I promised I would keep sharing about my experience of acquiring "Betty", so here I am actually writing this with her on the Eastside. So fitting. The stars aligned for me to have this weekend to myself and I seized it. The ease of taking spontaneous trips to the Eastern Sierra, and beyond, is one of the reasons that I bought Betty in the first place. Now, don't get me wrong; I really, really love my time with my partner. I really, really love my time with Tessa. I really, really love my time with my family and friends, but.... I really, really, REALLY LOVE my time alone, especially in one of my favorite places on the planet. I did not always love my alone time before I started my daily sitting practice. (Have to put my plug in for meditation). I think because my mind often was not the best company or I was afraid of my loneliness. When I did want to be by myself, I often was running away from some situation, some feeling, some emotion instead of stopping and being with it. These days I enjoy myself so much more because I do stop. Easy to say when I am sitting in a cushy van in God's greatest playground. But it's also true when I have been committed to a week of silence. It's true when Tessa pushes up all the ugly stuff. It's true when I am going through challenges because I know that life is playing out and I am learning, growing, evolving.
But what I wanted this email to be about is "image". Hence the pictures. When I made the decision to purchase a Sportsmobile, I knew that it came with an image. Well, I probably don't even need to write what that is, but I also knew that I could no longer hide, literally and figuratively. Sportsmobiles attract attention, like flies to fly paper. I think the attention is less now that there are probably about 100 of them just in Truckee. In fact, there are 4 camping vans on my short street. So, my first day driving the van I was talking to my friend on the phone about my fear that I could no longer hide. I told her I wanted to put a wig on, or a bag over my head (a little hard to drive). While we were talking, my friend received a text from a mutual friend, "Does Shari have a Sportsmobile!?" Hah!, my fear was confirmed. People were going to see me driving this van and have all sorts of thoughts/judgements about me and their new image of me would be constructed. I knew I couldn't hide behind the image of being a yoga teacher that doesn't have money. I actually thought that I might lose some of my friends because I had this image of now being a trust funder. As if someone that inherits money is a shameful or a bad person. What's that all about? I guess I thought it was (next email)...
I would love to leave Tessa, and if I am so blessed, my grandchildren, with an inheritance (like my grandmother Betty did for me) so they can live more comfortable lives with less stress. I even had the thought that people would want to be my friend just because of the van. Like now I am cool, but I wasn't before. Weird. Growing up I never wanted to be a part of the cool crowd. Coolness always felt so exclusive to me. Now I see the "cool" crowd and I feel so much more compassion for them because often I believe they are the ones hurting the most. And I often feel uncomfortable around people that have money because there are certain behaviors that feel exclusionary. Looking at my work around people that have money and the image I have of them, I've come a long way, but have a lot more to go. Basically, I never wanted to be approved of by having certain things, looking a certain way, or accomplishing amazing feats. I wanted to be approved of/loved just how I am. Deep down, I think we all want this, but we uphold these images trying to get attention/love. Ironically, our "images" actually keep us from connecting with others and experiencing more intimacy in our lives. Look at social media. It is so sad how we seek approval. The thing is we have already have been approved- Grade AA, Golden Star Approved. Just us being here is proof. Can you feel "proof" in each breath? You are loved. You are Love...
Not only are these images we hold on to exclusionary, they are also physically heavy. Some are heavier than others, but they all have a weight to them. To hold them up can be downright exhausting. I think this is one of the gifts of meditation because when we see/feel/experience the truth of who we are in our sitting practice, we are light and free. I can actually feel it when I am holding up an image and that is why I had to sit with this 9,000lb van. Some of us are holding up being the "sick and rad" athlete. Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps, openly shares about being at the top of his game and suffering from suicidal depression. Some of us are holding up the image of a pop star. Just recently, Tessa's favorite singer, Ariana Grande, is openly speaking of her PTSD and the depression she has suffered for the last decade. I love that people like this are willing to be vulnerable. True healing is happening and has the potential to reach lots. Some of us are going into huge debt to uphold an image and that's heavy. Many of us are doing all sorts of things to our bodies to be seen a certain way. When there is hiding, there is shame(believing something is wrong with us). And shame likes to hide because that is what feeds it. Also why I continually put it all out there on these newsletters because not only does it help me be free, but so many of you respond how it helps you.
Yes, there are costumes/roles we have to play- I have to put my mommy costume on because that is one of my roles in this lifetime. However, much different than the image I used to hold up of being the "perfect parent". Dear god; that was awful and unsustainable...
The funny thing is once I put that image down, I believe I have become a pretty good mom and I enjoy it so much more. I used to want to be a really good climber and skier because I thought that was how one was accepted in this "sick and rad" community and definitely how you attracted the opposite sex or held onto your partner. Once I put that image down, guess what? I climb, and ski, probably better and more importantly I enjoy it all so much more, including the fact that now I wouldn't want to be with a partner that expects me to be "sick and rad." Some of you may remember that I use to call my business, "Happy Yoga", and then I realized I was hiding behind the image of the always positive/happy yoga teacher. I thought people wouldn't come to my class otherwise. When I woke up to that one I renamed it "Shari Beard Yoga". I can't say that now my classes are full, but I am now sharing from a more truthful, authentic space that asks that of my students too. Yes, maybe I am not as popular, but that doesn't matter anymore. And, I can also truthfully say, I experience more happiness in my life...
The images we hold of others also create barriers. Look how divided we are. We think we know someone by their gender, their race, their religion, their political party, their sexual orientation, how much money they have or don't have, how they look. We may know something about them, but have we created an image that keeps us from connecting(?) Most likely. We put up barriers all the time to give us some sort of false security. I know my images of people with money have kept me from connecting with brilliant, inspiring individuals that have the influence to do, and are doing, great things for this world. That is why I continue to work on seeing individuals in their wholeness instead of all the images that I have constructed of them in my mind.
None of this is our fault. Our mind takes in information and automatically creates images. It does/did this for our own survival. Now our task is to filter and unpack this information so we can live our lives more fully and in an intimate way.
That's it for now loved ones!
Sent from a woman and her van.
Love you all!