The less I know, the more I feel

I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m doing it anyway. As they say, it’s only kinky the first time, or maybe the second…
Sometimes that means doing things that scare me the most. Sometimes that means getting really uncomfortable. Sometimes that means showing up. Sometimes that means putting myself out there even when there are nay-sayers and slayers. By sometimes, I mean always. And then I think, if I’m a no in the eyes of others or slaying myself by the lips of another, it’s because those are the voices in my head. As though they wear like an introduction sticker. “Hello, my name is…” These attachments, so comfortable and false. Outside illusions, old wounds, and pain. Those do not come from my heart, what’s true, is my electric-center, it’s my heart. That’s the charge, I feel it and it’s why you feel it with me. We are connected here.
Just because it’s not for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s not for you. I used to think this road was a little lonely, a year ago it was. How little I knew then. And how little I know now. I revel in the little I know and keep walking into the unknown. This is the freedom. It’s doing it anyway. It’s teaching it anyway. It’s loving it anyway. It’s living it anyway. The less I know, the more I feel, the more I see.

stepahnie birch

Hello, 33.

Hello, 33.
Today, I rose before sun to greet the Aruban sky from a hammock. I spent the morning teaching one of the most beautifully, intimate yoga classes that began in tears. Our hearts intentions set for others, for death and for life. For turns around the sun. For release. For healing. And most of all, for love.
We hiked in the afternoon and landed our butts at a secret beach. We crashed into waves, popped beers, swam, jumped off a cliff, laughed and squealed our faces off.
And when you spend your birthday squealing your face-off, you cup the ears of the babe sitting right next to you. This woman, this goddess, this giver, and lover.
Thank you, @yoga_girl, this birthday might be the best one yet. By “might” I mean has been the best fucking birthday, ever.
Thank you, life. This is a fuck yes life, all the way! (at One Happy Island Aruba)

stephanie birch

a long story, short.

I wish I could write each and every person a note of love, answer every question, and high-five or hug everyone that has participated in this journey. I realized something the other day that struck a chord within me. I was being asked a question I prefer to avoid. I am often asked why so many people follow me on Instagram. It's a question that would make me clam up a bit. The words "following/followers" still sounds like we are playing the kinder-game of leadership. Sometimes people prose the question with wrinkled noses and raised eyebrows while others are genuinely curious. I like to say my usual quip, "I think people really like babies, yoga, photography, and wordiness." Or I like to think so, anyway. While questioned a couple weeks ago, I came to a new answer, and a relief. I didn't clam up or get uncomfortable or dart my eyes this time, I answered with peace and complete clarity, "People have literally watched someone grow up on social media. Motherhood, yoga, and life." I don't think Instagram is necessarily the real question, but more-so, how did you get here?

And this here is a long story, short.

I realized -- many of you have literally watched me/our family go through and grow through real life stuff on social media, square by square. Three and a half years ago, I posted my first "yoga" photo of me in a headstand, a moment I was quite proud. Head and forearms planted in the soft grass of our old backyard, a time when our family was in a quiet crisis. The midst of battling silently with depression, an unforeseen move, uncomfortably slow business, while juggling a one year old, we were crashing. Looking back, in one headstand, feeling like an upside-down superwoman, I began to realize how much the practice of yoga was serving me and I started to think, "if this practice can ignite something within me to courage forward, it can do so for others." Slowly, I shared my yoga practice, thoughts, photography, questions, how-to-dos, and family life on social media. There was a clear connection with others when I shared real stuff too; the good, bad, struggles, and triumphs. There was a deep part of me that wanted to help others through this practice, the more it served as a conduit to healing in my own life. 

A year after sharing that first triumphant headstand, I entered my first teacher training at my local studio, at the Shala. During this time, I continued to share knowledge, excitement, nervousness, and often felt like I was vomiting yoga - in person and on social media. Probably sounding off like a crazy-loon, paying little mind, because I felt free and wanted to give it away to whomever held out to listen or read. Many of you have been a part of the writings and photos as I navigated motherhood, family life, learnings from my yoga practice, multiple teacher trainings, and have even shared the nerves in my shakiness as a new teacher getting my first "real" weekly gig summer 2014. So much has happened in these few short years, it really does feel like I've grown up in many ways, it just happens to be a little public.

Last January kicked off a streak of opportunities that have both challenged and birthed me anew. I was invited to be a blog contributor for lucy activewear, began assisting my teacher in her 200HR RYT trainings, and I met with one of my greatest teaching and lover of life inspirations, Rachel Brathen. It was one of those "oh-em-gee-what-is-this-life" kind of moments meeting her. I did my best to play cool while squealing on the inside having dinner with her. I jumped to "YES" when she asked me to be a part of the biggest-loving-yoga-healing online platforms, By the first of June, I was off to Aruba on a "secret mission" to film yoga classes and got to spend time with the most kind, loving, supportive, incredibly knowledgable yoga teachers from the east coast to the west and beyond. I admit, I was in awe and often expressed my nerves and "little-ness" as a teacher, so new and fresh from the corrals of training, here was a chance for me to teach anything I wanted. And I did! I came back from Aruba with a day's break and landed in my assisting role for teacher training. When July rounded, a lightbulb went off for me as a teacher and as a student. There were many times throughout the last year I had been unsure of myself in teaching; the feedback I was given, the dos and don'ts of yoga, just plain old being new to it, and would often reach out to my teacher, Diana, with "holy shit" and sometimes "a-ha" moments. Coming off of the excitement of summer, the knowledge I gained from assisting and teaching, lessens from Aruba, supportive teachers, and a heck of a lot of practice - I taught myself out of being new. It's something we teach ourselves, as students and as teachers. I had learned that scaring myself means growing myself and teaching is learning. When that lightbulb went off, fear took a backseat. My awareness and intuition heightened. I started using my real voice, no longer playing small, and began acting my words and esteem. My teaching changed, my breathing changed, my presence changed, and my relationships changed. It's as though two spirals found the tip of each other and started to loom in and out as one. 

That is not to say I know everything about teaching or that I don't have bad days, stress, judge, or have less-than thoughts. There are days when I am feeling the depth of my "what-ifs" or "not enough-ness" only to clock out of it much faster with swift forgiveness. I've been given incredible opportunities in this life, not only because of a willingness to do things that scare me, but it's because of the very people, teachers, and supporters that have been there every step of the way. It's because someone saw something in me. With every extended hand came some of the greatest, challenging, igniting, and teaching moments in my life. 

If there's a few things I've learned in these short, growing years, it's this: 

Surround yourself with people that light fires and encourage you to light your own.
Do things that scare you, there's growth on the other side of fear.
Always be a student.
Say what's real, write what's real, whether it's popular or not, public or private.
Love all the way and forgive yourself every damn day.
See others in their greatness and lend your hand to the next. 
You were born for this life.

While I am still one of the new-kids-on-the-teaching-block, I am growing and learning and giving it away, and that's what it's all about. Giving it away.  

I look forward to continuing with you, near of far, liked or not, all the way. There's so much to learn and so many places to grow, day by day, life keeps on giving and growing. 
I wouldn't change a thing, especially in moments of crisis, after all, that's where it much of it began. I'll no longer shy away from the questions of "how" and "here" or "why" - - I'll stand tall and reveal myself as so.

Forever in gratitude.