all the feels


December. Sigh. We've at looOoong last made it to the bookend month of a year none of us planned.


It seems like yesterday and an eternity ago that I stood awestruck by Tivoli fireworks on a rooftop in Copenhagen on January 1, 2020 — beckoning in the start to a shiny new decade with stars in my eyes, hope in my heart, and no earthly idea of how this "year of perfect vision"would historically play out.


Fast forward through shutdowns, quarantines and a piecemeal move back home to Florida... I've found the past 9 months to be a great practice in processing— a mess metabolization, if you will.


From heart-wrenching realities to poignant "silver linings" and every tear, laugh and breath in between, we've been forced, collectively, to redefine resilience, to go inside and awaken. We've been challenged to sit... stay... rewrite and flip the scripts of our lives as we knew them... to digest fear and faith in equal measure.


I recently read an article that spoke towards the idea of grieving disguised as amorphous anxiety. It resonated. Having just celebrated Thanksgiving here in America, I know I'm not the only one who struggles to reconcile my overwhelming gratitude with my overwhelming grief. There have been blissful, mind-bending, heart-swelling moments of this impossible year that might have never been afforded pre-pandemic... there have also been days of seemingly insurmountable sadness, of unending loss.


Digesting this kind of emotional ambivalence is its own brand of exhausting. Fortunately, our shared histories have shown us we have everything we need to navigate through trenches of uncertainty, insecurity and confusion... and here's where my reflective little TED talk comes back to the mat.


The tradition of yoga has a long-standing relationship with traversing opposites. Dynamic shapes literally pull our bodies into two, sometimes 4 different directions... Mindful movement helps cultivate a discerning relationship with gravity, one that facilitates a kind of dance between resisting and surrendering, strengthening and softening, rooting and rising. It beckons a quality-check on the ingredients we put into our bodies and minds... questions the substance of our breath, the compassion of our self-talk, the grace of how we choose to see ourselves, and by extension, one another.


Yoga is a practice of vulnerability and strength, and fittingly, I'm not sure there's a better way to sum up the journey of this year.


So. This is all to say that it's OK to feel all of the feelings at the same time. It's OK to smile through tears, to be strong and ask for help, to have a plan and surrender to its undoing. It's not going to feel great all the time. It's not even going to feel good all the time. As a consolation, we have to proactively find people, practices, stories and shapes that beckon our renewal.


Each time I return to my mat, it's an opportunity to honor the practice of my processing... a practice of self-care for society (coined by my brilliant friends at JOS) that affords more space to breathe, to move, to be. It's simultaneously indulgent and selfless work.


This has been a year of inconvenient truths and impossible reckoning... as we approach a questionable Holiday season, perhaps taking care of yourself is the answer we all need, the practice of presence that is in and of itself, a gift.


Wear a mask, stay home, find your mat & flow with me.


Give the gift of Yoga! Email me for details of gifting Private Yoga Class Packages for yourself, your employees, friends or loved ones: shelbyelsbree@gmail.com

*Available in-person (Sarasota, FL) or virtually.


photograph: @katiebeilerphotography


 

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