choked by the pink collar

Emotional Labour. A friend introduced this term to me a while back, during a time I was employed in a job I wasn’t happy in. Well, some days I was happy. Other days – most days – I was miserable, drained, and frustrated. The constant back-and-forth in my experience – the love/hate relationship with my work and what I felt it demanded of me every day – resulted in what could aptly be described as ’emotional labor’.

I’d been performing the same type of job for years, albeit in different environments, and I was finding it increasingly hard to continue the same routine. Every day my head would battle my heart in a ‘should I stay or should I go’ debate.

I left that job a few weeks ago. I was passionate about the vision of the organization, but that wasn’t enough.

It’s not the first time I’ve quit my job; and in previous instances, I’ve eventually returned to the same type of environment. And I understand why.

Through conversations with friends and loved ones, I know that so many of us have incredibly wonderful interests and desires, innovative business ideas that we know would fill our spirits and benefit the world around us. We want to feel that our work has meaning, and brings our particular vision of beauty to this planet.

We know the old structures are crumbling. We are aware of the early conditioning and mass programming that keeps us repeating the same patterns, and we work to shift that. But transformation doesn’t happen overnight. And in the meantime, there are bills to pay.

Things have changed so much in one generation, and the world today is very different from that of our parents. What is true security, in these times?

After the novelty of each new workspace wore off, I realized how bored I was. I also found myself straining to be nice all the time. Being ‘nice’ wasn’t in my job description, of course; but given the roles I was in, it was the underlying expectation.

Women often find themselves doing ‘pink collar’ work – jobs that are service-oriented and call for a perpetually pleasant and accommodating demeanour. For a long time I prided myself on being these things. Now I realize how unnatural this is. Sitting in front of a computer screen, indoors, under fluorescent lights, supporting people doing the work they are passionate about…it had taken an energetic and physical toll.

So many of us sense there must be something more. There is a heightened sense of urgency.

For the unfulfilled among us – it is our responsibility to step out of our secure, familiar ways and create the new. We already know this. It requires courage, entering discomfort zones, finding those whose vision aligns with ours, and trusting the universe. Easier said than done, maybe. But imperative, definitely.

It’s not frivolous to want joyful work. If consciousness is evolving and a new paradigm is emerging in all this chaos, it makes sense that all our creations, including our work, would align with this energy. In most of my conversations, a meaningful career has far less to do with individual wants and desires, and more about making the human experience better for all.

The un-learning and deconstructing of the past is important. So is patience and self-compassion. I don’t have any how-to’s or solid next steps. I only know that every minute is precious, and I must get these words out.

when does karma become an excuse?

Karma’s been on my mind a lot lately. Through my yoga training these past few months, I’m opening to the idea of my dharma transforming my (perceptions of) karma. Given that it’s a full moon weekend, and the tail end of Mercury Retrograde, I thought I’d share this post from early in my blogging days. Though I can still relate to these words, I also see where so much has shifted. Here’s to transformation that serves our highest potential!

Sat Nam


The concept of karma has long played a central role in my life.  It imprinted on my psyche at a young age and has since shaped my identity.  My theories about what ‘my karma’ is have defined who I am and what I see myself as capable or deserving of in this lifetime.

Life experiences, mundane and significant, are often filtered through the lens of how they might relate to my karma. Maybe I have ‘unfinished business’ with so-and-so.  Maybe I did this to someone in a past life, so they’re doing it to me now.  Future plans and decisions are made with a cautionary inner voice: Maybe it’s not in your karma to do/have this.

Gold Parvati. Artst: Sonja Picard ( Gold Parvati. Artst: Sonja Picard (

Where did this obsession with my karma originate? Ancestors, religion, society…an innocuous comment someone once made, which caused a fundamental rewire in my brain?

Does it…

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milestone: teaching my first yoga class

My Kundalini Yoga practicum – teaching a ‘real’ class at our studio – took place last week. All trainees in my program taught over a 3-day Yoga-thon, me being placed in what I considered the least desirable spot – late Sunday afternoon. As someone who likes to get things over with, it was somewhat agonizing to wait around all weekend for my class to begin!

On one level, I wasn’t at all nervous about teaching. There was nothing to fear; I’d done all I could to prepare and I knew I’d be in a supportive environment. I didn’t have to be perfect. I’d never done this before!

But on another level, there was everything to fear. I could sense my ego kicking into overdrive, anticipating all that could go wrong. I knew the havoc this could wreak, so I took advantage of my extra time that Sunday morning and let myself fully feel all my nerves and anxiety. As if I had an internal dial, I turned all the uncomfortable sensations up to ‘Intense’.

Yup, I look pretty happy up there!

Yup, I look pretty happy up there!

The usual suspects turned up. Humiliation. What if I panicked on the spot, forgetting everything I’d memorized, and getting my notes all mixed up? Pride. I was afraid of losing face. I feared the pity of others – or their secret satisfaction – if I failed. (That’s a fun one to admit!) Shame. I feared being exposed as a fraud, an imposter. The list goes on. Ultimately, I feared failing God.

I knew this wasn’t just about the yoga class. These fears are deeply embedded in the human psyche. In such states we can’t access the knowing that we are eternal and infinite, fundamentally unaffected by whatever ego construes as danger. I prayed for humility, trust, self-compassion…and to have fun!

In true Mercury Retrograde fashion, there was an element of ‘expect the unexpected’. The trainee scheduled before me had become ill, and I was asked to teach her class as well. Two classes in a row?! I did not see that coming. I swear I could hear Yogi Bhajan chuckling in the ethers. Surrender.

And – things went well. It was a wee bit distracting to have my lead trainer evaluating me in the back of the room, taking copious notes throughout both classes…but the time flew by and I was provided wonderful feedback that bolstered my confidence and helped me see where I can improve. To be honest, once I got up there, things felt quite un-dramatic! I don’t recall my heart pounding as furiously as it had during my practice sessions. Yes, there were nerves – but it mostly felt comfortable and natural.

That’s not say it wasn’t a big deal. I’d accomplished a goal I’d dreamed about for years. This was a huge step!

Some passions are so obvious that we’re certain of them from a young age. Others, like my yoga journey, are more subtle and reveal themselves over time. Those dreams often take years of cultivation before they germinate. Even if feels like ‘nothing’s happening’, on some level, we know exactly what we’re doing. The dream itself wants to ensure we’re ready to receive and take good care of it. It deserves the best ‘us’ we can bring to it. And so, we have to prepare.

I’m not quite finished my training – I still have a final exam and another training session to complete – but regardless of what my Kundalini future brings, in my book, I’ve already succeeded.


On another note, I LOVE that this is my 108th post! 108 is a sacred number in yogic tradition, and this seems like a fitting opportunity to thank everyone who reads, follows, and comments on this blog. It is such a blessing to connect with, and learn from, you all. Thank you!

Sat Nam. Truth is my identity.

the rising voice (speaking my truth pt. 3)

I’ve just completed the second module of my Kundalini Yoga teacher training program. Once again, twelve of us yogis were cocooned for five days in a big rustic house overlooking the ocean, immersed in deep teachings while eagles flew overhead and community members lovingly prepared us delicious meals.

I was not looking forward to this module. I knew my resistance was the ego’s fear that change was coming, and that I would be put majorly out of my comfort zone. I dreaded doing what could not be avoided: getting up in front of a group of people to practice teaching Kundalini Yoga.

I felt nauseous every time I thought about it. My head spun and my heart pounded. I felt shaky. I even cried at one point. Though I’ve spoken in front of groups of people before, this was different. I couldn’t put on a persona here. I had to be authentically, vulnerably, me. The stakes felt bizarrely high, too. This was a dream ten years in the making…what if I choked?

Starry Flower of Life, Elspeth McLean

Starry Flower of Life, Elspeth McLean

Well, I did choke. On our second day, we individually chanted a mantra out loud, providing each other feedback on our tone, pitch, and pronunciation. When it came to my turn, my voice wavered so much I could barely make it through. When I opened my eyes, there was such compassion and love in the faces around me. I was embarrassed and somewhat heartbroken.

I went within and became present to the deep emotions that had come up. Aside from the normal nerves of the situation, the experience had triggered something from my family and cultural upbringing. Women were not encouraged to raise their voices, to speak loudly and freely. I’ve never really had a place where I could just let my voice go. Being in the spotlight heightened just how foreign it felt.

I sensed all this in my genetic line…an ancestry of women whose voices were chastised and clipped. I felt the grief of those who loved to sing.

I now had the opportunity to transform all that. To lovingly accept the fear, and allow myself to move through it. To trust in the support of my group and know that it is safe to be heard, loud and clear.

Over the next few days, I had a couple more practice sessions. The nerves were still there, but they had lessened. My voice began to emerge and I was even having fun. There was a remembering of doing this before…an ancient knowledge awakening within.

In Kundalini Yoga it’s emphasized that our personality is not teaching – ‘the teacher’ is. We take the role of teacher and share the information so that others can experience their own inner teacher. ‘Aleya’ may be riddled with fear – but the teacher aspect of her is not. The ego must step aside.

Becoming a yoga teacher is a goal I’ve had for years, but the training couldn’t have happened a minute sooner than it did. I had to explore many things in between – different courses, workshops, and studies. I had to be primed and shaped to receive these powerful teachings, to carry them forward responsibly and with integrity.

I’m reminded that the universe doesn’t forget what’s deep in our heart. We must do our part, then surrender to its timing. Even if we feel something strongly in our blood and bones, we may still need patience, practice, and humility to bring it to fruition. It is then that we truly appreciate it.

I still have some months of training to go, but I feel I conquered a beast this last round. I’m inspired to share what I’ve learned and feel blessed to serve in this way.

Sat Nam (Truth is my identity)

a new journey begins: kundalini yoga

2purpletrees_crop land

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” Pema Chödrön

My Kundalini Yoga teacher training program begins soon and I’ve been feeling major butterflies. I’ve attended many courses, workshops, and retreats over the years…but I’ve never felt quite so anxious about a training! It’s a bit surreal that it’s actually happening – for ten years I’ve thought about becoming a KY teacher, and the day is here.

The first module takes place over five days at a small Inn about an hour away from where I live. My monkey mind sounds something like this: What’ll the accommodations be like? How come the organizer hasn’t confirmed the carpool situation? [Maybe I annoy her.] Should I ask her again? [No, that’ll annoy her even more.] What’s the bathroom situation there? Who am I sharing a room with? What if they snore? [Don’t forget the earplugs.] Will there be wifi? [I kinda hope not.] Will there be coffee? [I’ll bring my own.] I hope we don’t listen to Snatam Kaur all day. I hope this isn’t a waste of money. I hope it doesn’t matter that I can’t do Stretch pose for more than 3 seconds.


I’m observing this chatter with as much detachment and compassion as possible. It’s my system on overdrive, fearing the unknown and wanting to control everything it can to feel safe. My ego is on alert. It knows the training will confront the very things that keep it alive.

Kundalini Yoga is the next step in my journey into myself. My spiritual exploration has always been influenced by many different paths and traditions, and it probably always will be. But right now I’m feeling the need for more focus. To experience the depth of one practice, rather than skim the surface of many.

I’ve generally associated commitment with being ‘locked in’ to something, especially when it comes to spirituality. I’m ready to look at this differently. It could be very beautiful to devote myself to something, and to have structure, discipline, and a supportive community around me. Perhaps I won’t feel bound, but anchored.

I’ve also been experiencing some deep stirrings lately surrounding womanhood, sisterhood, and self-expression. These past couple of weeks I’ve been coughing and my throat’s been tickling – but I know I’m not sick. It’s like I want to say things I’ve never said before. Something is glimmering and awakening here, but I don’t yet have the words.

I saw the opening quote to this post a few days ago, and it’s stuck with me. Under all the nerves, I trust that I have been led to this point. A few months ago, I didn’t know I’d move from my hometown to this Island, and that a Kundalini Yoga teacher training program would be offered here.

I didn’t know that one of the soul sisters I met at a powerful women’s circle in the Spring of 2014 would be living just five minutes away from the training site. During that circle, she provided me with a sisterly love and comfort I’d never experienced before. And this past week she’s been there for me again. Clearly we planted some seeds at that gathering…

My curiosity is building as this new chapter begins. There’s nothing left to do but show up, relax, and take it all in with an open mind and heart.

Sat Nam. (Truth is my identity)

(spiritual) information overload

Back in March, a dear friend invited me to a new moon/birthday celebration where we were treated to a heavenly meditation in a salt cave, divine live music, and a beautiful despacho ceremony.

As part of the evening, we also chose angel cards and shared them as a group. I picked Archangel Metatron, whose message for me was ‘Prioritize’. Ugh, how boring, I thought. I would’ve preferred something much sexier, like ‘Cosmic Power’ or ‘Twin Flame’…but looking back on the past few months, I see just how apt this card was. I’ve lived in three different places since then, and life has been an ongoing process of clearing out, paring down, and de-cluttering.

It hasn’t just been about physical ‘stuff’. Over the summer I began to feel overloaded with commitments that my heart wasn’t into anymore. Thinking about all I ‘had’ to do left me feeling drained, with little drive to pursue any of it. So bit by bit, I let certain responsibilities go. It wasn’t easy. I felt guilt that I was letting down people whom I’d committed to. I felt like a flake.

But now, settling into my current living space, with minimal possessions around me, clarity is sinking in. I can see that I’ve been whittling away the outer noise in response to my soul’s desire to be heard.  I’ve chosen to bring with me the things I find most beautiful…the colours and books and art I truly love, that harmonize with me.

One of my favourite images, from my trip to India

One of my favourite images, from my 2010 trip to India

There’s a lot of information out there about a new earth – a 5D paradigm we are collectively awakening to.  Sitting here in my temporarily Internet-less apartment, I know I’ve been on information overload. I need to digest rather than consume these spiritual concepts. I’m understanding that this new world can only be created from within me. I need to feel that world in my body rather than compute it in my head.

I’m also seeing themes of sloppiness versus integrity in my life. Where have I been cutting corners and settling for ‘good enough’ when I know more is possible? Where can I take greater personal responsibility and create a higher standard in the way I interact with others, myself, and the planet?

And when does taking personal responsibility morph (in my own mind) into being ‘too hard’ on myself? Am I really being too hard, or am I being brutally and lovingly honest, sensing my divine potential to live more compassionately, joyfully, powerfully, simply?

Since registering for my Kundalini Yoga teacher training program, I’m feeling all this more intensely. I’m nervous, which could be a good sign. I sense I will be confronted with things I won’t be able to ignore, numb, or justify. I know the training will take me deeper into myself and enable me to stand more firmly in my own truth, as it is being revealed. For this I am grateful, excited, and hopeful that the world(s) I discover within will manifest without.

Now to find some wifi…

september: it’s showtime!

Thank you to my blogger friends Rob and Sindy for their tweets inquiring as to my whereabouts, and to Linda for her recent award nomination of my blog!

It’s true; I have been very quiet lately. After my last post, the urge to blog had disappeared completely. It was strange – I felt I had no words in me. In addition to that, for the last couple of weeks things have been changing at such warp speed. I’ve been so busy preparing for what’s coming next that I haven’t had the time or focus for blogging.


Probably the most monumental thing that happened for me in August was participating in the Landmark Forum. This is not your ordinary personal growth workshop. Over three intensive days, my beliefs about my life and the world were brought to my consciousness in a very powerful way. It’s difficult to articulate just how profound this experience was. Suffice it to say that I was able to express myself on a level I never could before. And this has transformed everything.

During that weekend, I had heartfelt and genuine conversations with my mom, dad, and sister. Conversations that once seemed impossible (or, more accurately, conversations I didn’t even know I wanted to have.) Conversations in which I let them see who I really am and how I really feel, which on some level I’d always hid from them. Conversations where I could barely speak through my tears, apologizing for the toxic blame and resentment I’ve carried within, and the unrealistic expectations I have held of them.

This has been incredibly freeing for me, and the timing of it all was so synchronistic, given that my job is finishing in two weeks and I am making some big plans for the future. I’m seeing how everything in my life is so interconnected. Suppressing who I am in one area affects all areas. If I can’t express my true self to my family and friends, how can I express it to the world? To step onto that larger stage, take risks, and feel safe and confident?


So what is on the horizon for me? My plans include studying digital communications for a couple of months at a local university (maybe I’ll finally understand twitter!), and starting my own business with a friend and former co-worker. She and I have been discussing this venture for months, and had spent many an hour at the office sharing our vision for what we want to create. (She quit a few weeks ago.) We are ready to go for it!

This summer has been full of activity – planning, connecting, preparing – and now is the time to ACT. Landmark powerfully cleared away so many stories, interpretations, and meanings I’d concocted about my life, other people, and what I am capable of. It gave me the deep understanding that those stories were never ‘real’ to begin with. It took away my sense that life is a series of problems to be fixed, and delivered the epiphany that there is nothing fundamentally ‘wrong’ with me or my life.

I am seeing everything with new eyes, and this is invaluable as I take my next steps. Yes, it does feel stressful and it does feel challenging. But it also feels electric, intriguing, and alive. I have been craving these feelings for a long time.