The first time I decided to go to India, I told Sean it would be a one-and-done. Don't worry, honey! I was checking a box on a yoga-related bucket list at the foothills of the Himalayas. I got the e-visa (which is the same price as the 10-year visa) because I was so sure I'd never need it again.
Once I arrived, I'll never forget Blaine and my first interaction with a new friend.
As a gal from the midwest, I'll talk to just about anyone — and I smiled at a man who had just grabbed a coffee from the cafe. I introduced myself, and I learned his name was Thomas (pronounced to-MAS). Hearing his accent, I inquired, "Where are you from?"
Thomas replied casually, "Planet Earth!" He smiled and continued on his way, wherever he was off to. Blaine and I exchanged looks.
What on (Planet) Earth did we get ourselves into?
That evening at the opening ceremony, we each took a flower from a beautiful mandala display in the yoga hall, and walked down to the river as a group to place it in the river and offer up our intention for the training. We were chanting a mantra that was new to me — the Tara mantra — which is all about connecting in with the earth and grounding down, but keeping a connection open with our higher self — balancing between the two is the great act of life.
There I was, in the foothills of a mountain range I'd never been to before, chanting words I'd never used before, with over 100 other seekers like myself—interested in learning yoga from the source, having no idea what was in store for me the next day, let alone the next month of my life... I set my intention as I watched my flower drift downstream:
Let go of what I think I know.
My intention was so fitting — because as our teacher, Anand, always says, "The only obstacle to knowledge is knowledge." When we think we know, then we know. But, when we realize we know less than we don't know, THAT is when the true seeking can begin. The idea is to experience all things within our own universe — or perhaps our own version of "Planet Earth" — so that we can realize it for ourselves.
Thomas was onto something!
This won't surprise you at all. By day two of training, it occurred to me that I was DEFINITELY going back to India. With my 10-year visa officially stamped, I went back to Sattva in April of 2019 for Master Training, diving even deeper into Kriya, flow state, advanced meditation and mantra.
November of last year, I returned for a third time on a scouting mission. I picked out the routes, transport and logistics for — what will be — Yoga Hive’s annual Retreats to India with Blaine and myself. I stayed for a week longer for a master teacher module with my teacher, Anand, about Conscious Leadership.
When COVID hit and we cancelled said retreat to India, I enrolled in many different online courses both with Anand and other new teachers to study yogic history, philosophy, and texts — trying my best to take advantage of this unique time to learn online. In all, I’ve spent more than 1,200 hours studying yoga at the source and (thanks COVID) from the comfort of home in the far north of Alaska.
And all this learning... for what?
For access to wisdom — not simply information to fill my brain. But how can I be sure? Because when we encounter true wisdom (unlike encounters with basic information) we experience a shift. We change. We cannot go back to being the same person we were before.
Wisdom changes us for the better. And you can bet I've come a long way since my first trip to India.
This is where you come in... I’ve been integrating all my learnings and have some big programs for 2021 that I think you're going to love— and I'm so proud to lead this first program alongside Blaine. Since our trip to India, she's been on her own journey, becoming an Energy Medicine Yoga Master Teacher, and is on her way to becoming an Eden Energy Practitioner. Using the feedback we’ve received from you in this post-COVID world, we are answering your request for more in-depth study and deeper connections made virtually.
You want accountability to commit to change. You've told us that you want to go deep. Our answer?
Introducing: Soulful Sadhana
... an online course and community that weaves ancient yogic wisdom with a manageable monthly practice aimed at transforming your life and the way you live it.
The Sanskrit word, Sadhana, can be translated to "tuning." And Anand explains, without access to wisdom, applications for that wisdom in our daily life, and the dedication to commit, we exist in disharmony with our environment. We're out of tune. Out of touch. Life is burdensome instead of blissful. Then, when we finally get the courage to take on a practice — or sadhana, our commitment transforms our commitment to life itself. We tune in.
And hello! We'd much rather live BLISS than BURDEN, yes?
If we've learned anything since that first trip to India, having each other to lean on is imperative to success. No one should have to do it without the support of a group — we aim to create a tight-knit community of sincere seekers so we can deep dive together. Join Blaine and I this January for one, three, or six months of Soulful Sadhana — you'll find more details of this program below!
Other things we don't want you to forget:
In love and service,
Isn’t it amazing how much power is behind the phrase, “You can’t.”
So much beauty has been born from the spark of someone saying a version of that phrase to me.
Me: “I’m going to be a fashion journalist!”
Naysayer: “You can’t. There’s no money in journalism.”
✅ Did it for three years after college, where I had a salary and benefits in Madison, Wisconsin and loved every minute.
Me: “I think I’m going to start a nonprofit and make that my full time job.”
Naysayer: “You can’t. That will never work because nonprofits can’t afford employees.”
✅ Founded the nonprofit in 2010, volunteered my time for two years and by 2012 our nonprofit corporation had a board of directors around the country and a growing team of staff. It was my full time job and Riding On Insulin still exists today 😜
Me: “I’m want another dog for dogsledding.”
Naysayer: “You can’t. Five dogs is already too many.”
✅ ... what do you think happened?! Her name is Tundra and she’s the cutest little nugget and I've never once thought to myself that six is too many!
So that’s all fine and good. I’ve learned to weed through the naysayers. But... what if the naysayer isn’t someone outside yourself? What happens when the naysayer from inside says, I can’t.
Woa, different vibe, isn't it? I've been there, too.
When Sean and I first visited the Brooks Range last April and scouted (now) Arctic Hive on skis, surveying the property the old fashioned way, with a compass and a looooong surveying tape measure to span the distance of a borderline, we started dreaming. It sounded nice. And simple!
Build a retreat center!
Bring people above the Arctic Circle!
But you can imagine my mind created a list of excuses a mile long...
I can’t — There’s no solid access trail to haul in gear.
I can’t -- I don’t have enough time with all the other businesses.
I can’t — It’s 271 miles from the nearest grocery store.
That’s a whole lot of doubts!
So what changed? What makes someone just send it off the metaphorical “I can’t” cliff and reach for a dream?
However complicated the journey has been, the decision was simple. The decision to build in the Arctic with Sean came from a moment of silence.
All the I can'ts happen in the chatter. In yoga/Sanskrit, we call them vrittis... the busy mindstuff that swirls in circles of indecision. So much so, that we can convince ourselves (many times out of fear or practicality) to not dive head first into the thrill of a lifetime. The vrittis get in the way of us taking the lead role in our own life — they keep us from being conscious of the silence from which dreams are born. The silence from which we can hear the whisper of our true self.
In short, we need to think less, and sit in silence more. Too much thinking and the vrittis take on a life of their own. (And that's not the version of life that I want to live!)
When we listen to that inner whisper (we call it chitta, or pure consciousness) more and more, it becomes second nature... like a dear friend and confidant we come to know and count on. A friend who always steers us far away from “I can’t” and always toward the higher good for all concerned, which is often in the direction of our wildest dreams, whether we know it at the time, or not.
Conscious Leadership is born in our moments of silence and stillness.
This leads me to a SUPER exciting announcement I’ll be making next week about a new 5-week course I’m offering this January called Conscious Leadership. It’s a self-paced course with twice weekly pre-recorded lectures, once weekly live Q&A’s with me, and homework outside the virtual classroom to help you get focused on YOUR ability to hear your own whisper. I don’t want to say too much, because this newsletter is getting long already. Just look forward to next week for all the details!
For now, you need to know that the early bird deadline for our 7-month online 200-hour yoga teacher training is Thanksgiving Day — TOMORROW! Save big bucks ($528 to be exact!) by registering now and paying in full. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to reply to this email. I will make myself available for questions and concerns you may have! CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
The early bird deadline to save $250 on your trip to Arctic Hive this March is also approaching... TOMORROW! Secure your spot on this adventure of a lifetime with us. CLICK HERE FOR ARCITC HIVE RETREAT DETAILS
Blaine and I are hosting a virtual Malas and Mantra workshop on December 9th! This is a fantastic opportunity to make something meaningful for yourself or a loved one this holiday season. DETAILS
Aerial Yoga Teacher Training will be offering LIVE online via Zoom this January with me! Have a rig in your home? Dive in with us... DETAILS
And... in case you haven't seen our special deal yet, snap it up before it's gone:
TODAY'S SPECIAL DEAL: Unlimited two weeks of livestream yoga for just $1
CLICK HERE TO GET THE DEAL
In light (and a big healthy YES I CAN!),
Here’s a thing about me: I hate making two trips.
I posted this photo on my Instagram story a while back because it truly captures this essence. We forgot to put the ladder in the trailer? Here, let me carry it — amidst all the other things I’ve packed on this wheeler — like a javelin uncomfortably just so that I don’t have to go back twice.
One and done.
You might imagine that by building three Arctic Hive guest cabins over the last six months, one after the other, repeating every single task not one, not two, but THREE TIMES EACH, I’ve had a lot of time to examine this pattern in my life.
First time through: Fresh energy! Feeling good! I’ve got this!
Second time: [questioning my life decisions]
Third time: JUST. BE. DONE. + this really insane lion’s roar that I’ve been doing when I need to release some of that energy. (Highly recommend letting that sound out!)
In other words: I’ve gotten comfortable with my inevitable intensity when I have to do something over again. This opportunity to roar out frustration, ponder my patterns, and having a willingness to examine my emotions has been amazing.
And in my case with the cabins, I realize that I don’t have to do it over again. I’ve chosen to do it over again. And again. And again.
So as I was applying a coat of stain to the walls of the second cabin today (questioning my life decisions — second time through)… maybe it was the fumes, maybe it was the good vibes I’m feeling because I can see the finish line… maybe it was the six month mark that finally kicked something straight in my head.
I figured it out.
Somewhere along the way, I got it in my head that if you have to do something over again, it’s bad. It means you didn’t learn anything the first time. And as an A+ student who LOVES to sit in the front row and raise my hand and ask all sorts of questions (yep, was totally that kid — still am!)… in my brain, “not learning” is “not OK.”
WHEW! I’m ready to let go of this pattern!
This is the yoga I love most — self study. Always being willing to examine what’s going on in my life, and learning from my own experiences. Years ago, I spent a day with Tim Gunn (of Project Runway fame — a story for another time), and when I asked him if he thought I should keep doing what I was doing or go back to school, he gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.
He said, “Mollie, your experience will be your education.”
And ever since, that’s how I’ve lived. So thank you Cabin 1, Cabin 2, and Cabin 3… you’ve shown me that I am — in fact — always learning, even if I’m choosing to repeat the same thing over and over. What makes each round different is the quality of attention I’m paying to my experience. And honestly? My willingness to have fun with it along the way.
All this to say we have some incredible opportunities for YOU to learn with us at Yoga Hive this holiday season. I know there are a lot of excuses for why you don’t have time to prioritize yoga, or join a workshop, or stream a pre-recorded class on Yoga Hive Connect. But my advice? Don’t repeat the same pattern you always do. And definitely don't "wait for 2021" to make a change. Let go of your old patterns and start fresh with us — with ME!
So, a holiday deal for you... it's back:
TODAY'S SPECIAL DEAL: Unlimited two weeks of livestream yoga for just $1
CLICK HERE TO GET THE DEAL
And other things you need to know...
In light and as many trips as it takes,
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!
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.