What I am listening to during today’s cleanse – in honor of SNL’s 40th anniversary – Elvis Costello Radio Radio (so 1977 and so awesome) – Kanye West Black Skinhead (coolest visual performance EVER) – Dre & Eminem Forgot About Dre (holy crap – awesome) – The National Anthem Radiohead (you just GOTTA see Thom Yorke in this) – Not For You Pearl Jam (who else can rock out an 18 minute SNL performance so perfectly) – Rage Against The Machine Bulls On Parade (Tom Morello’s guitar solo at 2:15 is off the hook) – and probably the coolest ever, Simon & Garfunkel reunite in 1975 for The Boxer.
Nope, nevermind: THIS was the coolest
ACT I – WHAT IS LOVE?
What is love? In honor of Valentine’s Day weekend, a few different perspectives:
“Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.” ― Paulo Coelho
“There’s no substitute for a great love who says, ‘No matter what’s wrong with you, you’re welcome at this table.'” — Tom Hanks
“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” — A. A. Milne
“Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.” — Woody Allen
ACT II – LIVING LARGE
At least the life that I had planned.
In what seemed like a heartbeat, I had gone from living the “happily-married life,” with two adorable children, in that red brick house with the white picket fence …
… to a life as a lonely, divorced single father of two.
It was at once surreal and devastating.
From childhood, we all try to design the perfect lives. And then, for good or bad, reality has its way with us.
I remember one time, standing in the wet snow of the library parking lot, one over-stimulated and crying child on each arm, trying to figure out how to get one into the car seat while the other wriggled and screamed. I felt sure I would never figure it out, and we would surely remain standing in that parking lot until spring.
Therapy and medication helped but proved just to be band-aids, and the road ahead – once bright – seemed dark and unclear.
Then, an amazing college friend visiting from out of town, suggested we go to a yoga class.
I clearly remember the instructor, Marni Task, teaching me my first pose: how to sit in hero’s pose. How simple: learning just how to sit.
And from that point forward, it was a magical ride.
Someone once said to me, “yoga is self-imposed discomfort.” It made sense: if I could breathe – and somehow stay alive – on my mat, maybe I could handle the unpredictable world around me in the same way.
The very next weekend I dropped off the kids, booked a flight to Providence, rented a car, and drove up through the Berkshire Mountains, through Stockbridge and Lenox (cue James Taylor) to a yoga retreat center called Kripalu.
When I pulled up, I knew I had come home.
The next three days at Kripalu were insane. I became friendly with the crazy musician/mystic Bhagavan Das (played with the Beatles and was best friends with the Beastie Boys), met people from around the world with super-ambition toward growth, worked my body hard, ate delicious healthy food.
In the first Kripalu morning yoga class, I sat in stillness – this new world opening up to me – and looked out ahead through the window to the snowy, treed landscape ahead of me. Calmness reigned. Rolling waves of concern and despair began to subside.
Now, years later, I have taken countless yoga classes, gotten lost in Tibetan chant with Llama Surya Das, learning from some of the greatest yoga practitioners in the world, and met incredible yogis and yoginis with hearts of pure gold.
But I still bring it back to the beginning each time…..
At the beginning of every yoga practice I sit first in hero’s pose to honor Marni and that first class, and then I close my eyes and I picture that snowy landscape to honor that first weekend at Kripalu.
And the truth has emerged:
What was my lowest point was actually my starting point.
Then we enter the beautiful geography of resiliency.
My amazing friend and mentor Maria Sirois talks so well about how to live a LARGE LIFE even in the face of sadness and struggle.
This is our ultimate quest. To live in joy with The Struggle.
And to let the endings become beginnings yet again.
– INTERMISSION –
Click here for more information on this amazing trip.
Also, we are so grateful for the feedback we are getting on our Thrive-Box. This was Thrive’s goal to take happiness practices – the ones we create for communities and companies – and push them out to anyone, anywhere.
The reality is so cool: if someone does the 6 practices in this box for a month, they will become happier. Plus, we connect everyone for months after receiving the Box, with an online community and content, TED Talks, music playlists and more every month.
Click here for more information or to order a Thrive-Box.
ACT III – DAYS 9 & 10 – I’M NOT ADDICTED
Although this is typically the ramp-down phase of Jenna’s cleanse, I have chosen to keep going on this rigorous pace.
The main challenge is dealing with hunger. There is no doubt that vegetables and fruits just don’t fill me up the way that the greatest food ever – ahem the Chipotle burrito – does.
So I have wrestled with being OK with being a little hungry and not needing to eat something immediately. Probably 90% of the world has this issue – or much much worse. I can deal with it for 15 days.
I just feels right.
Here is what is keeping me filled up and happy: