Welcome, new Yogi

I watch you cautiously enter the studio – a place that at first glance can seem so intimidating, I know. You’re not sure what to expect or if you wore the right thing, or if you’ll even be able to make it through the hour you’ve set aside for you. I can see you are nervous, almost timid.

You’re greeted with warm smiles from the volunteers and instructors gathered hospitably around the front desk, waiting to help you sign up for a class, answer your questions, show you where the facilities and different tempered rooms are. These friendly faces put some of your fears to rest, at least for the moment. You can feel the shift of energy in the air as more students flow into the studio.

I  keep observing you from across the airy, open, sunny front room. I see your shoulders relax down your back slightly, ease entering your eyes and recognition of something almost home-like about this place  flashes in them. We catch each other’s gaze and share a small, but sincere smile.

You wander down the hall into the change room, where I am sure you’re talking yourself into class. Not sure what to expect, not sure if you’ll like it, not sure if it’s for you. Scared of the heat, the poses, the unknown.

I know this feeling all too well. I think every new yogi does.

What I want to tell you is that what you will find in the heated yoga studio upstairs is going to surprise you, maybe even scare you a little.

I want to tell you of the life-altering feeling you are about experience, the wash of emotion, the shift in perspective, the gains in confidence, compassion and strength you will feel.

health and happy

I want to burst at you with stories and antidotes of feeling yourself truly shut your brain off for the first time and the exhilarating calm that comes with that freedom.

I want to tell you, that if you just let it, this practice, those poses, this studio, will change your whole life and lift up your soul in ways you didn’t think were possible.

I want to tell you that it will only take a moment for you to fall so deeply in love with your practice and you’ll know exactly when it happens.

I want to tell you that it is okay to let go, especially here, and sometimes that very act might even come out as laughter or tears in class – and that’s okay.

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I want to share with you that the people that live, work and love here will become a second family to you, this studio a second home, if you let it, if you welcome it with open arms.

I want to calm your fears with tales of the incredible lives that have been changed by this bit of magic you’ve found, allowed into your life.

I want to warn you that you are about to challenge your ego, but it will be the best thing you ever do for your soul.

I want to tell you that you’re going to find out things about yourself that you didn’t know existed, had forgotten once were, and feel more you than you ever have in that 60, or 75 minutes of pure bliss.

self acceptance

I want to tell you about the calm in your soul that will come when you become more aware and more present, at first in class, and then soon every area of your life.

I want to tell you that you will feel more in control and out of your mind in the most calming way, at the same time, in that room.

I want to tell you that when you adopt the true practice of yoga in areas of your life outside of the studio will be when you will truly understand what you’ve found.

I want to tell you to breathe your way through class and that you’ll soon realize that it’s necessary to breathe through life in the same way.

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I want to tell you so many things about what you’ve started by stepping onto your mat for the very first time.

But I don’t.

Instead I share one more silent smile with you as we both enter the room. I watch you find your place on your mat, sprawl out on the floor, fidgeting a bit as you start to relax. As I settle onto my mat myself, I say a little prayer for your practice and mine today, sending a little love, light and energy your way.

I can’t wait for the journey that lies ahead of you, the breakthroughs and breakdowns, the freedom from what is resting on your shoulders. I am so excited for you and your practice to unfold and the blessings it will so abundantly bring.

Welcome, new Yogi.

~ Toni

Can we try a little acceptance?

Remember the old saying ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’?

Well, I call bullshit.

It’s hard being plus-sized, and times don’t get any easier when younger generations seem to get harsher.

When you walk into a store, and hear people talk about you, your size and the way you look, it doesn’t hurt any less than when I was a kid and all my playground to high school bullies would comment on my size over and over again.

It hurts and the flashbacks aren’t any more fun than experiencing it the first time.

I am trying and working on loving myself, but when I hear from four teenage girls who I don’t even know, “Can she get any bigger?” I think it’s gone too far.

When you tell your child, while I am looking through the plus-sized section, not to eat too much because you don’t want to look like her, well I just say that goes too far, and although I don’t make a comment, and just try and brush it off, it still gets to me. It still hurts.

Made by Epic Designer Carol Rossetti!!

Made by epic designer Carol Rossetti

I just want to say one thing when people out in the world make me feel like a tiny insignificant speck of nothing – Screw you.

I like food, and although I am working on cutting down the fat, I love good, delicious, healthy-for-you food, and didn’t get this way by eating fast food. I got this way by having poor eating habits, not eating choices. I got this way by being severely depressed, wanting attention, and getting it through the wrong means. And yes, I am paying for it now, but I didn’t do anything to your child, you, or anyone around you, so why must you comment? Why comment on people’s lives, their weight, or anything else about them? Why can’t we all just be nice to each other regardless of what they look like, and why the hell can we not appreciate who they are?

That person who you are talking about? Yes, they may be overweight, but they can still hear you!

Made by Epic Designer Carol Rossetti!!

That person may be wearing outrageous colours, but maybe it makes them feel good, and what right do you have to comment on how they look?

Granted, I am a firm believer for dressing according to my body size, but just because I don’t think I can’t make a tube top work, doesn’t mean anything about you! It means that I can’t flaunt all of me yet. I will get there, and I will learn to love my body, but it doesn’t happen overnight and weight loss doesn’t happen in one swift moment. Trust me, I know.

But one thing that would probably make everyone’s lives a ton easier is to stop judging based on appearance.

Made by Epic Designer Carol Rossetti!!

Stop belittling other people because you think it makes you sound better than you are. One day those teenagers are going to learn what it feels like to be on the other side, and the next time I may actually say something. That mom in that store may one day have an overweight child and will learn to accept their faults and love them regardless.

I may not be able to teach you these lessons, but I hope one day we all can learn to accept faults in ourselves, because that’s where we should be looking first.

I do want to end this blog post on a high note – that no matter what I think of myself and no matter what anybody says, I know Joe thinks I am beautiful; he says it to me every morning when we wake up and every night before we fall asleep.

~ Andreah

Music and butts

I believe music to be an amazing powerful all encompassing being that connects us all.

I know that’s a lot to ask from something as simple as music, but it’s true. It is powerful and it is important.

Lately there is a lot of music coming out about positive body images, and in particular, butts.

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I have a large posterior. I know it, hell if you met me you would know it. I do not at all mind that I have a large butt, and I am kinda happy about some of the songs coming out about the love of large bottoms. Such as “Wiggle” by Jason Derulo.

There is one that makes me do a dance and sing along. It is called “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor.

She starts off talking about how her mom always said that it’s okay not to be a size two, and that you should be proud of who you are. It reminds me of our mom and how she thinks we are all beautiful no matter if we just got up, or are sick and slightly green.

I am working on getting more fit and healthy (slowly but surely). I don’t get to do it with my sisters, but I like working out alone, so it isn’t too bad. A big part of getting to where I want is loving my body every step of the way, from when I was my largest size and weight, to when I was at my smallest size and weight. I learn every day to still love my body. Songs about body love are a good positive pat on the back to the world from artists who don’t look like models, because let’s be honest – not everyone can look like that.

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I have not always liked my butt, or my waist, or my hips, but I am learning to love them. Especially as I start to shed them.

~ Andreah

I’ve found the love

I’ve been working on being more loving and happy.

I know that the first step is loving yourself as you are, even if it is at your worst. And beyond being just okay with yourself, I think that you should have a little bit of vanity in you and have at least one thing about yourself that you love. I have quite a few!

And yes I am going to list the things I LOVE about myself.

My eyes: They are green with a splotch of brown in the middle, and have dark grey on the outer ring. I share them with our Memere; we have the same eyes. They are also like my mood ring because as I am working through things, or not feeling like myself, my eyes seem to change.

My scar: I have a chickenpox scar at the left-hand corner of my mouth. It is shaped like a small eye, and although it is weird, I have had it for so long that I look for it every time I look in a mirror. I have about six of these eye-shaped scars. I think I may be the only one to notice them and I definitely think they are funky and awesome.

My hair: I like it when it is all poofy, all curly, or silky straight. If it is up in a ponytail or a bun, I have been thinking a lot about something. If it is down and curly, like a lion’s mane, it means I am feeling sassier than usual. If it is straight, I wanted to take the extra time to feel and look pretty. I love every bad hair day ever since the day when I was younger and got a hair cut I fondly call ‘The Rachel.’

It was not a good look for me, and I so couldn’t pull it off like Jennifer Anniston could. My hair is crazy wild and not perfect, but hey I think I give a pretty good hair flip when I need to.

And last on today’s list is…

My smile: After years of my sisters trying to get me to smile in pictures, and actually just brighten up, I have grown to love my smile. I like that it isn’t all the time, and that to see it I have to be happy. My smile is picky. It is as though in order to see it I have to actually be really happy, and more and more I am using my smile.

I am learning to love myself and learning that I need to accept my flaws and make changes on the things I am not happy with. I am slowly getting to be a better me and it is a timely and fantastic transformation.

Eclectica Photo

If you feel up to it, tell me something you love about yourself! And remember to find new things every day to love, just because they are yours.

~ Andreah

Try, try, and try again

I have no self confidence.

And yes, this is a confession.

This is a very negative trait that I am trying to overcome so I can be a better person, a better sister, a better friend, a better girlfriend, and a better me. Let me explain.

I am the last sister, and while this gave me a very different view of the world, it also put my sisters on levels I still don’t think I could ever reach. I feel like they are always right, and I am always lacking, and this is NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES me blaming my sisters. I love my sisters, but I feel like they are very different from me and better people than I could hope to be.

I worry and panic over every decision. I literally put myself into a panic attack because I am worried about not living up to the expectations that I have put into my brain. I just constantly see myself in a negative light, and I am always putting myself down. And I feel especially inadequate next to my amazing sisters.

Here is how I see it:

Julia is a warrior. She is only one of my role models. She is fighting for her happiness. She is such an amazing and charismatic person, and she is helping OTHER PEOPLE fight as well. In my mind, Julia is the head of the sisters, and the head of the world. She doesn’t just want to succeed, she wants everyone to! That is an amazing thing.

Next role model is Toni. Toni is passion. When I see Toni, it is…I have no words. She is like our driving force. She wants us to succeed. She always pushes forward and helps other people push forward too. And makes you stop and look at what isn’t working and then she helps you through it by reminding you of your strength, and your… I just have to say it, inner tigeress. She is amazing and incredible in her passion, and I wish I had some of that bottled when I get down on myself.

Jacqueline was my childhood best friend. In school, no matter what friend tried to be friends with me just to get to her, she wouldn’t let them and she wouldn’t be friends with them. She always tried her best to be my big sister when I was in high school, she has saved my life in more ways than one, and she stopped me from making the stupidest decisions when I was growing up. She is of course another role model because Jacqueline is just plain STRONG, and really, Toni was right, hilarious! I don’t think I could have gone through what she has gone through, and be so amazingly funny and happy and strong. She could probably face a huge a** mountain, like Everest, get slightly frustrated at climbing it, and just say, “Screw that, let’s do this.” And then hike the freaking thing in an afternoon.

If you’ve ever met these women you will understand what I mean. They are three fierce, amazing women, and I got to grow up after all of them. I feel small and unsure, and just weak under the most normal of situations. I am constantly worrying if I am a good enough person to be in anyone’s life, and that is something I want to change.

I don’t take compliments well, and I don’t believe them IF I accept them…but I want to try. I want to see what other people think of me in a positive light, and I want to be able to understand it. That is the goal I guess, that we are understood, or that we understand. I went on the Book of Faces and asked my friends and family on there to tell me something positive about me. I was overwhelmed. I had/have no clue how I can be this amazing person to so many people, but feel almost worthless to myself. I am trying to see what these incredible people in my life think of me and how I can start to see myself like that… Like I said, I am trying.

Here is what some awesome and loving people said about me:

Julia: “Creative. Kind. Awesome.”

Jess: ” You make anyone’s bad day better. Amazing person. Great personality. A rock to those in need of stability. Crazy (in a good way). Insanely missed. You give everything your all and expect little to nothing in return.”

Daniel: “A refreshing personality that makes the whole world brighter without contributing to global warming.”

Amber: “Funny, outgoing, great personality, good friend.”

Steph: “A truly unique person who has had to overcome many hardships in life but always finds the time to be there for those who need your support and understanding. Or in short, my personal therapist for over a decade.”

Joe (my Boy): “The most wonderful person in my life.”

Jamie: “You’re beautiful.”

Elena: “I don’t know what I would do without her. She makes me feel calm and safe when I am with her, despite our crazy and exciting adventures!”

Cathy: “Always there when you need someone to talk to no matter what time it is.”

Betty (my Aunt): “Loving, wonderful, strong, beautiful, brave, and adored by all.”

Sam: “Always up for a good time! Full of energy!”

Kate-Lynn: “Two things that always stand out to me: 1. Despite your own sadness, you will always go out of your way to make someone else smile. 2. You make friends everywhere (in every store) simply by smiling and asking how they are. Then I make friends just standing beside you.”

Christine (my Mommy): “Absolutely awesome!”

Susan (my Cousin):  “You are an amazing survivor who brings sunshine on a dull and rainy day. One heck of a photographer and a truly good person. That is why I love you so much.”

Eshaani: “You are a great listener- you tend to soothe people’s pains away and help them reach a decision when their head is a mess.”

Alex: “You are incredibly strong and beautiful.”

I am making it my personal mission to remember all of these positive things people think about me and try to remember that I am a good person. Now go hug your loved ones and tell them something awesome about them – they might just need it.

~ Andreah