IMAGE // Via Dharma Karma Arts

Hello, Reader!

I was remarking to Ross just now that I am unsure of what to write about here, since so often, I use this blog to write about things happening in Austin, or to talk about myself. The only problem is, I:

A) Haven’t been doing too much lately, culturally-speaking, and

B) Sometimes, I get tired of talking about myself. (But only sometimes.)

The truth is, I started my yoga teacher training at Dharma Yoga, and it. Is. Awesome. I can’t even tell you the amount of self-restraint I have to exercise to not put “awesome” in all caps or italicizations or a blingy colored font. (Oh alright — I will!)

With training starting up, my weekly schedule now is:

–yoga sessions five times a week,

–teacher training twice a week,

–and because I am an insane person, I decided to sign up for aerial silks four times a week. This week was my first to attempt all four and now all of my body parts are screaming in agony and berating me like, “WTF? We were just sitting here calmly enjoying some ham and pecan pie and now you’re telling us to climb up and down this freaking cloth and drink boring water, rather than eggnog?? Psh!!!”

It’s bad.

But it’s good, too. Yes, I can hardly walk, and yes, my climb is all messy and my inversions are a joke and YES, I have totally fallen out of more yoga balances than I care to admit…but oh well. When I’m not moaning and pointing meekly to my shoulders to Ross and whimpering, “will you rub these? PLEASE?” and when I’m finally still and calm, it dawns on me how damn lucky I am. That I live in this city, with all of these teachers, and that my parts are still working well enough for the time being to take advantage of them.

It wasn’t always this way.


Seven years ago, I was celebrating my 23rd birthday when things suddenly took a turn. And by “turn” I mean a vodka shot (I don’t even like vodka) after an evening of steady, prolonged champagne consumption. You can probably already see where this story is going.

Anyway, a couple of friends were kind enough to drive me home, and lay me out on the living room futon in my shared condo. After they left, this was the thought process that went through my brain:

BRAIN: You need to throw up.

ME: I realize that — but — I can’t move.

BRAIN: No problem! Just throw up on the carpet!

ME: What? No. That’s gross.

BRAIN: It’s right there.

ME: I realize that, but, then I’ll have to sleep next to it all night and furthermore, I’ll ruin this relatively attractive floor and then my roommates and I will lose our deposit.

BRAIN: You’re thinking about this way too much. Just throw up, and, the throw up will sink down into the carpet.

ME: Ew, you’re disgusting.

BRAIN: Tolly, I swear! Nobody will notice.

ME: They won’t notice a huge pile of vomit lying a few inches away from my face in the morning?

BRAIN: No, swear to God, it’ll be just like water. It’ll sink down into the carpet and you won’t even see it. If you want, you can give the spot a few spritzes of cleaner in the morning.

ME: Really?

BRAIN: Really!

ME: Well…alright.

And with that, I took my brain’s advice.

Turns out, my brain was completely wrong. Apparently it’s totally noticeable when you vomit next to your face! And contrary to popular belief, it actually doesn’t sink down into the carpet just like water.

I was in grad school at the time in California, and though I had actually taught yoga before, I all but abandoned it when I moved out there. Ironic, right? Who moves to California and GIVES UP yoga?

Anyway, none of us in grad school had any money, and the way we entertained ourselves was primarily through drinking. I still tried to take care of myself, sort of, by going to the gym and squeezing every subsidized dime possible out of my student health care (the University of California system has amazing health insurance) — I went to the dentist, the dermatologist, a psychologist who was incredibly nice to me in his office, but actively avoided my eyes whenever I saw him on campus. I even convinced myself I had some sort of horrible stomach issue like Crohn’s Disease, and went to a stomach specialist for a short while. Our relationship turned chilly after she started requesting stool samples.

It was such a bizarre time in my life. Have you ever lived in a place where you just know, right off the bat — “uh oh. This isn’t me.” That’s how I felt about grad school, and even the town where I lived during grad school. An incredibly cute, biker-friendly, farmer’s marketed town in Northern California — but something about it felt off. A frame that tilts ever so slightly downward, a shirt sleeve that pulls at the elbow.

So, I drank. Not violently so. But regularly. Enough to feel relaxed and woozy, enough so that my inner, quiet voice telling me, “this isn’t really your home or your life path, Tolly,” could well and truly shut up. Because yes it was. I had worked too hard to get here.

What I didn’t know was that eventually, I’d call my dad in tears, and tell him that I wasn’t going to get this PhD. after all.

What I didn’t know was that I’d tell my program’s advisor, and that he said he would help me get my Masters, so my time so far wouldn’t be a waste.

What I didn’t know is that Ross would fly up to California and pack up all my things in my car, while I dashed off my Master’s thesis on that same, poor futon.

What I didn’t know is that I’d say goodbye to all of my dear California friends and drinking buddies.

What I didn’t know is that we’d drive back home to Texas, breaking down every eighth hour or so, with all my little things packed up in a tiny, ill-equipped-for-multi-state-transit Ford Escort.

What I didn’t know is the sigh of immense relief I’d let out driving down my beloved Park Boulevard in Hyde Park, like it trees, its little colorful bungalows, Waller Creek, and that hundred-year-old water well next to the house had been waiting for me all along.

What I didn’t know is that my old Austin friends actually had been waiting for me to come back home, or how immensely happy I would be to to see them.

What I didn’t know is that I would start writing again, doing real, Tolly writing, writing that wasn’t very good but at least it was mine.

What I didn’t know was that I’d ever be interested in any other exercise ever again besides dutifully getting on the elliptical  5x/week and zombie-ing out to Dancing with the Stars and that, you know, even that has its place sometimes, but that eventually I’d want to do weird things like chant when I exercise.

(What I also didn’t know was how seriously hilarious chanting would seem at first. Or that I’d finally stop giggling.)

What I didn’t know was how tight I was, not just in my hamstrings, but in my mind too.

What I didn’t know was that sometimes this tightness would make me laugh, and other times it would make me cry.

What I didn’t know was downward-facing dog. Seriously. I had been doing it wrong for years.

What I didn’t know was that this thing would feel like me.

What I didn’t know was that that inner, tiny voice was right all those years ago, and that I should listen to her more often.