Getting Your Ass Kicked

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This past week kicked my ass. I'm sure it kicked yours too.

It was a wicked combination of Donald Trump, hormones and the stars and man, it was tough terrain to navigate. I deleted my social media apps from my phone, increased my "sitting" time and tuned into Vice news.

I have the privilege of going about my life and tuning into what I feel like and getting upset when I feel like it but then returning to "regular programming," if you will.

This is the problem.

I craved a conclusion. To know why our country is falling to pieces, how you could possibly hate someone because of their religion or the color of their skin and how we got here in the first place. But there will be no tidy conclusions. There's messy conversations and big, messy work to be done both inside and out.

Those people who sit on the sidelines and let others get their ass kicked in the arena? I know I'm guilty of it on many occasions. I feel immense sadness and shame and responsibility and I should.

As Sas Petherick wrote: Be humble and ready to fumble.

Stop trying to be "good" or "safe" and let's just be human and join the other humans who need us speaking up.

Here's a few resources or blog posts that have been stirring up a lot both in my heart and head. I'll be adding to the list as I find more:

I Need To Talk to Spiritual White Women about White Supremacy 
Five Ways to Be Online, While the World Wakes Up to Itself 
The Sugarcoated Language of White Fragility

Morning Rituals

When I was little my parents would have my brother and I crawl into their big bed and we would say the Rosary before we went to school. A shorter version, not the whole thing. I grew up Catholic but an accepting, open-minded and progressive sort of Catholic. Our own hodge podge of beliefs and values and messy love.

I really didn't like doing this before school. I wanted to eat breakfast and watch TV and probably put on more mascara. But in retrospect it was a really powerful time for us as a family and something that's stuck with me.

I, myself, have been playing with rituals and what works for me. By taking this time to pause both in the evening and in the morning I can direct where my day is headed rather than spend that time reacting to a barrage of emails, texts and social media notifications.

Here's my morning rituals as of right now and what I'm loving.

I wake up to a normal alarm clock around 6:45 am. I keep my iPhone downstairs on Airplane mode for the evening. (I try to power down by 8 pm but sometimes by 9 pm.)

I make myself a delicious mushroom coffee. I haven't been drinking much coffee since this past March. I noticed it made me feel really, really anxious and overwhelmed so I switched to mushroom coffee which only has 40 mg of caffeine (like a chai tea) and mushrooms to support mental clarity, energy, etc.

Then in order to "unlock" my phone, I meditate. Some days it's five minutes and most days it's around 12. I'd love to work up to a 20 minute sit but I'm just not there yet. I breathe, sometimes listen to an Elena Brower or Tara Brach meditation and just sit. Lately I've noticed I've been offering up a lot of prayers and asking for some help. It feels good.

Then I start my day. Quiet, intentional, spacious and easy. 

It's Been a Minute

Since I was a little girl I've been documenting my life. From the time I could write I would handwrite out little newspapers called the "Third Grade Gazette," depending on what year I was in school, photo copy them and hand them out to everyone. Man, I got lot of grief for that but I loved it and I honestly didn't care.

I went to college for writing and majoring in Journalism and studied a lot of creative writing. Then I went on to a couple of internships and eventually landed a job working at National Geographic. I wrote in a blog I called "Ananda: Sanskrit for Bliss" during that entire time. It was on Blogspot and I can't find it now. Either way, it was a huge part of my life and something that brought me so much joy.

These past few years have been filled with so much change. Like a rapid fire, swirling kind of change where I couldn't get my finger on the pulse and wasn't sure what I'd say if I did. Pair that with an overly-curated world of Instagram and paid blog posts and all sorts of other content overload. I was burnt out. On all of it. 

I need to write again. Because I just do. 
I need to write mostly for me but also because I love community and vulnerability and creativity and all that good shit.

So allow me to reintroduce myself:

I'm Mary Beth LaRue. I'm an almost 34 year-old Virgo that lives in a bohemian-esque treehouse in Silver Lake, Los Angeles with my husband Matt and our eight-year-old bulldog Rosy. I love reading in our sunlit living room, practicing in my yoga space, exploring new neighborhoods, crafting yoga classes, being with our best friends and family. Oh, and I'm a yoga teacher and a mentor and the co-founder of Rock Your Bliss. 

I feel much more in touch with my 12 year-old self lately than my 24 year-old self. I feel a sense of me-ishness that I never have before and will have a lot of write about in these next few months. Oh boy, like so much. And I can't wait.

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Redefining Your Everybody

“But what will everybody think?”

How often has this question stopped you dead in your tracks?

I stayed at a job, in a relationship and in a city far longer than I needed to because of those five simple words. Repeatedly.

The funny thing is that we can usually narrow our “everybody” to about 4-5 people and it usually isn’t even a sampling of people that we find inspiring. Maybe it’s your super judgmental aunt. Or your high school teacher who said you wouldn’t amount to much. One of mine was an old boss at lululemon who told me that I’d never be a successful yoga teacher.

Who wants this crew sitting at the table of your most important, soul affirming decisions?

Not I.

Here are a few ways I started to reclaim my “everybody” and shift the majority of the focus to what I wanted instead:

#1 List your muses.
I have a doc on my phone with a list of people who inspire me. In the yoga space, the recovery space, the coaching space.. But also just good eggs that are up to good shit in the this world. However, just because I look up to them doesn’t mean I’d take their opinion and forget my own. That brings me to number 2.

#2 Know Your “Move a Body” friends.
Brene Brown refers to a “move a body” friend as the friend you could tell absolutely anything and they’d never get judgmental or disgusted. You’d never have to preface anything with “but please don’t tell anyone.” This is a person whose advice you can trust wholeheartedly. I have two of these friends and neither live near me. But I could pick up the phone at 2 am and they'd be on the next flight out. To move the body, of course.

#3 Celebrate What You Love. And What You Don’t.
You can read every single self-help book under the sun. You can do a gazillion chaturangas. But unless you know who you are or what you love, you are going to be stuck in the same ol’ people pleasing, “do-it-for-the-Instagram-likes” cycle over and over again. Take time to celebrate what it is you love. You like that wall bright blue? Paint it. You want to try improv? Sign up. You don’t want to go to that party? Don’t go. If you haven’t already, start the best relationship of your life. The one with yourself.

Life in Airplane Mode

In preparation for a trip to the Northern Lights with Folk Rebellion I began packing my bags. I made a few lists. I bought some legit cold weather shit. And I started to emotionally part ways with my technological counter parts.

Then a few hours later I drove myself to the emergency room with unbelievable pain and a fever of 103.5.

After hours in the ER and multiple rounds of blood work, x-rays and scans it became clear I would not be leaving for Canada or even the hospital for that matter.

I had something weird called sigmoid volvulus. To be frank it's basically where your colon twists in two and yes, it's as painful as it sounds. Rather than adventuring through the snowy wilderness with some of my favorite people I'd instead be bedridden, watching HGTV and talking all about poop.

I felt bad. I felt bad physically. I felt awful that my husband didn't get his long overdue vacation from work. And I mostly felt badly for disappointed my friends who were hosting the retreat and depending on me.

What do I do when I feel things I don't want to feel? I numb out. And my drug of choice is social media. I started scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. The exact thing I was so looking forward to (and was certainly scared about) leaving behind for several days.

I felt more lethargic. I felt sadder. But I made a decision: I put my phone on airplane mode. I read an entire novel in one day. I napped.. a lot. I watched "Tiny Houses." (I fucking love that show.) I went for a walk with my sweet husband and my IV to watch the sun set over downtown from a hospital window. I took a few more deep breaths even if they were full of stale hospital air.

I realized I didn't need to travel all the way to the middle of Canada to experience being unplugged. All I needed to do was make a conscious choice to be more present to this big, messy life I'm so blessed to call mine.

I missed a trip but I got to touch some gratitude deep inside of me that didn't let me get on that plane and have something worse happen.. that I'm surrounded by so much love and support and good people.. that I have a life I really want to show up for.

Peace out blisscrafters. Back on airplane mode.

The Year Everything Changed

A little over a year ago I was offered a few weeks of free coaching by a training institute. I thought, Hell, why not, though in my mind there couldn't be too much they could coach me on right now. Things were good, right? 

This certainty was brought to an excruciating halt in our first session when I was asked the simplest of questions:

What are you excited about?

I was stunned by my own silence. My inability to respond. My throat got tight but I managed some sort of disembodied reply.

When I was younger I used to tear the "bad days" out of my journal. Truly, I did. You know, the day where absolutely everything went wrong - you spilled chocolate milk on your brand new shirt and the guy you had a major crush on started dating someone else and you failed the test you thought you were going to ace. Not earth shattering stuff but in my world, there was no room for it. I only wanted to read back and remember the beautiful stuff. So out those pages went, just torn right from my own account of my life's story.

I'd done as I'd grown older too. But the way I did it was a little bit different. The goal: just keep my shit together until 5 pm. Then I'd pour myself my glass of wine or crack my beer and we were off into "Feeling Land." And because I really wasn't good and making sure I didn't pour myself that third (or fourth, or fifth) glass of wine things came tumbling out of me. Not in the cathartic way where you feel something then sit with it then make a choice. Oh no, how I wish! Instead ugly things that'd I'd been stuffing deep down would either come tumbling out or pouring down my face in tears. It wasn't pretty but it was what I thought "coping" looked like. In fact, this is what I thought life looked like. It became my normal.

Be stellar all day. Be inspiring. Shine. Practice what you preach.
Then lose your shit. 
(Just don't Instagram that part.)

So when I was asked this question of what I was excited about it was the almost start to The Year that Everything Changed. The year when I started listening to my soul stirring and began to move out of my own way. The year I woke up clear eyed and of clear mind. The year I found my voice and I used it. A lot. The year I finally began to the listen to that inner voice that pleaded for me to stop. The year I saw the magic and the "God winks" and reminders all around me of what I was missing; what was right in front of my face.

Guess what happens when you get out of your own way.

Magic happens.

Things you never dreamt possible.

I quit drinking. I was on the cover of Yoga Journal. I taught 5,000 people. I moved to Silver Lake. I chopped my hair off.

It's kind of insane how proud I am of myself. I'm living a completely different life. And I really needed it. I just would've never been able to draw the map. Yet I was led here.

This was the year I finally got to see me.

The Day I Woke Up

Tuesday, November 8th was one of my most proud days.

I donned my "Future is Female" shirt. I went to yoga and I prayed. I high-fived three older ladies in line after I cast my vote for the first female president of the United States Hillary Clinton.

I posted this that morning: I'm voting to ensure this little girl is valued, celebrated and empowered. That her body and her dreams belong to her and her only. And that she knows a woman's place is in the White House. I'm voting to ensure that for each of us. #imwithher #wegohigh

Tuesday was one of my most favorite days, until it wasn't.

On Tuesday I voted for love, while many others, including some family members and old friends, voted for Donald Trump, a man who has used racism, homophobia, xenophobia and hate as a way to become president.

I turned on the radio the next day and heard "Those of us in California woke up today and realized we live in a different country."

I drove to teach my yoga class. The room was filled with choked sobs and a heavy energy. Do you know why? 

Because one student is afraid her children will be bullied because that behavior as a way to gain momentum and votes.
Another is afraid that her marriage to her wife will be eradicated and discriminated against.
Another is afraid her children will be subject to racial slurs.
Another is afraid her best friend and her family will be deported.
Another is terrified that her two black sons will be subject to violence.

During these ten days I haven't had one conversation with someone here in Los Angeles that voted for Trump. I haven't had one conversation with someone who doesn't agree with me.

And this is part of the problem.

I am part of the problem.

I left Iowa when I was twenty-two years old to live in Washington DC and work at a travel magazine. In my neighborhood I was often the minority. I bought my daily groceries at a corner store where the cashier was behind bulletproof glass. 

I moved to Los Angeles where I've lived in a variety of neighborhoods. I've worked with homeless youth, I've taught in drug rehab centers, I myself am in recovery.

Many of my friends are gay. Many of my friends have felt discriminated against. Many have had abortions. 

I voted for love because life isn't black and white. It's messy. It's heartbreaking. It's downright terrifying at times.

When I go home to Iowa, I'm often asked : How could you live there? The traffic, the people, the pollution.

You know why I live here? 

Because I've had the gift of getting to know each of these people. To feel accepted for my shortcomings. For my hurts. For knowing that the only way forward, the only true way is the path of love. And that path is often covered in blood, sweat and tears.

You're pro-life? Well, I'm pro-human. I choose a bear hug over a dollar bill. I choose radical vulnerability over this painful facade. I choose to see a human being and not a statistic. I choose the God that loves all of us, not the white people who believe what you believe.

If you're scared, I'm here.
If you're mad, I'm here.
If you think I'm wrong, I'm here.

We gotta show up. Now. For each other.

What will you do to make a difference? To examine your own part in this?

Tuesday was a really hard day but it also marks the day that I woke up.