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,
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.