“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. 

We are in this together

I’ve been writing a ton recently, but all of it feels too personal or too fresh or too dark or too much to share with the internet at this moment. 

And yet, here I am now, in my bed, trying to sleep, and I suddenly feel the need to write something. So I’m typing this blog out on my phone, and I guarantee you there will be typos and awkward sentences because I may not even proofread it. 

You guys, my students come tomorrow as I am entering my 18th year of teaching. I am excited. We (the teachers) are just as nervous and have just as much adrenaline as the kiddos who walk through our doors. And it’s because of one reason: we want to make this year their best, and we know how important that first day is for setting the tone of the school year. 

So here I am, thinking about those kiddos, and thinking about my own kiddo who is nervous.  She doesn’t want to go to school because she’s kinda wired like me in that she is a ball of nerves. But she’s doing it anyway, and took photos of all her school supplies because she absolutely loves school supplies, and she’s thinking of how this new school year is always a chance to start something new. 

Every school year, I am nervous, because it is new. And every school year, I am excited because it is new. It’s a rebirth. It’s a new opportunity to show up and hone my craft. It’s a new chance to be real and loved instead of shiny and perfect (Glennon’s words, not mine). 

This summer I participated in the Hoosier Writing Project and met a group of teachers who inspired me to keep writing and to keep teaching. I also traveled to Mexico for a yoga retreat in a remote location that was only reachable by boat.  At home, I went to the farmers’ market and went to the pool with my daughter. I cooked and I wrote a lot of stuff that was the darkest and deepest stuff I’ve ever written. I met some interesting men who weren’t right for me. I argued with my daughter but also let her sit on my lap as much as she wanted to. I let her watch a ton of television and I didn’t feel guilty about it. I took my dad who has Alzheimer’s and my child on a vacation to California and I felt so many emotions during that trip that I had forgotten how it feels to be so up and down. I cried at the airport when two TSA agents didn’t understand why the airline needed me to walk my dad back to the gate. A TSA agent named Svizak came over to me, and said, “We will make this situation work. We are in this together,” and showed me such kindness that I cried even more with him because I felt safe and understood.

That was my summer. It was lovely and beautiful and hard. And now, I am ready to begin again. 

We have got this. We can make anything work. We are in this together. ❤️ 

Top Five Lessons Learned in Yoga

I am a yoga novice. I’ve been practicing for a year, and while there are many poses that are still highly difficult for me, I keep going back. Why, you may ask? Because not only has it improved my balance, strength, and flexibility, but it has also improved my outlook on life. Here are my top five life lessons I’ve learned from yoga.

1) Stay on your mat. Stop looking over at that person in class doing a headstand, while you are just trying to get used to balancing on one leg–much less your freaking head. The headstand is in her practice–not yours. Let her be her and you be you. Just do you. The more you are focused on what others are doing, the more you lose focus and the capacity to grow in your own development. Stay on your mat and take care of you.

2) Be present. All you have is this moment-this breath in your body right now. Your life is happening right now. In yoga, I am forced to pay attention to how my body feels when I’m holding different poses. My attention will wander, but it inevitably comes back to my body and breath. In the moments of stillness, I have to come back to my body and breath, no matter how hard that may be. In a culture such as ours where we are constantly future-tripping or past-tripping, we naturally do not live in the present.  It is a skill that must be learned.  And once you begin to practice that skill, I promise you, it can change your life.

3) When you fall or topple over, that just means you’ve found your edge.  Life is so hard. Sometimes when we fall, we feel like a failure, but in reality it just means we fell at a difficult moment. In yoga, you stand back up and try again because that is just what you do. In life, it’s pretty much the same-we fall down, but that is not a signal to stop. It’s not a signal to make up some story in our heads and analyze why we fell. We just need to accept the reality of the fall, live in the present, and get back up and try again.

4) The pose doesn’t really even begin until you want to leave it. That’s the exact moment to stay present and hold that damn pose you hate and feel the uncomfortableness. Can you imagine how our lives would be if we did that every time we felt uncomfortable? I have learned the hard way that if I can sit in the pain or uncomfortable feelings without trying to numb them or react immediately, then THAT is where the true journey begins.

“So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we couldn’t sit for even one, that’s the journey of the warrior.”- Pema Chodron

Feel the uncomfortableness. Feel the feelings, but don’t start making up some story in your head about how you got there.  The feelings we feel are important–but the thoughts and stories we tell ourselves may need to be quieted.

5) You must learn to let go. This is the one I hate the most. I lived so much of my life believing in the importance of holding on tightly to things and people I loved. What happened when I did this was that I never allowed them to grow. In the same way, when I come to my mat in yoga, I must let go of my ideas and feelings about the past and future, and set a specific intention for the practice.  I have to let go of my “smaller self,” so to speak, so that I can surrender to what is happening in that moment. It took me years to learn that letting go of something you are fighting for isn’t necessarily “settling” or giving up.  Rather, its about the courage to move forward, free of a specific attachment.  It is an act of surrendering in faith, so that you may experience the present moment.

My yoga teacher read the following poem the other night, at the beginning of class.  I asked her if could share it with you, so here it is:


 “Not everything you ever lose, is bound to be a loss.” ❤

And here’s my little yogi and I in her favorite pose: Malasana.  

Grounded in Truth

I know this question isn’t anything new, but what would happen if we all got REALLY truthful about how we are REALLY doing?

This morning, a guy who I think may be interested in me, texted me, “Good morning.  How are you doing?”

My response was “Not well.  I miss my daughter.  I feel like shit.”

When I pressed send on that text, I suddenly felt this surge of power that I sometimes feel when I’ve been uncomfortably honest with someone. “YEAH!” I think. “I FEEL LIKE SHIT and I just told a potential love interest that!  GO ME. I CAN DO ANYTHING.”

(Images from Allie Bosch, hyperboleandahalf@blogspot.com)

I feel like shit.  Let me shout it from the god damn rooftops.  Let me tell the barista at the coffee shop when she asks me how I am. Let me tell the clerk at the gas station. Let it be known to one and all that I feel shitty today. 

Sundays when I don’t have my daughter can be hard. Sometimes I want to curl into fetal position and not leave my bed. My thoughts and emotions tend to become negative and it’s easy to feel stuck. And I’ve found that the only way to get unstuck is to fight back by doing the next thing. 

So that’s just what I did. I wrote a list: coffee, write, laundry, exercise. And then I pretended I was a normal person and went to get coffee at a nearby coffee shop. While there, I ended up having a pleasant interaction with a dad in the coffee shop and his son who was building with Legos. And I talked to the employees about how I feel shitty and need espresso today instead of plain coffee. And those employees were so nice to me, and said, “No problem, we get you.” And while I was drinking my Americano, I decided to like, make this blog into an actual website. And then I decided to send invitations to everyone on FB to “like” this blog even though I really dislike self promotion and it makes me want to poke my eyeballs out. And I stayed in that coffee shop and started writing this blog entry until the coffee shop closed. 

Then I stood up and realized I felt pretty good… and it was all because I fought back by doing the next thing.  

So now, I’m doing laundry. And then I will exercise. And then it will be 8:00 and Aliana will come home and we’ll snuggle and watch a little tv before bedtime. And then I will know that today I was truthful and honest with myself and others about what I needed and how I felt. And that makes this day actually not so bad. 

P.S. During NYE I went on a yoga retreat led my Laura McKowen and Becky Vollmer. I had the privilege of sharing a sacred space with 26 amazing individuals. We did yoga. We spoke truth to each other. We worked on letting go of what we needed to for 2016, and looked forward to 2017. I chose a new phrase for 2017-Grounded in Truth. Because I realized that is what being brave looks like for me. Maybe that’s what it looks like for you, too. If it does, then let’s hold up each other in truth. ❤

P.P.S. As for the potential love interest, I realized today that I don’t think we are compatible enough to date. And that’s the truth. 

I love you guys. That’s all. And guess what? I don’t even feel shitty anymore. 

The Ditzy Decision

On Monday night,  I made the ditzy decision to dismount from a trampoline onto a plastic, unstable kiddie slide, leading me to fall forward, land on my forearm, and dislocate my elbow.

But I’m not really here to talk about that in detail. That dangly, dislocated elbow was GROSS, like, GRODY GROSS NASTY TO THE MAX and I’m trying to get it out of my mind. (Thank heavens no one took a picture of it.) What I’m choosing to focus on, instead, is how this experience surprisingly ripped me open. I can honestly say that it was the first time in a long time where I felt raw, intense, physical and emotional pain.

And with pain, always comes awareness.

My emotions have been ALL over the place these last few days. I feel depressed by the realization that I’m not able to do Crossfit and yoga until I’m healed up.  Working out is part of my therapy. When I work out, my body releases endorphins that makes me want to be a better human. So I’m afraid of what I might feel in these few weeks without being able to connect with my body in the same way.

However, I want to also take a moment to be thankful to my body for not breaking. The doctors were SHOCKED that my bones didn’t break. The physical therapist I saw today told me that I “must have superhero bones.” And I’m also thankful that because of the strength I’ve developed through Crossfit and yoga, I’m able to maneuver my body in unexpected ways. For example, the paramedics were surprised that I could move my entire body, inch by inch, from one side of the mat to the other. This was by slowly lifting my glutes, legs, and shoulders off the mat. You guys, YOGA TAUGHT ME THAT. I need to take a moment to just be thankful for the hard work my body has done in preparation for healing me in this moment. I feel strong, and that physical strength has prepared me for what is about to come.

While in the hospital, though, I literally COULD NOT STOP CRYING. I felt so out of control. I was quite possibly THE most emotionally intense patient they had seen in years. 🙄 I spent the first two hours (prior to them popping my elbow back into place,) crying and wailing and moaning about how I was feeling. “I’m scared! What’s going to happen to my arm? Oh my God, I’m so sorry I can’t stop crying! OH. MY. GOD!” were some of the statements I was wailing through tears.

“Ma’am, do you have someone you can call to come and stay with you,” they asked me, as I’m sure they were totally over me.

But my stubborn self kept saying, “I don’t know,” because I didn’t want to call anybody. I didn’t want someone that actually knew me to see me like this. I wanted to do it alone, because I thought that was what a strong person would do, even though I wasn’t feeling strong at all. And none of these hospital people knew me or what my norm is like, so I was totally fine with THEM seeing crazy, wailing Emily.

Then the staff began to ask me why I was afraid. I finally responded, “I DON’T KNOW. But can you guys please stop repeating the same questions, and, like, consult together so I don’t have to keep talking and I can get back to wailing?”

They were SO over me.

My friend, Terra, by the grace of God, texted me at that very moment, “just to say hi” and I responded by calling her and telling her through my blubbery tears that I was in the hospital and that I broke my arm (the xrays hadn’t come back yet to reveal that it was a dislocation, and not a fracture or break).

My friend Terra was there in a flash. And wouldn’t you know… I began to calm down. I’m not saying I was totally calm, but I suddenly had someone next to me to listen to my cries and worries and rants and talk me through it. And you guys, that’s what we need. We all need to not be afraid to call a Terra–a person in your life who loves and cares about you and who shows up.

When they had Terra leave the room, right before they sedated me to pop my elbow back in, I called out to her: “Just tell me again that I’m not gonna die!

“Emily. I promise you that you won’t die,” she said calmly. Thank GOD for that woman.

We ended up laughing when we were stuck there later into the night about some of the characters in the hospital and what an adventure I’d had. This is pic from the part of the night where we laughed:


I am home now. I am calm. I am peaceful. And then the next moment I’m in turmoil. I’m raw. I want to jump out of my skin. My heart feels like it’s been split open.

That’s what pain and injury does. It forces you to stop, and start all over again in a new way. And all those tears I cried in the hospital were like my rebirth, I suppose, my renewal of sorts.
Crying is what makes us human. It’s an emotional release. We are not robots, we are emotional human beings who FEEL things.

And that’s what I’m going to continue to do–heart wide open, feel the feelings. That’s what yoga taught me. ❤️


Hey look! It’s my new and improved splint! 🙏🏽💪🏽

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. 🙏🏽