My theory is, the more yourself you are, the more you love yourself, the more the universe will love you, too. As a child, I was taught that God, our creator, would love me no matter what. I was taught that as a fact, but it didn’t feel like much. I didn’t know I needed God’s love, or my own. I was OK without God’s love. I had the love of my parents and my two sisters. I had a few good friends. God didn’t really even know me, so why would they love me?
I was right about the love of my family until I wasn’t. While their love for me and mine for them is unwavering, it is not all-consuming, and it is not enough to keep me in balance. Once I moved away from home, put physical distance between myself and my family, I felt the void more than ever. My family’s love was unending, but in my day-to-day I still felt all alone. I couldn’t identify the emptiness and tried to fill it with a lot of the wrong things before I began to make progress. I drank a lot in college because, you know, college. I surrounded myself with a lot of people instead of the right people. I looked for external validation, instead of looking inside myself.
My journey of self-adoration is always in flux, even after years of practicing mindfulness and being true to myself. Some days I’m a badass with little regard for the opinion of others. Other days, my husband asks a benign question about my shoes and the waver of my confidence has me in tears within moments. But since I began down this road, God, the Universe, Goddess, Mother Nature, has rewarded me with surprises and coincidences around every corner. Sometimes these moments are little things that only I would notice. Other times, the stars align in such a way even others ask me, “How do you find yourself in these situations?”
Just last month I was reminded of the magic that accompanies authenticity. I spent Labor Day Weekend in the woods of Pennsylvania, meditating, practicing yoga, and doing the spiritual soul work with a group of like-minded women, led by my dear friend and teacher Alyssa Kuzins. I went into the weekend unsure of what I was hoping to walk away with, but I was eager to retreat to a simpler pace for a few days. After 24 hours unplugged, several soulful conversations among friends, and an intuitive dance session that stirred my spirit, I saw clarity in my craving: Playfulness.
I journaled over the next few nights about how I envisioned playfulness coming into my life. Aaron and I were in a mundane routine with work, and without any big vacation or occasion to look forward to, I began to plan. A camping trip, a movie marathon, maybe even a bowling league. I was rich with ideas, but none of them came close to predicting the serendipity that would welcome me home on Monday.
I’d been home just over an hour when I got a Facebook message from my boss’ best friend, Rainy. She owns a farm and a herd of goats. Two years ago, just after she bought the goats and started her environmentally friendly goat-scaping business, HaveUHerd, her and I were chatting about other ways she could monetize the herd. In the rise of animal-accompanied yoga on social media, I had heard about goat yoga classes in other cities. She was totally into the idea, and a few Facebook posts later I had found her a willing instructor. So fast forward to my post-retreat bliss brain, I had to read Rainy’s message a few times…
Emily! This is Rainy. I need to ask you a yoga question. May I have your number to call you?? It involves the Steelers and filming a little video. Juju is filming a video on my farm tomorrow evening and I want to know if you would like to co star as his “yoga teacher”??
Juju Smith-Schuster, a Wide Receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has a reputation for making playful videos on social media, and being an all around goofball, as well as a star football player. An agent had called Rainy hoping to rent a goat or two for a video promo with Juju. He also wanted to use her land to film. They had set this up previously, but the agent called over the weekend saying and they wanted Juju to do yoga with the goats but needed someone to show him some poses.
Does it get anymore playful than that?
Old Emily, the Emily who hadn’t figured out her desire for playfulness, might have said no. The idea of being on camera and the potential pressure of being with a celebrity, would normally have kept me from enjoying this opportunity. So, with my new attitude for playfulness in tow, my husband and I drove out to Rainy’s farm the following evening. We met Juju and his crew, I helped with a few yoga poses, and luckily didn’t have to be on camera at all. (See how silly Old Emily’s fears were!) Afterwards, we had a few jersey’s signed and took a picture. It was silly, completely random, and a lot of fun.
These kinds of things seem to happen to me all the time. It’s not because I’m special or great, but because I live in alignment. Rainy thought of me because I connected her to the yoga community, my community, in an authentic moment of creative connection, over two years ago.
Being yourself can be hard if you don’t know yourself. Don’t let that stop you. Finding yourself will open up possibilities you cannot even imagine today. Commit to learning about yourself in a new way and start building your toolkit, Warrior.