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The End of All Things, or, Notes from the Suicide Hotline

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Anthony Bourdain was my godfather of gregarious adventure. I admired his raw honesty, open mindedness, and the way he sought to expand understanding and appreciation of other cultures. He inspired boldness in me to reach out into the world and eat everything. This feels a bit like the loss of a distant but beloved mentor. I will miss his perspective and mourn the work he'd yet to create.

When I was in university, I spent a year working San Francisco Suicide Prevention's crisis hotline. I needed volunteer hours for a class and picked the hotline because at one point in my youth I'd found help through a similar resource. When I tell people about my experience, they expect it to have been depressing. While there were certainly very difficult, haunting moments, the work was largely heartwarming and entirely rewarding. Most of our callers were experiencing suicidal ideation but were not actively suicidal; they didn't have a plan, they were just lonely. They found comfort i…

Desire as the Language of God, or, We Need A Forest Fire

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On the Friday before I left, I woke up with a fire to do laundry and repack my bag. I didn't yet know I was leaving, but the desire to go home had been clear and present in me for awhile. I drew out the decision for as long as possible, encumbered by the ego drive to not yet "fail" at traveling for the whole year. What would it mean to give up on that dream?

An authentic, persistent desire cannot be suppressed, though. When I finally gave in, I was relieved and happy. My very sincere need for a total overhaul of my plan overcame my expectations for myself and my fear of other's perceptions. When I told my best friend I was coming back, she invited me to Portland and the thought lit up all my cells with Hell Yes. Just as clear as I'd been about going home, I was now sure of this. All the pieces slid easily into place and I made the leap into a brand new plan.

Trusting the wisdom of my desires doesn't come naturally. I'm inclined to be wary of following th…

Failing All Over Myself

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Being found wrong or imperfect ignites in me a cornered animal savage snarl. I don't know if failure is a common nightmare among children, but for as long as I can remember it's been my greatest fear. A quiet agreement rattling around in my subconscious asserted that my worth was tied to perfection. Maybe at the end of a semester of straight As, as soon as my thighs gapped, when my hair was smooth and tame, as long as I never ever said or did the wrong thing...THEN! Then I would be worthy of love and respect.

My whole life has been spent gripped by the fear of Fucking It Up. This didn't stop me from being passionately curious and eager to learn, but as soon as things got a bit too challenging and the possibility of failure loomed, I would bolt. I honestly expected myself to be good at everything, even things I was just learning. When caught in a mistake, my gut reaction was fear-fueled resentment and rage. I have had no resilience to the experience of being seen as unmast…

Turn Me On, or, The Terror of Our Desire

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It's the last day of school and the most sublimely beautiful, early summer day in New York City. My charge is at the park with a pack of his best friends, there is an endless supply of pizza and sweets, and I've just given him permission to play in the kid's water fountains in his school uniform. Because childhood. Because summer. Because get dirty. Why not? He sprints away before I can change my mind, bursting through the water with unreserved, joyful abandon. This goes on for hours. I watch with wonder at his full presence in the moment and his total commitment to the task at hand: having the most fun possible. Right here. Right now.

Later on I've moved into my evening and my own version of fun: Breathe-In, a movement and meditation event held monthly by two of my favorite teachers in New York. Before class begins, I'm laying out quietly, dissolving the day and trying to arrive fully to the moment when a question drifts up clear and strong from my deep center of…

Will Yoga For Likes, or, Growing Up Your Yoga

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These photos were taken on the same day three years apart. One might expect that "progress" would look like a foot on the head in an even deeper backbend. Alas! In the interim, I've become the inhabitant of a whole new body. An as-yet-unhealed injury to my right shoulder makes Urdhva Dhanurasana extremely painful to come  into and limits my mobility in the pose significantly. Yes, this is still a deep full wheel, but I can no longer pull my chest forward with perfectly straight arms. I can no longer do the full expression of the pose and as a result, I totally suck. I'm a terrible yogi and an even worse person. Sorry.

Jk! In the age of social media overshare, it's easy to compare ourselves to others in many different contexts and feel less than. The full reality behind the perfect photo is rarely divulged. When those "30 day challenges" started rolling out on Instagram, I did ALL of them. I would spend part of every day forcing my unwarm body into pose…

Giving Up Making Good, or, The Father Wound on Father's Day

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When I was young and I would tell my father "I love you," he would reply "Thank you." As human communication continued to devolve, if I wrote it in a text, his reply was the smiling emoji wearing sunglasses. Seriously.

My father would be quick to point out all the terrible things he *didn't* do, as if one should be rewarded for not doing things that you shouldn't be doing anyway. No, sir, you do not get a medal for *not* beating your wife and children. Physical assault is illegal. Your prize for avoiding it is not going to jail. Nice try, though.

349 days ago it became abundantly clear to me what an unsafe man my father is to have in my life and I cut him off. No longer would he be allowed to mishandle my tenderness, tearing my wounding open again and again. This is the beauty of adulthood. We get to thoughtfully filter who and what we let in. We get to erect firm boundaries for self love and preservation. It is our most powerful responsibility to ourselve…

Everything Alive Inside You

He bought a gorgeous aboriginal throw as a memento and as the space for our afternoon work. We took it over the railroad tracks, down the winding, sandy path to a quiet place on the dunes, removed from the beach below. I lay down and he set to his task rhythmically delivering the most profound healing work I've ever received. Honestly, no hyperbole. I reeled for days after, tremoring, laughcrying in yoga, swimming in the ocean, rolling around on the floor, writing pages on pages all in an attempt to integrate the way my mind and heart had just been blown wide. It was a glorious surprise, by far my best travel souvenir to date.

The last time I experienced such a deep inner earthquake was nine years ago when I was diving into Kundalini yoga, and, as I like to quip, Kundalini made me quit my job, my relationship, San Francisco...etc. In a word, this practice was destructive. Anything that wasn't fully in alignment with my truth and well being had to go. And this saved my life.

Pe…