(Originally posted on March 6, 2015) Last Saturday I opened the doors to Moonshine Power Yoga.  I was lucky to have 47 warm souls in the studio for practice that morning and now that a week has passed, I can take a breath and reflect back on what has happened. Thinking through the events of this past week, I keep settling on my story, my story I told during practice on opening day.  I settle on it with a smile.  As I have been contemplating writing a blog for months now, it seems to be the most difficult thing on my “to do” list.  I was not sure what I wanted to say, I just know that I keep coming back to my story.  So here it is.

We all have STORIES!!!  I “say” this with all capitals because we let our stories define who we area.  My story defined me for 25+ years. It goes like this - I lost my mother tragically and unexpectedly after years of conflict and family turmoil.  We still are not sure what happened, theories range from strange accident, suicide and even murder-suicide.  You see she passed with her husband, a man I could never call my step-father, when I was 19 years old.  That event, and the events leading up to it, defined how I would move through life for the next two decades.  I became a hard person, a person who learned to withhold from others.  I withheld compassion, love, joy and mostly forgiveness.  This strained every relationship I had, especially the one with my father.  Last year I lost my father to suicide, this happened just after losing all four grandparents in 18 months.  I knew something had to give as I was running out of people; I was nearly out of chances to make things “right”.

I had already been practicing yoga for several years, but even that was a rocky relationship. It wasn’t until after my father’s death, when I enrolled in a Baptiste program at Grace and Glory, that I learned how to really practice yoga.  Teacher training consisted of long weekends, hours of sweaty practice, many, many awkward moments and then one day I got what I needed, I got called out on my own bullshit.  My mentor, teacher and dear friend looked at me and said, “Gina, you are not a 13 year old little girl any more, stop telling your story as if you are!” I remember standing in that room crying; in front of more than 30 other teacher trainers and thinking she is right.  At first I hated her for it, only because I knew I would have to own up to my bullshit, stop making excuses and justifications, and become accountable.  That moment literally changed my life.

Our stories do not define us!! We define us.  We can learn from our stories, observe them, acknowledge them but then we have to move on.  They are a point in time and nothing more.  Once the event has taken place, all other meaning we hold onto is simply in our head. Nothing more, nothing less.  Once I let go of my story, I became a person who could give and receive compassion, love, joy and most importantly forgiveness.  I started to make phone calls and acknowledged accountability for my part in my broken relationships.  I became a better wife, parent, sister, friend and teacher. My life changed.  It didn’t change because of some major event; it changed because my thinking changed about events that happened in the past.  I simply changed my story.

I ask you, what is your story? What is causing you to withhold and what is that costing you?  If you change your story and come to terms with it, what is possible and what opportunities open up for you?  Are your pride, ego and self-righteousness really working for you, serving you? For me, I found friendships that I didn’t know were possible.  I opened a yoga studio.  I found love, true love, and learned how to share it. Drop your story and get ready!