“…I thought about how difficult it is to live in this world without any clothes on. I know it’s the gods who determine who among us is fated to go through life with her clothes off. When the gods gather around a baby in its cradle and dole out their gifts and curses, this is one aspect of things they consider. Most people live their entire lives with their clothes on, and even if they wanted to, couldn’t take them off.
Then there are those who cannot put them on.
They are the ones who live their lives not just as people but as examples of people. They are destined to expose every part of themselves, so the rest of us can know what it means to be human.
Most people lead their private lives. They have been given natural modesty that feels to them like morality, but it’s not…it’s luck. They shake their heads at the people with their clothes off rather than learning about human life from their example, but they are wrong to act so superior.
Some of us have to be naked, so the rest can be exempted by fate.”
~ Sheila Heti, How Should a Person Be?
As Managing Editor at elephant, I read a variety of comments—some are kind and thoughtful, some constructive in their criticism—many that are plain nasty…and then there are the comments that make me want to reach out and hug the world. Last night, I read a comment that has stuck with me and settled into the space in the front of my chest. Earlier in the evening, I had posted a quote and photo by one of our greatest loves, Rachel Brathen, aka yoga_girl. I’ll paraphrase the comment: it’s easy to take two minutes to write something fluffy about letting go, but it’s hard to do it—and the author of the comment went on to say that they wished that we all spent more time writing about the flip side—aka, the tough stuff. It should be noted that Rachel wrote a great piece that you should read about this stuff—and if you are a regular elephant reader, you will know that there are many others who continually strip themselves down in public, exposing everything that they are to the world, because that’s what the beat of their hearts tell them to do.
(Don’t believe me or new to elephant? Check out this, this, this, this, this, this and that. By no means is this list done—I could keep going and fill pages of articles that touched me, made me think—and also showed me how human and vulnerable we can be, if we so choose.)
I write time and time again about the dark and the light in my life; I do this because I have no choice. I don’t want to live behind a facade of “happiness”—I’m a yoga teacher, a yogi, an artist, a writer, an editor—I’m a walking heart beat of a human being and my life goes up and down and I want you to know all about it because I want to know about your roller coaster ride, too. I want for us to start speaking honestly, truthfully, authentically about what makes us tick and what knocks us down to our knees, leaving us a broken pile on the bedroom floor—and I don’t want to edit myself because my sadness might make you uncomfortable—I want to know yours, and I will sit and hold space and love you from near (or far) when you let your truth unwind itself and in the process, start to open your heart to everything it’s capable of. The only way forward, for me, is in truth—this is how I believe we will change the world. Personally inspired by the beings around me that post photos of themselves with inspiring words, I started to post self-portraits of myself (which I’ve been making since who-knows-how-long) with words sharing where I am in the moment, whichever moment it happens to be. Lately, I’ve been sitting with heartbreak—and have also moved into what I’m certain is the world’s smallest apartment with my three fur children.
I am a mess, most of the time.
I have my practice (confession: my mat and I haven’t seen in each other in over a week); I have juicing (confession: I juiced once yesterday but what I’m craving is vegan poutine and big glasses of beer) and I have this: my words (confession: they are fucking hard to share, sometimes). In an effort to move toward transparency in my life as a human, I’m sharing the following posts that I published on my personal Insta-Facebook page over the past few weeks; this is raw, honest and it’s not all about feeling good.
This is about being present to every experience in life—and not just the ones that make it rain kittens and rainbows.
(Oh: here is what I ask of you…(did you know this was coming?)—don’t look to others to show you the way. If you feel sad, if you feel happy, write about it, draw it out, share it—don’t let it sit like a weight in your heart. Be honest, be thoughtful—check in with your ego to see if it is ruling the show and if your intentions are true, share the things you want to most hide away.)
“how to be alone on the first friday in your new (tiny-ish) apartment: cry (a lot); it’s your second night in the space and you’ve discovered that you have “too much stuff” and so you will spend the day in a rental eco-car with the dog (head out of the window, catching sunlight with his smile) delivering your history to the Salvation Army, Value Village and to a stranger you met along the way; allow love from all directions and distances as you shift and cringe and feel uncomfortable and ugly and everything that you are scared of feeling but must in order to be human and be where you are, here, now. (there is sunshine; you can see it sparkle in the tree tops outside of your new window…and you can feel it in the hot(ish) bath you soak your bones in at night…but it will be awhile before your heart vibrates and you feel alive enough again to wrap your arms around the world.)”
“how to be alone on a saturday night: say yes to your neighbours when they ask if you can babysit their sleeping kiddos for a few hours; work a bit, drink tea (from Paris…oh la la), try to write, get stuck and decide it’s time to stick your head into a real live book with ink on paper and everything. before you settle in with the 813 page book you are reading, slide into the bathroom and discover that while you cannot write, you can find a way to make something…ah, yes, the bathroom yoga selfie. magic. (oh, and wear the big orange scarf that makes you feel like sunshine but also smartly hides the family of blemishes that has moved in on your chin in honor of your impending move.)”
“try as i might, i can’t seem to shake the gloomy mood that woke me up this morning…and so i breathe and cry and sing and breathe and drink juice and snuggle the dog and love and love again.”
“how to be alone at a party: breathe into the fear of being in a crowd, find the hostess and wish her love, drink half a glass of bubbles, have a tarot reading and your palm read too (keep breathing…don’t stop breathing) make your exit quietly (and vow to toss the bright magenta tights that you’ve had to keep adjusting the entire hour you’ve been out just as soon as you get home). oh…and wear something that makes you feel like sunshine (which is clearly not the magenta tights).”
“some days feel sad…and on the days that do, i’m most grateful for sunshine, furry beasts, homegrown veggies, skype emoticon conversations…and for pants that make me feel like a superhero.”
“how to be alone: cry, laugh, dance, sing, pray, move, cry some more, breathe, wear something that feels like sunshine, love, repeat…every single day.” This is how we love; this is how we set ourselves free. The only way we can continue to evolve as humans is if we decide that the way that we do things isn’t serving us anymore—and so, we have to change.
This is me—heart, bones and all.
Can you toss your smile-mask aside and show me what you look like on the inside? Let’s get naked.
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