Waking up a different person.

Via Melissa Smith
on Dec 3, 2011
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Photo of Melissa Smith by mario covic

In 2010, I embarked on a mission to LIVE. Just get up and live a life that I’ve always dreamed I could. That mission rolled over into my 40th year. After hosting an epic birthday party where everything from a gospel choir, to a beautiful dred locked fire thrower to a kirtan band was present and ready to usher me into the next decade, I woke up and faced a decision I have been grappling with for over 2 years.

My 2011 journey has ebbed and flowed with both tremendous trials and explosive joy. I’ve morphed into a low-paying, intrinsically rewarding nomadic yoga lifestyle that is simultaneously intoxicating and displacing. Traveled to Thailand, California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Louisana, New York… and experienced more in this year alone than most people see in a lifetime (and feel enormous gratitude for having done so). I endeavored (but not nearly succeeding) to create balance at home, peace in the yoga community, and battled valiantly with my internal demon: fear of the unknown.

This year I journeyed toward refining the art of SERVICE. All of my life, I’ve desired deeper connections with both God and those I meet along the path and felt that service was the key to the intertwining of this giving and receiving. It’s been a fabric of intention woven from childhood all the way into my adult life. In my 20’s, I volunteered my way through the college years. I never drank or went out to parties but instead joined a service organization and competed vigorously with 2 other geeky service freaks in gathering the most community service hours. Puppet shows to kids about the danger of drugs. I did it. Painted house after house with Habitat for Humanity when I should have been studying for a final. Did it. Ran around with underprivileged kids in the hood of Bryan, Texas every Friday night for 3 years. Of course, isn’t that how all college students spend their Friday nights?!

I was an expert in what we called “the other education”, only cramming for exams when necessary and barely scraping my way through courses like statistics and accounting. I believe I knew even then what really mattered and will have the most impact on my world would be living a life motivated by serving others.

I can’t say that I’ve served without agenda. Everyone who performs an act of service knows that there’s a non-alcholic buzz from the praise of others for a good deed and an etherial high from knowing someone else’s life is enhanced by something you’ve done for them. 

When you fall in love with giving then will

you have the freedom to fall in love with life.

My birthday transformed from a month long event to what has now been jokingly dubbed as “the year of Mel” by my friends. I’m warming up to the idea of that. Awake to the possibilities, I got up one morning and figuratively jumped off the most terrifying and daunting cliff of my life. I woke up a different person.

A friend asked, what is it that you really need right now? I can’t remember that last time someone asked me that with the intension of fulfilling it. Transitioning from giver to receiver is mentally arduous and takes more than just saying “let go”. It requires a fastidious intension and action that I frequently feel incapable of.

What I need right now? LOVE. The word that would encapsulate the coming year (of Mel) would be LOVE. A recent recipient of unconditional loving support from people I admire and respect has shown me how vital it is to express love, in all it’s many forms: compassion, rubber chickens dressed like pirates as gifts, unsolicited encouragement, uncomfortably long hugs, prayers, listening, passion, showing up, and simply be-ing available emotionally. 

This coming year, I hunger to fall in LOVE with life, rather than just to LIVE. 


In December I will embark on a daily writing journey called #Reverb11. Thanks Elephant Yoga and Michelle Fajkus for the push. I’ll be a few days behind but then, no worries. Who says I have to be like everyone else anyway?  

December 1 – Palabra (Word) Encapsulate your 2011 in one word. Why that word? What would you like your word to be for 2012? Why?


About Melissa Smith

Melissa is a freelance writer, zealous traveler, momma, and AcroThaiTherapeuticsYogaLifeStudentOccasionalTeacher. She leads advanced teacher trainings for Leeann Carey Yaapana Yoga, specializing Therapeutic Partner Practice and hosts retreats in Texas, Thailand & New Orleans for Grace Yoga Retreats. Connect with her on Facebook, her Grace Yoga Blog, and Twitter. or read other Elephant Journal articles.


20 Responses to “Waking up a different person.”

  1. Mel, you amaze and inspire me to be a better person. I am excited to follow your journey form living to loving life. You are an example to all of us to face what is, for many, myself included, our biggest fear, the unknown. Love, love, love you!

  2. I feel so deeply honored to know the beautiful human being and soul who wrote this most recent article. I feel much happiness that we are friends and I am anticipating many magnificent things from Melissa Smith in the coming year. Thank you for all that you do to bring love and light to my world and to others. Everyone, please read. I promise, you will fall in love too. The energy that Mel puts out into the universe by bringing our community together and providing us with space to create fascinating new relationships, share our common interests and ultimately feel alive and loved is… well, it is love itself. Here is to falling in LOVE with LIFE.

  3. You are so brave and an inspiration. Love you!

  4. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage. Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook.

  5. melissa says:

    thank you Tanya. 🙂 in gratitude, M
    PS learning to format! ; – ) thanks for your patience!

  6. melissa says:

    Thank you. very lovely words. very grateful!

  7. SOFLY_Anna says:

    Hi Melissa,

    this is very inspirational! I too hope some day to quite my job and travel for a at least a bit!


  8. yoga freedom says:

    What a fascinating journey, Melissa. Thanks for reverbing… This is what it's all about!

  9. melissa says:

    thank you michelle. I think i'm going to reverb for 2012… finding time to write daily…. but side tracked with life… kids, holidays! how do you do it!? 🙂

  10. melissa says:

    hi Anna, thank you for the posting… travel doesn't have to be exotic- just creative…. 🙂 follow your heart- it's not as hard as you think! 🙂 enjoy the week!

  11. melissa says:

    thank you. not feeling brave today… but each day a tad stronger.

  12. Deborah says:

    Thanks to share this with us. It is a beautiful reading that comes from a beautiful human being..xoxo

  13. melissa says:

    thank you for taking time to read and share.

  14. […] My life, clouded with unfulfilled longing for things that are not yet to be or may never come.I am forced to look my life in the eye and tell it I’m ready NOW. Come, save me from what I hope for and instead, clear space for me to be mended. I don’t want to miss my life. […]

  15. melissa says:

    thanks Josh. Living. just living. 🙂

  16. sac says:

    Was totally with it until the god thing had to come up. So crazy that so many people are so… Obliviously brainwashed.