Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Lately, I'm thinking about transformation.

Before I begin, though, I'd like to apologize for my spotty blogging over the past year. It's my intention to write more frequently now that I've finished the second draft of my novel - YIPPEE! Even though I have much more to do with that project (revisions galore, dipping my toe into the "next step" of publishing and getting it into the world, for starters), I have ideas for new projects and new ways to communicate. And one of the things I've really missed is blogging, which is more a form of journaling for me and allows me to connect more fully with YOU. 

And so we begin again.

Last weekend, I was in Ojai at my twice-yearly yoga retreat. My teacher Julian Walker calls them "transformation retreats" and, after 18 of these events, he has structured the 4-day/3-night weekends to allow participants to explore the inner depths of their personal journeys. The interesting thing is, sometimes we don't know we're actually transforming... and it takes a long time to recognize it ourselves, though the other participants can see it in within us.

Because I missed the last retreat in October, I hadn't seen many of my dear yoga retreat friends for nearly a year. In that time, I've finished my novel (twice, really, since I did a major revision for the 2nd draft), I changed my nutrition and got real about my physical form (I'll write a separate post on that one of these days), and I stopped allowing myself to believe the stories I'd made up about myself. You know the ones, about being "too old" to learn things, "I've always done things this way, so I'll continue on this unproductive hamster wheel," and other ridiculous ideas that our minds use as propaganda to keep us from pursuing our dreams. 

For me, this new thinking has resulted in a different-looking body, a strong will to forge ahead as a bonafide writer, a kick in the pants of what I thought being over 40 was supposed to look and feel like, the exploration of hobbies I've always wanted to try (singing on stage, for one), and a "what the hell?" attitude toward creating and living the life I want.

The transformation feels intrinsic to my well-being and I hardly notice it now. But when I first rolled up to retreat, fresh from my regular role as a mom who has to get shit done and live in the regular world, as my friend Evann shared with me later, I didn't seem the same. Yeah, I looked different, etc., but she wondered, "Where is Erin? Is she still there?"

Which reminded me that, even with transformation, we can still put up our defenses to deflect others' judgments. Sure, I was sparkly and self-confident, but I still wanted everyone to see me and LIKE me. It was seamless.

Over the course of the weekend, as I practiced silence and meditation and being in community with other people who are as committed to finding their best selves, I found myself again under the new layers I'd added to my "self." When I dropped under all of it, I knew again that I was so much more than even the transforming self I'd worked so hard to create. 

Once again, I knew I was infinite and I didn't need anyone to tell me that. 

I guess the thing with transformation is, we're really just stripping back the layers and finding who we already are. It's ironic to me that our most magnificent selves are the naked, vulnerable ones. 

Here I must quote Mary Oliver (yet again), from her brilliant poem "The Journey":

...and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company 
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

And that life is your own.

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