When I was a kid, my mom told me I’d scream if I was left in a sandbox. I’d cry if I stained a new outfit. I absolutely couldn’t stand being dirty. To this day, every time I stain a new outfit (which is literally anytime I put something new on my body), I still have this fleeting moment of disappointment.
Flash forward to spending summers at summer camp. At camp, being dirty was the name of the game. Intermittent showers... playing outside 90% of the time... running around in the mud, dirt, sand, you name it. Dirt-phobia didn’t stand a chance, and I loved it. I felt like myself — more focused on my alignment with the earth, than being attached to material "things."
I was practicing the yogic principle of non-attachment before I even knew what a "down dog" was!
Then after my junior year in college, I stopped spending summers in Northern Wisconsin, and I didn’t spend a ton of time getting dirty. In fact, I was the Style Editor of a women’s magazine, so my job was the exact opposite of getting dirty. I shopped a lot. Spent all my spare money on clothes. I was indoors most of my days.
Unbeknownst to me, that weird, unexplainable childhood phobia set back in. I was attached to all my things — and I clung to them, and I incessantly aimed to keep free of animals, dirt, and messes. At one point, my closet bar literally collapsed under the weight of all my stuff.
Enter: Off grid living.
People ask me all the time why I choose to live off grid (defined as without access to city sewer/water and off the electrical grid). Why would someone who owns three yoga studios, works part time for a nonprofit, and splits her time between Montana, Alaska and Wisconsin, and needs all the time she can get, live in a way that takes… more time?
Excellent question. (And yes, there are days when I ask myself that, too!)
Sure, it's hard work. Chopping wood. Waking up to 40-degree (or colder!) mornings when the fire in the wood stove goes out. Struggling to start a fire because the pipes aren't drafting. Hauling 7-gallon water jugs in a sled up a steep hill. Riding a snowmachine or 4-wheeler miles from where I park my car... in the rain, snow, ice, mud or shine.
But truly, the benefits outweigh the challenges by a long shot.
When I’m on the grid, I’m less aware of my consumption, less aware of my surroundings, and to be honest? Less likely to go outside as often.
This is why I love living off grid because it helps me feel like myself. I regularly appreciate the wind. The birds. The moon cycles. The snow and rain. My days — and power source — are governed by the sun, and my survival is dependent on my own will, instinct and desire. I get that feeling I got at summer camp, year-round!
And if all those good vibes require some extra time? I’m willing to pay the price if it means I can feel the earth under my feet and see the stars overhead.
When else in history have we known so many random details about people’s lives? I know for me, at any give moment, I might know what my seventh grade teacher, my family friend in Sweden, and my neighbor are all having for dinner... right in the same moment. A photo posted Instagram shows her candlelit meal for two. Facebook shows his check-in at a local BBQ restaurant. The third is tagged in a photo next to a giant plate of nachos.
All at my fingertips, like I was there. (Except I wasn't.)
I had lunch with a friend a while back, and I congratulated her for a big award she won at her company. I was so excited to hear all about it when I saw it on Facebook — it was the first thing out of my mouth when we sat down to eat. She thanked me, and quickly shook off her smile and admitted, “Well, that’s not even half the story. What I didn’t post was how hard my year was leading up to that award. I’m exhausted.”
She went on, sharing how her life really was. It was such a simple comment—and I normally wouldn’t think twice about it. But when I left the restaurant, something clicked. My mind was blown as I realized she was right: Despite all our “connections” online, and despite how happy she looked with her award, we never have the whole story. We don’t even have HALF the story of someone else’s life.
An online connection can be great: It inspires a sense of curiosity. We want to connect with something bigger than ourselves. We are intrigued by things that inspire us.
But here’s the secret that applies to our life as yogis: More often than not, we’re reaching for something outside ourselves — seeking a pat on the back, an ear to listen to our woes, or a LIKE on social media, just to validate that we’re on the right track in our life. To avoid going inward (consciously or not), we get wrapped up in the “story” of someone else’s life online, when what we “know” is only a tiny shred of reality.
But what if we just knew that we were on the right track, without a shadow of doubt? What if we didn’t need (or crave) the external validation that we’re awesome?
Believe it: Meditation gets us there.
It improves our inward relationship, and consequently our relationship with those around us.
Meditation isn’t tied to any religion, requires no “body type” or “mental capacity.” You might have heard the word "mindfulness," and yes, the are elements of that... but this practice we'll learn isn't going to make your mind FULL. (If it does, then we have a problem!) It's going to get you into a place of stillness, emptiness and pure awareness. The only requirement is being human. If you’re a human being, you’re capable of shifting the way you live through meditation.
And here’s a fun fact: In the east, meditation and yoga aren’t different. They’re the same. They’re like yin and yang — meditation is as much a part of yoga as downward dog. Our bodies need to be still just as much as they need to be moved. Western marketing just altered things to be more “palatable” and separated the two.
So if you’re loving the yoga classes, and ready to take your practice to the next level, it’s time to stop wondering with a mind full of thoughts. Keep your curiosity. Instead, start wandering down your own path of meditation. Achieving regular access to that field of silence within each of us is the greatest gift we can give our body, mind and spirit.
My alarm went off at 6:30am, and when I opened my eyes, I couldn't see anything.
It was my first morning back from India, and with the sun rising around 10am in Alaska, the cabin was still pitch black when I woke. Disoriented and bleary-eyed after five flights (yes, 5!) and 35+ hours of travel, I laid there and started negotiating.
... with myself.
You've done this too, haven't you? Thought to yourself, "If I get to lay here for 5 more minutes with my eyes closed, I'll make 5 extra minutes for 'me time' later this afternoon. AND I'll go to bed early. And..... and.... [Before you know it] Zzzzzz."
Then you wake up an hour later, realize you missed your first appointment, the dogs are barking like crazy to go outside and you make the mistake of looking at the 14 text messages you've received before 8am.
Yeah. This was NOT going to be one of those times.
I was determined. I shut down all negotiations, sat up, brushed my teeth, splashed water on my face, and found my way to a comfortable seat on the couch, propped up on a pillow. I put in my ear buds in and ignored ever fiber of my being, begging me to crawl back into bed.
I dove into my daily 30-minute meditation.
That decision and commitment set the tone for my life since returning to the USA. After living with a routine in India from 6am to 9pm, out of my comfort zone, totally immersed in the yoga and meditation, I figured if I could bring home just 60 minutes of routine to my life, then my world as an entrepreneur, wife, sister, daughter etc. would change for the better.
I was right; change being the operative word.
For the last 10 years of my life, I was one of those people who, when asked about my daily routine, would laugh and admit nothing about my daily life was "routine."
You guys know this! (Especially if you've tried to set a coffee date with me.) Every day was different, "situations" would arise and I would deal with them the same way I always did, worry about them afterward — exhausted by the end of it, and move onto the next fire to extinguish. Yet, I thought things would get better. I thought my luck would change.
I look back and think about how much energy I wasted on my phone, stressing about emails, or colleagues, taking things personally, or allowing negotiations in my head to run on repeat, justifying habits that weren't serving me anymore. I would resolve to go back to bed, or not go to that yoga class, or skip meditation to "catch up on sleep."
The only thing it seems I was committed to was remaining exactly the same, waiting for the world to change around me.
Flash forward to today, I've integrated a few simple rituals to my daily routine and they've made all the difference. And despite added to-do's, my capacity for growth, clarity, and happiness has expanded.
It's like the saying, "How you do one thing is how you do everything." Logic follows: Being committed — AT ALL COSTS — to a least an hour of quiet time every day gives me the stamina to be just as committed to all the other parts of my life.
The outcome? The world is changing, and I'm evolving with it. And there's one thing I know for sure:
Change is the ONLY constant in life. It's all we can truly count on.
Nature proves this to us every day as the snow falls, every month as the sun rises earlier and earlier, every season as the leaves change and the temperatures rise and fall. So for 2019, I'm committed to change. No more "situations I have to deal with... again." From here forward, there are only "experiences I can choose to be a part of."
“Your favorite teacher.”
Ah yes, one of my favorite security questions to answer for online password creation. I always answer it with the name of my first-grade teacher. When I think back to grade school, she is the bright light in my memory.
It’s funny though; as much as I remember all the love I felt in that classroom, I can also remember all the times I was disciplined in first grade.
We had these paper pockets on the wall with our names on them, and a bunch of painted popsicle sticks. Brown for a mild offense. Red for medium. Black sticks for really-really-really-bad-things. (Like, you were probably going to see the principal.) When we behaved out of line, we had to put the stick with the color of “severity” in our pocket on the wall, for everyone to see.
For the record, I never got a black stick in first grade. BUT. I specifically remember the one time (ONE TIME!) I got a red stick.
My best friend Lisa and I laughed out loud at a boy in our class because of something he said about a presidential race happening at the time. Of course, we were all saying things we’d taken from our parents, but I remember Lisa and I both had to put red sticks in our pockets for the day, as well as apologize to the boy in front of the whole class.
I was mortified. And disappointed in myself. And deeply sorry.
Funny how my favorite teacher is also the only teacher I can so vividly remember teaching me a lesson: That everyone’s experience is valid. That boy’s truth may not have been my truth (or any of our actual truths at age 6!) … but the difference in truth didn’t make either false. Truth is a dynamic word, and it stretches, bends and folds depending on who you’re talking to.
To add another layer, I realized (and continue to get reminded) that I learned this same idea over and over again throughout the years from so many people in my life. I now consider every single one of them my teachers. Initially, when I looked back on moments of hurt in my past — the misunderstandings, the hardship, the tough times… the fresh wounds were more difficult for me those situations as teachable moments. That’s the funny thing about pain; It can blind us when it’s fresh.
But when I spend more time in observation of those memories… and going even further back to the times I’ve transcended pain into evolution, I say things like “She taught me so much about business” (without needing to say: despite all the chaos that ensued because of it), or “He taught me to keep trusting my intuition,” (without needing to say: despite the hurt I felt when he told me I was wrong).
The toughest lessons — and most transcendence — came from my greatest teachers.
So this idea of “favorite teacher” … sure, honoring grade school teachers is always appropriate. But today, I’m so deeply grateful for all the teachers in my life, especially those who went through some of the most painful moments. With some, I’ve parted ways. With others, I love unconditionally, as I love myself.
Regardless of present company, I’m grateful for all the teachers.
When I went through my 200-hour yoga teacher training (YTT), it was the first time I truly grasped the concept of Unwavering Faith. For me, that was like plunging off a metaphorical cliff of trust; I decided I didn't have anything to lose by deciding that the Universe had my back. That everything happens in perfect time. That everything I do - even the hard stuff - will be meaningful in the long run.
Despite my best intentions, I'll be honest: Unwavering Faith can be, well... wavering.
A theme that's been coming up for me lately is communication. With social media at our fingertips, sending a strongly worded email, or blocking an enemy on the internet is as easy as a click of a mouse. POOF! Confrontation avoided, situation "managed."
(And yet WHY are we still thinking about it incessantly?!)
To be "heard" in today's world, we labor for hours to craft the perfectly worded email to convey our perspective, when we know it's going to hurt feelings and perpetuate the problem. And while I won't pretend that I do this right every time, I have been working toward leaning into confrontation... or rather, conversation.
Yes. I'm talking about old fashioned face-to-face communication and vulnerability. (Gasp! Eye contact!)
During Yoga Hive's 200-hour YTT this past weekend, we took a class with Holly Purdy. I absolutely love her sweet energy, and dynamic flows. She read us the most powerful Mother Teresa quote, that profoundly impacted our discussion for days afterward. It speaks to this exact scenario — when we lean into clarity with those we're struggling with... sometimes we still find ourselves at odds and question whether to move forward at all.
Our faith wavers.
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
At times, speaking up and being our authentic selves is met with resistance. And it's hard to not think, "Well, at least I tried. I'll go back to the way I used to be." But the reality is that as we change, some people may not change with us. Should we just give up? I think you know my answer...
Be you anyway. Work toward open conversation. And at some point, agree to disagree and move on.
(Either that, or get your butt into a yoga class and let it go!)
I get asked what I do for a living a lot. I tell strangers I founded and own a yoga studio franchise call Yoga Hive. Unless they're already doing yoga, their response is the same, 99.9% of the time:
"Oh, I could never do yoga, but good for you!"
This idea that someone COULD NEVER DO YOGA baffles/amuses/intrigues me. It's simply not true for most of the population. Sure, you can CHOOSE not to do yoga. But "could never do yoga" just doesn't make sense.
So lets throw everything out the window that the world supposedly "knows" about yoga, and bust down all barriers to entry, including cost. I'm going to break this down once and for all so that you're clear on where I stand.
What is yoga?
Literally, the word YOGA means "union," or "to join". To me? Yoga is moving my body in a way that keeps my mind focused on the present moment. That translates practically as: Me staying sane, no matter what life throws at me. (Sounds nice, right?) Now lets get clear on the two sides.
What yoga is NOT:
What yoga is:
...see what I mean? Who can't do those things when we drop all the barriers?
Living the Dream. The Holy Grail. Freedom.
How are we supposed to pursue our passions and dreams while still participating in the daily grind? It’s a hard question to answer when “logic” takes over. We create mental roadblocks. “I won’t have enough money,” or “My family won’t be supportive,” or “I’ll never find what I’m looking for.”
Re-read that last paragraph. Those three statements are observations (perhaps with bits of truth woven in) but not necessarily proven facts... right?
Sure, all those things could be true. Keyword: Could. Meaning “could not” is also probable.
The ocean is salty. Fact.
The sun will rise. Fact.
I won’t have enough money to support myself if I choose to live a certain way. Opinion. Or... insecurity?
What I know for sure about the roadblocks we're SO GOOD at building: The LEAST risky bet I’m willing to gamble on is Myself. Especially when the stakes are high, I’ve proven to myself over and over again that I'm capable, resourceful and creative. Even in the hard times, with one hand on my forehead and no clue what the heck I’m going to do... I will STILL bet on myself. Because a day later, a month later, or years later, the significance of that perceived “mistake” ends up changing the course of my life for the better.
I think often about a particular email I sent last year. It was long, intense, and extremely confidential. When I clicked send, I had a moment of doubt, but there was no turning back. Turns out a handful of people read the email that I didn’t anticipate. I was mortified, angry, sorry, worried... all the emotions. FOR MONTHS. All for one stinkin’ email!
Flash forward to where I am today in that part of my life. No joke: That email was a massive catalyst for SO many people. There was plenty of pain in the process of reading it, discussing it, confronting it. Ugh. But as far as I can tell today (nearly a year later), everyone’s life has morphed into something more beautiful. We were somehow “set free” when I put those words out there. Could I see that beauty in the moment? DEFINITELY NOT.
But the moment came when I did see the beauty. And in times like that, I know that the magic of life is real.
If you reframe those moments of stumbling as “magic at work,” instead of “defining failures,” maybe you’ll be as excited as I am to attend The School of Life every day, cozy up to the poker table, and place a big fat bet on yourself.
Because YOU are the only thing you have control over 😜
WHEW! 🙌 Tuesday morning vibes
A few weeks ago, I spent the weekend in Salt Lake City for an essential oils convention, and I had the honor of hearing Immaculee Ilibagiza speak about her life, and her experience surviving Rwanda's genocide.
The folks in the BeYou program have heard this story, but it has moved me in so many ways that I want to share with all of you. I had zero expectations for her talk, and I was admittedly a bit surprised as her story was very centered on her faith in God.
(I'm not going to get into religion in this email. Please stay with me till the end!)
After meeting one of the men that killed her entire family (yeah, pause and read that phrase one more time and let it sink in), she was able to say to his face that she forgave him.
And I sat there listening, thinking "What the?" How could she do that? I'm someone who talks to my students a lot about these high level concepts — let go. Be free. Forgive. Be you. But until we (as teachers) get the words right, or speak the "language" of our individual practitioners, the cues may not land. I think about that a lot when I hear people speak. When I get really inspired/moved/weepy, it's a tangible reaction that tells me the speaker got their cues right.
Well I wanted to share with you her cue that landed. The one that really hit home for me on forgiveness. She cited the Bible. And regardless of your belief system or feelings about any Bible, I think we can all appreciate the words... which is exactly what I reference when I teach a class about the Hindi gods and goddesses... take the story for what it is. If it doesn't resonate, let it go.
The verse was, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."
I've heard this sentence a million times growing up, but the way she explained it sounded so reasonable. And when you're listening to someone who spent over 90 days in a tiny 3'5' bathroom in Rwanda with eight other women, knowing that at any moment they could be found and killed — and also knowing their entire families were already dead... somehow the words stick a little more.
She said, "It wasn't the first part. Because 'Forgive them?', I have no idea how to do that. That's what I'm trying to figure out, and I was just so angry."
She went on, "It was the second part that I could feel in my heart. 'They know not what they do.'"
She explained how it resonated with her so deeply, this idea of people — people with love in their hearts — there's no way they could knowingly kill men, women, children, neighbors... unless they didn't truly understand what they were doing. And sure enough, when people — even those with love in their hearts — are commanded by the government to go out and kill, then they might just do what they're told.
They know not what they do.
So if you're anything like me, and that lands just a little bit in your heart, perhaps you can take that out into your world today. Its a heavy concept. One that might not land with you. But for me? When I get frustrated, or hurt in my life — big or small, my hope is to come back to this idea. To recognize that however hurtful something is — through words, texts, emails, any mode of communication — on some level, I can work toward forgiveness because if they knew the level of hurt I'm experiencing, there's no way they truly know what they're doing.
So I finally did it. As a birthday gift to myself, I decided to buy myself more time. To do that, I knew I needed to kick a habit I've been dragging my feet on forever. I took all my social media apps and my email app, put them in a separate folder on my iPhone on the LAST PAGE by themselves. The folder is called "Are you sure?"
It's so simple, it seems ridiculous, doesn't it? But sometimes that's the case: The simplest things help make the most radical shifts in our lives.
The extra time (er, seconds) it takes me to find those apps has been a game changer. It's enough time for me to reconsider how I'm spending my day. And those extra seconds have made all the difference.
You feel me?
If you've been following along on The Busby Hive, Sean and I recently relocated for part of the year to Alaska. Although I'll be back and forth between Montana and Alaska, Sean will be spending 8+ months living in our off-grid cabin in Fritz Creek. Here's the blog post where I told the story of why the heck we're doing this.
I got here last week, and while my days are spent managing Yoga Hive Montana, planning for the future of Yoga Hive Studios, and building our doTERRA team, I'm excited to attend some yoga classes and workshops in Homer as a student! It’s force of habit for me to start weaving a web of connection wherever I go... it’s part of the fabric of who I am—I crave it. Sean knows the deal: I won’t move anywhere without confidence that I’ll have a community to be a part of.
During the three years I lived in middle-of-nowhere Utah, my community became my best friend, Brittany Hopkins (who I credit for getting me into yoga in the first place!). In Montana, my community became my own studio, Yoga Hive Montana. In Alaska, I have confidence that my community is here... it's a matter of getting slightly uncomfortable (which leads to becoming comfortable in the long run) and putting myself out there. My continual search for depth of connection in small towns, plus my love for yoga, are the reasons I started Yoga Hive Studios in the first place. My “Yoga Hive” in Alaska starts with discovery and connection over the next month.
In honor of all the feels, I went beach combing last week and made a message in the rocks... beauty below the surface. ✨Can you see it?!✨
Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Mollie is a cheesehead transplant to Northwest Montana, with degrees in Retail and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, she lives off the grid, half the year in a Tiny House & half the year in a yurt — both of which she and her husband, Sean, built by hand. Nonprofit Executive Director by day, Mollie also owns and teaches at Yoga Hive — a chain of community yoga studios in the valley.