I am laying with my face pressed to a wet towel. It smells like fabric softener and sweat. I can feel my heartbeat throbbing in my face and fingertips, as I try to focus on drawing in a deep, slow breath through my nose while my mind races. My focus darts back and forth between the same old, perennial themes of my heart that I’ve been working and sorting through forever…and the pure love/hate relationship that I am beginning to build with Bikram yoga these past few weeks.
Hot sweat and hot tears collect and roll down my red, hot face, as I close my eyes and feel that I AM ALIVE.
I BELONG IN THIS ROOM.
I BELONG IN THIS BODY.
I BELONG IN THIS WORLD.
I recite my newfound yoga mantra quietly to myself.
Despite the discomfort, I am embracing this process of surrendering. Because, of course, at the beginning of the new year, I chose the word “EMBRACE” as my 2019 word of intention.
Like an IDIOT.
I had imagined being led to embrace some kind of amazing, whimsical opportunities and be surprised by random moments of beauty. Instead, it’s been more about embracing hard truths about myself and the complete and total surrender to the destruction of toxic patterns; toxic behaviors and relationships that no longer serve my greatest good.
Not exactly what I had in mind, ya know?
As I lay here feeling the climbing warmth of the room wrapping me up tight, like a swaddled new born baby, I choose to yield to it.
I stop resisting myself, and allow all of the things to become malleable in this heat…including what feels like MY VERY SOUL.
I exhale and feel all of my limbs and muscles relax. Loosening the familiar grip of control. And deeper down, I feel the emotions I’ve been avoiding begin to release as well. It all starts to melt and find its way onto to my towel.
“Let it all go” the instructor says. And so, I will.
It turns out, (despite a hopeful forecast and an amazing year prior) 2019 has not been my year, and hot yoga seems to be the quiet place I have found to work that all out. After all the holiday celebrations of 2018 had fizzled away, we were tossed to-and-fro with cold and constant winter weather here where I live.
For months, it seemed brutal and unending. The dark, the wind, the rain and even the snow that persistently harassed us, only seemed to match the heaviness that was settling in my heart. It became the dreary backdrop to the hard lesson’s life seemed to keep serving me.
I’ve learned from past experiences, that whenever my life feels like it’s falling apart and is in a “recovery” season, my faith always leads me back to the recovery steps.
As more of a guideline to lean on to manage emotions and to retrieve my mental peace. It forces me to let go of any expectations of others, and do MY work…which is the only thing I EVER have control over.
So, for the past few months, while I have been waiting for the warmer weather to sweep in and make all of my dreams come true, I have been accepting my reality and the things I cannot change.
Admitting my part.
Taking personal inventory.
Rinse and repeat.
The mediation practice in particular was what led me to begin this crazy experiment with hot yoga and also, has me learning about Reiki energy healing and the concept that we store unprocessed emotions/energy in the body.
Negative emotions, trauma energy, difficult and/or harsh memories that have not been processed, are stored in the body…and it’s our work to process through them all by letting ourselves feel it…and then allowing it to move along.
This doesn’t seem like something we should to be TOLD how to do…but the endless ways that we seek to distract and numb ourselves from the things that stress us out everyday would prove otherwise.
We are prone to avoid.
Most of the time it just feels easier to turn our brains OFF by scrolling through social media, binge watching Netflix, binge eating food, drinking or whatever ELSE it is that we do to put the uncomfortable stuff on the back burner for “another time”.
When “another time” never comes, we store it all away in the secret chambers of our hearts, and seal the doors.
It makes sense to me…the visual of my body with all of its faults, folds and heaviness, carrying around vaults of old feelings that are woven into my cells. The literal, mental weight that I have been downplaying, avoiding and distracting myself from all along…never gone, but laying dormant awaiting removal.
Pooling and manifesting itself around me as some kind of faulty heart shield…that I have been tasked with emerging out from, into freedom.
Like a snake working and struggling to shed its skin.
“Snakes shed their skin to allow further growth and to remove any parasites that may have attached to their old skin. The process is called sloughing. This can happen as often as once or twice a month for a snakes survival. The process is constant throughout the life of the snake, and will never stop shedding till death. When a wild snake has problems completing its shed, the sheds can accumulate. This can lead to many problems, especially around the eyes. If a snake retains multiple “eye caps” from previous sheds, it can lead to blindness…and if a snake cannot SEE clearly, it will surely die.” (www.reptileknowledge.com)
Avoiding the shed brings death. There would be no room for growth. No clarity. No freedom. Parasites would only accumulate and continue to latch on and TAKE.
The snake constantly labors to emerge from the weight and burden of what would hold him back, and I see that I am working on that too.
Nowhere does that seem more evident than right now, in this hot and humid studio, where I am at the mercy of this yoga instructor. Serving me rapid fire instructions on how to bend, stretch and compress myself into postures I don’t quite fit into yet. Maneuvering my body to make room for itself, physically, mentally and spiritually.
We pause in between sets into “dead mans pose’ or “savasana” and I lie down on my back and turn my palms up to the heavens ready to receive my blessings. I watch him walk over and open the sliding glass door at my feet. He stands there with it open, just long enough to let the most delicious, sweet, and cool burst of air float in and roll over the top of me, only to instantly disappear as he slides it shut.
This tiny, 10 second reward will get me through the rest of the 90 minute class. (At least…I made it all the way through last time.)
So, the old adage is true, the only way OUT is through.
The lighter my heart and mind become, it seems that my body follows.
And ironically, as I continue my journey to lose the weight outside of my new little yoga bubble…in my real life as a mom and wife and fitness enthusiast/professional…I find myself being asked constantly about my loose skin!
Now, it’s no longer just about the excess weight I am trying to lose, as much as it’s about the excess skin that remains.
Interesting, that even after losing 140 lbs, I remain in a body that still makes people uncomfortable in one way or another. I have been observing that my hanging skin is becoming an interesting issue for people. They cannot help but stare at what I have jokingly named my “front butt”. I watch the gazes fall to my middle and see worry wash across their faces. Most of the time they don’t SAY anything, but some want the reassurance that I will one day have it removed, and ask when, or if I have ever thought about it.
Like, of course I have, Janice. OF COURSE I would actually prefer to continue on my badass fitness grind without all of this skin slapping around, but it is what it is!
I would take ALL THE LOOSE SKIN in the world over how I felt before.
And that is the TRUTH.
Yet, I find myself, grinning and bearing through the interrogation of people with good intentions and well meaning advice…who have NO IDEA what they are talking about!! They mean well, but the truth is, unless you have been in a body like mine, you don’t know the strength, courage and humility it takes to keep putting it out here in the world anyway…and keep trying to DO the damn thing.
This journey has always been about MORE than what I look like on the outside. I started this blog in 2013 in the “pursuit of a meaningful makeover” and the mission remains. Living an authentic life from the inside out. For now, I’m more concerned about shedding the skin that can’t be seen and growing into the next version of myself than I am with removing the skin that I carry around with me. Maybe someday…but not today.
So, I will continue to let my flaps of skin fly. I will not hold back in workouts. I will not stop wearing leggings or shorts because I jiggle. I will NOT stop going to yoga and attempting to learn it. I will continue to prove that we are worthy to take up space, no matter what body we are in. I will not try to hide myself and all that I have worked for. And I will NOT avoid and numb the feelings that come, and threaten to hold me back.
This shedding has been too costly for me to allow THAT or anyone’s opinion affect me anymore.
That is why from now on I am no longer calling this my “weight loss journey” but instead my “wellness journey”.
Or, “wholeness journey”.
Because THAT is the ultimate goal.
Anyone can accomplish weight loss for a time…but I am out here sloughing my soul.
And, with my newfound respect and reverence for the accepting and shedding of spiritual and literal skin…and for snakes and their remarkable example of transformation, healing and rebirth, I will press on ANYWAY.
I will wrestle with renewal, and welcome it.
As many times as it takes.
There is no choice.
Just as in nature, everything comes back to seasonal surrender, and so do we. And with the weather feeling warmer, I am feeling hopeful again.
***Also, a HUGE THANK YOU to my cousin Tucker Monticelli and the team at Design On Edge for the amazing new “skin” and refresh they have worked on and created for me here on my blog/site!!!! Thank you SO MUCH!!***