I’ll never forget the moment I considered what life would be like without eggs, meat and dairy.
Background (which most of you know): I’m originally from Central Wisconsin. I lived there my entire life, up until I met Sean and moved west. My “motherland” is that of milk, sausage, cheese and the Green Bay Packers.
The way I grew up eating wasn’t gluttonous or unhealthy by any means — but the way I thought about “things that go on a dinner plate” was definitely locked in. You cook some sort of meat. A vegetable. And a grain. Done and done. I created that habit long ago, and I’d never considered changing it.
... until I did.
It was the night of my 32nd birthday in 2018 — something shifted.
I was standing in a hotel room in Salt Lake City, and I distinctly remember munching on cheese and crackers. Blaine, the owner of our sister studio, Yoga Hive Colorado, was seated across the room. She’s been plant-based as long as I’ve known her, and long before.
On this day, I was curious. I wanted to know why she was so passionate about eating (and living) this lifestyle.
I expected her to list the reasons humans are cruel to animals (which she did) and be done with it. But then she started to list more reasons like health benefits and the environmental impact — things that, against all odds, intuitively felt right in my brain — and she kept going, and going, and…. the moment happened: As I popped a slice of cheese into my mouth, I had the thought: Maybe I could eat plant-based?
The seed was planted.
The week after I got back to Montana, I hosted Yoga Hive's first 21-day program at the Whitefish studio, and I was excited: I had an excuse to investigate this whole plant-based thing. Part of the program was giving up three things for ONE WEEK, and I had a whole group of people to support me in my decision. To any confused friends and family, I could say “I’m doing it for Yoga Hive!" … the perfect excuse!
So I gave up eggs, meat and dairy for one week. And then, when I realized how easy it was to get creative in the kitchen… one week became two. Two became six, and flash forward over two years later, I’m still eating my own version of a plant-based lifestyle and I couldn’t be happier, healthier, or feel more creative when it comes to what I cook in the kitchen. To really make sure I knew the ropes, I even got my certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition last year.
So why did I take me 32 years to discover a way of nourishing my body that feels so good? Two reasons:
These two reasons are my primary motivation for co-hosting The Yoga of Food — a 22-day fully supported plant-based challenge smack in the middle of Halloween and Thanksgiving, with Blaine — my plant-based muse and mentor! If it wasn’t for Blaine’s passion and willingness to answer ALL my questions (and more!), along with a handful of other Yoga Hive community members who also value a plant-based lifestyle (thank you, Erica and Shelle!), I would never have tried.
You're invited to try it with us!
And if you — like me — want to hear Blaine's story, click to hear her tell the story herself!
And please know: This challenge isn't about going cold turkey on the things that you love for the same reasons I did... or Blaine did it... or so many other folks have done it. This challenge is about YOU — spending 22 days with the support of a community to jump outside “what you know” about food to see if there’s another way of living and being that might feel good!
This, my friends, is how we live yoga.
The challenge officially starts Monday, and Blaine and I will host LIVE Zoom Q&As every Tuesday night for four weeks that will be recorded where we answer any questions you email us beforehand, or that you ask live on the Zoom call if you can make it. You don't need to be at all the Q&As, and you'll be paired up with an accountability partner next week to really have someone hold you accountable (and do the same for them!).
To prepare your fridge and pantry over the weekend, we’re sending out a whole beautiful manual with shopping lists, all the info you need to get started, and a pre-recorded welcome video from us.
If you're reading this over the weekend and you want to sign up anytime before Tuesday, no problem at all — enroll yourself and we’ll catch you up to speed as soon as we see you’ve registered.
If you have lingering questions, don't hesitate to reply to this email — I'd love to hear from you and start a conversation!
PLUS: Don't forget these changes to train with us... coming up soon!
PS — Registration is open for our spring retreats at Arctic Hive. We have 5 spots remaining for the first set of dates, and 4 spots for the second set of dates. Click here for all the details (and check out the northern lights a few nights ago during an Aurora Flow in the igloo!)
There, I said it.
And everywhere I look these days, someone is vying for my attention. They want my vote. They want my money. They want my commitment. And I'm tired of hearing empty promises (followed by big asks) from people who don't walk the walk. Talk all day long about how you can heal me, help me, coach me, teach me... but a little sniffing around on social media, listening to your podcast interviews, and reading every email you've sent me?
Yeah. It all feels empty.
That's the thing about yoga — as I've consistently practiced all aspects of movement and stillness, I've become sensitive to people around me. My discernment improves daily. My attention is mastered and re-mastered all the time. I've become more equanimous in daily life — like the eye of the hurricane.
With consistent practice, and increased sensitivity to truth, authenticity in marketing sings out like church bells on a quiet day. Fake news wears a neon sign that says NOT WORTH YOUR TIME. And sales pitches? I'll be blunt: I don't really care what you offer. I care how you — the teacher — live your life. And if I like how you live, and if I want what you're offering, then sign. me. up.
That's really all we're looking for, right? We're looking for a skill, and we need someone to teach us. And we're willing to engage because that person has something we want. And it's not just that they have some knowledge rattling around in their head... they have knowledge, they live the wisdom, and breathe the tradition. They are the living advertisement we're really paying attention to.
The final stage — the confirmation that your discernment is on point — is when you realize your authentic teacher (or in our tradition, guru) doesn't show you the way back to their own teachings, their coaching, their products as the solution to your future growth. Although you may continue to learn with that teacher over and over again, it's primarily because a true guru shows you how to shine a light on your own self. Because the only way we learn more about ourselves is through our own experience. Not the experience of someone else.
All this to say: We've got some incredible opportunities for yogic studies coming up — and as I send these emails every week, regardless of where you live, you can get a nugget of wisdom or two, and know that our actions and our offerings are backed up by true dedication to this way of life. We walk the walk — and we're excited to show you how we do it if you want to learn.
That's the part of Yoga Hive that I love the most: Our team of authentic teachers log on to Zoom and roll out their mat at the studio to show YOU what yoga means to them. And while everyone's approach to the practice is slightly different (which is what yogis often say they love the most about Yoga Hive!), our team all agrees:
Our yoga isn't a fitness routine or an Instagram post. It's a way of life.
Study with us in one of these life-changing opportunities this fall... if you have questions, reply here and let's chat.
PS — We launch official dates and details next week for our late winter Arctic Hive Northern Lights / Yoga / Adventure retreats in the Brooks Range! Just in time to show you the glass panels we installed on the igloo. Space will be limited to only 6 spots per retreat, and we've already reserved some spaces for those who were supposed to attend this past April (which we had to cancel due to COVID), so space is extremely limited. Excited for yoga under a blanket of stars or Northern Lights by the warmth of a wood stove!
Sean and I watched Our Social Dilemma on Netflix the other night — and I relearned what I already knew: Social media is wild.
Our newsfeeds aren't filled with our preferences like a tack board or a scrapbook. They're carefully curated to keep us glued to our devices, and surrounded with stories from people who think exactly like we do. With algorithms designed with one goal in mind (to learn everything about us), lest we forget:
Our attention is our most valuable currency.
Sean and I had a conversation about goats' milk the other day. A day later, what shows up on Sean's feed? He was offered an ad for a book about...
Wait for it...
... milking goats.
NAILED IT. We know these things happen — we know the algorithms are working and we laugh when we get profiled in situations like this. (No Mom, we're not getting goats.) And yet, as people who know things about things, how do we approach this from a yogic perspective?
I remember when I was in India a few years ago, and I was hung up on this — and I asked my teacher, Anand. His answer was so simple: Use technology to make yourself available.
That being said, exactly what are we making ourselves available to at any given moment? Are we consciously consuming information for the intent of learning and connection? Or mindlessly scrolling because we're bored? We can ask ourselves: What am I spending my attention on? What am I making myself available to?
As someone who has a hard time swinging fully in one direction (close my social accounts, go dark!) or the other (spend more time on social, it's fun!), I've turned to what I feel like is a happy medium. I'm constantly working on mastering my own attention so I can be available to joy. And not necessarily joy from seeing a friend's new baby on Facebook, or a puppy video on Instagram, or a nice email from a customer. Sure those things are joy-inducing... but I'm talking about being able to cultivate reasonless joy. Joy for the sake of joy. It's simple, sustainable, and keeps me from being vulnerable to forces out of my control. Anand puts it perfectly:
... for a lot of people the joy of life is like an intermission from the suffering in both directions. It only happens on a vacation, when having a piece of cake, a smoke, or whatever it may be. That kind of joy is only a little break from the rest of their life, the real purpose of which should be celebration and liberation.
— Anand Mehrotra, “This is That”
As we enter a month of debates, election news, fake news, real news, and more opinions that we ever cared for in the first place... remember:
Reasonless joy comes from the inside — and radiates out.
... and starting tonight, we'll show you how to wake up, cultivate joy from the inside, and free yourself from unconscious consumption.
Join Blaine and I in our fall Yoga Hive 21-day challenge, Journey into Joy, which meets once a week starting TONIGHT (Wednesdays) 6:30-8pm MST / 7:30-9pm CST — September 30 - October 14, 2020. Pay what you can for the course — either $22, $44 or $66. Learn how to incorporate yoga and mindfulness practices into your daily routine so you can breeze (and breathe!) through the next month and cultivate reasonless joy in your life — this course is filled with NEW content so if you've taken one of these before, you'll find new topics and homework! If you can’t make the in-person meetings, we’ll record all the sessions so you can participate at your own pace!
>>> Click here to sign up for Journey into Joy NOW!
Other things coming up (with registration links and details in the scroll!)
PS — I posted the photo from hiking in the Brooks Range below a few weeks ago on my Instagram page because when I saw this snap on Sean's phone after our hike, I couldn't believe the view that was right over my shoulder! A good reminder that when all you can do is keep your head down and focus on what’s right in front of you, you forget that vast wide world is right over your shoulder 😳🥰 Sometimes a glance over your shoulder is worth the view!
Last week, I dreamt worms came out of a tiny hole on my stomach.
Anytime Sean and I share our dreams with one another, we Google possible meanings. And although there are a lot of weird “meanings” of dreaming about worms, the one that resonated with me the most (yes, I get to choose!) is the release of negativity. As in, something that you were holding onto — that ultimately wasn’t part of your true nature — was finally ready to get the heck out of you.
Or me, I guess!
Today happens to be Sean and my 9th wedding anniversary (!), and I can’t help but think the worms, and this new chapter — especially our massive undertaking building guest cabins for Arctic Hive... it's our do-over.
In 2017, Sean and I built a small cabin on our property in Montana and filmed for a TV show, Building Off Grid, which still airs on Discovery Channel today.
Although it was our second off-grid build project after we built our yurt two years prior, it was a haphazard summer. We had three months to build something we had never done before, and there were a crew of very nice people around us at all times constantly watching for drama, for breakdown, for the slightest character blip that would be good for TV. And while I'm ultimately so happy with how that show turned out and how the crew portrayed our lives back then, I can’t help but look back through a dark lens. That year in our lives, and the aftermath, was rife with struggle, intensity and unnecessary stressors that we were both wrestling with in our own way. Although we don’t have any regrets, that year proved to be our most challenging yet... and the build project was smack in the middle, seemingly churning more and more stress by the minute.
This new arctic build project — which is arguably a million times more difficult than the Montana house for so many reasons — although at first carried some of the same harshness, now feels like our chance to do things over on our own terms. Our own timeline. Our own production schedule. We’ve spent more time together as a team, building a space together, in the last six months than we have in the last six years. And I can’t help but find gratitude for that brief period of darkness years ago —for if we hadn’t felt the pain and intensity of that last time, the relative contrast of ease, fun, and light this time around wouldn’t be as meaningful, or as noticeable. After all...
Gratitude comes from our ability to cognize contrast within our own life experience.
The highs are only high because we know the depth of the lows. And as the highs get higher, so, too, the lows get lower. This is part of the plan — this is the whole objective! As the contrasts continue to deepen all around us, we learn to recognize the lows for what they are, and we can more quickly pull ourselves out of the funk and into our true nature. We find gratitude for where we are — and we honor where we've been. Because every piece of our life puzzle has contributed to bringing us to now.
During this fall equinox season, as we celebrate the passage of time and the changing of the seasons, I find myself mirroring the phase nature is in, within my own life. I've just wrapped up a decade of life with Sean, and a few weeks ago, I celebrated my 34th lap around the sun. A new phase feels good... and I’m brimming with gratitude for my life, and for each of you who we get to serve in so many ways through Yoga Hive.
All it took was some worms to see all this!
Wherever you find yourself, please remember that the external world doesn’t dictate your internal circumstances. Although contrast is everywhere, we can stay focused on the contrast within our own life, and use our emotions as clues to guide us toward the next step. Yoga and mindfulness are timeless technologies that give us the wherewithal to harness our power from within to experience life more fully. Not sure where to start? Yoga Hive can help...
Join Blaine and I in our fall Yoga Hive 21-day challenge, Journey into Joy, which meets once a week on Wednesday nights from 6:30-8pm MST / 7:30-9pm CST — September 30 - October 14, 2020. We start in a week! If you can’t make the in-person meetings, we’ll record all the sessions so you can participate at your own pace! More details below.
I'm also SO excited to announce a brand new advanced yoga training happening with me on Zoom this December - the Energetic Body Master Training. This 30 hour course meets on Zoom with me for one long weekend, in addition to a variety of prep work before the training, and 20 hours of post-training homework that can be completed at your own pace. Scroll for the details!
Other things coming up (with registration links and details in the scroll!)
Sending you so much love, today and always!
One of our current teacher trainees described her mood this past weekend: She woke up feeling like a dragon, breathing fire… that so resonated with me. Fiery energy has been abundant in my emotional world lately, and unfortunately, it has been literally abundant in the Pacific Northwest as the wildfires rage on.
So as Blaine and I sat down this past week to plan our annual fall 21-day challenge for Yoga Hive, we were tossing around themes, acknowledging what had been coming up lately. What do we need more of as 2020 draws to a close? What turns chaos and fire into something useful?
The answer was simple: Joy.
Journey into Joy.
Because fire has been present in our day-to-day, it’s been burning up so many things we were ready to let go of, and we’ve found so much space for new things. New pathways. New adventures. Our willingness to detach and discover joy in every moment has never been so fulfilling, and necessary.
The truth is: Joy is power.
(More on the 21-day challenge below!)
The first time this idea — Joy is power — really stuck with me was a few years ago. Sean and I were on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, looking for an off-grid property to call our own. We were staying with our friend, Mike, who has lived in Homer his whole life. Although we had a tiny budget, we were crossing our fingers we’d find land and an off-grid structure. It was a long shot, but we met with a realtor and went on a drive to see a few places in our budget.
It was like House Hunters gone wrong. One house had a rotten foundation and smelled like mold. One house wasn’t actually on the map — we couldn’t even find it. And the third house I’ll never forget. We pulled in the driveway, and I remember the Realtor saying, “Now you’ll have to use your imagination on this one…” (Never a good start.) He began explaining the features, and said, “And I should probably tell you that the last owner died in the home.”
“… and he wasn’t discovered for two years.”
NO THANK YOU.
We were defeated and called Mike to debrief. He said, “You know, I thought about this cabin that my parents’ friends built years ago. It might just be perfect for you guys. I’ll call them and see if they’re thinking about selling.”
Mike called his family friends — Gert and Floyd, and lo and behold they had just decided to sell their ~300 square foot log cabin. We walked out to the cabin the following day (3 miles from the road system in Fritz Creek) and decided it was perfect.
We drove to meet Gert and Floyd that night, and I noticed around her home there were references to the word “joy” everywhere. I’ll never forget how Gert — a firecracker in her 80s who is the embodiment of joy, herself — sat at her kitchen table and turned the pages of her scrapbook as she told the stories of how at 65 — just shy of 20 years prior, she and Floyd had snowmobiled in all the logs and hand-built this cabin. The stories of their adventure were captivating. I remember thinking, Is this real life?
When we told them we’d be honored to buy their cabin (because of course, it was EXACTLY within our budget), they asked for us all to join hands and they said a prayer around that kitchen table that this serendipitous match would be for the good of all concerned, and would (most importantly) bring us joy as a couple in this new adventure. What way to seal a real estate transaction!
We went back to Mike’s that night, feeling excited… and I pulled a card from my Danielle Laporte Truthbomb card deck and do you know what it said? I took a picture of it that night...
“Joy is power.”
This phrase has guided my life once before… and it will guide us all again this year. I hope that we — as a Yoga Hive community — can cultivate more joy in our lives, regardless of the pain we’ve felt of late, regardless of the uncertainty in the air, and regardless of what’s to come in 2020.
Sending you so much love and JOY this week.
Mid-day in the arctic, as I was walking down our access trail, I heard a resounding THUD from behind me.
Then a groan.
Sean wiped out on a piece of muddy plywood, right on his tailbone. Ouch!
My instinct was to chuckle, ONLY because the same darn thing had happened to me just days earlier. What a mess! (Note: Sean is fine!)
At that point, we’d tried so many different solutions to patch together a workable access trail. When the permafrost is exposed without the tundra above, it melts and it's unstoppable. Likewise, tundra is important because it insulates and protects the frozen layer. The definition of an access trail is moving over tundra, so this is a natural obstacle. In the bottom photo below, Sean holds a chunk of ice we dug out from a few inches beneath the tundra as we were selecting the sites for the cabins — literally, a hunk of ice from a mass that can exist as deep as 2,000 feet beneath the surface!
With an abundance of water running down the hillside (which leads to mud) and so many trips back and forth hauling in materials (which also leads to mud), we created a bit of a (no surprise here) muddy mess.
As we start to really put some effort toward raising our guest cabins over the next few weeks, we knew it: There was no more time to waste stuck in the mud. That slick old piece of plywood did us a favor — it was our swift kick in Sean’s you-know-what, telling us to get to work.
We spent the next day and a half building a corduroy road of logs — which is how people have built solid roads in wild muddy places for a long time. Sean had gotten this tip from a few friends here in the village, and we didn’t need to research much before we knew exactly what to do.
The first time we drove the wheeler up the hill, over the log-laden access trail with a full load without having to stop and either hand-haul things up piece by piece, or winch from a tree felt SO GOOD. In that moment, so much gratitude washed over me… and with every trip up with materials from then on, I think every time of how grateful I truly am.
So then, why do we wait until we fall on our tush before doing something that we know will be good for us?
Instead we go through all that toil and trouble before we finally realize there’s a better way. How can we prevent injury and dis-ease sooner? This is where my current motto comes in handy:
What are you NOT seeing because you're seeing what you ARE seeing?
Read that again, just to make sure you get it.
2020 continues to ask us to pivot. To invent. To shift. To close. To open. To stand still and wait. To move forward at lightning speed. It’s like a big game of Simon Says, isn’t it? And right about now, we’re all pretty tired of playing.
What I’ve noticed (more easily because the tidal waves of change come so quickly!) is that when I’m open to seeing a different perspective without my own preconceived notions getting in the way, I more easily see a better way to walk.
Simply put: I listen. Like really LISTEN, without thinking of my response in my head.
When I consider someone else's perspective, I get to see my blind spots. I get to see a way forward I’d never considered before. And then I usually think, “Why didn’t I think of that sooner?”
Because life isn’t rocket science. (Rocket Science is rocket science.) And when it seems hard, there’s always a path of least resistance available. But if we can’t see Easier Street because we’re seeing Destruction Drive, then we can’t see Easier Street. Period. And we stay stuck — not even knowing Easier Street is out there. Destruction Drive even looks appealing in some ways without anything to compare it to.
And yet, Easier Street is RIGHT. THERE.
When I really feel stuck and need to listen? I turn to yoga. Every time, my meditation practice grounds me and gives me insight… every time, my physical practice leaves me feeling refreshed and accomplished. And we have SO MANY opportunities coming up to join us... I hope you do.
In light and mud,
Sean and I have been making trips up and down Alaska’s Haul Road recently, bringing building materials to hand-build off-grid cabins for Arctic Hive guests up here in Wiseman, 63 miles north of the arctic circle. Driving 7 hours (each way!) away from civilization into the heart of the Brooks Range means I have to stock up on podcasts each time we make the trip.
Enter ZigZag, with Manoush Zomorodi. I love this podcast and earlier this week, I listened to an older episode where she interviewed Jennifer Petriglieri, author of Couples That Work. Although Jennifer was speaking primarily to marriage with two people who are both working, I believe her research supports all relationships concerned — business, friendship, family, etc. Her research proves that couples go through three distinct transitions together. And not just some couples — ALL COUPLES, across the board. If they don’t make it through one of three transitions, the relationship doesn’t work out.
It really struck me to the core because I feel like the last few months have had me on relationship overload. Not just my marriage — although anytime Sean and I build something together, we learn new things about one another. Recently, all sorts of my relationships have come up, shown up, and have required a thorough evaluation. I’ve asked myself so many times: What am I here to learn?
And while this was a cathartic podcast for me on many levels, I’m going to tell you just about Jennifer’s first transition because THIS is what has been coming up for me so often:
After the honeymoon phase of any relationship, some transition for a pair triggers the end of parallel beliefs — meaning the end of “it’s all good.” Something big happens, and you ask yourselves, “How are we going to make this work?”
Turns out: Pairs who just focused on the practicalities couldn’t make it work. Like, EVER. And compromise — as nice as it sounds — didn’t bode well either. Compromise puts an emphasis on tit-for-tat and scorekeeping, which only led to resentment. Couples focusing on practicalities never got back to the basic question: “Why are we doing this? What do we want together, and how can our time together facilitate this?”
It’s like figuring out the core values of your business… What means the most to you, why are you doing it, and from that place, everything else falls together. Once you forget your why, you fall off track. It’s like losing your North Star.
Because here’s the thing: Any relationship takes work, time and a willingness to grow. That willingness is crucial — on the part of both parties — and if it’s not there on one or both sides, the relationship may come to an end.
… and THAT’S OK.
Sure, there can be massive emotional hurdles and agony to move through as anything comes to an end (I don’t mean to belittle the process), but generally speaking, this is so often what we’re most scared of: Failing. Losing. Dying. We live in a society where we don’t discuss death because it’s scary. Death of anything is somewhat taboo and leaves us at a loss for words. And I’m here to tell you — it doesn’t matter if it’s a business, a pet, a friendship, or a human being… I’ve moved through all four of those in the past few months. Death on all levels is intense, but when you're through to the other side, it has its own liberating quality, too.
So at the end, regardless of where you end up, there will be people with whom you do the work. You won’t remember the business that succeeded or failed, the number of followers we gained, or the superficial connections made at a networking event. What we remember most is true connection to the other souls — placed inside human bodies — that we connect with on a deep level, and the lengths we went through to learn new things together.
And speaking of OUR relationship (yes, you!), we’re going to be sending more emails than normal in the coming weeks painting a picture of yoga and why it’s so important for us during these times (including a sweet deal for you on getting started for next to nothing)… because when it comes to Yoga Hive, this is a relationship I’m invested in, as is every single teacher on our team.
We are willing! Are you?
Sending lots of love,
PS — If you’re reallllly willing to dive a little deeper into yoga, be sure to check out our upcoming online teacher trainings! If you’re interested or want to start a convo, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email.
PPS — Thank you to the yogi who requested via email that I speak on this topic this week. If you’ve got something going on in your life that you want me to speak to, chances are the entire mailing list shares your plight (seriously), and I do, too! Reply here and I’ll take topic requests as often as I can!
Grandpa checked out of his body in the early morning hours of July 4th. He was NINETY years old, which is incredible — nearly a century of life! I was asked to write his obituary, so I was able to have an intimate conversation with my grandmother in remembrance of him and everything he stood for.
The whole experience got me thinking about the past… and how it shapes our experience of the present.
For me, one of my favorite parts of my past — specifically being from Wisconsin — is all the weird phrases people from Wisconsin say. When my own Midwest slang occasionally pops up in a conversation, I’m accustomed to the silent, confused stare and I quickly clarify. But when I first moved out west, I had no idea these phrases were so regional! I remember the first time I realized not everyone says “a horse a piece” or “geez louise” or calls a Pontoon Boat a “float boat.” I couldn’t believe it!
There’s a hilarious comedian named Charlie Berens that has built his career on this — I’m just going to link these words in case you want a good laugh along with instructions on my grandpa’s favorite cocktail, the Old Fashioned. That video is actually what family gatherings sound like sometimes! This week, I learned one of Grandpa’s phrases was “Sprinkle the Infield!” which he would use when instructing a bartender to buy a round of drinks for everyone at the bar. I love that, and I love how it speaks to the sort of guy my grandfather was.
Now, the vernacular and mannerisms are a source of pride, but I wasn’t always that way. When I was in college, I realized how I talked was different. I even succeeded at smothering my thick Midwest accent in favor of a more “neutral” sound.
I wish I would have been prouder of what makes me unique. But alas, that was the lesson I learned over time, and the lesson I was reminded of this weekend, as I remember a man who played such an important role in the evolution of our family.
The more I study yoga, the more I’m certain that the way we’re raised — the ups, downs and everything in between — is uniquely designed to equip us with the tenacity to move through life, and serve this planet exactly how we’re meant to. We can either smother it down and "forget" where we come from, or honor our past because it ultimately got us to here.
Nothing is a mistake. We are not a mistake. We cannot make the "wrong choice" in life... there are just choices, period.
There are things that toughen us up. There are events that teach us hard lessons, and others that run us through a barrage of emotions. We experience moments of bliss, joy, sadness, and at times when we’re really struggling and stuck, we suffer — sometimes for long periods of time.
But as we refine our understanding of what it means to live, we’re able to look in the review mirror, and change the lens through which we view our past. Thus, the past is changeable. Of course, the facts don’t change, but over time as we witness the ripple effect of each life event — whether one day after, or one year after, or ten years down the road — we see how even the most traumatic events and monumental moments actually shape us and teach us.
Easier said that done, right? The key here is WILLINGNESS. As some point, to move forward from our past, we must have a willingness to learn and evolve. Another word for evolve? Change. Thus, the reason anything happens at all is so we can change, if we choose. Change is the entire point. If we’re not changing with every step of the way, we’re not learning. And when we’re not learning, we’re stuck. And when we’re stuck, this is suffering.
My teacher, Anand, puts it simply: “Evolve or suffer.” The choice is ours.
So, as I see myself and my family changing with this latest shift, I’m comforted. This is the point! I am reminded that we haven’t lost him. Although we cannot find Grandpa anymore in his physical form, it’s impossible to lose everything my grandfather gave to our family (so please don't be sorry for me!). Our memories and our willingness to learn from the past keeps him alive one ripple at a time, and our lives are forever changed because of the life he lived.
Sending you all love, light, and good health,
I have a family member that I love to debate with. Whenever I visit him, politics come up — and normally this is where everyone’s heart skips a beat and the eggshells come out. Not for me! I love the opportunity to voice my view and listen to his. He and I know we’ll "agree to disagree,” but on a deeper level, both of us enjoy the chance to share viewpoints and be heard.
To me, those conversations with family (where I know my viewpoint won’t change anyone’s mind) are practice... practice for when I really need the words to make an impact elsewhere. As a yoga teacher and a writer, I know I need to practice getting my words out whenever I have the chance. The more often I try them out, the more likely they are to carry conviction when they matter most.
In those conversations, I’m detached from the idea of converting anyone, so I’m generously listening. Rather than mentally formulating my next point while he's talking, I’m hearing his view. When I speak, I try to speak to him (based on what he said), rather than AT him... I modify what I say so that he might be able to hear me. And regardless of the outcome, I chalk the whole experience up as a chance to brush up on my listening skills, practice tailoring my words, and ultimately learning how to love my family members for who they are with whatever beliefs they have in that moment.
I know that if my feathers get ruffled, that's on me. That's my attachment to a certain expectation I have for how I think he should act. Of course I could choose to not engage all together... but deep down, I enjoy the challenge of learning how to speak directly to someone, not at them.
It's exactly the process each of our yoga teacher trainees goes through at Yoga Hive. They practice their first custom-sequenced class until it's "just right" for their final test-out. Then when they teach that first class, it’s the most amazing thing to witness! We give love, feedback, and they acknowledge what they’d do differently next time. If they decide to teach post-training (some don’t—it’s not a requirement) they refine, teach, and refine again. It's a lifelong journey, and lifelong learning. As Yoga Hive teachers, when we stop learning, we stop teaching.
So this idea of "marinating" on how we feel and practicing our words applies to all aspects of life.
My teacher, Anand, always says: "If you can't explain something simply, then you don't truly understand it."
If we are having debates with the goal of studying ourselves, practicing our conviction, and coupling that with truly listening to our world (as opposed to a goal of preaching, converting, or forcing an opinion)... that's yoga. Whether you're on a yoga mat, or discussing politics on a couch with your impassioned relative... doesn't matter. It's all yoga — the art of hearing both sides. Being a generous listener. Sitting with the information. Pausing in stillness. Speaking from the heart.
Or when in doubt, just stop talking and get your butt to a yoga class :-)
PS — Come stand in solidarity with Yoga Hive, Love Yoga, and Shanti this Saturday in Depot Park. We're coming together to do 108 Sun Salutations in honor of the Summer Solstice in solidarity with Black and Indigenous People of Color. All registration funds from class (pay what you can!) will be donated to the Montana Racial Equity Project. Scroll for details and a link to sign up.
PPS — We're promoting a Virtual Workshop, also for the summer solstice, from one of our lovely Yoga Hive Wisconsin teachers, Danita. It's in the afternoon this Saturday! Scroll below for details.
It’s hard to know where to begin.
Things are hard and messy these days — there’s no debate on that. The current wave of urgency to act NOW is a familiar feeling for me. After I met Sean, I started my journey as an advocate for people with type 1 diabetes. (I am not comparing chronic disease to civil rights, nor am I implying this makes me some “authority” in today’s world… this is just how my story begins).
Nine years ago this month, Sean and I were on our first trip to Whitefish, Montana. I remember telling friends and family that nothing could stop us from moving there as soon as possible.
The only thing holding us back? We had to figure out health insurance.
Since I’ve known him, Sean has lived with type 1 diabetes — an autoimmune disease with no cure where your body doesn’t produce insulin, the hormone needed for survival and to take in nutrients from food. His pancreas is broken. He didn’t cause this for himself. It just… happens.
In other words: He has a preexisting condition.
I — not knowing anything about life with chronic disease — naively thought I could call up a heath insurance provider and sweet talk my way into getting us a family policy. Then magically, Sean would quit his job as the director of competitive snow sports, and we would move to Whitefish and have health insurance, and the world would be good!
I’ll never forget that phone call. I explained to the gentleman at Select Health that I needed a family policy because we would be leaving our jobs with health insurance to move out of Utah.
At first, he was like, “No problem Ms. Busby! I can help you with that!” He proceeded to take all my information down, asking questions, creating our profile (and I’m thinking, see? Told you so!) … until he asked, “Do either you or your husband have any pre-existing health conditions?”
“Yes. Sean has type 1 diabetes.”
“Oh, I’m sorry Ms. Busby but I can’t offer your family a policy at this time.”
I feigned shock, even though deep down I knew this was coming. I needed to hear him say it. I asked, “You mean to tell me just because my husband was born with a disease with no cure that he isn’t eligible for a policy with you? What do you expect us to do?” (As if this man would have my answer.)
“Correct ma’am. Your husband should not quit his job.”
“But we’re moving.”
“Then you shouldn’t move until you or he has a job that provides health insurance.”
The way I heard his advice? Stay put. Sit down. Be complacent. I was stunned. It moved me. I knew from that moment forward I was committed to doing everything I could to support the type 1 diabetes community, in Sean’s honor. I knew it deep in my bones. Kids with this disease should know they can accomplish their wildest dreams, despite being denied access to basic things like affordable health insurance. I’ve been around the world hosting camps for the non profit Riding On Insulin, and have spent time speaking to members of congress alongside Sean on Capitol Hill about the importance of research for type 1 and access to life saving medical supplies for seniors.
Since that fateful year, advocacy has paved the way for legislation prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and providing access to life saving technologies for some of our at risk populations. Taking a stand is incredibly important, and change is possible when we’re passionate for the long haul. This takes love in our hearts for the cause. Not fear of inaction. Guilt for past wrongs. Or shame for “who we are.” True change comes when we dig deep and see that love is universal. Love is human nature.
But how do we know the right action to take when injustice is fresh in our minds and time is of the essence?
In the yogic teachings, we learn about dharma—your own unique path. Not a career, necessarily. Not “your purpose”. But the path you uniquely walk. Yoga teaches us that it’s better to strive on our own path, rather than to succeed in the path of another. Nothing is ever lost in following our own path. But when we engage in competition with someone else’s path, that action breeds fear and insecurity.
So, we must ask ourselves: Are we living our own path — from love, from that feeling deep down in our bones — or following someone else’s path, out of our own fear/guilt/shame? As we all struggle to determine the right thing to do at this time, instead of looking OUT to what everyone else is doing, look IN.
Yes, read books, get educated, take courses, talk to people, share your feelings, get advice, stand up for what you believe in. Do all those things. But when it comes to your personal right action, look inside. You will know what to do and it will be authentic and correct. When we do what others are doing (be it inaction or action) without examining our own role in the situation, we don’t feel fulfilled. We experience disconnect because our actions aren’t in alignment with our own deep knowing. Ultimately, we end up feeling even more separate than before we took action because we’ve behaved in a way that's separate from ourselves.
This is some deep work! So my recommendation? Do the work, look inside, trust yourself and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! (And if you need yoga and meditation in your life to sort that out, you know where to find us!)
Here are Yoga Hive, we have a stance and some action items:
In light with love,
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.