All you can do blog

On the daily....all you can do is what you can do. - Betsy Poos

Snow Joy

As I watched the snow fall this past weekend I was moved with joy. The depth of the blizzard, a big one at over 20 inches, magnified the sacrifices I’d made for my small business in the prior years.JasonStellaSnow My old scenario would have me cursing the weather report days ahead of snow and ice. And then the day would come. School would inevitably be closed, but mom and dad still needed to work. Jason’s west coast clients don’t exactly stop during an east coast storm. So I’d wake up early to walk to the studio and shovel the walk and teach class all the while worrying about how Jason and Stella were doing at home. Was she letting him get any work done? How would I negotiate juggling snowed in teachers with eager students wanting classes the rest of the snow day(s)? It was an endless stressful cycle to keep the doors open. A cycle that left me drained, and my daughter pretty low on the totem pole.

I had grown to despise the snow. It served only to fully tip my already inequitably balanced life. Jason would duck and cover (only perhaps jokingly) when having to relay a school closing or delay. There was no joy in the beauty of the falling snow and sadly little delight in the moments I did make it to see Stella make snow angels and slide down snow mountains. I was just checking the box. Played in the snow. Smiled. Done.

Leading up to the past few years snow had played the starring role in many of the best moments of my life. The best of all – meeting my husband! Jason and I met when mutual friends gathered for snow football, card games, and plenty of drinking and eating during the President’s Day Blizzard of 2003. It took us a few more months to get to the first kiss, but the white powder started something.

Free of my studio demands I knew from the start this storm would be different. School was delayed Thursday and closed Friday. No biggie. We stocked up on groceries and waited for the snow to fall. I smiled peacefully as I kissed my husband and daughter goodnight. I was once again thankful for the beauty, the gaiety, and wonderment of the white stuff.

Saturday and Sunday I couldn’t have been happier to be snowed in. We shoveled the sidewalks and laughed with neighbors we hadn’t seen in all the cold weather weeks’ prior. And Stella was the top of my priority list. We made snow angels, met up with friends, went sledding (on a very small hill), watched movies, played dollies, and got out every game, puzzle, and craft project we owned. With school closed Monday and Tuesday we declared pajama days and did more of the same.

Last night as DC announced school would be open Wednesday, I looked at Jason and said wow I only lost my temper twice in the past five snow days. I mean I am still me plus pregnant and hormonal, but the point being I was present and fully invested in family. It’s pretty rad…and my snow days also included lots of stuff just for me like yoga, meditation, reading, hot baths, and sweaty workouts.

Snowflakes, snowflakes, come again any day.

One End. One Beginning.

Where do I even start? Was it back in January 2015 when I declared my year’s intention as tortilla soup? I wanted a little of everything, including some spice. I mean what does that really set me up for anyway? That was a sign of my mixed up year for certain, though I know it’s too simple to say it began there. So instead of picking the beginning I’ll choose one ending. As of January 1, 2016, I am no longer the co-owner of Capitol Hill Yoga. After seven years as a small business owner, I decided I needed this change. I love my CHY community and will continue to be a part as both yoga student and teacher. But it has to end there because I need ME more now.

When I first began talking to family and friends about the possibility of this change every single person told me I needed to hold onto the business. That they hated to see me lose something that I poured my heart and soul into. That I couldn’t give up my passion. For a while it seemed like a done deal – I was keeping it. And I almost gave in all the way. I almost listened. I’d wake up in the morning sure that I was going to fight for the business. Then I’d journal, read, ponder and change my mind all afternoon. In the evening I’d welcome students in the studio and feel just as sure as when I woke up that I couldn’t let it go. How could I disappoint everyone?

But something I just could not ignore was the constant sickness I felt during all this confusion. Stress laid on top of first trimester pregnancy (yep you read that right) is not a welcome combination. We are expecting a second child in July. The few clear moments I had in the past two months were in considering the opportunity and limitless possibility that comes with change.

As a person dedicated to service, this was an incredibly difficult decision. I started to see that in fully honoring what I needed I would serve myself and in turn serve others more fully. I so often quote Gandhi’s “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

This is my change for a low stress pregnancy. This is my action to have a qualified, full maternity leave! This is my way to release my fears of a repeated postpartum depression. This is one change to be a wife and mother (and yoga teacher) more fully present in each moment.   This is my new beginning to be a woman more whole to love this life. Time to see what happens.

Someday Your Story Will Change

Deep in the Heart of TexasAs I repeated “I’m not a backbender” for the millionth time to a friend and yoga teacher colleague a few months back she turned to me and said “Betsy that may be your story, but it is not your truth.” It was a casual response, but it hit deep in my soul. Over the past few years I have worked diligently to improve my physical yoga practice in respect to backbends and yet I would continue to preface any work with those same words - I am not a backbender. Here I was taking action with my physical body to change my story and yet my head and heart were still holding on to my old pattern for dear life. No more. I was laying down the line and rewriting this book inside and out.

The great yogi K. Pattabhi Jois has said yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory. For this particular story it was time to turn to the theory. My regular practice had indeed improved my backbends, but my story persisted because I still didn't like backbends. So what gives? It’s that whole heart opener thing. It seems so extroverted…so vunerable…so available…so not me. Well at least anytime I’m in my thinking mind. Aha back to the work of yoga, to quiet the mind.

And so I’ve been quiet on my blog since returning from my summer in Texas as I’ve needed to quiet the mind and tap instead more into my heart day by day. Doing that makes for a bumpy ride, but it’s been worth taking. I’m not ready to say “I’m a backbender” quite yet, but what I can say is that I smile in backbends now and I do savasana with my palms open by my side more often than closed over my chest these days. Those are the little things and I know there are some big things on the horizon that are all very consciously rewriting my story to a deeper truth.

Don't Get Stuck

stuckOn this day last year I hopped on Amtrak to NYC and joined my mom for 24 hours. At lunch that day I told her I wanted to spend a good chunk of next summer in my home state of Texas. I knew some D.C. families that would ‘summer’ away and that just sounded perfect. I wanted to see Stella jump into her Grandmere and Papa’s arms and run wild with her cousins for days on end. It was said with a lightness and as a cheerful dream. But in the preceding months this trip became not a lover’s dream, but a charged reality of something that I MUST do! And so as I packed my bags the night before Jason, Stella and I embarked on our three weeks in Texas I was apprehensive of what the time would unveil. In a world of sharing happy status updates I was engulfed in a season of anxiety, stress, and unhappiness. It’s these seasons that being a self aware yogi really sucks. I was stuck and though I know it’s necessary to toil there before the lotus blossom, it still felt really crappy.

So that’s a lot to say our trip to Texas became a very necessary time to step away from what got all too muddy in D.C. My time spent with my family really was all I’d hoped it would be. First we spent a relaxing week at the lake where we bobbed in the water with a joyous Stella. I stayed up late every night talking to my favorite counselor (mom), and Jason and I even had a day to ourselves walking down my college memory lane in Austin.

After a week in the hill country, we headed to Arlington. First up, are we up to a physical task in the Texas heat? Yes! Jason and I finished our first triathlon, and our time in Arlington was looking good. As the days wore on, my fitbit steps were paltry, but we enjoyed lots of pool time, great food and fun with family. We even took an afternoon to explore houses in the area (I could totally live in the funky house on the canal). Was it time to relocate? Was Texas the cure to my unhappiness?

The first day we arrived in Texas we had learned that Jason’s aunt had passed away. So on the eve of week three, Jason returned to D.C. to attend the memorial service and get back to his day to day. I made the tough decision to forgo the service. I needed more time to unstick.

Sunday morning Stella and I headed to church with everyone. The pastor asked us to play a word association game. “What’s the first word you think of when you hear Jesus?”  This one was simple - love!  And I think that's what the pastor meant in his sermon, but as I listened I felt conflicted and sad in its delivery.  When everyone stood at the end to give praise through song I just wasn't there.

I relayed my church experience to my stepdad the next day and owe him credit for putting things back in perspective. He reminded me to take away just what I needed.  It was then I realized, I do still want my life in D.C. - the place that I've called home for over 16 years.  There is no escape to tough seasons.  There is sadness and joy in all locations and I must continue to look within for freedom, acceptance, and love.

Stella and I enjoyed the little pleasures of Arlington for the remainder of the week. I saw childhood friends (and their kiddos!), played putt putt, sugared up on snow cones, found indoor playgrounds to beat the heat, devoured Shipley’s do-nuts, enjoyed a girls shopping trip, and even got to watch my nephews play soccer and act in a play.

I want to ‘summer’ in Texas again next year too. I already miss my family a ton, but right now I'm happy to be back in D.C.  It is time to put the car in park for days on end and laugh with my yogis.  The season will change and my lotus will bloom again.  It's from within that I will unstick, not in one city or another.

Equality

HRCThis morning as I walked to the yoga studio two young interns were walking hot on my heels lamenting how the boss had said the staff could go to watch history be made outside the Supreme Court, but one must be left behind to answer phones.  And at that moment I jerked back my first tear of the day.  Yep that's what so many gay americans have felt for decades - left behind.  I hope those two young girls convinced the boss not to leave anyone in the office today so that those interns so full of hope, love and promise were there as the ruling was announced. The Supreme Court of the United States decided in Obergefell vs. Hodges and three related cases that the Constitution gaurantees a right to same-sex marriage.  This is a victory for all Americans.  This is a victory for all people who believe in love, in family, and in the institution of marriage.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the 5 to 4 ruling, saying gay and lesbian couples have a fundamental right to marry.  "It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage,” Justice Kennedy said of the couples challenging state bans on same-sex marriage. “Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

My friend and fellow yoga teacher Katie first shared the news with me about the ruling as I finished teaching this morning.  And for the second time today tears began to well deep inside.  Tears of joy for this progress and yet tears of sadness that it has taken this long and that so many gay and straight people have lived and died with intollerance.

It has been just two years since I lost my dad to AIDS and two years prior to that he lost his partner Darrell to AIDS.  I'm sorry they struggled.  I'm sorry that they lived in a generation where following their true north was often surrounded by (self) hatred, ridicule, and wrong actions.  I've ached so often knowing so much would have been different had my Dad never had to feel shame over who he was at his deepest core or who he chose to love.  One can never turn back time, but I do hope my Dad and Darrell are celebrating together today.

We continue to see racism in our society at every step, but I am hopeful that today's ruling provides a place for more dialogue and more equality for all.  We've come a long way, but we have further to go.  As it stands today I rest with tears of joy that my daughter will grow up knowing only that all people have the right to marry.

Evolve

I'm making some changes to my family and professional routine this summer.  My students will most notice that I'm letting go of my long held Saturday morning classes at my studio come September.  From the outside this change may seem abrupt, but the decision to change has been painstakingly slow.  I've groveled, debated and struggled quite a bit over this, and then today I looked up the definition of evolve.  Evolve is a verb meaning to develop gradually. And there it was - my sign that this is going to work.  For me the word evolve is such a big magnanimous thing.  A thing that can feel untouchable, and to think this slow process I've been churning through for change is me evolving is pretty cool.

In so many ways the reflection of my Saturday morning yoga classes is a reflection of my life.  When we opened the studio I felt small and insecure as a teacher, as if only (self imposed) nepotism had me holding down this precious primetime teaching gig.  Over the first year I took a hard look at my reflection, and lets say I walked into the light as a confident yoga teacher and small business owner.

And then Stella came along and I struggled endlessly every Saturday morning to leave my family for two hours to teach.  I almost gave up then, but I didn't and I am better for it.  I have continously taught the Saturday morning yogis at our studio for more than 6 years.  So to make a change that affects my beloved students is just plain difficult.

My favorite quote has long been Gandhi's "Be the change you wish to see in the world."  The change I need at this moment is to alter the tide in my business and family relationships.  I am creating space to evolve to my best self.

The Original Gap Khakis

Khaki PantsAs I was taking off my favorite pair of khaki pants Monday evening I realized just how thin the threads were along the seat. And then I almost teared up thinking I might have to retire them soon. I dare count back exactly, but I purchased my Gap khakis at least 12 years ago. I remember well that I found the pants on sale at the end of the season for under ten dollars. I first bought one pair and then walked into a few other stores before returning and buying the same pants in three more shades. I bought the pants during a trip home to Texas, and when I showed my mom the bargain finds she was outright worried my funky fashion sense was deteriorating in buttoned down Washington, D.C. Probably a little too true.

The day I walked into the store I was just so happy I could still sneak (very snuggly) into the size two pants. Applause to Gap for making a girl feel good at a time when my long work hours, fast food habit, and drinking nights out with girlfriends left me with some extra pounds.

But with my trusty khakis by my side I soon fell full into my happily ever. The next year the pants no longer crinkled around my bum and thighs and instead began to lightly brush the ground and fray the end seam with each step. Proof that I had shed some excess pounds…and excess stress.

I would give a little ceremonial kiss to them every year as fall turned to winter and all were retired to the top shelf for a few months before I rushed to grab them on the first spring like day of the next year.

When I slipped on my khakis for the first time in 2011 they were so loose I could almost pull them down my hips without unbuttoning. My daughter had been born a few months prior and I remember it being that first light bulb of acknowledging post partum depression in myself. Between caring for my daughter around the clock, breast feeding, running my business, and sweating away a few too many calories without great nutrition I was worn too thin is so many ways.

I vowed to myself that day to get my pants back to that happily ever when they would just brush the ground enough to sometimes catch between my flip flop and my foot.

That happily just smartly frayed place happened on Monday. And so today I celebrated with my favorite kind of self-care splurge, a bargain hunting shopping trip. My mom will be proud as I replaced my well worn, boring khakis with a pair of funky pants that will surely only be fashionable for a single season.

Tile Floors

The house I grew up in had tile floors in the living room which made for the perfect dance floor.  Every evening as I returned home from dance class I'd request - no insist - that my mom, brother, and stepfather have a seat to watch the new steps I'd learned that day.  I worked tirelessly to improve my dance technique and performance quality.  The precision and expertise of each step were important and translated into confidence in my art form.  I hoped my work could bring joy to others, most of all my family.  And I think it did. When I began practicing yoga in 1999 it was a very different journey.  The work really was all for me, and even as I began to share yoga as a teacher the process was still quite personal.  This was theraputic and necessary, but in the past few years I noticed I was holding myself back in not stepping into my full resume.  This journey is a lifelong one, but it's neccessary to stand on that tile floor on a daily basis to share my gifts.

From October 2014 to February 2015 Stacey and I taught and mentored an inspiring group of women through our 200 hour yoga teacher training program.  This was the second of its kind at the studio, but for the first time I did not hesitate to know I do indeed have a great deal of knowledge and expertise in my field as a hatha yoga teacher of over a decade.  I am excited to watch and continue to mentor these women.  It's an amazing accomplishment for me to feel confident that I have the tools, the wisdom, and the compassion to continuing offering them more.

I joked with the group during the training that I was happy to have apprentices in my class, but it was usually a short stay.  The under skin of that being that I wasn't sure what they had to gain from me.  No longer - please stay and learn.  I have so much to share.

A work in progress

GaneshaEvery December I get a little giddy about the coming opportunity to replace my kitchen wall calendar.  In 2014 we were greeted each morning with Stella's Disney Princess calendar which added a certain whimsical quality to enjoy coffee and cereal with Ariel, Belle, Tiana or Aurora each morning.  But this year we've returned to the requisite Yoga Dogs calendar ~ because it is the perfect gift for a yogi, dog owner like myself.  In any case the act of changing out the calendar to 2015 had me a little aprehensive. I tend to make just about everything a competition, with others (they are mostly unaware of this) and especially with myself.  And to boil it down very quickly 2014 was a big year on top for me.  2014 brought game, set, match on my resolves to manage my daily schedule, to train for and run a marathon, and to study and become a certified yogahour teacher.  Each resolve was a win in its own right and put in perspective with the muddle of the three years prior I had really come up roses.  And too top it off our studio is thriving more than ever.  So stepping into 2015 felt scary.  I wasn't sure how I was going to top myself this time when my soul was quite possibly asking for a little less.

I spent New Year's Day 2015 just as I had the year before, in our studio packed with yogis gathered to create and embody his or her sankalpa (heartfelt desire) for the new year.  I'd walked into the studio that day with a sankalpa that read I am 3/4 full, but in voicing it to my workshop partner I knew that wasn't quite right.  My sankalpa couldn't just be to stop doing grandious things, or do a little less of them.  That's not who I am.  I am 3/4 full revealed my trepidation about stepping out of a really good year without embodying the rich opportunity to build upon the good.  And so out goes that sankalpa.

It's now January 29th and as I've fished around for the right sankalpa I am still feeling uneasy.  My going statement is I am tortilla soup.  For me this means I am full, I am spicy and all the right ingrediants are in order for a delicious day.  But I'm having a hard time fully owning this one.  Something is still not quite right for what I am looking for this year.  Could it be that nothing is abreast?  Could it be that I just need to back off myself for awhile?  Or is it such a splash that my subconscious is not letting me go there yet?

Within this vunerable state I have found one strong focus for January to reclaim a couple of old habits.  I have dedicated five minutes a day for meditation and twenty minutes a day for reading.  The five minutes of meditation is perhaps what is leaving me so hungry to claim my aim, my mantra, my guide for the year.  It's just enough dip each day to know I need more time.  So maybe for February I'll make it 10 minutes a day and see what churns up for me - always a work in progress.  Jai Ganesha.  Open my way for 2015.

 

My Stella

birthIt's 9:30pm. Four years ago at this time my midwife told me to have a big glass of wine in hopes of slowing labor so I could get some sleep before what was sure to be the day I'd give birth to my daughter Stella. Twenty six hours earlier Jason and I were leaving the movie theater when I'd told him we should go home and call our midwife because I was in early labor. We were planning a home birth and so we spent those early evening hours prepping all the last minute home details. We defrosted the quiche, lasagna and cake I'd baked earlier in the week so to have delicious food for our birthing team. We were ready.

Our midwife asked us to get as much sleep as possible as the contractions were far apart, but there was nothing I could do to sleep that first night. I was about to have a baby! By morning I was in active, but manageable labor. It was clear that I wasn't getting any rest Jason and I spent much of the day going on very slow walks around the neighborhood stopping at many a neighbor's front fence to brace for contractions. All four grandparents were in the house playing cards and trying not to act nervous about our whole home birth process.

And so again we speed to about 9:30pm, 26 hours of labor and 26 hours without sleep. "Drink the wine Betsy. Work to slow labor again and please get some sleep. You'll need it for the road ahead," said Alice. Well I drank the wine, but the contractions did not lose any intensity. By the early morning hours the pain of labor had really kicked in. My birth team insisted Jason lay down for a bit and they took over keeping me hydrated and as strong and comfortable as possible minute by minute.

I don't recall the details of the 24 hours leading up to Stella's birth, but I do know me and baby stayed safe throughout labor, though it was very painful. I'm stubborn and sure of my convictions and had long dreamed of a drug free home birth, but as the hours ticked on Jason and my midwives began suggesting we head to the hospital for an epidural. I'd been in active labor for 49 hours when I finally agreed to go to the hospital.

What I didn't know was that the heavens must have been waiting for that moment. As Jason drove the few miles to the hospital my contractions just compounded one on top of the next. In the end we never had time for that epideral and I did have a drug free birth within 30 minutes of our arrival at the hospital on November 29, 2010. Our baby girl needed pediatric support in her first hour and being in the hospital was her very best birth.  She knew it all along and was just waiting for me to get on board.

And now four years later I still get lost in the smell of her hair and her every loving touch. The 50 hour labor was just a preview of what sometimes feels like an impossible journey, though one that is every bit worth it and brings me purpose, love and compassion at the end of each day.

Happy Birthday to our star.  Our awesomely silly, stubborn, sweet, smart and stunning Stella.  And happy birthing day to me!

Run a Marathon. Change Your Life. True Statement.

MCMFinishers2014On December 1, 2014 I watched my brother Spencer become an Ironman in Cozumel, Mexico. The race starts with a 2.4 mile swim and transitions into a 112 mile bicycle ride before ending with a full marathon run of 26.2 miles. Every inch of me radiated with inspiration watching my brother and thousands of others compete in this endurance challenge and by the time Spence came around for the first loop of the run portion I had told my husband Jason I was going to run a marathon in 2014. I told Spencer that day I wanted to run a marathon and he promised to help me each step of the way and run alongside me on race day. I never looked back. We set our eyes on the Marine Corps Marathon. MCM is held each Fall here in our nation's capitol. My Christmas list was a runner's dream from Newton running shoes to cold weather gear and inspirational books. Those first few chilly months I passed mileage goal after goal. I'd never run more than 6.2 miles and can remember the moments I passed 7 miles and gradually worked into double digit mile runs. I was often tired and my muscles and joints suffered in the beginning as I built strength, but I never doubted my goal. I would hobble down the stairs, but when I strapped on my shoes and winter layers I could run strong for 60, 75, then 90 and up to 120 minutes. I began to feel like a super star not only in my Newtons, but in every avenue of my life.

Finally April rolled around and it was time for the MCM lottery. Spencer received a spot, but I did not. I was crushed and began looking at other races, but it was MCM that we wanted. I began searching the charity team options and a day later received an email from an organization my studio supports called Yokid! Yokid brings yoga to underserved children in my area. It was a perfect match. I joined the team, raised money as I logged miles and solidified a second contribution to my running plan.

Running is often a very solitary sport and in fact I trained 95% of the time on my own, but the rewards of running filled my life this year. Spencer and I have lived 1500 miles apart for most of the last 15 years and though our sibling love could never faulter our bond had waned.  As I ran circles around Washington, D.C. those 1500 miles got very small. Spence and I would text, email, and chat on the phone several times a week.  He was my coach and my motivator and my awesome big brother that I could share it all with.

And so when race day rolled around I was ready, nervous and excited.  I managed to get some sleep the night before and tried to settle my nerves over toast and orange jucie at 4:30am.  When the starting gun sounded at 7:55am tears rolled as my feet started running.  We were really doing this together - siblings unite.  The first 4-5 miles of MCM are a bit hilly.  Between my emotions and the extra cardiovascular stress of running uphill I had a stomach cramp at mile two.  O boy I thought, this is not looking pretty.  But Spence talked me into a groove and by the time we headed down M Street in Georgetown I was finding my way and was able to pick up the pace some along the long stretch of Rock Creek Parkway.  The crowds of runners and spectators was intense for me - not exactly my scene - and I had to keep calming my nerves.  I had trouble throughout the race finding a steady groove.  MCM is an emotional run.  From the highs of having Marines had ME water & cheer for ME to seeing the pictures of fallen soilders along the way reminding us of what great freedom and ability I have simply to run this race.

MCMFinishLine2014Seeing Jason, Stella, my mom and friends at mile 16 had me crying tears of joy once again.  I gave Stella a big hug and grabbed a new water bottle before heading down the National Mall to the US Capitol Building.  Spencer reminded me this was a stretch I'd run 100 times before.  Mile 16-19 felt great.  I was easily on pace for under 4 hours and I was confident I would finish strong all the way to the end.  But then we hit the 14th street bridge at mile 20 and that next one to two miles felt like they stretched on for days.  Everyone and I mean everyone around us began walking and for once in my life I wanted to join them rather than surpass them.  And so I did.  A few miles later the 4 hour pacer passed me and for what tears I had left I let them flow, but I couldn't keep up.  Somewhere along the way I mustered every bit of determination I could find and ran - more like sprinted - the last quarter to half mile to the finish.  Spence and I crossed the finish hand in hand in victory.  It hurt and it hurt bad, but we did it.  My time was 4 hours and 10 minutes.  From a field of 30,000 runners I finished 209th in my division, 1316 female finisher, and 4630 overall. What a race.

Training and completing the marathon became everything I'd always heard.  It was exteremely difficult, rigorous, demanding, and time consuming.  Yes my joints hurt at times and yes I suffered injury during training.  But I'm healthier for all of it.  The act of training for and running the Marine Corps Marathon did wholly change my life for the better.

Each mile was like shedding a layer and walking into a whole me.  I was back on my feet and every other goal I set for myself in 2014 I've met and exceeded because of the passion and drive I found in running.  Will I do it again some day - absolutely!  I'm a runner now.

Nickname

Stacey, Darren, BetsyDarren Rhodes, Stacey and I had just spent four full days together leading our studio's teacher training program. As I drove Darren back to the airport the last morning he asked me if I liked nicknames. I do. My legal name of Elizabeth is a family name and therefore my parents endowed me also with my nickname - Betsy - from the beginning. These days I especially treasure that my mom gave me the name of her grandmother and in the same breath gave me my own unique presence with my nickname.

Nicknames show a depth of knowing and love, so yes I like them, and it meant a lot to me for Darren to say hey I think Bet-surya-sy (bet surya see) fits you. A sure bet. Supreme Sun. Intuitive.

Jason and I have often joked that if my yoga gig drys up my next career will be that of private investigator. I am intuitive and a good read of people, and to further that I know when I am straying and not playing into my intuition. Those are the moments that come back to bite.

I've had a few of those bite me moments when it comes to yoga. The you can bet on me piece of that nickname is a great spin to say I'm pretty darn solid and direct. One aim of my yoga practice is to be as soft as I am hard. The aim to unite and balance sun and moon energy within me - Hatha Yoga indeed. In retrospect each time I weigh heavy towards the moon I get burned. Now I've learned that to showcase my sun does indeed strike the right balance and more authentically dial in the moon.

So here's Darren endearing to me that these are the qualities within me that he sees and that he favors. That conversation was held more than a month ago and I've reflected back on it often. The nickname tells me Darren has my back. He is not just teaching. He is intently listening. Thank you D. I work with this daily.

Chopping down the Overwhelm

In some ways this year has been better than the three that came before, and yet in so many ways it became hauntingly clear to me and to Jason that we were simply juggling too many things at once and always dropping something. As my blog title indicates, at the end of the day we’d slump together in bed and say, “all you can do is all you can do.” In all her brilliance this was one of Stella’s first coined phrases when she was just two.

But she’s not two anymore and in fact my baby girl will be four in just a few months time and with that I’ve felt some urgency to step back and measure how to crawl out of our overwhelmed life. Self help book to the rescue! In April I downloaded Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte. I read all of maybe 20 pages before I was overwhelmed with ideas and other priorities…digging out would have to wait.

Two weeks ago I pulled my hamstring and decided to fill my sidelined running time with reading. Call it a blessing in disguise, but I’m sure glad I got back to the book. I plucked out some great nuggets and have made some feel good adjustments in our days.

Here are my big takeaways:

Family dinner is a must.

  • Before I would make Stella her own dinner around 5pm which over the last few months she’d dwindled down her entire palate to fruit, yogurt and crackers. It seemed something new was rejected in her diet every day and as a response she was crankier and my patience was thinner and thinner.
  • Now we pre-plan meals and Stella cooks with us. I cook easy meals during the weekdays and Jason takes the lead with fancier bites on the weekends. Jason, Stella and I have dinner together by 6pm each night. We always include fruit and yogurt as sides when Stella won’t try our main dish and everybody is happy with that. We talk and eat together and Stella’s tantrums seem to be lessened.
  • Being home and ready to eat by 6pm may be a challenge, but it clears so much space to dive back into work or treat ourselves to a deserved break in the evening.

One Parent Bedtime Routine

  • Jason and I have always shared parenting responsibilities for Stella’s bedtime, and yet we’ve always talked about how much easier she is when only one of us happens to be home.
  • With family dinners now on the schedule we were already checking that togetherness time and decided to swap “primary” parenting roles for bedtime each night. Now one of us is shooed away from 7-8pm for the bedtime hour. Stella gets one on one attention while the other parent gets much needed me time. It’s working!

Work Stays on My Laptop

  • I’m a minimalist and for years the single running icon on my desktop screen has been my plain word document with my To Do list. I write everything from the minute to the big down so it doesn’t have to clutter my brain and I get so much satisfaction out of deleting items off the list.
  • In January I took my work email accounts off my iPhone. I aim to download messages a max of three times a day on my laptop and respond and delete as quickly as possible. I know I spin out of control when I have more than 20 emails in my inbox and I institute cleanup time everyday.
  • Sure I write a blog, maintain my personal and business Facebook, twitter, and instagram accounts…but I don’t do it from my phone. This is new to me this week and I love the change.   The status updates, 140 character zingers, and cute pictures are still there when I look twice a day rather than 20.

Play More

  • What a great reminder this was in Schulte’s book. I am committed to play more fully and openly. From family trips to the zoo, the spontaneous outdoor yoga pose just because, and reaching out to girlfriends for a drink or a trapeze class – it’s on.

Focus on the Big Stuff

  • The hardest to do, but the shortest to write. Don’t get lost in the million little things that get in the way. I am refocused on the top five percent.

From Own to Offer and All Will Prosper

My flight from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. touched down Monday at 12:25pm and over the next eight hours I delighted in one reunion after another.  It’s fitting that the first reunion is a view of my city from the back of a cab.  As we swing across the 14th Street bridge I admire the Jefferson Memorial, the U.S. Capitol building, and Nationals ballpark.  Yes, this is home.  And then none too soon Bodhi is bursting through the door ready to load momma up with kisses.  Nice of Bodhi not to hold a grudge for my time away, and I had high hopes that my daughter wouldn’t either. I swiftly unpacked and then sat for a full hour unable to formulate a direct thought or action.  It was then I had the first inkling that this week would be a struggle physically and sit heavy emotionally.  I had just spent 10 nights away from my family, my home, my routine and 9 days fully immersed in the study and practice of yogahour.  Whoa, how is this re-entry going to work?

But there was no time to hit pause for longer.  It was time to pick up Stella at summer camp and grab my first big hug from my girl.  What a feeling, that first hug after 10 days without it!  My heart burst wide open.  It was a wow moment and I happily filled the afternoon playing princess castle and sesame street play date.  Every other day her imaginary games can drudge on as if time has stopped, but Monday afternoon time flew and then Jason arrived home.  No more single parenting.  We settled right into the familiar family routine.

Tuesday.  Go. Go. Go.  Work. Work. Work.  What’s done?  What’s undone?   No thinking, just doing.  I had made a mental list in St. Louis of all the self-care habits I wanted to re-institute when I arrived home.  They seemed simple enough – take a warm bath at the end of the day.  Blow-dry my hair each morning.  Apply lipstick a few days a week.  But today wasn’t the day, and neither was Wednesday or Thursday.

Thursday was like that first hour back home on repeat.  Unfocused.  Unsure. Immobilized with disappointment that I hadn’t been able to step into something more upon returning home.  Everyone around me wanted a download on my time away, my relaxing (ha!) yoga week, but there I was skirting away any change, any revelation, any progress that might have come in those 10 nights and 9 days.  I hadn’t even mustered enough energy to put on my sneakers and go for a run.

Each morning I’d hit snooze enough times to miss my morning run, but finally on Friday I pulled myself out of bed and laced up my sneakers.  And after dropping Stella off at school I returned home, plugged in the hair dryer and took 5 minutes to blow-dry my hair.  It felt great.

In talking to Jason Thursday evening I realized I had been beating myself up for needing the time to both absorb past routine and decompress from what accumulated into face time overload for this introvert.  And so here we are on Friday and I see some light.

The final exercise of the teacher intensive was to wrap up the training into one word that created a catalyst for improvement in myself to forward to my students.  My word:  own.  I’ve always felt somewhat less than as a teacher for my heavy reliance on my kinesthetic learning style.  And then I watched my teacher, Darren Rhodes, communicate with us over the 9-day training.  When Darren models a kinesthetic teaching approach he is clearer, more concise, and I feel a greater connection to him as a student.  And so when I step into the yoga studio Saturday morning I will own what makes me a great teacher, rather than always apologizing for it.

There you have it.  My big revelation:  I am what I am.  Own it, offer it, and I’ll have more space for ME, more to give, and more aptitude to embrace the one constant which is change.

Immersed

I just arrived home after a 9 day yogahour teacher's intensive at Southtown Yoga in St. Louis.  For 9 days I was fully immersed in the study, practice, teaching and friendship of yogahour.  And now I'm home.  And now I have the choice to change the topic, to reflect, to apply the work of the intensive, or to just sit.  For the next hour I choose to just sit and the hour after that I will reunite with Stella and spend the rest of the day and into the evening as close to her and Jason as possible.  Thankful in all ways.  

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Day 1-9 began with coffee and a study session.

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Home of the yogahour Teacher Intensive:  Southtown Yoga in St. Louis

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More Badass than Bendy:  Betsy, Darren, Stacey, Katie

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CHY Teachers Represent:  Tricia, Stacey, Katie, Betsy

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The Dream Team:  Darren, Betsy, Brigette, Stacey, Katie, Alexis

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Practice.

When I Met You in the Summer

When I rolled out of bed Monday morning I knew I'd need an extra cup of coffee not just to wake up, but to also brush aside the slight nervous anxiety I felt as what I dubbed "Stella and mommy's excellent summer staycation" began. SJP UnionMarket DanceLast Friday Jason and I proudly watched Stella and her fellow 3 year old classmates sing Ram Sam Sam in a family picnic celebration to round out their school year.  Though to say my child sang is certainly stretching the truth, but I'll give her benefit of the doubt that she was just singing very softly as she told me afterwards.

And with that our Summer was off and running.  Some months ago I decided to save a little money I'd keep my darling and precious daughter home with me this week rather than return right away to summer camp at her preschool.  But as the week approached I grew more and more anxious.  The memories of Spring Break tantrums were still quite vivid and I considered many times calling the school to say I'd really love to give you an extra $300 for this week too.  But I resisted somewhat out of mommy guilt and somewhat out of mommy pride that our summer staycation really would be excellent.

Well it's Friday at 3pm and Stella has been peacefully napping for the past hour.  It's safe to say we made it through the week happy and peaceably together, save one epic metro ride tantrum where Stella repeatedly clocked me with the toy kitty I'd bought her an hour earlier. Sorry fellow passengers.

Nobody wants to say that spending countless summer hours and days with your own flesh and blood causes tension or anxiety, but for me that had become the norm and I was pleasantly pleased to break that routine this week.

I was reminded time and again this week that every day that has come before has brought me more assurance, confidence, and wisdom to parent today.  Stella and I know each other inside and out, and it was like we had a soul promise to be strong in our own boundaries this week.  When that Thursday tantrum happened I knew I was pushing the bounds.  We both happily compensated with a quiet day at home today.  Another reminder that our time together is about just that, being together.  And this week I really was just with Stella.  I got just enough work done during her quiet times and kept my commitments to running, yoga practice, and evening activities all minimal.

Next week Stella will return to her preschool and I will return to my daily studio routines prior to my leaving at week's end for an 11 day training trip away.  This will be my first extended period away from Stella.  I'm both excited and once again anxious for the possibilities that lie in those 11 days for me, and for Stella and Jason's dedicated time together, but I'm confident with our resolve to do all that you can do it's going to be good.

Here's to the summer start where I fell in love again and again, moment after moment, with the excellent person Jason and I are blessed to raise.

Why I oppose the yoga tax

The D.C. City Council recently voted to approve the city's fiscal year 2015 budget.  The budget included several recommendations from the Tax Revision Committee, including a 5.75% sales tax on all health club services.  Call it downright selfish, but the implications of this sales tax on my small business have me filled with hurt, anger, and anxiety.  My career - my living - is devoted to spreading the benefits of yoga to my community.  Monetarily speaking the rewards of my career are small.  My yoga studio operates within a modest profit margin, and it would be necessary for us to pass the tax along to the consumer. Our yoga studio lives and dies by our community, and our community is built on a constant renewal of new students.  From a sales standpoint we would expect the initiation of a sales tax on our services to most dramatically affect potential new consumers.  Let's play out one potential scenario with actual percentage points from my studio.

In the past five months 25% of our sales revenue have come from consumers new to our studio.  Should even 10% of those new students be dissuaded from ever spending their first dollar at our business due to the taxation of services, and therefore higher class prices, we stand to lose a hefty portion of our overall profit margin.

Put to its end, D.C. may end up with new tax revenue from the larger health clubs while putting its local and small businesses out of business.  And then perhaps the Tax Revision Committee and the D.C. City Council would look to redistribute and raise our taxes in a new arena.  That's dramatic, but possible.

So yes, I oppose the tax because I don't think D.C. should impose a tax on services that provide for the better health and well being of its residents.  That point has been well covered and well made.

But my greater opposition to the 5.75% sales tax on all health club services is quite personal.  I oppose the anxiety that lingers in my days and nights wondering if our small business will be able to continue to operate should we lose a portion of our current profit margin.  I oppose the heartache I'd feel if the tax ramifications were severe enough to close our doors, to discontinue yoga services to our community, and to remove the paycheck that provides for not just my livelihood, but the livelihood of our teachers, staff, and their families.

To D.C. City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, to my Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, and to the full D.C. City Council, I ask you to strip the 5.75% sales tax on all health club services from the city's fiscal year 2015 budget.  It's just bad business.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Today is my 36th birthday which means it has been exactly 365 days since I last spoke to my dad.  Dad passed away three days after my 35th birthday without an opportunity for me to say goodbye.  His absence has very privately guided my actions in the past year. Image

 

The week after dad died still feels like a blur.  Jason, Stella, and I were on a plane to Texas within hours of getting the call.  I grew up in any number of ways that week juggling grief with the nitty gritty details of making the final arrangements.  I know we did right by dad because Spencer and I stood together as brother and sister and as his children to say goodbye.  That was the start of letting his absence make a positive impact on the ensuing 365 days and beyond.

 

My decision to run the Marine Corps Marathon this October is in deep part because of dad.  The training has given me focus.  I think about dad often when I'm out on long runs.  It is a safe space.  Above all my decision to run a marathon was to give continued strength to my brother and I's relationship.  Having lived thousands of miles from one another for the past 18 years it warms me to the depth of my soul to have such a bond now through our training.

 

And yet I still sometimes wreck myself with grief and guilt considering the different choices I could have made in the decade before dad's passing to have been a more present and supportive daughter.  I do know he found great joy from seeing me prosper in Washington, D.C. and pave my own unique way to success.  Two short weeks after dad passed his birthday was upon me.  I honored him that day by keeping my commitment to teach our aspiring yoga teachers at the studio.  It was a difficult, but rewarding day.  Last October my studio partner Stacey and I celebrated the accomplishments of eight new yoga teachers that now have the tools and skills necessary to spread wellness through yoga.

 

I didn't grow up in a big family of huggers, except for my dad.  He always showered me with affection through hugs and the constant reminder of I love you.  I will never gloss over the things he didn't do and yet despite faults (of which we all have plenty) his heart was filled with love for me and my brother.  And so in the past year, I've made a point to say I love you and hug my family with more constancy.

 

Dad's absence has changed my life, and will continue to feed me to be a fuller person.  A fuller woman, mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, business owner, yogi, runner, etc.  I love you dad.

 

 

It's been a minute

My friends at wordpress.com send an email once a week, per the original goals I set, reminding me that it's been a minute since I last wrote.  The email is one in a long string that serve to remind me I'm not getting it all done.  Some weeks I see the email, delete the email, and move on.  Some weeks I  keep the email in my inbox, type "write today" in my task list, and come back to that same task list time and again to add but hardly to subtract.  There is it again - irony - rearing its head.  I began my blog to have a space to clear my head, but darn it if sometimes it isn't another pressure point. On the bright side when I do finally get to "write" even just opening the web page to allyoucandoblog.com calms me.  I made it here and the next few minutes are mine alone.  I'm reading a book at the moment all about our overly scheduled lives, and within the pages I found an aha moment.  Research shows that mothers with part time work outside the home (the best way to describe my actual 9-5 breakdown) denote more stress than mothers who work full time either within or outside the home.  And then the author roughly described my days showing such a broken work pattern that it is difficult to finish any one thing leaving a constant nature of undoneness.  Now I did fall asleep shortly after reading that section and haven't found time in the past four days to return to my book, but somehow simply reading that passage made me feel better.  Like hey you aren't alone.  There are enough people with my wacky work pattern that someone had actually taken the time to research and report findings on us.

The way I create solutions is to make the problem very black and white.  So my problem is my work schedule is too broken up leaving me with a constant level of stress and anxiety for what is not being done.  There is no magic bullet, but I'm taking some positive steps to change.  First I made a difficult decision to let go of my yoga teaching schedule on Tuesday mornings.  I also redefined my marathon training schedule by joining a Wednesday evening track work group and commiting to running no more than 3 hours weekly during Stella's school days.  So two shorter runs or one long run per week between 9am-3pm, but everything else must happen early morning or late evening.

I'm the queen of feeling guilty for breaking into my family time with personal pursuits be it teaching yoga, working out, doing studio work, investing in myself, etc. but when I do it most always pays off.  Balance. balance. balance.

Boston Strong

I remember watching the coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings last year feeling frightened and horrified for those affected, but at a loss for any real connection with the tragedy.  Sadly the bombings at that time felt like just another in what has become a continuous string of terrorist attack scenarios. And then a few things changed for me.  The Navy Yard shooting occurred September 16, 2013.  I'm not sure I've felt more fear than that morning with Stella in lockdown at her school and an active shooter with motives unknown just blocks from my front door.  On September 11, 2001 I was working just 2 blocks from the U.S. Capitol.  At that time terror was relatively unknown and everyone I knew reached out to know my well being.  A decade later I found myself feeling not only fear, but anger that I didn't hear from many in my family.  Like it was all too normal to have such terror in your life.

A few months after the Navy Yard shooting Jason, Stella, me and many in our family lined the streets of Cozumel, Mexico to cheer on my brother's accomplishments as an Iron Man.  At one point in the afternoon a rag tag marching band made their way through the crowds of spectators.  I didn't say anything, but it triggered a moment of panic in me that connected with the Boston Marathon bombings…and shortly after that I knew I would run a marathon.

Today is Patriot's Day and the first running of the Boston Marathon since last year's bombing.  Today I understand the love, the pride, the sacrifice, the attention, the dedication, the pain, etc. both the runners and spectators feel.  On what was by every other measure a typcial training run today I found tears in my eyes thinking of the victims and survivors of last year's bombing.  How awesome to watch the first American male win the race today since 1983, to know the stories of so many survivors crossing the finish line today, and to be reminded of the constant vigilance of our police and military in what is an ongoing war on terrorism.

We are all Boston Strong.  Forever in our hearts.