstice with open arms, an open heart and a practice deeply embedded in nature’s inherent rhythms. Yes, I’m a hippie dippie earth muffin girl. I will write further about tomorrow’s experience after having lived, breathed and sang it.
But for now I have today. Beautiful today. Today is infused with the imagery of shedding. Breaking off. Breaking out.
Breaking out of the armor on our backs, layered on by stress, both due and undue; breaking out of the furrowed expressions of angst, both inherited and pioneered. Smoothing our facial expressions, blowing through our lips, literally breaking out of the cage of inattention that we sometimes find ourselves locked within, we moved on our mats.
Melanie said something extra powerful this morning about this beloved solstice, as we held plank, beads of sweat forming on our unwrinkled foreheads.
“The earth is shifting, the sun is shifting, we’re not exempt.”
Not that this has any meaning, but I spent all day (literally the past five hours) trying to remember the last word of that sentence. Was it immune? Pardoned? Separate? What was it? Ahh! I very nearly emailed Mel to find out if she remembered, I was so bent on accessing the exact word that held such weight for me, that hit me with such force, as I burned in plank pose this morning!
Five hours later I rediscovered it. Upon googling and pouring over my thesaurus app, it found its way back to me. Exempt. We are not exempt. In holding with my newfound Ayurvedic roots, the science of life and the methodical system of living close to and in tune with the rhythms of nature and this earth, we are not exempt from the shifting that is occurring around us. The sun, the earth, the earthly beings. We are very much a part of this solstice. More than we even realize. More is happening inside of us than many of us even realize.
In true Melanie form, she introduced a theme of letting go. What can we let go of, as the earth lets go of spring and welcomes with wide, open, loving mother earthly arms the beauty that is summer? What can we let go as we too shift and move forward, wide, open and loving?
For me there were two immediate answers to that question.
The first was spawned by an event that happened for me this morning, shortly before leaving for the yoga studio. I was deeply misunderstood by a reader, and acquaintance with whom I built a friendship across the miles thanks to the big wide world of the web. She sent me an email filled with stinging words and I was struck with the dilemma: to defend myself or to let it go?
When one’s been misunderstood is it best to defend oneself, and therefore argue, or just let it go?
Melanie had my answer for me, today. Let it go.
There were layers to this question for me this morning, before I left for class, and I explored some as I sipped a green smoothie and chewed on the predicament. I wanted badly to defend myself, as there’s much defense on my side. But I realized it doesn’t matter.
As there are with many questions, there are layers. Layers dealing with issues like who is doing the misunderstanding, is it a spouse or family member where resolution is truly important, if not vital? Or is it a stranger one might never see again? Or an acquaintance? A person who, perhaps, you’ve simply grown away from. Or maybe it’s someone who never truly understood you in the first place. An important layer to find truth in. An important layer to explore. And explore I did.
Another layer I considered was the merit of the misunderstanding. One cannot deem another’s opinion worthy or not, but in one’s own mind that is exactly what needs to be done. It sounds selfish, but it’s not. Is the opinion this other person is bestowing upon me truthful to who I am? It is truthful to who they are, to their own consciousness, and therefore it is neither right nor wrong. It simply is. Right and wrong aside, one must decide for oneself if it holds merit to one’s own highest truth.
If not, the answer is simple. Argue not, defend not, simply let it go, like an exhale long retained. If merit is present, in whatever capacity, take from it what you can. Learn from it. Really extract the truth and observe it, study it, apply it to yourself, and then move on.
I think that’s the most important layer: move on.
I won’t lie, being misunderstood can hurt. I was called out, for the first of likely many times, for “self promoting,” an act I’m inspired and courageous enough to do thanks to my friend and mentor Jennifer Pastiloff. Who else is going to promote me but me? Exactly. Nobody. It’s my job; if I want health and wellness to be my career, if it is what I’m all about, I must put it out there. Not everyone’s going to like it. Not everyone is going to receive it as a positive message, and I will lose some people on my journey. But it’s a risk I must take in the pursuit of my own bliss and truth.
Jen Pastiloff posted a really great vlog about this exact complication. She even has another post from 2012 entitled, “Brag About Yourself, Damn It!” It’s an act of self confidence that will be misconstrued as egocentrism some of the time.
As for arguing one’s case, I fall victim to this temptation all too often. But I’m finished with it. The urge to “have the last word” comes to mind. I get shaky in the hands and I want to write back all of my truths. But, truths or not, they’re still excuses. And I’m trying to give up excuses.
It’s never easy to be misunderstood. Whether it is a dear friend or simply someone out in cyber space, seeking their own highest truth. Highest truths don’t always jive with one another. But they are nonetheless deeply sacred to the individual.
Being misunderstood happens to me the more I put myself out there, but I choose to see this as a positive rather than a negative. Because it means I am putting myself out there! WAY out there! Far enough out there to run into a greater number of people who don’t understand me and, in turn, a most wonderful majority of people who do!
Jen Pastiloff also writes a lot about the 49 people in the room who love, support and understand you, and the one who doesn’t. We love to focus on that one. In reality, we’re lucky if it’s just one person! We love to focus on the one/few/many who don’t love, support or understand us. This is not beneficial. What is beneficial is to, first of all, hear them. Don’t live in denial; do hear them. Just don’t base your own self worth on their opinion! Second of all, let it goooo. Give it a sacred send off into the endless sky and be done with it! Kaputt! Finito! Buh-bye!
One last layer to really consider, both about others and about ourselves, is our ever-changing nature. People change. All the time. I’m sure most of you have heard the quote, “Change is the only constant,” and it’s true.
It’s important, before judging and trying to understand others, to self-assess. If one has undergone a transformation recently and had a shift of perspective, perhaps it’s not best to try and see life and others through the same ol’ filter. Or at least dust off the surface of the filter. Things are going to look different if you’ve changed.
I was judged and accused by someone who has recently done a lot of changing. I’ve stayed the same. I am growing, yes; but this is my path. I am walking the same path, speaking the same words, smiling the same smile. They have begun to interpret me differently and that is okay, but I digest their judgement and accusations fully knowing that it is more rooted in their change than in anything having to do with me. I know one thing for certain: this is me and I’m committed to my authenticity!
That’s all any of us can be 🙂
In a nutshell, this is how I feel about today’s episode after a beautifully sweaty and profound practice this morning, some time to mull it over, and a conversation with my mom (whom I discuss everything under the stars with) is this…thank you for misunderstanding me, judging me and voicing your opinion about me. Thank you to all who do. Because it offers me the sacred opportunity to see myself through another’s eyes, to extract the nectar from your words and then to fly on. Fly on with what I can find useful from your stinging words, letting the others drop like wilted petals to the earth.
Let it go.
What else can we shed off in this time of seasonal transition? Another bout of harmful energy, for me, is fear. Specifically fear around my lifestyle of health and wellness. Given my past of restriction and dishonesty, both with my own body and my family members who love and support me, I suffered greatly at my own hand. I thought I understood health. That led me on a journey that, if you’re following my blog, most of you already know. I fought anorexia as a teenager (and survived, YIPPEE!) and entered several years of what I deem “the swinging pendulum.” Swinging back and forth from way restrictive to way overindulgent, to and fro, again and again.
Part of me is fearful that I won’t be trusted in my career and advising of holistic wellness given my past. Boom, there I said it. It’s out and it’s ugly. I don’t like admitting that, but there it is. I feel like this fear found its way into my consciousness because of the slight distrust I myself have felt in the past towards “health gurus” who are recovered from addictions of any sort.
But I trust myself. I am eight years recovered and an entirely different person. I bask in health and wellness and wish nothing more than to share it with the world. I am still a type-A person. I am still very set in my ways. I am still going to hold my health as a highest priority which, to some, is intense. But to me it’s my world. It’s holistic. It’s so far beyond food, it’s so far beyond yoga, it’s so much about yoking mind, body and soul in a way that allows my Being to thrive. It is a different equation than what allows your Being to thrive. Enter: Bauman. I am arming myself with the tools to offer guidance to any and every divine Being wanting to dedicate themselves in any capacity to Self-love and holistic wellness. I am going to be able to cater to each individual constitution so that they themselves can thrive, and it may look way different than my own Self wellness practice. I am indescribably passionate about this.
Just writing all that scrubbed away much of the fear.
The rest of the fear around my beloved lifestyle is a fear that remains from many years ago, from a darker time, like dredges of scum lingering on the bottom of the pool. Stuck but no longer welcome.
Fear around rejection and acceptance.
Rejection and acceptance are like the yin and yang of my fear. I want so badly to be accepted, and it feels great when I am. I want desperately to be pardoned from rejection, and when I’m not it hits me like a ton of weights. I cling to rejection, masochistically reliving it for way too long. It’s a flaw that I’m working with (and have written ad nauseum about!).
I fear social engagements sometimes, out of old habit. Will there be anything for me to eat? Will “they” judge me that I don’t drink alcohol? Will everyone think I’m weird for being so committed to my health?
Those thoughts swam around my head for a long time. It was only recently that I realized I no longer fear social engagements. Those close to me know, appreciate and accept my lifestyle, if not share it! Those who don’t know me never judge me but ask questions and share stories. It’s beautiful. Nearly everywhere I go there’s an option for vegetarian/quasi-vegans, for those with food allergies, for those wishing to nourish their bodies with natural foods, and I’m no longer afraid to ask candidly for what I want.
I realized this morning, as I shed and let go and opened up, that I’m clinging to old patterns and behaviors that I’ve outgrown. I’ve outgrown needing to be fearful of the world! The world is now my oyster. I am secure in who I am, I am candid about my lifestyle, and committed to it. My truth is similar to the truths of many and vastly different from the truths of many others. Such is life. Some will understand me, some will not. But what matters, what must remain constant, is the acceptance and understanding of me from myself.
Self-acceptance and understanding.
So that is my lesson for this glorious solstice. This shedding of one season and metaphysical shift into a new space. As I bid farewell to spring, I leave behind attachment to being misunderstood, the desire to defend myself to those who see things differently and the expired habits of fear. With summer comes a fresh perspective, the truth that there is nothing to fear, and an abundance of self-acceptance and understanding.
Of what can you let go? What can you shed off? From what can you break free?
On the eve of summer solstice, take a moment to perhaps reflect on this notion. Turn inward and nourish yourself deeply, like no one else can. Seek what you wish to inspire this new season with. Even if it means borrowing straight from me with self-acceptance and understanding, please do so, I don’t mind sharing. In fact, I adore sharing! In sharing, we raise the vibration. That being said, pick your own and use mine; if, and only if, they in fact resonate with you. Raise the vibration.
As spring slips away and summer makes a grand appearance, let us come together as earthly beings to cultivate peace, truth, flowers and an ever elevating vibration.