In all seriousness, binge drinking taught me that joy was a thing. Even so, today marks 7 years since I stopped drinking. Thanks booze. I appreciate the lessons but I'm happier without you.
Like many of my peers, I lived a double life in early adulthood. Maever the binge-drinker was a total blast: free, fun, and the life and soul of the party. Daytime Maeve was uptight, anxious, and outwardly successful. Joy, to me, was the exclusive realm of a party. Drunk.
Sober Maeve was a horrible burden of seriousness and rules. Drinking was a haven: it offered a warm embrace and total freedom. It loosened me up so I could dance and finally be myself. It closed my eyes to outward obligation… at least at the blurry surface.
St Patrick’s Day 2009 I found myself standing outside Tapley’s bar in Whistler, crying my eyes out.
I was upset over something insignificant; really I wanted to drink myself fun again. My friend Amanda couldn’t comprehend the scale of my grief. “You’re making a big deal out of nothing. Just come inside, it’ll be fine.”
I was sad because booze wasn’t making me happy anymore. I’d foolishly assigned all my joy to that half-hearted blurry part of my life. I hated my daytime existence and was doing nothing to resolve my problems with it.
Objectively speaking, I was a mess. I’d forgotten how to live. Something told me it was time to cut the crap and clear up my whole life. I knew that drinking was an escape from some other pain I wasn’t acknowledging.
I saw how I was running from my problems. I saw that running away was compounding small problems into big ones. Above all, I was ready to meet my troubles straight on, sober, and move through them.
March 18 I woke up shattered and hungover. I silently resolved to never drink again. Shortly afterwards I stopped smoking pot for the same reason.
Make no mistake, I’ve tasted alcohol since 2009. Though, having resolved my penchant for escapism, I no longer enjoy it. These days you couldn’t pay me to drink a beer. I have no interest in misplacing my genuineness in a glass of wine or a bowl of pot.
So thanks, booze, for all the great times. And thanks for teaching me freedom. I learned a lot about myself from you. But I don’t miss you one bit.
I used to think my life would be easier – better – if I could touch my toes. “When I can touch my toes, man, things are going to be different.” I’d get starry-eyed just thinking about it.
Unconsciously, lots of us think like this: Life will be better when I can do "x." (Have you?) But this belief is straight delusion. Totally insane.
It suggests that flexible humans contain more worth than inflexible ones. It suggests that people with tight hamstrings are bad.
That is plain crazy. We should ban toe-touching.
But seriously, have you ever caught yourself wishing for more flexibility? “Touching my toes” can become a psychological shorthand for “being a better human.” And doing yoga can become a trick to improve oneself.
Spoiler alert: Yoga does not exist to make you a better human.
Yoga exists to remind you that you are simply living. Within the swirling drama of life there is a calm, still space. Through yoga, you connect your mind with a peaceful, vital state of being. You discover that your life source is enormous - and it's the same as everyone else's. That's yoga.
So if you come to yoga to touch your toes, you may work and strain and push. Then one day you'll finally touch your toes … and nothing will happen. Zero! No celebration, no streamers, no enlightenment. Just your hands on your toes. And the same unchanged state of being as before.
So, come to life to be as you are. Come to stop struggling on outward goals. You are not an eternal struggle of inadequacy glazed in wistful aspirations.
You are here. Now.
If you locate self-worth in your hamstrings, you block actual fulfillment. Instead, cast inwards your choice to be happy and sentence yourself to satisfaction of eternal adequacy.
Free your hamstrings; free your self. Stop trying to touch your toes.
Are you making an improvement project out of yourself (and others)? Do you do yoga to make yourself more special?
If you have tied your self-worth to your body project, change your mind today. Come to yoga to accept yourself as you are. Witness the still steady space within you, and witness the world meeting it. That’s it. This is it.
While you’re at it, recognize the silliness of contorting your body in silence with a room full of strangers. Enjoy every second.
Two years ago I set a goal to pay my rent from income made teaching yoga. It seemed outrageous at the time (to date I’d only earned silver coins and fruit smoothies for my work teaching) so I gave myself 8 months.
But like magic, it happened right away. Erin Anderson asked me to lead a kid’s yoga program at White Gold Yoga, then to sub a Power Yoga class, and soon enough to take over regular scheduled classes. Within 8 weeks I had paid my rent from yoga.
I set a new goal. I quit my serving job, started Whistler Kids Yoga, and started teaching yoga full time. Again, goal smashed. Work found me and I found love in my work. Lululemon invited me to lead nature adventures at Wanderlust Whistler. Whistler Insider featured me as an international Prancing Guru – and I checked another major life goal off the list.
Now, more than 2 years later, my cup is full and overflowing. I have smashed my “full time yoga” goals and I am ready to move forward. The time has come for me to set my sights higher than just studio classes.
On that note I say, “Peace out, White Gold Yoga.” While I continue to lead meaningful yoga journeys at Whistler Yogacara and occasionally at YYoga Neoalpine, I am also planting new seeds.