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Shine Power Yoga Blog by Wanda Gilhool - 3M ago
Just listen

by Madi Gilhool

Just Listen

For the first time in a while, I had a conversation and cried in front of someone.  It is out of the ordinary for me to cry in front of people in the real world (besides my mom lol).  The yoga room is a different story. When I am in the studio, I feel safe and comfortable. Nothing can hurt me there but that all changes once I leave.  When I am on the phone or in person talking to a friend, the safety goes away and I feel vulnerable. I am able to be judged and ridiculed for the crazy patterns my mind goes through.  But when I open up, relief comes my way. I’m not holding everything in my body and waiting for a yoga practice to cry. I meet my mind where it is and hope that I will be alright.

Today, I let go of the thought that I am not worthy through a long talk with my friend.  I am not worthy of college, a relationship, friends, attention, love, compassion. Fill in the blank and it probably ran through my mind at a bajillion miles per hour.  It was not something I was able to find in my yoga practice. I had to open up to a friend about what I was holding onto and allow her to see where I was. I sobbed for about 30 of the 40 minute conversation but I was heard by another person outside of the studio.  It was okay to be a mess outside of the studio.

This conversation not only allowed me to be seen but allowed my friend to be as well.  She has been struggling with similar emotions and situations and we were able to support each other in different ways.  She consoled me through acknowledging the work I have done on myself for the past year through leadership trainings. I helped her find ease by showing her that she wasn’t alone in her situations. No judgment from either party, only a set of listening ears.

It is hard to find that in other people.  We are programmed to jump to conclusions, ask questions, assess what we see and hear but where does that really get us?  Are we actually listening to the story being presented or getting caught up in our head with more bullshit? When we drop the thoughts that arise in these conversations and hear others, we create an impact whether we help someone heal or find empowerment within themselves.  From that space, we have the ability to grow and learn from our emotions and past. All we have to do is let our armor go and just listen.


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Day Six

I am not ready to share what I experienced today. I may never put the words on paper, but they are scribed on my heart. I am ready to take the experience of today, the most powerful yet and move into the future.

When I return tomorrow, I can’t wait to hug my family and see their eyes. I have work to do. The work has been knocking at my door for a long time and I am ready. Instead of words, I have prayers. I pray that you will SEE me, my way of being and conversation. I pray we will laugh, create and be with each other.

I am grateful to Paul for saying yes to me taking this journey. I am grateful to my children for giving space. Namaste’ to my Mayan Healers (Ramon, Julian, Cun, Chele & Issac).

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Shine Power Yoga Blog by Wanda Gilhool - 4M ago

Sacred Space

Day Five
I am Wanda
I am Sacred


Today was a beautiful day of service in a Mayan Village called X-Can. It was a sacred day of heart connection, the leader of the village is named Chele. She greeted me with her grand babies at her side, with love in her eyes and a warm hug. As I arrived in the village with a plan, I quickly realized my plan wasn’t the most needed one. I brought three goats for the children (there are 22 of them), and noticed immediately the children were all barefoot.....they needed shoes, more than the goats. My friend who is a physician agreed to stay with them, hand out the toothbrushes and do examinations while I found a store to purchase footwear for 22 children. It only took me two hours to complete and to return. Seeing them put the shoes on and walk around was so fun and we had many giggles. The importance of shoes to keep children healthy is a new concept for them. They enjoyed the goats so much more, AND the goats were loving all the attention.

After the mornings work, Chele asked us to please sit with her and share a meal. I initially felt guilt over this. We had an interpreter and he said it was important to her, but I wanted her to save her food for her grand babies. She served hibiscus tea, she killed and roasted one of her chickens and fried yucca plant. She is a beautiful lady, she says she is in her 70’s. She looks like she is younger than me, her skin is vibrant and her hair is jet black with no gray. As we sit she asks if she can ask me a question. I say “of course”. She asks (thru an interpreter) what I regret the most. I am silent. This is a profound question. She reaches out and grabs my hand, she looks at me and says it again. I reply “I do not regret anything I have ever done, I only regret what I have not done or said”. She says, today you begin again and do all those things..... She is a wise, strong, leader of a village.....a survivor but I know more than that. She is a spiritual being, intuitive.

As I drove back to my hotelito her voice is going on and on in my head. Why did she say this. What does she mean. I ask my friend Cesar, the interpreter who is a beautiful man of service to the Mayan community if he understood. He said, I am overthinking, it is simple. To say yes to life the way I say yes to service. To say my feelings when I am feeling them. I ask him about Chele, he said her name means Goddess of the Jaguar. I begin to cry.

I began my day being of service, being the hands and feet of God, following my heart. I never view those in need as any different from me, as they typically possess a stronger spirit and are JOYous beings. Today was no different. I received more than I gave.

Lessons of Day Five: More YES and no regrets.

PS: I did not take photos of the children or the village, it felt too sacred to me....I also didn’t plan to share any parts of this experience in the village today. But writing about anything else felt inauthentic and I would regret it.

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Day Four
I am Wanda
I am Ready for more
I am Spiritually Awake.

Today I have felt so energized and ready to create. I have been an advocate for myself to not create anything and to stay in this process. I need more time, I need more healing, I need the next layer.....my spiritual layer to feel clear.

I felt the need to immerse my body into water, warm water. It is not hot here (I am talking 100 degrees Yucatán hot), they are having a cool spell of 80-85. I crave 100 degrees to my bones. So I head out to find an open cenote that is warmed by the sun and will be warmer than the air. I find one, immerse my body, take off my swimsuit and allow it to all seep in.

During this wonderful experience, I am anxious about the evenings Chocolate Yoga session, convincing myself to stick with non-judgement and just do it. I am not a fan of chocolate (least favorite) and not sure what we will do with said chocolate. I decide to attend the practice, and it is a yoga practice dedicated to the Mayan Goddess of Fertility and Nurturing. Well, we all know I got fertility pretty much taken care of, factory closed, moving on.....until I am a very cool, engaged and awesome Grandma. At the end of the practice, we take our chocolate square and walk into the ocean to dedicate this to her, I take this time to say thank you for my beautiful children and I am happy I did it.

After the class, there is an opportunity to take a Sound Healing Ceremony with one of my favorite Shamans in Tulum. Three years ago, I had the most profound spiritual awakening I have ever experienced. Tonight, the spiritual awakening wasn’t as strong, but what I noticed was how engaged all my senses were. The smells of Mayan incense, the sounds of bowls, feathers, seeds, voice , the touches with oils to my temple and chest were heightened and I was incredibly present. I felt connected. I felt awake. I felt confirmed. Feeling spiritually confirmed is amazing. Today, I felt the full circle of what it feels like to do the work, ALL the work, to stay the course and not quit.....to seek until you find. I am His and he is mine.

Lessons of Day Four: I am spiritually awake, I am loved, I am doing the work God created me to do, I am on course.

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The sunrise today

The Phoenix is Rising

Day Three
I am Wanda.
I am Rising.

I arrived in Tulum feeling exhausted, disconnected, my physical body broken down and in need of repair and yearning for consistent sleep. This has been coming on for the last three years hard. Got very bad after my broken arm and surgery.

I would get into the blame game. Blaming it on hours and hours of driving for travel baseball, working 100 hours a week, fad diets, too much power yoga and not enough Yin, packing and moving....blah blah blah.

In getting honest with myself, I choose all those things and do not demand something different. My body and mind are an incredible resource of communication that tells me when enough is enough, and I ignore it.

Day THREE, I committed to listening more (Pure Listening) to my physical triggers. I rested for hours on the beach. I took a one hour bike ride to Sian Ka’an to sit in the biosphere. I took a Gentle Yoga Class (and enjoyed it) as the sun set over the rooftop yoga studio. Last night I went to my room early, read an awesome fictional book for fun and went to bed when I was tired, woke up with no alarm and got to see the sunrise right outside my door. I felt 100% rested. Holy Shit, this is what that feels like. Ramon sees me sitting on my stoop and brings me a hot black Mayan coffee, says good morning. He says “you like the mornings yes?” I smiled and didn’t say anything. He has no idea that mornings have become dreadful for me the last 15 years because of insomnia. I would lay in bed and beg God to please not let morning come until I get two hours of sleep in a row. Arriving here I felt like a Phoenix down in the ashes, the fire of living a full life burned me down. Today this Phoenix is no longer down. She is sitting on top, looking down. Not yet ready to fly, but she knows she will.

Day Three lessons: if I become an advocate for myself, I can rise....from the ashes of fatigue and heal my physical body. You see as I write this blog, from a rested and clear body, my spirit feels full and overflowing, God is sitting right here with me.

My morning bike ride to Sian Ka’an

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Leaning IN to Bliss

Day Two
Who Am I? I am Wanda
Who is She? Today I felt complicated & annoying. Today I also felt connected & relaxed.

I get on auto-pilot, writing a script over and over again in my head. I need to remind myself to lean INTO this process and recognize the patterns that do not serve me, even when I tell myself I am not doing it.

In my morning yoga practice, the teacher Cun taught a class that he showed up prepared for, he was a confident & connected leader. He demonstrated what he was leading and he walked around the room and gave gentle assists. For the first 20 minutes all I did was feedback him in my head. He would say many cues and not call the pose, he would hold the postures for about 10 seconds and count in Spanish and then say “Perfect” (with a long drawn out rolling r) and that meant go to the next pose. It was breaking up my rhythm and I was picking him apart word for word. My inner dialogue was “just say the pose” “stop cueing so much and get us there” “stop saying PERRRRRRFECT”. I want to be here very much and I wanted my yoga practice very much......and my lightbulb moment happened when I said to myself “Wanda, your an ass, why not lean into this practice, be a student 100% and allow things to happen, stop controlling, he isn’t in teacher training, he is gifting you with his presence and talents”. Yes, I called myself an Ass and yes that doesn’t feel loving, but I was being an Ass, plain and simple. Yogis can be an ass sometimes.....

In that moment of being real with myself, I made over analyzing and being critical a hard stop. I think I lost 100lbs of baggage. I left lighter than I arrived to that class. After the yoga practice Cun asked me if I have been there before, because he recognized me. I said Yes, I have lead retreats here in the past and we had met. The result was we really connected. I thanked him for being my teacher and hope he leads again during my stay here.

Lessons of Day Two: hear the inner dialogue, actually HEAR it. I have been tapping into all the places in my life I over work, over indulge, over talk, over avoid and until yesterday I didn’t realize I am over critical. That I at times use the powerful work of Baptiste Methodology against myself and others, that I was not embodying my work, but just steeped in constantly maneuvering it.

I gave myself permission to SIMPLIFY, Lean In, Purely Listen and to not fix anything

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Reaching for Bliss

Day One
Who am I? I am Wanda.
Who is she? I feel complicated.
I love people, but do not like to socialize.
I love my work, serving others, but yearn to be away from it all.
I love my family intensely, but feel the need to be away from everyone’s needs.
I asked for this time away as my Christmas gift, it was lovingly given, now I feel guilt.

I have committed to write when I am here. I am attending a Beach & Bliss Retreat In Olde Tulum, my favorite place in the world, it is located very south, as south as you can go in the Yucatán. Belize is in the distance. This is where I connect to the Mayan culture, food, drum sounds, monkeys, lizards, tarantulas, warm ocean water, breathtaking natural Cenotes, Shaman ceremonies & incredibly intense sunshine.

Tonight as I lay down to rest at 10pm, I struggle with my commitment to my family and my SHINE staff to not work. I doubt my decision, I say to myself “just read emails, that isn’t truly working”.....which I do and one thing leads to another. 1 am still awake, wondering how to problem solve a couple emails that are bothering me. This is followed by my anger at myself for doing this.....the constant spiral of my passion of healing and serving mixing into my pores, brain & time to connect to who I am. I get out of bed, take all devices to the other side of the room, turn on the ceiling fan, open all the windows wide so the ocean sounds and wind can come in. I meditate and commit to recommit to MYSELF

This morning I awaken to guilt for last night, quickly realize, to forgive myself is part of the process. I text my MadiMoo to tell her I love her (she is hearing back from Universities this week with decisions). As I drink my morning coffee (by the way in Tulum ALL PEOPLE drink Mayan Coffee, it is strong and has no tones off bitterness, just delicious), I prepare for my yoga practice with Cun, a beautiful Mayan Yogi who plays the flute, drums and yukelele. The vinyasa is WAAAAAY more gentle than I would lead myself, it is slow, methodical, intentional and by the end, exactly what I needed to nurture my aching body.

“May All Beings Be Happy & Free” is one of my favorite chants, mantras. The second sentence is “And May I contribute to the Happiness and Freedom of all”. I get stuck on the second sentence and make it my life mantra, to serve and provide space for others to experience happiness and freedom. Today I decided to sing over and over 108 times just the first sentence. Setting myself FREE of guilt, pain (emotional and physical), self doubt, overwork. I am including ME in the ALL BEINGS!!!!!

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Shine Power Yoga Blog by Sarah Esposito - 6M ago

I never thought that gaining 20 lbs would result in a breakthrough in my yoga practice.  Yet, through my thinly stretched Wunder Unders, that’s what has happened.

2018 has been one of the roughest of my 38 years.  Emotionally abused at work, hip surgery, shoulder injury, my mother had cancer (She’s all good now!) & let go from my job for standing up for myself…..There’s been a lot of therapy. Between the injuries and my personal state, pound by pound I suddenly realized i had been away from the work for a long time. Months in fact. Whatever yoga bullshit I wanted to imply here, it all boils down to one thing.

My pants don’t fit. Like not even close.  

I never had any doubt this would affect my practice. (Yes, that is the right affect/effect) I weigh more than I have in the past 7 years & lost most of my strength. I look at once tight, toned arms and now only see saggy bat wings. My belly which had been formed into a tight 6 pack only a year previous, now spills over the lip of my pants when I sit down, as if it’s going “meeeeehhh” as it descends over the stitching.

My first practice back I stood at the top of my mat, pressed my thumbs into my chest and let out my “Ooooooohhmm” I had mentally prepared for this before I even stepped into my car to come to the studio. “This isn’t going to look or feel anything like it did before. No expectations.  Just make it through, that’s all”

And that’s all I could do.

Almost every Chaturanga I did my knees were on the ground, I even skipped some all together. No Flip Dog, took Gate Pose instead of Side Plank.  My knee was on the ground in Crescent Lunge and my hips high in Chair Pose. But none of my mental prepping set me up for standing series.

Jana called the 4th pose on one leg, Standing Splits. It wasn’t the regular burning or trembling I know from a challenging class. This was out and out shaking. I remember thinking “Jana must think I’m having a seizure”  I was shaking so hard, it was throwing off my balance. I had to regroup multiple times; firm up my legs, ground down my hands and my foot, pull my pot belly in and back off a bit just so I could stay. That was my only goal; just stay the entire pose, however that may look.

Jana’s voice calls out “Fold”

Mission accomplished! I collapse down into my fold, grateful knowing a Runner's Lunge is next and I get a little regroup time.  

After class, I drove home, glad my first practice was out of the way, now I know what I’m working with. Not a whole lot of strength, I mean really almost none if I’m being honest. But something else was there. Something I haven't felt in a long time on my mat.  

 With the physical inability to do all of the things I did without a thought before, I now have to be in constant inquiry in every asana.

 Can I do Side Plank today? At first, Hard Nope. But I ask my body every time I practiced. Soon it became possible for a couple breaths, now I can hold for a good 4 breaths if I stagger my feet.

 Can I do Side Plank AND Flip Dog in the same practice? Haven't gotten there yet, but it’s good to have goals!

 I had a huge breakthrough just this past week. For the first time since hip surgery I sat in Malasana without a block under my tush, for Five Whole Breaths!! It took me about 20 breaths to get of it..., But I did it!

I even have to ask myself about my fat rolls. With only a select number of my clothes able to accommodate the circumference of my body, I’ve been letting my fitted workout shirts fill the back of my drawers and opting for loose cotton ones. Pro: they fit. Con: They move in every asana, mostly up, revealing my Buddha belly or nice chunk of side fat. When it happens I have to decide: am I going to choose to let my ego take me out of my practice and pull my shirt back down? Or am I going to accept that no one gives a fuck about my fat roll and stay in the work?

Ya, most of time I fix my shirt. 

But every once in a while, I make myself let it be. It’s uncomfortable and makes me deal with the shame I have around my body. It’s always a happy/sad moment and I’m grateful every time I choose to experience it.

And that’s the thing. I am now choosing the experiences I have.   

I’ve been practicing for, what now, about 8 years. Since I began a yoga, this break from April to October has been the longest time I’ve been away from a regular practice. I have lost the ability to mindlessly power through. I must choose every movement I take.  With the gift of choice came Presence. I’ve haven’t been this present in years.

Am I sad that I had to let it go?  Yes.  

Do I think I would have gotten here without doing so? Absolutely not.

I’m present to the fact that without this long break, without the hurt and walking away, I wouldn’t have come to this place. I’m now moving from a stronger base and intentional actions. I’m not doing things simply because it’s what I’ve always done. I’m choosing what feels right Now. What held true for me before no longer does so, I’ve learned to let that be ok and figure out another way. Let it look and feel different, instead of barreling through, no matter the cost.

Now I get to choose how to move forward, choose to acknowledge what I’m feeling and choose how to respond. This place feels grounded, authentic and far more connected.

And the added bonus? When I choose on my mat, it burns calories. ;)

Blog by Sarah Esposito

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"SHINE Kid’s Teacher Training round 2 was an amazing, meaningful experience. Today 4 women received their Kid’s Yoga Certifications. As we announced their names and clapped, my heart felt so full. I feel gratitude for meeting each of these ladies and for being able to share my passion with them. I feel grateful because all four of these wonderful women were engaged throughout the whole training  and open minded to a new style of yoga. They allowed their teaching to be silly and fun! They pulled back their outer layers to find their silly child-like self and played yoga today. 

Overall, my intention for this training was being of service for others and being at service for our children. Today, I saw all 4 women show up BIG for 12 kids in their first kid’s yoga class. The kids were in tuned, engaged and had a blast playing yoga with the new yoga teachers. The coolest part of being a kid’s teacher is being able to inspire and lead the future generation to living a positive, healthy, fun lifestyle. 

Every kid left the yoga room with a grin from ear to ear. The children were ecstatic to learn from the new teachers. These women let their lights SHINE. 

One of my favorite parts of training kid’s yoga teacher is collaborating with them, bouncing ideas to teacher to student to help each of them be successful. I am anxious to see where their future yoga journey takes them. 

Yesterday, after I finished teaching them the SHINE kid’s sequence, I feel my inner fire LIT up. The feedback, Melissa and I received brought back into my mind why I got into this business to begin with. I love children and I love yoga.. SO being able to help spread the love with powerful teachers and allow them to lead more kid’s classes is pure AWESOME SAUCE. 

This all began with the power of positive thinking. I believed I could lead a kid’s class and Wanda believed in me. I was simply a desk angel at SHINE before I stepped out of my comfort zone and stepped on to my mat to lead my firsts kid’s yoga class. After that, it all became clear. Everyone has something they show up for that’s bigger than them, and it just takes some detours to land there. As I move forward, I see that there are so many possibilities. Possibilities to grow within my community of yogis with no age range required. “ 

- Rachael McFadden

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Shine Power Yoga Blog by Sarah Esposito - 8M ago

I take myself out to lunch once or twice a week. I work in a large grey, windowless room and it’s nice to get out of it and see the sky for an hour. Today, I decided I want eggs… off to the Colonial Diner! It’s three minutes from my job, the waitresses are always warm & they have my favorite spinach & feta omelette around.  I get seated, order my eggs, pull out my phone and open up Reddit to see what nonsense is floating around the web today. My meal comes quickly and I have a nice leisurely lunch.

As I’m sitting in the booth, taking my last couple bites, I hear a man’s voice over the diner chatter “....something...something….Red…..No? ....something...something….Red Audi….No?”  I perk up and see the diner owner. A cheerful gentleman in his 50’s whose thinning dark hair sits atop his head like a wreath. His glasses always look like they’re just about to fall off of his nose. Every time he actually wants to to look out of them he has to lift his chin way up.

I catch his eye, “I drive an Audi”

“A…” he lifts his hand & chin so his precariously balanced glasses are in line of sight of the Post-it note in his hand, “RED Audi?”

“Yup”

He throws his hands up and turns his head dramatically “Oh NO, why did it have to be YOU?!” I wonder if he has some sort of stick-um on the bridge of this glasses to keep them there...

He proceeds to tell me I have a flat tire and he would be happy to have one of his guys come out to help me. I thank him and tell him it’s not necessary, I can do it. Let me state, this is true. I can change a tire. It’s not hard, just takes a little muscle. If you don’t know how, for fudge sakes, learn.

I walk out and see my tire is Super flat. Ah well… I open my trunk & get the jack out. I find where the jack goes and start to spin it up. I stop short of the frame and get the lug wrench out, attach to the first lug and twist….nothing. I give it a kick…. Nothing. I try another one, same effort, same results. This is OK, I text my buddy and hope he’s still at the office. While I’m waiting for him to respond I go back to futzing with the jack I don’t think i have it lined up right and I am correct, I don’t.  

I hear behind me: “ Do you need some help?” a middle aged hispanic man in work clothes and an army baseball cap is walking up.

“Oh I am not getting the jack to work as I wish it to be,” I laugh.

“Let me help”

“Sure”

He walks back to his car to grab a pair of work gloves. Picks up the lug wrench and goes to work “You know you have to loosen these up before you jack up the car… otherwise..”

“The tires will just spin” I finish his sentence. I realize he didn’t see me working before and is offering friendly advice, so I check my ego.

He’s having a time with the lugs too and has to resort to kicking, the same way I did, but he has more power than me and gets the buggers to move. He looks up at me “See now you know that trick for next time”  I grit my teeth.

After he loosens all the lugs, I say “Thank you!” and tell him I can do it from here. He gives a warm laugh and says “noooooo, I got it!” and cheerfully goes on to finish changing my tire. We talk about his time in the army,  family in Philadelphia and how he’d like to move to Chicago, but there are 7 siblings you know, and he could never forgive himself for not seeing them for long periods of time.

While he works and talks I interject with an occasional “I can do that..” (Because I CAN)  and he gives me the same “I got it!” and continues to talk and work. When he’s just about done my friend pulls up to make sure I’m ok and sees that I am.

He and my friend start talking, “ It’s nice to see people out doing good!”

The man, all finished, throws my super flat tire in the trunk and says “ Well I have 3 sisters and 2 daughters, I’d want someone to do the same for them!” He closes my trunk with a flourish to mark the end of a job well done.

We exchange thank yous and well wishes before we all get into our cars and I drive the three minutes back to my job.

 

And for three minutes, I was infuriated.

How many times did I tell him I CAN DO IT?! Does he think because I’m a GIRL I can’t change a tire?! Was he patronizing me?! I bet he was! He might as well have patted me on the head and told me how cute I was for deigning to think I could do manual labor. That is sooooo typical of a man! DAMN THE PATRIARCHY !!

 

Then I was reminded of the words he actually said

“I have 3 sisters and 2 daughters, I’d want someone to do the same for them”

Immediately, my righteous fist came down.


 

This was just a man wanting to do something nice for another person.

Nothing more.

It’s like when you’re getting a glass of water and you say to a person in the room “Would you like one too?” Of course they can go get their own glass of water. You getting it for them in no way implies that they are incapable of getting their own glass of water. It’s just a little something you can do to make their life a bit easier.

It’s so easy to raise a righteous fist. To take someone else's actions and say “Well THIS is what it means to MEEEE!” with no regard to the actual intentions. Or regard to what actually happened!

I had made his actions mean something. Something that was happening solely inside my own head. Based off of what? Did he at anytime doubt my ability to change the tire? No. Did he say because I’m a girl I’m incapable of doing things? No. Did he actually pat me on the head? No. Did he ask me if I needed help and I accepted? Yes. Was he pleasant and happy to help the entire time? Yes. Did he say that he was BEING the thing he wished to see in the world? YES.   

That’s where it ends. Right there.  

Everything else was a story I MADE UP. A story based off of past interactions, based off of the current political climate, based off my need to be right (eous) …. All of the other stuff is just me being a self involved asshat.

I really don’t wanna be an asshat.

I’m grateful that I have the tools to check myself (before I wrigity-wreck myself...you know you said it in your head before you read it) and to remember to approach each situation as it is.

This one was simply a kind gentleman being the change he wants to see.

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