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Being Fearless…or being fearful but saying f(*&k it and doing it anyway…

What scares you?

I used to be AFRAID OF EVERYTHING. The unfamiliar made me want to just hide away.

As I look back, I realize I’ve spent the 2nd half of my life dancing with fear. Trying to get familiar with it and then tell it to “Piss off.”

Once when I decided to audition for a musical (o.m.g. terrifying) I called a friend virtually hyperventilating and she asked me, “WHY? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS IF IT TERRIFIES YOU?”

Because it makes me feel powerful and alive. It makes me feel like I am the boss of me.

Things that have truly REDLIGHTTURNBACKDON’TDOTHIS terrified me:

  • *Leaving the safety and comfort of my first marriage.
  • *Moving to the Twin Cities on my own.
  • *Saying YES to new love.
  • *Marrying my husband after 5 months of dating (welp.)
  • *Taking on new jobs.
  • *Skydiving (every time scared the s(*&t out of me and I made 600+ jumps.)
  • *Going through IVF and not knowing if it would work.
  • *HAVING CHILDREN.
  • *Sometimes pressing PUBLISH when I post a blog.
  • *Taking tests (really…I am phobic.)

What are yours when you look back? What are those pivotal, terrifying things that made you want to wet your pants and run the other way?

Now…when you look back. Can you see in the rear view that those experiences made you and your life:

STRONGER

BIGGER

MORE INTERESTING

RICHER

MORE COLORFUL

This is living. This is living the shit out of your ONE AMAZING LIFE.

And that, my friends, is Ahimsa. That is having the courage to do the hard stuff having faith in yourself and the Universe that your life will be better for it. It’s not letting your FEAR make your life SMALL. It’s telling fear to “Piss Off.”

So last week I wrote a damn book report on this aspect of Ahimsa…and f&*k all if I didn’t have to write it all over again today…because I didn’t write it with heart. I wrote from a clinical and cold and fear-based place. It’s hard to put your shit out there. It’s scary to inject yourself into your work. It’s hard to remember that we’re ALL JUST TRYING TO FIGURE SHIT OUT. We’re all scared and trying to figure out how to deal with it.

Practice courage. Know that you are created to live. Know that the fear that keeps you from living your best life is a LIAR. And have faith in the stuff you are made of…it’s tough, resilient, and powerful.

Peace, Sarah

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Courage – Ahimsa

Background: The Yamas are the first step in the eight-fold path of enlightenment. The Yamas in Sanskrit mean “restraints.” And the first step of the Yamas is Ahimsa.

Ahimsa means Non-Violence.

Ahimsa is the jewel in the crown of yoga. The seat of yoga. The foundation of yoga. It is what all the rest of yogic philosophy stands upon.

I remember when I was first learning about Ahimsa in Yoga North Teacher Training and I was all like, “Check! ONE STEP CLOSER TO ENLIGHTENMENT! I’m not violent. I don’t hit anyone and hurt anyone.” Ummm, not quite. When you unpack the gift that is Ahimsa, you start to really see the subtle ways that we create violence within ourselves and within the world.

And our world, more than ever, needs Ahimsa.

If you haven’t read, “The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele, get yourself a copy. Deborah breaks down Ahimsa in the loveliest way. Her first exploration is around COURAGE. She explains that there are two kinds of Fear:

  • The good kind of Fear. The Fear that keeps you safe. “Danger! RUN!”
  • The not-so-good kind of Fear. The Fear that keeps you from living.

The world can feel like a scary place. And Fear can make your world become very small if you allow it.

And here’s the deal…Fear = Violence. Adele writes, “If we look closely, we can trace all of these acts of greed, control and insecurity back to their root: fear. Fear creates violence.”

Back in 2000 I moved to the Twin Cities, I didn’t know anyone, where to go, how to get anywhere, what to do. I felt trapped inside my fear. Day after day, I’d go to work and go back to my apartment. Then, I read a book called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. The book challenges you to do ONE NEW THING every day and those experiences will help fill your creative well. I accepted the challenge and made a list I’d always wanted to do and started checking them off of the list. My world expanded.

As Yoga North’s Molly McManus says, “You always want to be pressing your edges outward. That’s growth.”

A few things happened when I pressed outward on my edges:

  • I felt powerful and confident. I had nurtured COURAGE. I was COURAGEOUS.
  • My world got more colorful with experiences and people.
  • Indeed, my creative juices flowed more freely.
  • Fear no longer was the boss of me. I was the boss of me.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” There’s a Minnesota woman named Molly who based an entire blog called “Hey Eleanor” based this quote. She has done some WILD things all in the name of leaning into her fears and expanding her edges and she writes about each experience (watching a surgery, having a baby, skydiving) with humor and delight. Molly discovered what happens when you lean into your fears; she discovered that leaning into your fears is incredibly fertile ground.

And that’s the whole of it isn’t it? Living a life in color. Living a courageous life. Not letting our fears dictate and shrink our world.

Leaning in. It’s fertile ground for self-discovery, self-love, and self-confidence. Every day, lean in in the smallest of ways (it doesn’t have to be skydiving) and press your edges outward. Seek out opportunities that cause you to be a little nervous (saying hello to a stranger, going to a new restaurant, going to a social gathering where you don’t know anyone, taking a road trip, trying a new food etc.) and watch what happens. Fertile ground.

And that’s how Adele ends her chapter, with a week-long exploration in Courage:

“This week practice courage by doing one thing daily that you wouldn’t normally do…See if you can discern between fear and the unfamiliar. Watch what happens to your sense of self and how your relationships with others might be different because you are courageously stepping into unknown territory.”

See what happens. Lean into your fears. Expand your edges. Be courageous. Post below to let me know how it feels and what happens.

Namaste.


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New Stuff – Leaning in

Back when my husband was my boyfriend and we were both licking our wounds from bruised hearts – we would remind each other again and again, “Lean in.” (This was before this was a hot button couple of words and a superselling book…)

For us it meant – Lean into our fear. Lean into each other. Lean into our hope. Lean into our belief. Lean in.

Because this place, though frightening, is really fertile ground. It’s a place where you can throw in a couple of seeds and it will bear fruit. What kind of fruit may surprise you…but trust me, it will bear fruit.

There’s a bunch of new stuff on my plate lately that scares me…and that makes me super uncomfortable. Who doesn’t like to hang out in safety? But I KNOW from all of my experiences leaning in, that these experiences will bear me fruit beyond my imaginings.

Think on it…what are you putting off? What are you avoiding? What makes you nervous? What do you want to do, but are too afraid to try?

Lean in. You got this. Trust. There’s fruit in abundance.

Much peace,

Sarah