“Well, it depends.”

One of the most bizarre things a mother can experience is that she can birth a child into the world who has a personality completely different than her own.

My mother did just that.

I came into this world, very quickly (my dad barely made it to the hospital in time) and very loudly, according to my father. I was a horrible sleeper (a trait I passed on to my own child) and sensitive and fearful. I was wired for anxiety and phobias and seemed to be driven by my emotions.

From the time I was two years old, up until adulthood, my mother spent a lot of time sagely advising me to slow down. To wait. To be patient. To think. I didn’t like that she was telling me these things, but I mostly listened because something inside of me knew she was speaking wisdom to me.

But the best piece of advice my mother ever gave me of all time was simply two words, or sometimes three, depending on how she framed it:

“It depends.”

That’s right, folks. Two words: IT DEPENDS. Sometimes she added in the extra word, “well,” at the beginning, and in that case, she said:

Well, it depends.”

If I had a dollar for every time my mother said, “It depends,” I would be rolling in the dough. To this day, she says it frequently in response to people making “should” statements that are filled with emotion. The following are a list of statements to which my mother has responded with her adage, “Well, it depends.”

  • Our culture: “Follow your heart.” Mom: “Well, it depends. Sometimes the heart is just a bunch of feelings.”
  • Our culture: “Be fearless.” Mom: “It depends; sometimes fear is there to protect you.”
  • Our culture: “Live your life with no regrets.” Mom: “Well it depends. Sometimes regret can teach us things.”
  • Our culture: “Stand up for what you know is right.” Mom: “Well, it depends. You may not be right and may just be being stubborn.”
  • Our culture: “Take the bull by the horns and act quickly and efficiently.” Mom: “Well, it depends. You can take your time and be efficient as well.”

You see??? IT JUST DEPENDS. That is what I have learned from my mother.

My whole point in sharing how my mother’s phrase has helped me, is because I realize today that it has caused me, despite the fact that I’m wired to be emotional and even anxious, to choose to be OPEN to multiple perspectives. To be OPEN to multiple ways of existing, and feeling and thinking.

And while there are definite moral truths that cannot be argued with when it comes to equality and justice for humanity–no matter who you are, where you live, or what you have done– beyond those universal truths lies the world of “It depends.”

No one has this freaking thing called life figured out. We are all going to make independent judgments based on our experiences. However, there is great comfort in knowing that feelings are just feelings and, as a wise yoga teacher once said, “I am determined to see this mountain as just a mountain. It’s not a statement on my life,” (meaning not everything we perceive as terrible that’s happening to us has anything to do with us).

Pastor Rob Bell says our culture is all treble and no bass. People get their news and develop their thoughts from what they are exposed to on social media. Through the lens of technology, we have begun to believe there are quick answers to everything. In the craziness of all of this, my mom has been my bass, my voice of reason, by asserting that we cannot depend entirely on feelings, or easily swayed by new voices simply because they sound good. It just depends.

I close with a photo of my Mom, telling everyone to chill out, because no one knows what’s going to happen. “It depends,” she probably is saying. ⬇️

I am a Pokémon 

It is 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I am lying here in darkness and typing this blog on my phone on the eve of my 41st birthday. 

I am contemplating who I am and how I want to evolve. I’m like a Pokémon or something. (I don’t really understand Pokémon at all, but I know they, like, evolve, right?)

I want to continue to evolve and change who I am by changing what I do. In honor of my 41st year of life, I am sharing 41 truths I’ve learned as I have changed my thinking and my actions over the years. 

I love to elaborate. People who know me know that I’m the queen of elaboration and talking too much and overexplaining things.  But I will refrain from doing that in this instance because I only have a few minutes to write before my yoga class.

So here we go. How to evolve like a Pokémon, a.k.a, 41 random things I have learned:

1. Kids pay more attention to what you do than what you say.

2. A daily practice of meditation and prayer will change your life.

3. Judging others is not good for your health. It’s also a negative “low vibrational energy” way of thinking. 

4. Choose being truthful over being nice. 

5. You don’t have to be nice.  Like, really, you don’t. 

6. It is your responsibility to practice loving kindness, but this does not equate with being “nice.” It simply means you act in love for others and for yourself. 

7. The most courageous people show up even when they don’t feel ready. 

8.. That still, small voice inside of you will never let you down. It is there to protect you. It is the voice of God, speaking to you in quiet moments of truth. That is the voice that reminds you of what you need in this life, what to do next, and who you are. 

10.  When you are laughing you are healing. 

11. Practicing yoga helps you develop an understanding and compassion for your body.

12. Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love. 

Geesh, I can’t think of anything else. Maybe I don’t know 41 things. I’m going to yoga and then coming back.

13. It is not our job to make everything sunshine and rainbows for our kids. It is okay for them to experience pain and discomfort, and we walk beside them in this experience without trying to take it away. This is how they become resilient, kind, empathetic adults.

14. You don’t have to wear underwear. 

15. Processed food can make you ill. 

16. Meditate and pray. I know I already said that but that one needs to be on the list twice. 

17. Do not be afraid of pain.

18.  When you feel sad or anxious, go outside and breathe in the outdoor air. 

19. Let people be who they are. 

20. Do not assume what others are thinking. Ever. Ask them instead. 

21. Things that matter are going to take some time. 

22. You deserve happiness, respect, and peace of mind. 

23. What we cannot see, we cannot heal. 

24. There is no power in pretending. 

25. When you’re angry, ask yourself, “What needs to be protected?”

26. We can do hard things. 

27. Drink lots of water. 

28.  It is beneath your dignity to maintain relationships with people who do not honor your self worth. 

29. Relationships that you have to keep a secret are not relationships that contribute to your freedom. 

I can’t think of anything else. I lied about knowing 41 things.

==================================

Hey! I’m back four days later, and I’m now too legit to quit, which brings me to my next truth…

30. Don’t quit on your goals just because they are hard or you’re having a brain freeze.

31. If you want to find your tribe, you must first find yourself. 

32. When choosing a life partner, consider first and foremost if the person is right for you (and your kids, if you have them). Family members and friends love to give their two cents, but when it’s all said and done it is you that must live with the person. 

33. Ask for help when you need it. 

34. Set boundaries with people. 

35. Get your “news” and facts from reputable books and research–not television news channels. 

36. Don’t write lists like these. 

37. I know nothing. 

38. Only you know what’s best for you. 

39. After all, I’m a Pokémon. 

40. When trying to decide whether or not you should stay in a relationship or marriage “for the kids’ sake,” remember that you being in a state of unhappiness is not healing for you or your children.  You being authentically YOU is what your children desperately want from you. 

41. You are what you love. So make sure who or what you are loving is good for you. 

Happy Re-Birth Day to Me


9 years ago today, after laboring for 30+ hours, my daughter, Aliana, was born via Caesarian section at 7:50 am. After experiencing what my OB-GYN proclaimed to be a freakishly challenging pregnancy, that included sciatica, kidney stones, preterm labor, and gestational diabetes, it was mind-blowing to me that a human this extraordinarily healthy had actually been percolating inside of me for nine months.

On this day, June 15, 2008, I was 32 years old, yet I was just a shell of a person.  I had no personality, no likes or dislikes, and no idea how I had gotten myself into the mess of an abusive marriage.

And now I had this tiny, gorgeous human with a full head of curly black hair, that was staring at me with the deepest coffee colored eyes I had ever seen.  And somehow, those eyes were the only thing that ever could break me of my numbness.  You see, I could no longer disassociate from my life, because that would mean I was disassociating from MY OWN CHILD. 

In the intensity of her gaze, I imagined she was saying to me, “I am here.  I am LIGHT.”

Her existence broke me into a million pieces so that I would be somehow be forced to make a plan to put myself together again, because her eyes–HER LIGHT–showed me that she needed a mama who was whole, and that mama had to be me.

One day, I was giving her a bottle when her father entered the room.   I don’t remember what I had said that upset him so much, but he spat on me.  His spit ran down my face and dripped onto my shirt.  I didn’t react, as I knew that would make it worse, but Aliana did. She screamed at the top of her lungs and she no longer wanted the bottle.  Her screams and her terror reminded me of my own terror–reminded me that I needed to finally be terrified in order to be her mother. My heart of darkness slowly began to crack, and I allowed her light to seep into me.

Her birth was my rebirth, so in many ways, this day, June 15, is sacred to me and forever will be. It is a day that I was also born, as this baby was the one who brought me back to life.

Sometimes people say to me, it’s unfortunate that you and your ex husband conceived a child together, because that means you have to still communicate and can’t be completely unattached. What people who make these comments don’t understand is that if I hadn’t had my daughter, I might still be living in that marriage. Aliana’s existence propelled me into a completely new level of life, because I finally loved a person so much that I didn’t want her to live the way I had been living.  The love I couldn’t feel for myself, I could feel for her. 

Something deep inside of me knew that I could never be the mother she needed unless I could fully be myself, and the journey to self discovery started with her birth. 

Changing lives is serious business, and this girl wasn’t even planning on getting into that business; the universe simply deemed it so.

And for that I will always be thankful. Happy birthday, Aliana. 

Nobody Just Walks Out of Yoga

I tried to do yoga once a couple of years ago, but I left the class feeling like a loser.

“Try yoga,” people said to me. “It will make you less anxious,” they said. 

But it was, in fact, having the opposite effect. I couldn’t quiet my mind because I was so busy worrying about how dumb I looked as well as how frustrating these ridiculous contortions were that everyone else around me seemed to enjoy.  

I looked at the clock every five minutes.

Class started at 5:00. 

Me, to myself, in my head at 5:05, when I’m already feeling weird: “You’ve got this. If you literally hate this, you can leave. No one is holding a gun to your head.”

But here’s the thing: NOBODY JUST WALKS OUT OF YOGA. It’s, like, one of those unspoken rules. You don’t want to disrupt the energy in the room and whatnot. I don’t know why. I don’t speak yoga language. 

But yoga made me anxious, and I swore it off–completely off. “I am not going back there to deal with those weirdos,” I told anyone who would listen. I carried on like this, reciting the ridiculousness of yoga for TWO WHOLE YEARS. 

And then, something happened. 

Last December I was having some health issues. I went to see my doctor. She recommended that I destress and consider starting–you guessed it–the dreaded yoga.

Despite my negative memories of downward dogging and trying to contort myself into a crow pose, my doctor somehow convinced me (she must have hypnotized me without me knowing it), that it would be a good idea to try again. 

Yoga take two: Once again, I sucked at the  movements. But this time, GLORY BE-it was a new teacher. This teacher acted differently towards me. She watched me like a hawk and kept helping me. She was like, a real teacher. If something was challenging for me, she immediately showed me a modification or told me to just be still.

She also incorporated meditation into the practice and asked us to “set our intention” for the day. As we cycled through movements, she reminded us to keep our chest forward with an open heart. She also spoke about gratefulness and self compassion and spreading peace. When we were exhaling, she reminded us to exhale those “feelings which no longer serve you.”

Within a few minutes, I FINALLY realized WHY in the heck I was there. It wasn’t about learning these movements. It was about quieting the mind to be still in the present. Somehow, I had checked my ego at the door, and I was no longer trying to be perfect. I was just trying TO BE. 

Over the last few months of practicing yoga, I have begun to marvel at how my body can actually be a POWERFUL thing. I can spread love and light through movement and physical energy. There are times I feel warmth and peacefulness spreading through my body during the practice. I also have felt stronger and more balanced.

Now before you start telling me I sound like a new age dingbat, I need you to understand something. 

I need you to understand that yoga has, in many ways, SAVED me. It has saved me from poor decisions. It has saved me from acting impulsively upon painful emotions. It has saved me from giving energy to unhealthy relationships or urges. It has saved me from anxiety. It has saved me from using angry words. It has saved me from avoidance. It has saved me in so many ways that my eyes are welling up in tears just thinking about it.

In today’s yoga class, as I cycled through the flow of movements and heard my teacher say, “Breathe in love and breathe out light,” I thought of those who really need light in the world, and tears streamed from my cheeks. As she reminded us that we all “have cracks so that we can let the light in,” I thought about my own cracks and scars and how those, too, are beautiful things where light resides. And once again, I felt the tears.

When I can learn to be still–to feel, to pray, to meditate, and to use my body to spread love and light–THAT is where I have found the answers I need. As yoga teacher Eric Paskel says, “Yoga is not about tightening your ass. It’s about getting your head out of it.”

And so my mantra is this, guys: Be still. I am not perfect at it, but I’m getting better. It’s my intent, which is why I even bought a bracelet from MyIntent.org which looks like this: 

It’s my constant reminder when my mind is racing, that the only way through the fire is to walk in stillness right through it, even though the heat is scorching. 

Namaste, y’all. The light in me honors the light in you. 🙏🏽

Vacuuming Up

I am in the process of vacuuming up my life. 

Or perhaps I should say, I’m creating massive vacuums. 

A very smart friend of mine told me about the “vacuum law of prosperity.” At first I thought she was talking about vacuum cleaners creating longer lives, but then I realized she was talking about vacuums of SPACE. Silly me.

What my genius friend explained to me, is that I have space all around me. I have my physical space in my home. I have space in my neighborhood outdoors. And I also have space in my mind. Space in my heart. Space in my spirit. 

There are things I’m working hard to achieve in life right now. But I cannot do that if I do not create vacuums of space so that these things can enter. 

The principle behind this theory is that you cannot receive that which you desire or that which God even wants to give you, if you are holding on to the OLD things. 

Nature is designed to fill vacuums of space. When you walk on the beach, you create footprints, which are eventually washed away and leveled out. If I dig a hole in the ground, nature would eventually fill it. 

In the same way, when I get rid of the clutter in my life, I make room for the right things to come in. God will inevitably fill the vacuum. 

How am I going to do this? Well, first of all, I am cleaning out ALL my closets this weekend. I need space to be zen. Lots of organized, intentional physical space. Room to move. Room to fill with positive things. 

And in my personal life… Well, you can only imagine what this may mean. And I have already been working at this during the course of the last couple of months, but as I’ve become more intentional about being the person I want to be, I have discovered it means letting go of relationships and people who clutter my thoughts and attention. 

If my intention is to have a loving partnership with an honorable person, I must create space for that. I must work at being loving and honorable in my actions with others. And loving does not equal people pleasing. Loving often means truth telling and letting go. 

And…I’m not gonna sugar coat it. This “becoming a better person stuff” is hard work. I said to a friend the other day, “I feel lonely. I’m kinda sad.” As I continued to sort out my feelings, I realized it’s because I’ve been letting go of LOTS of people. And when you let go, it’s scary, because for awhile you WILL feel lonely. You will feel the urge to cling to that person or group of people you used to work at pleasing. 

But you will need to be still. And stillness is scary, but SO worth it. Nobody makes it to the top by producing frenetic energy all the time. Successful people are intentional with their energy and embrace stillness during times of change. They do not go out and start medicating with booze or sex or food. They know when to be still. They pray. They reflect. And then they can respond in love.

So that’s my new mantra: create vacuums, be still, wait, and respond in love. Vacuum, still, wait, love. Vacuum, still, wait, love. 

And let nature and God do its thing while I do me. 

Oh, and this is one of the main reasons I need to make vacuums of space: 

  
She needs me to be more zen. 

I’m So Excited about Florida!

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to do something I seldom do. I decided to buy two plane tickets to Florida for my daughter and me. 

You see, here’s the thing: I hate making big purchases. And even though I preach to my friends about the importance of living in the moment and traveling to see the world, etc., the reality is that I am a single mom living on a teacher’s salary, and any traveling I do must be carefully planned out.

So, I had this “travel money” fund saved up for awhile. At first I was gonna go to Vegas, but that suddenly felt dumb, since I’m not really a Vegas girl. Then, I thought I would go to San Diego by myself on a weekend I didn’t have my daughter, just because I’ve been obsessed with wanting to go there, and I felt like I was getting signs from the universe that I was supposed to go there by myself and explore, and yada yada yada, BUT…anywho, every time I was on the verge of purchasing a plane ticket to go there, I suddenly got interrupted by something–my daughter calling for me, a sudden realization that I needed to make dinner, or just a myriad of random interruptions, and the ticket NEVER got purchased. It was like the universe suddenly said, “No. Not now. San Diego is later.”

And then, one day my daughter came over to me with a piece of red construction paper. On the construction paper she had made a list. It said, “Places with an ocean I want to visit.”

Number one on the list was Florida. Next to Florida were the words, “in October.”

You see, my daughter makes plans to live even when I forget to. 

At first, I told her the list was very nice and said something non-commital, like “That’s cool. We shall see what the future holds,” in my mature, parentish voice.

She explained to me that she really just “wanted to see the ocean like we did in Hawaii.”

Time went on, and I subconsciously mulled  it over. Aliana put the list away, and we didn’t talk about it. 

Until one Saturday when she wasn’t around, I just thought about being in the ocean, and what a wonderful thing it is to  breathe in the air from the waves. And I have always felt there was something magical about water, because water washes over you and just makes you feel new. 

So, I booked the plane tickets for two and a hotel on the beach. And now we are going. It’s only for three days, but it’s the OCEAN. My daughter and I are going to just BE in the ocean. We want to swim and breathe in the smell of the water and feel the sand under our feet and find rocks and shells and marvel at whatever we find marvelous. 

I’m working hard to remember how important it is to live while living within my means. We must live and make plans to live. Do you know how happy I have felt during the last couple of weeks, when I paused from the rapid pace of life to anticipate this trip? Anticipation is half the fun. 

I was actually getting giddy over this trip with Aliana to the point that it was annoying her. I would be tucking her in to bed at night, and saying, “Oh my gosh, I’m so excited about Florida!! We’re going to Florida!!” and she would look at me and say, in her I’m-pretending-I’m-a- teenager-for-this-moment-voice, “Yeah mom, I know. You keep saying that all the time.”

The day has come. And I’m so excited about Florida. Like, totally. Like, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to Florida and I’m going to swim in the ocean and frolic in the waves and I can’t believe I just said frolic since I’ve never used that word in my life, but I’m so excited about Florida!”