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Birthday, Delight, Guest Posts

Top 10 Life Lessons Learned In My 48 Years by Lynn Hasselberger.

May 1, 2013

I woke up today and…voilà! I’m 48 years old.

Born in the middle of the night, two weeks late, I violently entered the world at nine and a half pounds with a huge pile of dark hair on my head. (I got stuck, my mom hemorrhaged and, well, we’re all still alive to talk about it).

Gaping at the large feet and hands attached to this red thing that was supposed to be a baby, my mom was convinced that I was going to be a replica of my six foot one, large-boned aunt (sister to my dad, who is small boned).

My parents couldn’t agree on a name, so I remained nameless for a day or two. Referred to as the baby or, more hopefully, “Baby.” (I need to ask more questions about this fact that I learned only a holiday or two ago after my mom drank one glass of wine too many. Sorry, mom, this is my story. And it’s actually pretty humorous. I’m not trying to call you out as a bad mom).

Eventually they agreed upon Lynn. My dad’s name is E. Leonard and, at the time, they called him Lenny (the  initial “E” for  Elmer, so Lenny was definitely the better choice).

In my early years, family referred to me as Lynn Anne. Later, you can imagine the confusion. If you can’t, allow me to explain: Lenny got older and became Len. I didn’t like to be called Lynn Anne, so, thusly (I’ve always wanted to use that word in one of my posts!) I morphed into Lynn. During my teen years, when people phoned for my dad and I answered, trouble ensued. “Is Len there?” they would ask, pronouncing my dad’s name as (you guessed it!) Lynn. “This is Lynn,” I would say. “No Len!” They’d insist, still pronouncing my dad’s name as Lynn.

To top it off, I have an Aunt Lynne and a cousin Linda. Hey, it was almost worse. I could have been Cressie—my grandma (my  dad’s mom) wanted them to name me after her deceased sister Cressida.

So, I’ve never been a big fan of my name. Except when it turns into Lynnie, a nickname that some friends use on too rare an occasion.

Forty-eight years later—my baby fat dispersed properly with the exception of my knees where it seems to collect—I am who I am today. Lynn Hasselberger. (Side note: Just a few days ago, I celebrated my 20th anniversary. Before marriage, I was plain old Lynn Johnson. I could not wait to get married in order to jazz up my boring name. When I met my husband, I immediately thought: Nope, he’s not the one. I mean, Hasselberger?)

I’ve survived many struggles—from eating disorders and infertility… to (gulp) infidelity—and enjoyed quite a few triumphs, blessings and overall good times.

I’m wiser now (quite possibly, most of that wisdom came during the last eight years) and am learning to accept the fact that I’m aging. A fact I found difficult to accept only two years ago.

Enough about me! Here are the ten top things I learned so far:

1. Rich or poor, happiness comes from within. I’ve struggled with finances along the way (and still today after my husband’s two and a half year unemployment—he’s been working for over a year now!—unexpected medical expenses and the investment into my business that was never and never will be returned, and that we’re still paying off) and enjoyed “better” times when we were both working full time, each making six figures. I wasnot happier when we had more money, but we were able to eat out a lot, travel… and when something in the house broke we could fix it immediately with the only stress being which contractor to choose.

I’m happy for the most part right now. Give me some more money and my shoulders will soften, we’ll sleep easier and we can finally take that real family vacation that doesn’t require camping at someone’s house. A slight tick in happiness will probably occur but can only be sustained with what’s in our hearts.

And if we start making oodles of money, we’d be smarter with it. I wouldn’t buy that $250 pair of shoes (they lasted more than 10 years, so you could say it was a good buy) but I would treat myself to a massage and cleaning service weekly.

2. We have to accept ourselves, not try to be what other people think we should be. Over the years I’ve heard that I have to calm down my hair, my lips are too thin, I’m too thin, I need to loosen up and get out more (okay, I’d like to change that about myself), I’m too quiet, I should be this or that.

I’ve also imagined what others might think of me and what they think I should be. And tried to fit in. Not wild enough? Not fun enough? Not smart enough? Not pretty enough? Not successful enough?

Source: google.com via Kelly on Pinterest

I used to try to prove I was those things in order for others to like me more.

But now I think: So the f*ck what? I am me. If you don’t like me as I am, move along. Nothing to see here.

Or deal with this:

I’m not a big fan of large groups and big, loud parties. My hair is at times frizzy or just tossed into a ponytail. I can be quirky. I  don’t watch reality shows. I find it important to continue to learn and be open-minded. I do the best and love as much as I can and forgive you no matter what (unless you kill my cat or do something even more heinous, but even then…). I will  show off my big ugly feet with their weird long monkey toes and even paint them a crazy color on occasion. I will get stressed at laundry. I will run outdoors as long as my legs and body will cooperate. I will mostly eat healthy food. I will tell you if I’m feeling low or about what bugs me. I will utter non sequitors often. I will wear my pj’s some days when I work at home and occasionally nag. I will be quiet at times. I will be cautious if I don’t know you well enough yet. I will stop at one or two drinks. I like to be in bed reading by 9 p.m. I will turn down your invitation sometimes not because I don’t appreciate you but because I simply feel like hanging out at home because I’m just worn out. My house will not be spotless and I can’t guarantee shaved armpits on a daily basis. I’m spiritual but not into organized religion and you’ll never witness me squashing a spider. I’m a tree hugger and believe humans are accelerating climate change by emitting more carbon into the atmosphere than the oceans and vegetation can absorb, throwing off they way the climate system would work without our interference. And unless you’re a climate scientist, you can’t convince me otherwise. I voted for Obama.

And I’m okay with that. If you’re not, then so be it.

Source: Uploaded by user via Elizabeth on Pinterest

3. Aging isn’t bad. It’s a badge of honor. Every day we wake up is truly amazing. I have to admit, I tried “filler” on my face a couple years ago. I was a) trying to mask the horizontal lines that were forming around my lips and b) at battle with my thin lips. Since they were already poking me with a painful needle, I allowed them to fill in the crease above my chin and soften my laugh lines. The changes made me feel more attractive (after all the nasty swelling and bruising vacated my face) but didn’t make me feel any happier.

I was in a mid-life freak out zone at the time. Thanks to my husband’s layoff, my adventure into unnatural fillers was put to an end.

We’re all getting older. That means wrinkles, getting tired faster and finding long hairs in weird places. In preparation for the years ahead, I’m learning to embrace these facts. Although I’m a bit concerned about howmenopause will tamper with my mood and wreak havoc in other unknown ways.

Self-disclosure: I cover my grays, though, and that’s something I haven’t found the courage to walk away from. It may take me another 10 years or more. But definitely, by 70, I will let my hair go.

P.S. Fillers and hair coloring are not good for us or the planet. I am admittedly not a 100 percent flawless tree hugger.

4. Holding onto anger is worse than whatever caused the anger in the first place. It ages us and wastes our energy. Forgiveness is key.

Source: Uploaded by user via Lynn on Pinterest

5. When sh*t happens, you’ll know who your true friends are. How? Because they’ll still be around. And if they disappear, it’s probably for the best. (A couple years ago, I told a person I considered a good friend that I was feeling depressed. I never heard from her again. She didn’t return my messages and even disconnected from me on LinkedIn!)

Absorb the goodness your friends (and even your enemies) have to offer while they’re in your life… you’ll be better for it.

Source: via Tanith on Pinterest

6. Exfoliation is important.
Not only are my feet f*ckin’ ugly, they’re dry. It wasn’t until sometime after college that I learned about pedicures and exfoliation. I treat myself to a pedicure at the turn of every season and otherwise exfoliate my feet right here in the comfort of my own home. I also exfoliate the rest of my fine self with loofah during most showers. Afterward, I apply raw shea butter mixed with an essential oil. Quite the process and not something I have time for every day, believe me!

On a more positive note, I appreciate my feet. Although they can’t dance and are often clutzy, they have served me well all these years. I think they, in turn, appreciate the exfoliation.

7. I am not meant to drink more than two drinks. I try to tell this to people when they say, “Oh come on, have fun! Have another drink. Live a little.” (Who knew peer pressure would live on past the age of 15?) Believe me, by avoiding a third drink, I  will have more fun tomorrow and the next day. Drinking one drink is actually enough. And to think, back in college and into my twenties, I partied hard most days of the week. How did I graduate, much less survive? Now drinking just makes me sleepy and wakes me up in the middle of the night.

8. I don’t have to do anything.

This has been my new mantra for the last few days ago and I hope I always remember it. I had been waking up anxious, thinking of all the things I had to do that day. I’d write down the top three things that really had to get done—although, honestly, the world would have carried on without me completing those things—and put all the rest on a longer list which I could pull from if I happened complete the three things and found myself looking for something to do. Invariably, all the tasks plus worries about finance and other stuff I had forgotten to put on the list would jumble around in my head and paralyze me.

Recently, my husband and I spent two nights in the city for our anniversary. It took quite a bit to get myself out the door and onto that train (we don’t do much to avoid spending money!) but once I was at the hotel, clothes put neatly away in the drawers, everything I had to do left my mind. Well, not all at once. But by day two, I was carefree. We didn’t go around the city spending money like drunken sailors. We ate and walked and took in the scene. I even gave breakfast to three homeless men.

Nothing fell apart during those two days. I had fun!

This led to an epiphany. I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to wake up to thoughts of what I have to do that day. I don’t have to stress  about anything.

Telling myself I don’t have to do anything—a simple mind trick, similar to believing in fairies who will clean the kitchen and bathrooms in the middle of the night—has reduced my stress. And I’m more productive. My mind is clear. I’m approaching my life differently, from a place of abundance—look how full my life is! I have a family that I love, which leads to a couple of messes and extra laundry. How great is that?! How lucky am I?

I just have to follow my passion. My passion doesn’t have to be on a list.

Yes, I have responsibilities, but waking every morning with all them crashing against each other inside my skull until I can put them on a list and begin cramming them into a day just doesn’t work.

I don’t have to do anything. And my mind believes that! My anxiety? Extinguished.

I sure hope my mind doesn’t realize what I’m up to!

Source: oprah.com via Lynn on Pinterest

9. Food is fuel and medicine. Exercise makes me feel better.

It’s quite simple. I’ve written about my strange and evolving relationship with food, with self-medication disguised as a sugar tooth and eating disorder. Now I know—healthy food and exercise makes me feel better. And, please, I do eat crap once in a while including a pint of ice cream every week.

10. Time flies and every moment is a reward for this thing we call life.

Even the most unpleasant, f*cked up days are a gift.

I go through periods in my life, when it feels like time is slipping away and I feel myself grasping at it as if I could slow it down or stop it  altogether.

But squandering moments or stressing over our perceived lack of time is a waste of energy. I know this from experience. Chasing time is exhausting work!

I’ve decided this very moment to expand upon my mind trick (#8) and tell myself I have all the time I need. Ha! It’s also all the time I’ll ever have available to me. It is precious.

We need to embrace the good and the bad. After the bad, it could get worse, but then it will get better. Or… it might not. But no matter what happens, odds are in your favor that there’s someone else out there who’s experiencing something worse.

In the moments we have, we need to find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Inspire by sharing our passions. Or simply smile at someone, wave at our neighbor, support a friend when they’re down. Sign a petition for human rights or the planet.

Be grateful for this moment. And the one that just passed.

Live the moment. Get to know it. Learn from it. For it will inevitably be whisked away before you can say “Time flies!” (By the way, time does not fly if you’re serving it.)

And then we die.

Of course I’ve learned much more. But 10 is a nice round number.

The rest I’ll leave up to your imagination.

P.S. I’m grateful to everyone in my life and I hope to enjoy many more moments with all of you.

Happy birthday to everyone!


 

Lynn Hasselberger lives in Chicagoland with her son, husband and two cats. She loves sunrises, running, yoga, chocolate, reading and writing, and has a voracious appetite for comedy. The founder of myEARTH360.com, Lynn also writes for her blog I Count for myEARTH. She’s a treehugger and social media addict who you’ll most likely find tweeting excessively and obsessively (@LynnHasselbrgr@myEARTH360and @IC4ME) or posting on facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.

**This post originally appeared on Elephant Journal and is reposted here with permission.
The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse on Jan 11, 2016. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation. Click photo to book.

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse on Jan 11, 2016. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation. Click photo to book.

Guest Posts, manifesting

The Real Secret by Jeannie Page.

April 16, 2012

The following is a guest post by my friend Jeannie Page. It originally appeared on her fantastic site called The Awakened Life. Jeannie is a writer and motivational speaker. To book her click here.

Stay tunes because Jeannie will be featured in The Manifestation Q&A Series this month.

The following post was so aligned with all that I teach that I felt compelled to share.

Jeannie is in the process of writing a book.

I have no doubt it will be a best seller.

Have you ever known the person who thinks that they have it worse than everyone else? No matter what tragedies may have befallen your own life, their situation is somehow always more tragic. Whenever you talk to them they have that dreadful “woe is me” tone that makes you roll your eyes and want to hang up the phone. And even when you try to be a good friend and offer words of encouragement they find ways to pooh-pooh anything you say. The person who seems to pride themselves on spouting off nothing but negativity, that somehow if they can drag you into their negative web that they will feel better about themselves. We’ve all known these people.  Heck, perhaps at one time or another we’ve even been that person. Come on people, let’s be honest. I know I’ve definitely been there at one dark time or another. I’m sure many of you have too.

Here’s the thing that those people (or we) do not realize. By allowing themselves (or ourselves) to wallow in their (or our) own angst and fester in their (or our) own negativity, they (or we) are actually poisoning themselves (or ourselves). Here’s why: our thoughts have power. Yes folks, you heard right and I can’t say it loudly enough. Our thoughts have power. Now many of you naysayers who have heard about the Law of Attraction and watched or read The Secret will now be rolling your eyes and think that this is new-agey horseshit. Allow me to clear some things up for you. I have studied the Law of Attraction for the past several years and I have seen proof positive of its validity in my own life: for both good and bad. You know those days when you wake up and stub your toe and then the whole day spirals downhill from there? That is the simplest example of the Law of Attraction. You started with a negative thought and you focused your energy on it, and because of that you attracted more negative things into your life that day. You become like a magnet. I have seen my negative thoughts perpetuate more negativity and create drama in my life, and on the flip side I have seen how harnessing the positive thoughts can truly change your life in brilliant and magical ways.

 

 

 

Let me talk about The Secret for a second. While the underlying premise of this book and film resides in Universal truth, their portrayal of the Universal Law of Attraction is actually a bit too literal and oversimplified. The Law of Attraction does not mean that you can focus all of your attention on a new bike and then “poof” a new bike will appear. It does not even mean that you can focus on your dream job, and that if you put it on your vision board that you will one day manifest it. That is a false and very misleading teaching. Here’s why: All the Law of Attraction truly states is that like attracts like, meaning that if you focus on the negative, you will attract more negativity into your life; and alternatively if you focus on the positive, you will attract more positivity into your life. It does not allow you to focus on one specific thing that you really want and then allow that thing to come to you, all wrapped up in a pretty bow. No siree! And the reason is because that thing which you may be trying to manifest may in fact not be meant for you. You may be trying to manifest the return of an old lover. But if there is another lover in your future that you are meant to find, that is a better fit for you, the Universe is never going to allow the return of the old lover. The same is true of the dream job. I use my own life for this example. I was trying to manifest success in the .com world, but instead the Universe pulled one of its famous tricks on me and got me fired and now on the path to being a writer. We often do not know what is best for us, therefore the Law of Attraction is not as simple as we focus on something that we really want and then we get it.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get back to the main point, that our thoughts do have power. You don’t just have to believe me and my experiences about the power of thought. In this age when we as human beings are starting to become more aware of our consciousness and its power, quantum physics is no longer an occult subject for the airy-fairy hippies.  It has now moved to the forefront of major research institutions like Stanford, Harvard and Princeton. There have been loads of scientific studies performed about the power of the mind. As Lynne McTaggart points out in her book The Intention Experiment, the most comprehensive body of research has been amassed by William Braud, a psychologist and the research director of the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio, Texas, and later, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. If you wish to learn more about the science of the mind, I recommend Lynne’s book as well as works published by the scientists on her team. In recent years I have also seen a plethora of articles published in major scientific journals about the power of meditation to actually change the chemistry of the brain. It is no longer just a fanciful theory. Modern science has finally caught up to the ideas that ancient mystics, scientists and philosophers have known for centuries: our thoughts do have power.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make our world.”
~Buddha~

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” 
~Marcus Aurelius~

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings
can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”
~William James~

“Outer changes always begin with an inner change of attitude.”
~Albert Einstein~

 

 

 

Ok, so if it’s true that our thoughts can change our lives, how then do we implement that? I’ve discovered that the reason why so many people discount the teachings of The Secret is because they think “if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.” We all know that when we are stuck in that dark and negative place, it can be extremely difficult to change our thoughts to something positive. It is our human nature that when we feel miserable and defeated, that just like the person I mentioned in the beginning, all too often we feel that nothing could ever improve our situation. We dwell on the negative. And in that situation the Law of Attraction IS actually working, but it is working on the negative side and against your favor. You are a magnet for more negativity to come into your life. To get it to work IN your favor, you have to change your thoughts. It is not an easy thing to do, but it is wrong to believe that it does not work. It takes a truly committed Spiritual Warrior to force themselves to change their thoughts, even when they are at their darkest. There’s the old saying “fake it ’till you make it.” This couldn’t be more true when it comes to changing your thoughts. I’ve learned that even if you are feeling down in the dumps, if you can force yourself to focus on the positive, you can change your life. This is exactly what I have done in my own life. Because I have had such radically life-altering success by practicing the Law of Attraction and by choosing to focus on the positive, I want to share with you exactly how I did it.

Many of you who have read my prior pieces know that I have lived through what I can only aptly describe as a “dark night of the  soul” in recent years. There were many times when I did not want to get out of bed, when I felt completely alone, abandoned and unloved, when I felt that things couldn’t get any darker. I had reached my rock bottom. It was during that time that I began to study and practice the Law of Attraction, really as an act of desperation. I took a course about the Law of Attraction and I learned about the concept of a Gratitude Journal, a concept with which I’m sure many of you are familiar. By writing down that for which we are grateful, we are focusing our thoughts, our energies on the positive. I took this lesson one step further.

 

Every night before I would go to bed, I would make two lists: 1. First I would make a list of ALL of the good things that happened that day, no matter how small, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Even if it was something as small as the store clerk smiled at me, I wrote it down. I searched through my memory banks trying to find any possible positive thing that occurred in that day, and I wrote them all down. 2. Secondly, I would make a list of all that I was grateful for in that day. Some things would remain constant, others would change from day to day. But by writing these two lists, everyday, by actually writing down the words, I was giving them more power and energy. By forcing myself to focus on the positive, even though I felt deep sadness, I was beginning to shift my energetic vibration, and the energy in my life began to shift. I began to attract more positivity and magic into my life. As I forced myself to do these exercises everyday for months on end, I began to notice that more and more unexpected and beautiful things began flowing into my life. And the positive energy compounded upon itself. The longer I did it, the more powerful the energy became, and the more magical synchronicity came into my life.

I have shared these exercises with each beautiful soul that has reached out to me from a place of darkness asking for help. And one person after the next has told me that by doing these simple exercises, they too have started to see positive shifts in their lives. I am never surprised by this of course, because I know for myself that it truly works. So what’s the REAL Secret then? It is not simply to focus on a specific, tangible thing that you want in your life. It is instead to focus on every positive, beautiful thing that occurs in your day, to force yourself to change your negative thoughts instead to positive ones. It is to view the glass as half full, always. The REAL Secret is to continue focusing on the positive and then to simply allow, to be open to whatever beauty may come, and not pigeon-hole yourself into a specific outcome. If you do this, every day, if you truly make a conscious effort to look for the good in each day, to write it down and focus on it, I promise you that you too will change your life for the better.

 
http://theawakenedlife.wordpress.com/
Jeannie Page is a reformed .com management professional who is making a shift in her life, a shift to follow her bliss, to get into alignment and to be a force for good in the world. Blogging at The Awakened Life. Jeannie, and details about her current book project, can be found on Facebook hereand on Twitter at @jeannienpage. Jeannie’s Spanish Facebook page can be found here. Jeannie is also the Spanish Language Editor for Elephant Journal. Click here for the Elephant Journal en Español Facebook page.
Guest Posts, Owning It!, Self Image

Confessions of a Naked Yogini. Guest Post by Liz Arch.

March 2, 2012


Liz Arch is a dear friend of mine. In fact, last year we were roommates when Lululemon sent us, as ambassadors, to Whistler B.C. for an Ambassador Summit. Liz is ambassador to the Santa Monica store and I’m ambassador to the Beverly Hills store. It was a huge honor!

We had a great time together jumping on the bed and having pillow fights at the Four Seasons. (It’s a verrrry comfy bed.) 

It was truly an epic experience and life changing for both Liz And I. Thank you Lululemon for believing in us.

Liz shared with me that I inspired her to begin writing and to be vulnerable. After I read this fantastic piece, I was even more touched. Talk about living my life on purpose. I told Liz yesterday on the phone that in my fantasy life “The INSPIRER” is my job title. 

“Thank you for inspiring me to start writing! Your blog, classes, life and message are a source of daily inspiration.  You have such a powerful voice and have helped so many others to find theirs.  Infinite gratitude.  Love you soul sister! Love, Liz.”

This article and my buddy Liz make me happy. Read on. Yes, she is naked in the picture. 

This article was originally posted on Elephant Journal.

                     Confessions of a Naked Yogini. ~ Liz Arch {nudity}

If you had asked me a few years ago about my thoughts on posing nude, my answer would have been: Hell, no!

What self-respecting woman would ever want to pose naked for public viewing? Doing ass-up yoga poses, no less? Not me.

I now stand corrected, and upside down and ass-side up.

So how did I end up in a calendar with legs spread, sporting nothing but my birthday suit? I got on my yoga mat. I learned how to breathe. I learned how to let go. I learned how to accept myself and stop judging others for my own insecurities. Let’s face it, it’s hard to celebrate others for being comfortable in their own skin, like Briohny Smyth (in her underwear-clad video that went viral) or Kathryn Budig (in her nude toesox ads), when we’re not comfortable in our own.

I certainly wasn’t always comfortable in mine.

But, before you write this off as another article from a skinny girl whining about her body image, let me concede. At 5’8”, I am aware that I am tall and slender. I wear a size four-six and openly admit that my ass looks great in a pair of lululemon leggings. But insecurities come in all shapes and sizes.

I come from a large Hawaiian family and I mean large in every sense of the word. My sisters and I were raised on spam, rice andmalasadas (deep fried Portuguese donuts covered in sugar). My father has diabetes and so did my grandparents who both died young due to health complications.

So while I might be able to squeeze into a size four on a good day, I am fighting an uphill battle with genetics. I have womanly hips (easily hidden in tight-fitting luon) and cellulite on my ass that I’ve had as long as I can remember (even luon has its limitations). I used to refuse massages because I didn’t want anyone getting a handful of my butt jiggle. On the rare occasions when I would get a massage, I would spend the entire session trying to subtly tilt my rear toward the ceiling to make everything seem rounder and smoother. At the end of the hour, I would hobble off the table with my lower back on fire from all of the effort it took to keep my ass skyward.

Photographed by Sven Hoffmann

My insecurities went deeper than my cellulite.

Growing up, I was an awkward looking kid with mouthful of crooked teeth because we couldn’t afford braces. My parents let me get a boy haircut in the third grade and instead of looking like my idol at the time, Mary Lou Retton, I looked like Justin Bieber. Awesome if you’re a boy. Not so awesome if you’re a girl. To add to my awkwardness, my family owned a funeral home. Nothing paints a larger target on your back as a child than being picked up from school in a hearse. Let’s just say, I spent a lot of my childhood being teased and crying in bathroom stalls.

Thankfully, I grew up. My hair grew back, I got Invisalign braces in college and thanks to HBO’s hit series Six Feet Under, funeral home families had become cool. All was well in the world and I had, as my sister would say, “turned out much prettier” than everyone thought I would.  Thanks guys.

But that ugly duckling feeling never really went away. It ultimately manifested with me marrying a man who constantly validated all the worst things I thought about myself. I wasn’t good enough, skinny enough, and strong enough. I just wasn’t enough. Period.

It was yoga and meditation that I turned to to help me find the strength to leave an unhealthy relationship. It was yoga that helped me create a new and healthy relationship with myself. Tuning into my breath allowed me to tune out all the bullshit I had been telling myself since childhood.

All that I had learned from yoga and meditation was all tested when I got a call from Jasper Johal, one of the best fine art photographers in the yoga industry, asking if I would be interested in shooting nude for the 2012 Body As Temple Calendar. I was incredibly honored and agreed. But when the initial excitement of the call wore off, panic set in and all the old insecurities came flooding back.  The shoot is this Thursday? Thursday as in three days from now? Shit. 

That wasn’t nearly enough time to prepare my body for its naked debut.

I found myself stepping onto the scale and immediately stepping off to Google the lemonade diet. Thankfully, before I could head off to the store for cayenne pepper and maple syrup, I had a, “What the f**k?!” moment. Was I really back to this place? Don’t I tell my students on a daily basis to accept and embrace themselves exactly as they are?

I wish I could say that I silenced my inner voice right then and there. But instead, I went to the tanning salon. If I couldn’t starve myself skinny in three days, I could at least fake and bake a few pounds off (that should have been the real WTF moment!). And, baked was what I got. I walked out feeling like a lobster with crispy nipples.

To make matters worse, I got my period the night before the shoot and a big fat pimple to go along with it. As I sat there bleeding, bloated, blemished and burned (are you turned on yet?), that nagging little voice popped up and told me to cancel. But I resisted the urge to slip back into old patterns.

Shooting nude suddenly became a powerful opportunity to silence my inner critic for good.

The shoot itself was an incredibly freeing experience. The lens was able to capture what I couldn’t see, a strength that only arises from vulnerability. The final photo now hangs in my living room and when I look at it, I see much more than a naked body. I see an inner confidence that exudes outward.

Now I embrace every line, every freckle and every wrinkle. I embrace my small breasts. I embrace my hips. Admittedly, I’m still working on embracing my cellulite. Perhaps for my next shoot, I’ll do a nude version of half moon and finally show off my full moon in all its glory.

Hey, even the real moon has craters, but that doesn’t stop us

from admiring its beauty.

Liz Arch is the creator of Primal Yoga®, a dynamic yoga/martial arts fusion class that merges Vinyasa yoga with the playfulness of Capoeira, the artistry of Kung Fu, the grace of Tai Chi, and the agility of Budokon into a creative and mindful flow. She has over 10 years of experience in various yoga and martial arts styles including Power Yoga, traditional Northern-style Kung Fu and Yang-style Tai-Chi. She is a yoga ambassador for lululemon athletica and YogaEarth and a proud advocate for A Window Between Worlds, a non-profit in Venice, CA that uses art as a healing tool for women and children who are survivors of domestic violence. Visit her here or find her on facebook or twitter @primalyoga.


Jennifer Pastiloff will be teaching at the Tadasana International Yoga & Music Festival over Earth Day weekend on the beach in Santa Monica, CA, April 20– 22. Click here to check out the festival website and purchase tickets. Enter the code Pastiloff for a $50 discount! (Please note that discount codes expire April 1.)
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