Top 40 I've learned over 40 years.
It's my birthday today!
After the most epic sunset I've ever seen in my life – and I've even seen a booming green flash on Kauai – I took this evening as a gift from the Universe directly to me on the last day of my 3rd decade.
In the midst of this sunset, there appeared a Light-filled column directly in the center, illuminating clouds that began to resemble terraced lava fields in the sky. I stood on my balcony for over 30 minutes, soaking this Gift up, the remnants of typhoon winds howling around me, and I let go of my past to fully step into my beautiful present.
By the time I walked back into our apartment in Taiwan, I was immersed in deep gratitude and awe. I'd love to pay it forward by infusing Mother Nature's Magic with 40 lessons I've learned over my past 40 years on this planet.
Whoa. That's right. I'm 40, y'all!
Please take whatcha like and leave the rest. Your journey will always be YOUR own journey and everything that's happened in your life has conspired to bring your own special brand of spirit medicine into the world.
The world needs you and your medicine now more than ever.
Shine, baby, shine.
The 40 Lessons I've Learned Over 40 Years
1. When you meet someone for the first time, what you're seeking in them is their vulnerability. Ironically, it's the very last thing we ever want to show someone else. We're a human species desperately seeking connection, yet we're all so reluctant to give the very thing we all need and want.
2. You are a powerful manifester. Even if you don't quite believe it, haven't fully tapped into it, or have forgotten it along the way. During a recent bus trip here in Taiwan, I filled up an entire page of my journal with all the different jobs I've ever had (there are over 31 in at least 10 different industries), some of which came about because I happened to be sitting next to someone at a bar and struck up a conversation or other amazing serendipitous ease.
3. Most of us didn't come from perfect families.
4. Speaking up for yourself might be one of the hardest things you ever learn how to do.
5. Mother Nature is a pathway into deeper spirituality.
6. By focusing completely on your breath, deeply attuning your attention to every second of your inhalation balanced by every second of your exhalation, you automatically drop into the present moment. In THIS present moment, you are safe. Every future moment is made of THIS present moment. If you're having a hard time, please try to simply breathe.
7. No one outside of you will ever be a wiser guru than your own Intuition.
8. Magic truly exists — I mean, I created a whole HUMAN BEING with my BODY, so yeah. It's legit.
9. You can heal in the most unexpected of ways. I had no idea that in helping my daughter come into the world, and being so devastatingly sick for nine months with hyperemesis gravidarum, it would allow me to completely heal the eating disorder I'd battled with for over 15 years of my life and revolutionize the way I view my body.
10. Speaking of which, we're a damn uptight society. It's time to let loose. I'm loving learning about Tantra, the spirituality behind it, and how to liberate myself from the reprimands I got a long time ago, like masturbation is bad and I'm a slut if I want to wear a short skirt.
11. Keep a part of yourself sacred. Keep it for you. Create a relationship with yourself that rivals any Great Love you've ever had.
12. Play is essential. This absolutely was not valued in my household growing up and we actually got punished for "wasting time playing," but Waldorf education's Rudolf Steiner and lots of scientific studies demonstrate that play is vital to being human and is pivotal in physical, emotional, and mental health. I distinctly remember going for a run in San Diego along the beach in Del Mar, then to my right, seeing dolphins just flip in the air out of the water over and over again. I stopped, mid-stride, and almost began crying. It became totally obvious that in Nature, creatures P-L-A-Y. They play just because! They play because it's part of existing and BEING! Go outside and play today!
13. There is nothing like a good song to lift your mood instantly. I have a playlist of songs that I go to when I need to shake out anything that's no longer serving me and lemme tell you, personal dance parties are FUN.
14. Do something crazy with your hair at least once in your life. IT'S SO LIBERATING. I've shaved off my hair into a faux hawk, dyed it all sorts of colors, and recently went grey-pink-blonde. Turns out, I look really good as a beachy unicorn!
15. Ask questions. Keep asking. You'll likely speak up for someone else who isn't quite ready yet. When I was in college, I was terrified to raise my hand, because throughout my upbringing, I was taught never to speak up. One day, I went to a professor's office hours towards the end of the semester, knowing it would help boost my grade. When he heard my questions, he said, "Why didn't you ask these in class? They're really good questions. They would've really benefitted everyone." From that point forward, I made it a point to always ask and now asking good questions is actually one of my greatest strengths — to the point that I've made a whole career out of it, in interviewing people and drawing out their very best stories.
16. I believe we all have a theme that we chose before we got here, which guides our life path. This theme serves as a focal point in our lives. It's guided the types of learning lessons (a.k.a. challenges) you've encountered and the clearer you can get on yours, the easier it'll be to figure out how to achieve your greatest dreams. Mine has always been HUNGER. The hunger for more. The hunger for love. The hunger for money. The hunger for food, which translated into an eating disorder. The hunger for peace, ease, grace, and tranquility. Knowing that, I can work with my theme to write a new narrative that serves me best.
17. Write love letters to yourself for 30 days. Watch the transformation occur. If you can love yourself wholly, completely, and unconditionally (even when you're feeling shitty or being shitty), then you've unlocked real freedom.
18. Create an email address for your Higher Power. Use it. Ask for help, then let it go. The 'how' isn't up to you, even though it feels good to pretend that we can jigger everything to work out the way we think is best. Focus on the 'what'. Focus on the asking. Then, go with the flow.
19. Meditate. However it works best for you. Prayer is asking for what you want; meditation is when you get the answer. Often, we're asking the Universe for help, but then we get so busy running into something else, that our Divine Guidance Team is just trying to catch up with us to give us what we asked for! Slow down. Find stillness. Listen.
20. Perfection is a futile pursuit. Look up wabi-sabi. There's a reason it's an art form.
21. You get to define what kind of relationship, including marriage, you want to have.
22. You will fuck up. Sometimes, royally. Sometimes, you'll really hurt someone else and someone else will really hurt you. It's up to you what you do next: treat yourself and others with grace and forgiveness? Or, hold onto it for dear life and let that suck your goodness dry.
23. Celebrate being an introvert or a highly sensitive person. There's nothing wrong with you. Even in the animal kingdom, there are creatures that are super sensitive and there's a reason for that. We are essential to humankind.
24. It's more than okay to take a break. Working all the time does NOT make you a winner.
25. If you just had a kid and you're freaking out about "falling behind" in your career, I'll share an insight I got from a writing coach I desperately reached out to when Wilder was a few months old and I felt like I was losing my identity: "You'll never look back and think, 'Aw shit, I wish I didn't spend so much time with my daughter,' because you can't get that time back. But, you may very well look back and think, 'Aw shit, what did I do focusing on my career so much, so that I missed out on this time with her?' The way I view it, by the time Wilder turns seven, she's going to start having a life outside of me, where she wants to be with her friends and it'll keep going on from there. This is the only time that I'll get like this with my only kid, before one day, she won't need me in the same ways anymore. Why miss out on that?
26. At the same time, you totally deserve a life, a relationship, and an identity that honors YOU as a whole person with your own desires that have nothing to do with a kid. As they always say in yoga, "It's about balance."
27. The real therapy, like the real yoga, happens beyond the four corners of a therapist's office or beyond the four corners of a yoga mat. Life is the real practice.
28. Go on a solo trip. Go on many solo trips. Road trips are my way of practicing a moving meditation. I've taken them when I've needed to make big decisions (like breaking up with a boyfriend or figuring out what to do with my life). One of the first experiences I had of creating communion with my Intuition – before I knew what ANY of that really meant – was on a solo trip to Palm Springs. Up the tram, way in the mountains, beyond seeing another soul, I started mentally having a conversation with what I thought was the spirit of my deceased grandmother, but turns out, it was actually that quiet place within me that always has the Wisdom. I will never forget how amazing I felt during and after that trip. It changed me completely.
29. Therapy works. Finding what you love and what lights you up works more.
30. People think that living in paradise is the ultimate dream come true. Lemme tell you something, if you want to live in paradise, especially if it's an island like Kauai, you better be damn prepared to face some of your demons.
31. Take risks. Take chances. See what happens. One of the serendipitous things that magically happened to me was my getting invited to go to Brazil with the first family ever to summit Mount Everest, who I had literally just read about in Outdoor Magazine before they called me up on the phone. I had to do some crazy things to score this writing gig, including buying a one-way ticket to New York to hopefully get a quick turnaround visa within 24 hours from what I totally thought was a scam. It wasn't and I got on a plane to meet the Romero family, who's motto was, "Go fast. Take chances." Within a week, we became good friends and I still keep in touch with them today.
32. Unplug from social media. Find yourself again. It's so, so good for you. Remember, comparison is a violent act against yourself. Rarely do we ever compare ourselves to someone who's got it worse. Usually, we're comparing ourselves to how we're falling short when viewed against someone we believe has it better. I always come back to this idea: if we all went to a party and threw our crap on the table in the middle of the room, we would all gladly pick ours back up, rather than take on anyone else's once we saw what everyone was really dealing with.
33. Learn how to hack yourself. What works for someone else might not work for you and vice versa. Find ways to work WITH your strengths and your shortcomings. I'll never forget an interview I did with a woman who practices Deeksha who told me, "However many people there are on this planet, that's how many paths toward enlightenment there are." Find your own damn path!
34. You never know how many people you're positively impacting. Just because you don't get the 'Likes' or the 'Comments' or the 'Views,' you truly have no idea the amazing effect you are having just by being you. When I first started teaching yoga, I had to drive 45 minutes to the studio and then would have a 3-hour gap between my morning and noon classes. Rather than driving all the way back, I stayed in the studio to meditate and work (the magic I experienced in those hours was IMMENSE). One day, a thin red-headed white guy with a Rasta beanie knocked on the door in between class. "Hi," I smiled. "Can I help you?" He told me that he wanted to take class and had never done yoga before. I told him the next class wouldn't be for a couple of hours, and he could come back then. He did. And then kept coming back. Later, he would tell me that he was hit by a car and suffered brain damage, in addition to physical challenges. His intellect was never the same and people treated him differently, including his family. "I was scared to try yoga, but when you opened the door, your smile was so big and that smile made me feel safe to come in and try class. I'm so grateful to you for that." Over the course of a few months, I watched his body become more nimble and flexible, and a peace settle over his face and demeanor. All because I smiled. More than anything, be all of you.
35. Everything is always working out for you.
36. Be grateful every day for the amazing surprises and gifts that'll show up in your favor. And, they will!
37. Do nothing for 15 seconds. How does that feel?
38. Namaste means "the Divine within me honors and salutes the Divine within you." Namaste.
39. Teach someone about something you love. It might just change the trajectory of their life. When I was living in Santa Monica, I was dating this guy who was really into rock climbing, which I had already started doing (I eventually even worked as a Marketing Manager for a rock climbing gym!). He had this big group of guy friends I became connected to, and I started telling them about Power Yoga, so over the course of a few months, I ended up bringing about 10-15 guys regularly with me to class. Years later, I would get a Facebook message from one of them who said, "Thank you for taking me to that first yoga class and showing me how much you love it. Now, I'm going to Tibet to do my own yoga teacher training course!" Since then, he's traveled around the world, pursuing his love of diving and yoga. It's inspired me countless times over.
40. We all have something to heal, something to grieve, something to love, and some way to grow. We didn't come into this world to become perfect, but instead, to experience everything fully. If you're curious about this, read Anita Moorjani's book, Dying to Be Me. After a near death experience, she came back into this world and into her body realizing that in the soul state, everything is perfect. We don't need anything. We don't crave anything. To our souls, THIS HUMAN EXPERIENCE IS DIVINE. We are meant to feel everything fully — to feel our sadness completely, to feel our heartache completely, to feel our joy completely. We are meant to feel it all. That's the beauty of being human.