10 Life-Changing Effects of Yoga (Part 2)

This Part 2 in a two-part series on what practicing yoga has taught me. If you missed it, catch Part 1 here.

6. Let go. Being present on the mat requires letting go of anything outside of your mat for that hour. Your posture is not one of control and striving, but rather openness and malleability.

So often, I find myself having a breakthrough during class. My mind relaxes, and I receive an answer to a question I’ve been pondering or a conflict I’ve been working through.

Isn’t this so often how God works? When we let go of our preconceived notions of what He can do – or what we can do with Him – we allow Him to enter the spaces where we feel most weak and strengthen us. He always surprises me with His goodness.

But this first requires opening up to Him. Continue reading

The End of the Sentence: Becoming Unstuck

I’ve hoped to write this post for a long time. Nearly six years, to be exact. Six years of hoping and waiting and praying and searching out answers. Answers for why: why my body wasn’t doing what it should do as a woman, why my cycle had gone missing, why I was stuck in this period of waiting. And how: how to get healthy, how to get my cycle back – as though it was off exploring the world somewhere, and it was my job to figure out how to bring that wanderer back home.

The name of this blog was born out of these years of waiting. “Waiting for the end of the sentence” referred both to waiting for my cycle to return and the more significant process of learning to wait on God during this period of time and recognize his work in my life. Everything I’ve written on this blog and my book Enough has passed through that filter of learning and observing. Instead of simply asking why and how, I’ve been asking what: What is God teaching me? What does he want me to share with others as a result of what I’ve learned?

In every experience – from dating to sleeping (or rather, not sleeping) – I’ve become keenly aware that God is speaking to me and moving in me. While there were times where I felt stuck, I wasn’t stagnant. And God was moving, working, bringing things back to life.

The lessons he’s taught me, the ways in which he’s been present with me, the love he’s revealed to me…that’s the point. That’s the period at the end of the sentence. That’s what I need to share.

While my cycle has returned – prodigal daughter that she was – I know this isn’t the end of the sentence for me. The waiting doesn’t stop here. No. This is simply a comma, a dash, and ellipse. An opportunity to pause, take a beat, breath, and thank God for the healing work he’s done over the last few years.

So, without further ado, here’s how – after six years of waiting – God has healed my body and is bringing things back into alignment.

It feels like a miracle. And it is. It’s a miracle that I didn’t stay stuck in a cycle of perfectionism. It’s a miracle of small steps and big changes that have led to life. It’s a miracle of grace. Continue reading

Do the Next Thing: Thoughts on Writing, Running, and Life

As some of you know, I’m writing a book about recovering from a life of performance and perfectionism. Subscribe here to get early access! 

Writing is a lot like running. The hardest part is often simply getting started. Before I go for a run, I sometimes pause and try to rationalize my way out of it.

Woman above the cityDo I really want to go out in the fog? Do I really want to get all sweaty? Do I really want to feel the burn in my legs and the cold in my lungs?

As I ask myself these questions, I simply do the next thing: I put on my workout clothes and lace up my shoes. I pull up the run tracker on my phone and pick my playlist (usually something poppy and upbeat to motivate me or worship music, since running is one of my favorite ways of communing with God). Before I know it, I’m out the door and on my way. Even my overly-analytical mind can’t compete with legs that are ready to run.

The process of writing is extremely similar. I love writing – just like I love running. I know it’s benefits, and I know I will love it once I start. But it’s not as romantic as it may seem. It’s not like locking yourself away in a cozy cabin or beautiful beach house, getting inspired, and letting the words pour out of you. It is an amazing, inspiring, transformative process. But like most life-altering pursuits, writing can be painful or just plain hard. It takes initiative, momentum, and a constant placing of one foot – or one word – in front of the next.

Since returning from my month-long sabbatical, keeping up the momentum of writing my book on recovering from perfectionism has certainly been difficult. The silence on this blog over the last couple weeks is evidence of that. But as my primary writing focus right now is on the book, I’m trying to prioritize that, and let the blogging come as it may. Continue reading

The Uncomfortable Gift of Stillness

Sabbatical is awkward. Rest and stillness feels foreign. Nearly one week in, and I feel like I’m still trying to settle into this slower pace of life.

Part of this may be due to the fact that I’m no longer at home – I’m traveling, living out of a suitcase, sleeping in a new place. But I think it has much more to do with the state of my mind and heart.

Even while I’m writing about being enough and not finding your worth in your productivity or performance, I’m still fighting the urge to make the most of every minute and operate under a tight schedule. Must get to barre class at 8:30. Must be writing in coffee shop by 10. Must draft first chapter today. So many must’s that I’m trying to muster the strength and energy to complete. The irony is not lost on me.

But I hold onto the hope that God is teaching me through my discomfort and he’s using this internal battle to reveal more of himself to me. In this process, I’m trying to give myself grace as I break in these new shoes of Sabbath, silence, and slowness.

That’s the journey of enough – it’s a continuous cycle of shedding old habits and trying on new ways of thinking and being.

Continue reading

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose

Even if you’ve never watched an episode of Friday Night Lights, you’re probably familiar with the chant clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. It’s the rallying cry of the football heroes before they take the field, and while I’d heard it many times, and it certainly sounded nice, I’d never given the phrase much thought until last week.

Clear Eyes_Full Hearts_Can't Lose

You see, last week I hit a wall – like a football team up against stronger rivals, I felt like I was being beaten down by familiar enemies named Control, Worry, and Stress. I’d been stressing about a situation in my life that I want to “figure out.” I felt like I couldn’t make sense of what was in front of me, and my heart felt both empty and clogged up with worry at the same time.

Then, all that stress found its way into my body, and I came down with a bug – both a head cold and a stomach virus. Super fun. Instead of giving myself grace and making space to rest, my first inclination was to stress and try to “fix” my way to being healthy – not the smartest approach – before my trip to Miami at the end of the week. I did ultimately stay home to rest, but my struggle was less with the state of my body and more with the state of my heart. I was downing water, sipping on ginger ale, and taking it easy at home. But I don’t think I would have improved as quickly as I did if I didn’t rest my mind and heart as well as my body. Continue reading

Are You Listening?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a hard time falling asleep. When I was little, I’d lay in bed, pretending to stir the stars that blanketed the ceiling in my imagination. Or I’d lay there writing stories in my head or dreaming about my future – career, wedding, husband…I had plenty of time to plan it all in those sleepless hours.

Being a somewhat anxious child, I’d also worry about all the things that could go wrong while I was sleeping. What if there was a fire? What if something happened to my parents? What if a burglar tried to break in? As my mom can attest, my nightly prayers often included pleas for protection against any potential maladies or disasters that might come down on our household.

DeathtoStock_Medium8During my college years, my sleepless nights were fewer, probably because I was chronically sleep-deprived. Like most over-achieving academic – especially those with a long-distance boyfriend that they’d talk to on AIM (throw-back!) until the wee hours of the morning – I was lucky to get an average of five hours a night. So when my head hit the pillow, it didn’t take long to drift off into dream land.

These days, though, I’m back in the thick of it. Chasing after sleep like it’s a coveted prize. Struggling to achieve lack of consciousness, even when I’m past the point of exhaustion. Wrestling with questions about why I have such a hard time letting go and just getting to sleep for goodness’ sake. Continue reading

Lean In

I’ve been on quite an Allison Vesterfelt kick lately. After multiple people had prodded me to read her book Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage, I finally picked it up and devoured it in a few short – but profoundly challenging – days. I finally understand why my friends were so persistent in recommending this book. They knew it would mess me up in the way only a good book can.

Allison – or Ally – and I have a lot in common. We both went to Whitworth University, we both studied English, we both have felt at home in weird cities (Portland for her, San Francisco for me), and we’ve both struggled to call ourselves writers. And yet, as both of us have discovered, we are because we do. We’re writers simply because we write.

In reading another one of Ally’s books Writing to Find Yourself, I’m finding so much encouragement to keep writing. Writing, like most things that are worth doing, takes effort and vulnerability. For me, writing is the process of putting little pieces of me on a page. Every word I type makes me vulnerable to criticism and has the potential to be misunderstood or to step on someone’s toes – I’m sorry if I ever step on yours! But these words also have the power to speak into someone else’s story, to allow that person, as Anne Lamott says, to speak the two most magnificent words you can say to another human being: “Me too.” Continue reading

Not Paper-Thin or Pain-Free: Embracing Pain in a Healthy Way

Peach Flower

I am thin-skinned. An easily-bruising peach with a low tolerance for pain. As my family would say, I am a “delicate flower” – small things can upset the fragile ecosystem that is me. I wish I could say my paper-thin nature is limited to my literal dermatology, but it goes deeper than that – down into my heart and soul. An unkind word, a bad piece of news, or an unmet expectation has the potential to shake me more than I’d like to admit.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a bit of a thicker skin – figuratively speaking, of course. I no longer cry when I get a wrinkle in my socks; although, if I’m being honest, that still bugs me. Like most people, my M.O. is to avoid pain and seek out comfort whenever possible. As a highly sensitive person, I experience my circumstances acutely. My surroundings, my feelings, and other people’s feelings affect me deeply. This is why I don’t watch the news, why I’m more prone to anxiety, and why you’ll never catch me watching a violent movie. Continue reading

Retreat: Why I Don’t Just Want a “Vacation”

Strolling at Whetstone Wine Cellars

Strolling at Whetstone Wine Cellars

Last week I spent four beautiful days in Napa with my mama and sister. All sunshine and good food and just being together. And, of course, vino.

We booked this trip a while back, not knowing that it would coincide with the passing of our beloved family dog. For those who aren’t dog people, I might be hard to relate to this statement, but Lacy’s passing felt like a true death in the family. A dog like Lacy provides unconditional love and genuine companionship that we mere humans have a harder time giving to others. Because of our higher-functioning (read: obsessive, self-centered) brains, we’re more concerned with whether our affections will be returned, what others will think of us. Lacy wasn’t that way. She just made friends with everyone she met and doled out love freely, never worried that she’d run out of it.

I want to be more like that. Continue reading

Shavasana: Finding Rest in Friendship

RestOne of my favorite things about writing is how the words often turn out quite differently than I anticipated. In the process of putting words on paper a computer screen, I’m able to create something new out of the shards and fragments of my days, the confusing thoughts, the unexpected joys. So, here’s to hoping you discover something about yourself along the way too…

One of the best – and, to be perfectly frank, worst – things about getting older is realizing that you are responsible for…well, pretty much everything. Bills, finding and keeping a job, feeding yourself. Okay, that last one can be pretty great.

On the positive side, you’re also responsible for deciding what you want to do with your time. For me, that’s brought so much freedom. I can now decide what kind of music I want to listen to, food I want to eat, books I want to read, people I want to surround myself with, and so on without (much) fear of judgment. I’m not going to pretend like I don’t still worry a bit about what other people think of me, but that pressure has greatly dissipated over the years. Even since first moving to San Francisco in 2010, I experience less of the fear of missing out that can really suck the joy out of life. When you’re constantly worried about a better experience, how can you possibly enjoy where you are?

As I’ve learned to be more content with my present circumstances – whatever those may be – I’ve learned to appreciate my friend time. Because when it comes down to it, that’s what I want most: quality time with a small group of good good people. “My pack,” as a dear friend’s mom would say.

But even when you know this is what you want, it can be tough to find in adult life. Particularly in big cities. While walking through Noe Valley yesterday, I overheard a girl saying to a friend on the phone, “I miss those days in New York when we all just got together throughout the week. I just don’t have a crew here. But then again, I might not have that if I were back in New York anyway.”

I feel your pain.

San Francisco is such a transient city. People move in and out in a continuous cycle, which means it can feel like you’re constantly making new friends. Thankfully, I’m grateful for the gift of sweet friendships that have survived (and thrived) despite the distance or shifting priorities that marriages and moves inevitably require. This has required intentionality. And that’s why it’s so important to know what I want, what my heart most desires, what I find to be deeply satisfying – my own personal brand of cool.

My friend time typically looks like some combination of eating, exploring, laughing, sitting, talking, and praying. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing exactly. Whether we’re sharing dinner at one of our homes apartments or catching up over cocktails, we’re just glad to be together. And that’s the purpose of friendship, isn’t it? Sharing life with people who “get” you. These are the friends that “stick closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

Regina and Cassie

Friends make my life so rich.

But what do you do when you don’t know what you want?

That I understand as well. Because even though I am learning so much more about myself, this world, and how to love people better every day, I still struggle with making decisions and “owning” them. That worry mostly stems from whether I’m making “the best” decision possible, and really, that’s rooted in selfishness. It’s like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We’re back to the original sin here, people. Adam and Eve were so obsessed with perfection, with having the best, with knowing everything – they wanted to be God. And that’s where I need to acknowledge that I am not God, and that even while I’m settling more into this skin and soul that God has given me, he still knows what’s best.

Yoga this week was a lesson in letting go of the need to make perfect decisions. Our usual instructor was out, and the substitute was obsessed with “setting an intention” and “reconnecting with our purpose” throughout the practice that day. Intention and purpose are very good things, don’t get me wrong. But in that hour on the mat, I became so consumed with questions like, “Am I being purposeful enough?” “Do I have enough intention at work?” “What if I’m not seeking big enough things?” It was completely counter-productive. And in the final resting pose of Shavasana, I heard God say so clearly to me, “Your purpose is to submit. Just submit.”

In that moment of clarity, I felt nothing but gratitude for the fact that I get to submit to someone who knows what’s best for me and, even better, is actively working to make that happen in my life. Sometimes what’s best isn’t what appears to be most fun or attractive or cool. But a little – or a lot – farther down the path, I always come to realize that it’s absolutely best.

In that posture of submission – Shavasana – I can rest and receive. I am filled with his love which overflows in an offering to him. For his glory, for the love of others, and for life. Abundantly.

So, what’s your purpose, your intention? What are you being called to submit? I’d love to know. Feel free to share in the comments below.