Episode 39 – Family Business (and A Little Bit of Politics)
Listen to this episode here!
In this episode Rachel shares the story of how she left her baby for the first time ever to travel to Los Angeles for a photoshoot and how, inevitably, chaos ensued. From having an incredibly difficult time leaving Aruba in the first place to arriving to find LA on fire (literally!) she spent the weekend arguing with her brother about politics, fighting with her husband about how to care for the baby, going head to head with the airlines about getting home on time and even found herself in a confrontation with a complete stranger about how her friend was raising her toddler. A whirlwind of a weekend, indeed! She talks about how to bridge the gap with our family members when we can’t see eye-to-eye (is it possible?), letting go of control, facing your fears at your own pace and how, sometimes, all you need is a really good cry.
Hi, and welcome to another episode of From The Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl. I am so beyond excited to be talking to you today from home. I am off, which is very strange, and when I say I’m off, in my book it means that I am not in the middle of a retreat, I’m not in the middle of a teacher training, I don’t have a huge group of people here demanding my attention at the studio, and I don’t have any trips booked in the near future. I am just home. And this is a really interesting and sort of strange feeling for me to have after what has been two and a half months nonstop of really, really really intense work for me.
[000:51] We started at the very beginning of October, we had a retreat, and then we had barely a week off, and then we had a 23-day teacher training, and then we had no time off, and then we dove into another retreat. Then the day after that retreat ended, I flew to Los Angeles for a big photo shoot over there. So, it’s been … it’s been a really crazy fall (laugh) for me. And I don’t know how it happened that all of this was booked at the same time. Somehow, when we were planning the schedule of next year, it just sort of … had to be this way? I’m not sure. And looking at it all now, it was actually really beautiful that it happened so intensely. We were able to just kind of drop in and be in the zone, and rock all of these programs here. It’s been amazing and beautiful and so so so wonderful in so many ways.
[001:40] But have you ever had that feeling, when you’ve been working really hard for a long time and you start getting used to operating on a certain level of energy? When you just go go go go go all the time… That’s kind of how I’ve been this entire fall. I’m wondering if it’s sort of … what of I’ve been … my entire life? Maybe? A little bit? But specifically this fall, that’s what it’s been. I’ve been operating at this sort of superhuman level of doing everything and working so hard, and teaching insane amounts of hours every day, and just holding space for so many people, that now that it’s over, I don’t really know what to do with myself! It’s real!
[002:20] Have you ever gone on vacation and then it takes you a couple of days to actually start arriving at a place where you’re enjoying your vacation, because sometimes that’s how wired up, or wound up we are about things? That’s the space I am in right now. So (deep breath) I’m so looking forward to little by little, day by day, being able to relax and wind down a little bit more. But I’m still kind of in this wired space, which is really interesting.
[002:50] And I’m not used to feeling that way. So, we don’t have a trip coming now until end of March, so we have almost four months, yeah, well three and a half months of no trips, and no retreats, no programs, no groups. So, it’s just going to be a long time of grounding and being home. And it’s taking me some time to land in what it means to have just a regular day-to-day routine, and it’s the most awesome, beautiful thing. But I’m so used to always having to kind of keep track of what’s the next thing. Especially with the baby, now that I’ve been leading all of retreats and having these trainings here, I’ve had, you know, thirty minutes off in between classes, or 45 minutes here and there, where I’ve rushed home and nursed her, or just try to have 10 minutes to be with her. I’ve just been running back and forth from the studio whole time. So just having this time in my head all the time, where, okay, my next thing is in one hour … And now I have no next thing. (laugh) It’s almost scaring me a little bit.
[003:47] I mean, I have a lot of things I have to do. Like I’m in the middle of writing a book, and I’m still teaching classes at the studio, and regular work stuff, and all of that. You know, fun inbox and email and administrational stuff, which is not really a big deal, but just not having major things requiring my attention every moment of the day is pretty awesome. So, when I’m thinking of it now, what’s my next thing? I’m going to meet Dennis and the baby on the beach and play beach tennis. (laugh) Like, that’s my next thing today after recording this podcast. So that’s a pretty fun thing to look forward to, and I’m trying just to take some time to digest all of this that’s been going on, because it’s been a whirlwind of a couple months.
[004:30] If you tuned in last week, last week I had my very best friend in the whole world, Olivia, who is here visiting Aruba for a couple weeks. She took over the podcast (laugh) and interviewed me, instead of the other way around. And how that happened, it was really interesting, we didn’t really talk about that that much. She was very graceful. If you haven’t listened to the episode, please tune in, because she’s hilarious. She didn’t really go into this, but I was in such a panic. I was listening to our episode. I sound so calm, I sound so collected and composed. I was freaking the fork out. Like, you have no idea how much I was panicking. I was at the house just totally freaking out about leaving the baby. I’ve never left the baby before, and this was a trip that was, you know, it wasn’t an enjoyable trip, so to speak. It wasn’t like I had a spa weekend somewhere with a friend where I would get to sleep in and relax and wind down, you know, it was a work trip and it was a 15 hour journey on two flights across an entire continent, to stay for 48 hours, work, and then go back home. So it was very intense, it wasn’t something that I was looking forward to. And I had been sort of putting it off, like, I wasn’t thinking about it so much, because we were so busy leading these groups at this last retreat that I had.
[005:44] So when the day arrived, and I realized, “Wait, I’m leaving?” I had a full-blown meltdown. I was talking to Olivia, and I said, “You know what? I don’t think I can do it! I think I have to cancel. I don’t think I can do it.” I’m hyperventilating, I can’t breathe … I don’t think I can leave the baby. And I have to go record a podcast! And I have to pack and I have to get to the airport! And then she joked, she said, “Just leave it all to me! I’ll take care of the baby, I’ll make sure that Dennis is okay, and I can just record your podcast. No big deal, just delegate!” You know, she was joking because of course, you know, the podcast is one of the few things every week that I can’t delegate. But then I was like, “You know what? That’s a great idea!” And she said, “Should I take over? Should I be the host? I could interview you!” And I’m like, “Okay, awesome!” And then within 30 minutes, she had a whole document written up where she had made an introduction, she had collected questions off of social media. She’s just such a rock star, you know? Olivia, if you’re listening, I love you, and thank you for saving my butt last week, because I would not have been able to coherently speak of anything without guidance. It was really really hard.
[006:53] So, I’m going to touch a little bit on that, and on a few things that are surfacing in my life right now, and some things that I’m overall sort of sitting on, with, or thinking about. So, this trip for me that I had, and it was very surreal. I don’t know how many mothers out there, what’s normal, to leave your baby for the first time … Some people leave their babies really early because you have to go back to work early, and that’s just what it is. You don’t really have a choice. Other people are blessed that they can stay home for a long long long long time. So, I know there’s not really a norm here, but I’m pretty sure that the first time leaving your baby is always going to be a shitty time. I’m just going to take a wild guess and say that that’s what it is. So what I did is I had a big photo shoot, a cover shoot for a big, national fitness magazine, or wellness magazine in the States. And they reached out and wanted me on the cover, which is really exciting, and it’s alongside a few other social media influencers, people that I don’t know. And I am not really in the fitness, wellness sphere. I’m not one of those working out influencers. I do yoga, but mostly I talk about love and pain and share pictures of my baby. That’s just what I do. Vulnerability, I think, is more my thing. Not so much fitness or asana. You know, that’s not really what I do anymore.
[008:14] But I was really excited that they wanted to include me, this major magazine, on the cover. So it was one of those things that was, okay, well I have to say yes, this is a huge thing. I can’t turn this down, I have to do it. It was just, yeah, we got to do it. We’ll figure it out. It was six weeks or something in the future, and I thought, “I’ll be fine by then. I don’t have to think about this, it will be such a quick trip.” I decided to not travel with the baby across, because from Aruba to L.A. it’s a crazy flight and put her through travel for such a short trip, I said, “You know what? I’ll go on my own, she’ll be fine with Dennis. I’ll pump like crazy and leave an infinite supply of breast milk in the freezer. Everything will be great.”
[008:52] And then I kind of compartmentalized this idea that I was traveling, and I put it somewhere in the very back of my brain, and I did not think about it until the day of. Like, that’s totally real. The 5th of December we wrapped the retreat, and I think early afternoon I said goodbye to all the retreaters, and then we had a wrap meeting with the team, and then me and Dennis celebrated at home and had some wine, and I fell asleep. Then I woke up in the morning, after, you know, two and a half months of these very intense groups at the studio, and I said, “Wait … I’m flying to Los Angeles? Alone? Today?!” (laugh) And I just started completely panicking. Like, completely panicking. And I think it was a combination of I was very overwhelmed already and kind of, not burnt out, but feeling really, really tired. Like, really tired. Kind of drained from working so hard and feeling overwhelmed and all of this.
[009:46] And then I started panicking about the baby, because we hadn’t really prepared anything. Normally I’m a very … Not normally, okay, I’m always … I am a fairly controlling person. So, whenever we leave the baby to do anything, you know, I always leave little schedules that I like to write down and make sure that’s she’s going to eat this and this time, and here is how it works, and X, Y, Z… And I hadn’t done any of that, at all. And it’s more for me. It’s not that Dennis needs it. Dennis is home with the baby alone all the time. He’s an amazing dad. He does … After this teacher training he was joking and saying that, if he left, he went to the bathroom and he came back in the room, he’s like, “Aw, Luny, did you miss your primary caretaker?” (laugh) And he was making so many jokes, you know, like he’s the person that she saw the most for that month. So, it’s not about me not trusting that he can’t take care of her, not at all. But me making schedules and prepping and planning, it just helps me stay under the impression that I am still in control, when I’m not at all.
[010:46] But I hadn’t done any of those things. So, instead of packing and doing things that I was supposed to do, I sat down and I started writing out the schedule for the days I was going to be away. I was going to be away for three days and nights away from her, but have 48 hours flat in Los Angeles. And I was writing, you know, “She wakes up at this hour, and then she’s going to have this meal at that time,” and then I start preparing food for her. We have this little, like, baby steam … food steamer thing that’s really awesome. And I start chopping potatoes and carrots and mushrooms so that I have all of the meals that she’s going to eat planned out, that they’re already in the freezer or the fridge before I leave. I can’t remember who was at the house, I think one of the girls that works at the studio, was like, “Is this really the best way for you to spend your time right now?” And I was like, “What do you mean?! I have to make food for the baby!” “But isn’t Dennis, like, super well aware of how to prepare food for the baby? Are you kidding?” But that’s sort of how my brain works.
[011:49] So, I started going into this overdrive of frenzy. Somehow I packed, and then as the hours drew closer to me leaving, I got myself so riled up with this total panic that I was legitimately worried that I was going to have a panic attack! Like, a real panic … I’ve only had a panic attack, I think, once or twice in my life. And it’s always been brought on by some severely intense situations. And I was making myself so nervous, so panicked about leaving that I just, I forgot how to breathe! And somewhere around then I was going to record the podcast, and Olivia stepped in and she’s like, “I got this. Let’s do it.” So that’s what you listened to last week. But you can’t tell at all, because I sound very calm, but on the inside I was freaking the hell out.
[012:35] When it came, you know, her last nap came before I was leaving, and I knew I was going to leave in the middle of her nap, and I’m putting her down for her nap, and I’m just holding her close, and I start bawling, and I just start crying and crying and crying and crying and crying. And it’s not really … I don’t know if this is a proportionate reaction to leaving your baby for the first time. I would love to hear from other people out there. I always think that I am kind of the only one who is crazy and intense and alone and all of that stuff. But that’s how I felt. I don’t know if it’s the fear that something’s going to happen to her, or if it’s just the separation, you know? Because we’ve been so close since her birth. She’s nine months old. She had nine months of growing inside of me, and then nine months growing attached to me on the outside, I guess. And then I was just going to leave? You know, what was that going to be like? What if she wakes up in the middle of the night and I’m not there and she doesn’t stop crying and she’s wondering where am I? You know? Am I traumatizing her by leaving her? All of these things were going through my mind. And at the end of the day, I know she’s fine, but I wasn’t fine, you know?
[013:39] The funny thing was, here, is that Dennis was so frickin’ jealous. He couldn’t believe it. He said, “Wait, you get to sleep two full nights in a bed on your own. Without your mind having to be anywhere else, without waking up in the middle of the night a thousand, like, you get to sleep! You get to be on a plane,” and I flew business class, which is so awesome. He said, “You get to fly business class where you can drink champagne and watch an entire movie! Like, you can watch a whole movie, undisturbed! You can do your emails, you can just sit there and stare into space and nothing and no one will demand your attention.” He’s like, “This is the dream, and now you get to go to L.A., and you get to see your brother and our friends that are there, and you get to shop, and you get to do whatever you want.” To him this was the dream, you know? And I wasn’t feeling it! I wasn’t feeling it at all. There was nothing in that that made me feel excited. I was just dreading everything.
[014:33] Finally I left. I tore myself from the crib, we drove to the airport, I left, and I got on the plane, and I felt miserable the entire time I’m there. And I did the thing, you know, I had a glass of champagne and I watched a movie. Nothing felt okay. Like, it was just crap, all the way through. I make it to L.A., which was on fire, by the way. Not like it was lit, it was awesome an cool, like it was on fire. Los Angeles was burning. I’m sure you guys saw on social media and the news all the wildfires that were spreading everywhere. And I was staying in Santa Monica with friends who I haven’t seen in a long time, so it was really fun to see them. I should have been way more excited about that than I was. I was just … couldn’t stop thinking about the baby.
[015:12] And when I get there, they seriously had, like, wet towels pressing up against the crack of the doors, because smoke was entering the house. And that was, you know, I arrived on the day when the wind had turned, and it was much, much, much better. You could smell the little bit of smoke and little bit of fire in the air, but it wasn’t horrible. They said two days earlier their daughter had woken up in the middle of the night because she couldn’t breathe, because it was like a campfire was happening in the house. Like, it was really, really intense. So, I was arriving in the middle of all of this, which was also really interesting. I was, you know, on the way there, on the plane I started having all of these horrible thoughts. I was thinking, “Wait, is this a sign?” Like, I’m leaving my baby for the first time, and the gates of hell are opening up! I’m just flying into literal fire. Into flames. This does not feel like a good sign. It feels like an omen.
[016:06] But, I made it there, and then funnily enough, so I had a layover in Atlanta, and then a girl that I follow on Instagram, you should follow her, her name is Katie, her account is EmpoweredBirthProject, so it’s all photos of birth. Birth and breastfeeding. She’s a doula, she’s super amazing, and this account, it’s a really big account, and right now she’s in the middle of a campaign where she’s pushing to have … uh, I don’t know want to use the wrong word, not explicit, but yeah, natural photos of birth of every kind allowed on Instagram, the same way the medical community is allowed to share photos of surgeries and body parts and things like that, but for birth, they delete photos and take the posts down, and they even delete full accounts. So she’s in the middle of a big petition there, which is awesome, you should go support it.
[016:52] But I’ve been following her for a while, since I was pregnant, and then she just randomly …and I never met her, we never really spoke, really, and she just writes me on Instagram, she’s like, “Hey, I live like five minutes away from LAX, if you want a ride, I’m sure you’re fine, if you need a ride, I would love to get you from the airport and just like talk and drive you to where you’re going.” And I started writing her back this message that was like, “Oh my god, thank you so much, no, that’s so sweet, but actually I have everything arranged. Thank you though, that’s so kind of you to offer.” And then before I hit send, I was like, “All of this is a lie.” (laugh) I just wrote a very clear lie. I did not have jack shit prepared. I had no ride, I had nothing. My brother normally picks me up, he doesn’t have a car anymore. I don’t know how the hell he lives in L.A. without a car. He doesn’t have a car. And I was arriving really late, like 11:30 at night, so I was going to take an Uber or something. I had nothing arranged. I paused, and I was like, “Oh my god, this is just a lie. Should I just wing it and meet this random person that I’ve never met and don’t know anyone who knows her?” Like, you know, yeah! Why not?
[017:55] Normally Dennis is the one who always keeps me from doing this. He really, okay, first of all he’s awkward with all strangers. He’s awkward with people that we know. He’s a pretty awkward person, as is. If we meet and acquaintance at the grocery store, he’s just the most awkward person ever. I have literally seen him (laugh) swerve at the last second to avoid getting into an elevator because there was an acquaintance of ours there, and he took six flights of stairs up to where we going to avoid small talk, because he hates small talk. He’s such a awkward person. So whenever this stuff happens to us when we’re traveling normally, like, people reach out a lot wanting to meet or connect or offer us beautiful favors like this, he always makes me say no, because he hates it. Now I was like, you know what, I’m not even traveling with Dennis. I haven’t traveled alone for so long. So I was like, “Fuck it! Yeah! I’m going to say yes.” So I wrote her, I said, “You know what? That’s really kind of you. I would love a ride, if you’re up for that.” Like, she has three kids. I’m like, “Don’t you have something better to do than at midnight drive me across L.A.?” And she was like, “Oh, it’ll be so much fun!”
[019:01] So, she picked me up, which was an adventure on its own, for me. You know? Just to connect to people in that way, which I haven’t done in a while. And it’s so needed. I need to get out of my box a little bit more. She’s the sweetest person ever! And then of course, in the car the first thing I do is I complain. I said, “I can’t believe I’m leaving my baby, and I feel so horrible, and I feel like she’s way too young,” is the first thing I said. I said, “I feel like it’s too early. I’m not ready to leave her.” And then she’s like, “Well, I had to leave all of my babies at,” I can’t remember exactly what she said, I think 12 weeks or something? And I was like, “What!? Why!?” “Oh, to work.” And then, you know, I felt so ashamed, because I wasn’t realizing my own privilege. Like, I’m sitting here with this massive privilege that allows me to stay home with my baby for as long as I want, because I am my own boss. Who, I mean, you know, I’m so so so so privileged, and I’m not even recognizing that.
[019:56] In Aruba, I think, I don’t know, three years ago, they gave you six weeks of maternity leave. It wasn’t long ago that there were six, you got six weeks off, you had a baby, six weeks later you had to be back at work. Now they give you twelve here. So, yes, I’m very privileged, and sometimes I’m so privileged and I get very caught up in my own stuff that I forget to look at the state of the world. It was just a really good little check-in for me.
[020:23] The moment she said that I was like, “Okay, wait, you know, actually I’ve been home with my baby for almost nine months. She has an amazing dad that’s home with her. She’s fine. It’s not too early, it’s perfect timing, and maybe I should just try to enjoy myself during this weekend, now that I’m here. You know? I’m here, I mad it, I’m just going to stop panicking and start enjoying myself.” And that’s what I did. So, thank you Katie for giving me some really good perspective and kind of bringing me back to earth, which I really needed. I tend to spin out and panic, and my brain just goes crazy sometimes.
[022:36] After that, that was a big shift, actually, in terms of me with this trip. I made it, I slept a whole night, which was, okay, neither of these two nights did I sleep more than six hours straight, but it was still, like, a whole night without being half awake or having an ear listening to, “Is she waking up? What’s she doing? Am I going to have go to over there? What’s happening?” You know? Like, actual real deep sleep. So when I woke up the next day, I kid you not, I heard the birds chirping. (laugh) I woke up and I laid in bed, and it was this big, giant, awesomely comfortable bed at my friends Kelly and Steven’s house, where we always stay when we go to L.A. and Santa Monica. The first thing I heard was just a bird outside the window, and I was like, “Oh my god, I can hear the birds sing again!” You know? Just one night of actual sleep, and I felt like a new human being.
[023:27] So I did what I, you know, what I should have done from the first moment. I just started letting go of control, relaxing, kind of, you know, chill the hell out. I put on high heels (laugh), I put on makeup, and I went outside to meet my friend Jen for breakfast, and it was the best! Like, really, from that moment on, I was like, “Okay, I’m in Los Angeles, I have friends here, I have so many fun things to do. I’m here for a shoot with a major magazine. I’m so privileged, I should just be so grateful to be here.
[024:00] So, had a really, really good first day when we were there. It was a really interesting trip, overall. I saw Jen, I’m sure you guys know Jen Pastiloff, I have a podcast episode with her, it’s one of our most listened ones. You should totally listen to it if you haven’t already. It’s called “No Bullshit Motherhood.”
[024:14] And then we had the weirdest thing happen, okay? So, if you follow me on social media or you follow my Instagram stories, I’m sure you heard this, but we were sitting at a café, having breakfast, just talking, and she has an 18 month old little Charlie, he’s a year and a half. And he’s a boy, and he’s a toddler, and I don’t know any toddlers that aren’t, you know, that don’t run around. Like, Luna, now she’s nine months, she’s so vocal. She shrieks for things, she’s never still … Like today, within the span of like a minute, I had to pull like five different things out of her mouth that she was trying to pick up, that she could have choked on. Like, it’s insane. All over the place, I’m running after her all the time. And she doesn’t even walk on her own yet. She has to hold onto stuff to walk around. So, I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when she walks on her own.
[024:56] We were at this restaurant, or at this café, and then Charlie, you know, he’s trying to run around, and he’s being loud, but he’s not a bad kid. Like, he’s just a child. He’s totally, totally normal 18 month old. And then, you know, Jen is holding him, kind of, for most of the breakfast, it’s really clear, like, it’s not easy being a mom. It’s not like she’s sitting there ignoring him while we’re engaged in this deep conversation and he’s just going berserk. She’s very actively doing what she can to get Charlie to calm down and to sit. No big deal.
[025:32] Then this guy, this older, grandpa-looking guy, wearing this grandpa sweater, he comes over very clearly to talk to Jen, and he has this big smile on his face, and he leans in really close, and Jen, she’s a pretty known writer and she has the social media presence … I call her “The Celebrity Magnet.” Like, she’s somehow randomly friends with every celebrity I know. I don’t know how. But I just assumed, like, okay this is a guy who is a fan of hers. He must know her writing, he’s going to lean in to give her a compliment, because he has this big smile on his face. And he leans in really close, and then he tells her, “You know, you are not doing that child any favors by allowing him to behave in this horrible manner.”
[026:15] And Jen, who’s normally a very fiery person, she just, like, her mouth just drops open. She just stares at this guy, and I immediately, I was like, “No, no. This is not happening. You’re kidding, you’re not a real … This is not real. You did not just walk across a restaurant to tell a mother how to raise her child. Like, no. This is not real. You’re joking, right? You’re joking.” And the guy is just like, “I have children. You’re not doing him any service letting him behave in this horrible manner.” And Jen was like, “Well, what do you suggest? What should I do?” (laugh) Are you fucking kidding me? And then he just walked away.
[026:51] And I was like, “I cannot believe the audacity of some people. Are you kidding? And is that a Los Angeles thing? I don’t know.” It’s definitely never, I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like that before. I felt like that’s just stories that you hear. But who actually has the guts and the kind of audacity to do that? Where’s the kindness? You know? It was really clear that she was struggling there with him, doing her very, very, very best. Like, where’s the kindness? Come on, man. Come on, guy. I don’t know, I kind of wish I had a better comeback for him, somehow. And then his response was, “I have children.” Okay, like, how are they doing? Just because you’ve fathered babies does not make you an expert on all things parenting, does not give you the right to judge someone in that horrible manner. So, yeah, guy in the grandpa sweater from Le Pain on 2nd, uh… Fork you! (laugh) You suck.
[027:52] Moving on, so after that day … and here’s where things got kind of intense. So that happened, and then I saw another friend of mine for lunch and kind of had a nice day, went shopping a little bit for Christmas, and then I saw my brother. And this is so, like, you guys have never really been introduced to my brother. My brother is not a social media person at all. At all. He has been living in L.A. for the past, I want to say, eight years? He is … Yeah, eight years, he’s 27, so he’s been here since he was 19. He’s a musician, he plays classical and electric guitar, and he’s, yeah, he’s the most talented guitarist, like, you’ve ever met. He’s so talented, it’s crazy. He went to music school there, and then stayed and is now teaching music, and he’s in a band, and all he does is just music. That’s his whole life over there. But, he’s never been on the podcast. I would love to have him on the podcast! He’s such, yeah, he’s an amazing guy. Super good looking, super sweet, awesome human being.
[028:45] And then somehow, so I haven’t seen him in a long time, he’s never met the baby. He’s in the middle of getting his green card, and up until you have it approved, they don’t let you leave the country. So he’s in this weird gray area where he can’t leave. Yeah. So he’s never seen the baby, which is a super big bummer. So, I haven’t seen him since, like, pre-pregnancy. So a long time. And we’re having such a nice time, and it’s so nice to see him, and then we stop at the end of the day and we sit down to have a drink before dinner, and somehow, like, I don’t know how … I cannot for the life of me remember if I instigated or if he did … we started talking about politics. And, you know, I love my brother, like, my brother, he’s my only … I have seven siblings, but he’s the only sibling where we share both parents the same. So, what’s the word I’m looking for. Like, I grew up with all of my siblings, so I don’t consider any of them half. You know? I have a lot of half sisters, I guess, but I don’t consider them that at all. It’s all the same. Anyway, but he’s the only one where I have the same mom and the same dad.
[029:48] We started talking about politics, and somehow, I guess through his years of living in the States, and, you know, he’s clearly, like, he’s grown up into this adult person, with his own views of the world and his own ideas and his own thoughts of stuff. And it just, I was so shocked to find out that it doesn’t align, at all, with what I believe in. And we’ve never discussed politics in that way before. Like, never really. I don’t know, I think we started talking about feminism, or maybe the #MeToo movement, because the big blog that I shared online with all of the #MeToo stories from the yoga world had just come out, and a lot of journalists were approaching me from different media outlets and wanting to investigate and move further with this story, and all of this stuff was happening. So, I think maybe from there.
[030:38] We got into a ginormous political fight! Like, a legitimate fight. It wasn’t even a discussion anymore. Like, fight. I was crying at some point trying to get my point across, because I got so emotional. It was horrible. It was so intense to the point where there was a woman who was sitting at another table, like two tables away, when we had a gap in the conversation, because the mood was so … the vibe was so horrible, it was like we were sitting there hating each other because we couldn’t get along about anything. Our views are so opposing. About everything!
[031:07] I don’t know, we talked about, like, feminism and abortion and immigration and Donald fucking Trump, and all of this stuff. It’s just like, I was just so shocked to see that as adults we’ve grown so far apart that we have just two totally different ways to look at the world. Instead of reconciling that difference, or maybe, you know, there would have been space for me to learn from him, or him to learn from me, we just got right into this kind of sibling thing, you know? The sibling thing where you kind of know which buttons to push. I mean, I don’t think you can fight with anyone the way you can have a fight with a sibling. It’s just, it’s very special, very different. We had this gap in the conversation where we just sat there, like, arms crossed across our chests, just silently hating each other. Like, what the hell? And then this woman at another table, she was like, “Um, I have no idea what language you guys are speaking,” because we were speaking in Swedish, “but I know this discussion. Every family in the continental U.S. is having this discussion right now. Families have been broken apart by politics. These very same discussions that are happening right here, right now. And I don’t know what your relationship is. Are you guys together or married?” We look like we’re the same age. “Are you guys going to be okay after this?”
[032:30] And my brother goes, “Well, actually, no this is my sister.” She’s like, “Oh, well you definitely cannot afford to lose each other. Are you kidding? Get back to what you agree on, and start talking about things, the common ground that you have, because you have it.” And she was sort of helping us get our stuff in check a little bit, because that’s how intense it was. And she could tell, even in Swedish, what we were fighting about, and how things work.
[032:54] For me, this was a really big eye-opener. Like, I was really saddened a lot, of course, about the fact that we don’t have the same viewpoints, and I don’t want to get in on them now. So, my brother reads a lot. He reads a lot of economy and, yeah, books on finance and, like, economy. He’s kind of against the structure of government, I think, overall. Which leads to having a lot of really opposing views when it comes trickling down to other things. But it was really, really hard for me, because I feel like I’m fighting this big fight in a lot of ways, like, I’ve sort of become this activist. I want to be a spokesperson for things that I believe in. It was different a couple of years ago. I would steer away from talking about anything. I shared, right before the election last year, you can scroll back to look at this if you want to have a field day in the comments section … So, it was a little meme, and it just a pink background, and it said Donald Trump, and then it said, Donald T, and it said Don T, Don’t. Going from Donald Trump to Don’t. And I wrote something, like, very simple about, you know … because for me, coming from where I come from, coming from the background that I have, growing up the way I grew up, for me it was just a very obvious thing, that this did not seem like a proper candidate. Like, that was just my viewpoint.
[034:21] I know by just mentioning this now, I’m probably starting another shit storm, so I apologize in advance, but I just put that out there because I live in a reality where not a single person in my life was a Donald Trump supporter. Like, not a single person had viewpoints or views that correlate with what he was saying. Specifically in terms of feminism and women’s rights and immigration and all of these things. So, I was living in this reality, which wasn’t real, and it was a good reality check for me, but in this reality, where like, there’s no way that Donald Trump’s going to win this election. Like, this is ridiculous. Who could possibly vote for him? Because that’s the news that I was adjusting, and that was the viewpoint that I sat with, and I’d never had them contended, ever.
[035:03] And ho-ly forking shart. Holy shit. I … That was … It was insane. It was one of the first things. I’ve only had, actually, two Instagram posts in my life that I’ve really regretted. That was one of them. The second one was the vaccination post that I posted when Luna was two months old, because of the personal attacks that I was … yeah, that came my way after I shared those things. It was just so intense, so overwhelming, so much hate in that comment section, and I was not prepared for it, at all.
[035:44] I think since then I have taken more of a stand and I’ve become more anchored in my beliefs. I do a lot of research these days. I know what I talk about when I talk about things. I don’t just dive into a discussion without really knowing anything, anymore. So, I feel much more confident to speak up about politics, and speak about things that I really believe in now than I did then. But then, you know, I posted that I was like, oh my god. I had thousands of people unfollow me. You know, women, and men, and people that were supporting Trump, and for a variety of reasons.
[036:17] Now we’re here. It’s not even a year later. Is it a year later? I guess it is a year later. Almost exactly a year later. I don’t know how, you know, these people feel today or what’s changed and what hasn’t, but it was a big kind of shock for me to sit with a family member that I love so much knowing that there are just some basic, fundamental views about life where we cannot agree with each other, at all. There’s nothing I can say to get him to arrive at that place. There’s nothing that he can say to get me to arrive at that place. But we just have this big gap here.
[036:49] And it really sort of broke my heart a little bit. I don’t know how else to phrase it. You know? And it’s okay to feel differently, it’s okay to have different viewpoints, we need to have different voices and different opinions for there to be a debate, for their to be change. And I know, fundamentally, like when you get down to the basics of everything, yeah of course we have the same … we share the same fundamental idea and view of the world. Like, of course. For equality and for human rights, and all of this stuff. It’s just … Yeah, his ways of getting there, I guess, are very, very, very different from mine. And I think, also, sitting on the side of the table, as a white man, I think it’s also different. What I was trying to share was, you know, it’s really really hard to explain what it’s like to be a woman in this world. And then he was countering and he said, “Well, what has ever happened to you? Like you’re the most privileged fucking person on earth.” And I said, “Yeah! Hell yeah, I am! Yeah, I am the minority in the fact that I’m a woman … You know that there’s more women than men in the world? In the case of living in a patriarchal society where, yes, women have been suppressed for centuries, like yeah, I have a lot of shit that has come my way. A lot. You cannot even begin to understand. I don’t think, as a white man, from where you’re sitting right now, you’re not going to understand, because you’re not going to be able to know what it’s like to walk in my shoes and how normal many of these things have been.”
[038:18] And it was really hard for him to understand. I could ask a really basic question. I said, “How many of your friends, of your guy friends, have been raped? Can you answer me that?” “Well, none.” Yeah, the answer was none. How many friends did I have that have been raped? Seven, that I know of. You know? I’m definitely pretty sure that the answer is way higher than that. How many friends of mine have … are victims of sexual harassment and abuse? All of them! There is not a single woman … I couldn’t find a single person, adult person that wasn’t a survivor of some sort of harassment or abuse throughout their lifetimes. So I said, “It’s really hard to know what it’s like to be a woman. And of course, like, I’m not a black woman, I’m not a Hispanic woman. There’s people out there that, holy shit, can talk circles around me in terms of privilege. I’m sitting in this very, very privileged side of the table as well, and I’m well aware of that. But I want to use my voice to make a change, if I can make one.”
[039:12] So, this just left, this whole conversation like left this really odd taste in my mouth, and I just (sigh) … I don’t know, it made me sort of realize that – and then this election came up, you know the Alabama senate with Roy Moore and everything that was going on, where I just for the first time realized, you know, the people that are voting for the guy who is the accused child molester, like, not that my brother would vote for that guy, not at all. But there’s people in this world where this is just a totally common thing, you know? That don’t know what it’s like to sit on that other side. That don’t think even … They don’t even think about the repercussions of the actions that we take. The fact that it’s important that when I vote, that I do the research and that I find out where am I casting my power, as an individual, right now. And knowing how this is literally splitting families apart, splitting nations apart, splitting different people from across the world, putting us on these separate ends of the spectrum, creating more and more divide. That really, really breaks my heart.
[040:25] I’m thinking of it now, and I’m trying to think of, okay, instead of having this divide between me and my brother, how could I have created more common ground? How could I have taken that woman’s advice that was at the next table, to find more common ground and to unite in a way? And we were not able to do that, at all. Which was super sad. Super, super sad. So at the end of the day we just had to put, like, a lid on it. We didn’t finish anything. We didn’t even end with a hug, or like, “Okay, let’s agree to disagree.” Like, no. It was really bad. Really bad.
[040:55] Then we went to dinner, and then you know, a couple of hours passed, and then we were fine again. Like, we’re fine now. It’s fine, of course it’s fine. But it’s not fine! I don’t know, and it’s making me think. You know? It’s also the people that I speak to and the people that are also as a yoga teacher, the people that come to our classes, the life that I leave, the type of people I interact with everyday, the people that follow me on social media, we’re a very certain type of person in this community. I don’t spend a lot of time interacting with people whose views completely oppose mine. So, how can I actually be a bridge for that divide if I never interact with people from the other side? How can I actually bridge that if I’m not engaging?
[041:36] So, I guess, at the end of the day, that’s why it’s good that we’re having these conversations and that we’re having these discussions. What I’m struggling with is finding that space where we end in a place where we can remember our common humanity, and really remember the love that sits at the bottom of everything. Because no matter what we believe in, every single person, no matter what their viewpoints are, there is something in them that believes that this is genuinely good, you know? Whether that is being, you know … Even if that person has completely opposing beliefs than me, something in their life has brought them to those beliefs for a reason, and it’s always, fundamentally, that they believe that this is what’s going to good more good for me, or protect me, or the world, or my family, you know? There’s always some sort of love at the bottom of everything, and I think we need to remember that.
[042:24] But, okay, I got a little sidetracked, the way I always do. But that’s sort of how that day kind of closed for me. On that note, as I was having, and this did not help at all … As I was having this discussion with my brother, I called Dennis, or Dennis called just to have a little FaceTime with the baby and see how things are going. And then he casually mentions, and this is … I still cannot believe that he did this, but he casually mentions that, “Oh, you know, and then Jess,” who’s a girl who works at the studio, “she’s going to come over and watch her tonight so that I can go play some beach tennis and hang out with the guys.” And we have never had a babysitter for the baby. We’ve never had a stranger watch the baby, ever! It’s only been me, Dennis, or my mom. No else. No one has ever, you know, picked her up from her crib if she’s cried at night, ever! And I’ve been really nervous about getting a babysitter, and we said that this was going to be a thing that we decide together, and when we find someone we’ll, you know, of course let her get to know the baby and ease the baby into it so that they have a good connection and teach her all of these things about how things work, and then move towards having a solid relationship with someone who can watch the baby so we can go out to dinner, and stuff like that. But we haven’t done any of those things!
[043:36] So, I’m gone for literally 48 hours, like, I’m gone for no time, and he’s like, “Yeah, and Jess is going to come over and she’s going to take the baby for a couple of hours. So, no problem. She’ll probably be sleeping anyway.” And I was like, “What?!” Like, this is not okay for me, at all! And I would love to hear from other people out there. I don’t know, we’re still sort of divided in this. He still doesn’t think that this was a big deal. For me this was a huge deal, that we didn’t talk about it before hand, and it wasn’t a decision that we made together. I was already over there, panicked, and you know, not feeling great about being away, and then I had that kind of good day, and then got into this whole thing with my brother and lost my footing, and I was already sort of, you know, I was crying in this discussion with my brother already. And then he springs this on me that, no we’re going to have this strange person who the baby doesn’t know watch her in the night.
[044:24] I said, “What do you mean? If she wakes up and she has night terrors, or she wakes up and she has one of those moments of separation anxiety, which she’s had several times the past couple weeks, and Jess is there to pick her up?” Like, I love Jess, she’s my favorite, one of my favorite people, but the baby doesn’t know her. Like, are you kidding? She’s a stranger to the baby. That’s not cool. I’m not cool with this. And then you know what Dennis said? He said, “Well, you’re on the other side of the world, so I’m going to do what I’m going to do.” And then he hung up. Like … I get a little … Like I feel warm right now just speaking this sentence because of how pissed off this made me. I sort of lost my shit there. It was kind of shitty time with all of that around happening. But I could not believe that he would do such a thing. And then, of course, he thought of it as, “Why? Don’t you trust that I can be in charge and that I can take care of the baby my way?” And I said, “It’s not even about that. I know she’ll be fine. She’ll probably be sleeping, you’ll be okay. But I won’t be okay! On the other side of the world, already nervous … you know, please don’t do this to me, because I’m not going to be okay with it. I’m not going to stop worrying, and I’m going to … It will just ruin my last day here. I’m almost home.”
[045:40] We had this big big big big fight. We rarely fight, like, that way. This was a real, legitimate fight. Because he could not understand where I was coming from at all. And he said, “Well, this fear that you have that something is going to happen, it’s irrational. It’s not based in anything real. So, I’m helping you now. You’re kind of like the baby bird, and you need to be pushed out of the nest, honey. You just need to learn that you can fly.” Like, he was trying to make this weird analogy of I have a fear and he’s going to help me push past my fear. And I said, “I understand, but if I have a fear of flying, you’re going to take me up to the highest building you can find and push me off? This is what you’re doing now. You’re creating this massive panic for me. This is just not okay.” And it took us a long … Like, we had to have a long fight on the phone before he was like, “Okay, I guess I’ll stay home.” And he still thought that I was completely ridiculous. And it wasn’t until I came home and we could have that conversation face to face that he understood just how fearful I am of something happening. Because he’s so not. He’s so relaxed, so calm, so so … So secure. Like, I kind of wish I could just live a couple days in his shoes, with how at peace and at ease he is with everything.
[046:52] For instance, now that the baby’s sleeping through the night … She’s, yeah I guess it took me leaving … A lot of good things happened baby-wise since I left. Dennis is an amazing dad. Me trusting that everything would be okay actually, you know … he pulled off some miracles here. He didn’t feed her during the night, she didn’t ask to be fed during the night, even at all. And now she sleeps 12 hour nights. That would not have happened if I was at home, micromanaging stuff, you know? So, his way is a great way.
[047:18] But the fact that he has no fears, so when she slept the first night ever, 12 hours, I wasn’t sleeping, because I was constantly waking up wondering, “Why is she not making more noise? Has she died? Has she stopped breathing? What is going on?” Like, my mind just won’t quit. And he doesn’t have that at all. The man sleeps in peace. He’s so chill with everything. And I’ll wake him up, I said, “You know, she’s been so quiet for so long.” And then he’s like, “Well, what could possibly have happened? Like, literally? What do you think? Tell me the scenario that you believe has happened. Has the baby suddenly learned how to crawl out of her crib and climb out, even though she’s never done that ever before, and now all of the sudden she’s fallen on the floor and she’s hit her head …” And he made like a weird comparison to a fake thing that’s never happened that he thought was like insane. And of course this put that thought in my head, and I was like, “Wait, what if that has actually happened? Like, no. I have to go upstairs. I have to go upstairs. I have to check. I have to check that she’s alive.” And he goes crazy. He’s like, “Relax! Relax!”
[048:16] I don’t know, I wish I had that total sense of comfort and security, knowing that everything’s okay, and I just don’t right? So, for him, it was a really hard thing understanding. I’m on the other side of the world, he’s the one in charge. Everything’s fine and it’s great. If he wants to go and play some tennis, like, who cares? The baby is fine! But for me, it wasn’t fine. And it took so much … It took a whole fight for me to be able to convince how not fine I was for him to stay home. I had to say, “You know what? If you want to take every night for the rest of the year, rest of the month, and go play tennis, like, do that. I’m home the day after tomorrow. Like, please, take the next day and just be home so that I can rest assure that everything’s okay.”
[048:56] But it kind of drew that same parallel for me, that he can’t put himself in my shoes, because he doesn’t feel that fear. And I can’t put myself in his shoes because I don’t feel that relaxed. You know? So, when we’re talking to each other, trying to convey our viewpoints and trying to make the other person understand what we feel and why we feel it, we just can’t meet in the middle, because we come from such completely different places.
[049:27] So, yeah, it’s been a really … This whole trip, for me, has been one ginormous learning … In terms of communication, in terms of discussion, building bridges, and I’m not super great at it, I have to say, and I have a really hard time with all of this. It took … It wasn’t until I came home and we could sit down at dinner and I had to, you know, I was crying because I was so distraught at how hard this was for me, really. And he just didn’t understand. He just did not understand how hard it was. I’m also really good at keeping kind of a, you know, I keep a cool face and I was trying to pretend like I was cooler that I was. But I wasn’t, you know? I was a total mess and everything sucked and it was horrible.
[050:06] Then after that happened, I decided, “Oh, I shouldn’t have gone to L.A. I went to L.A., there’s fires everywhere, I’m fighting with my brother the whole time, there’s this weird guy approaching us to fight with Jen, now Dennis is fighting with me, wants to bring the babysitter in, like, I can’t trust that he is going to respect that I’m panicking …” I just totally lost all my shit, all my bearings. That was kind of how my whole L.A. trip. It was mixed with just some really nice moments meeting friends, and just total mess. Total, total mess, a total mess.
[050:42] Then, of course, I had the final day, which was the shoot day, which … I am smiling now, but this is a podcast on its own. I’m not going to talk about the shoot. Actually, I think I sort of, kind of mentioned which magazine the shoot is with, and it wasn’t until I arrived that they told me, like, I’m not allowed to talk about it on social media, which no one told me beforehand, so I apologize if anybody gets upset. Anyway, I can’t share too much about that until the cover is out. It’s going to be out in March, so I guess end of February, something like that, I can share a little bit more. But the shoot itself was totally, totally surreal. Totally surreal. But I’ll talk about that another time.
[051:22] But as you guys probably knew if you follow me at all through Instagram, getting home was a nightmare, and they canceled my flight, and I thought they canceled my flight because of fires, but they ended up canceling my flight because there was a snowstorm in Atlanta. So, I literally went through fire and ice to get home. I was re-routed to Columbus, and then finally made it home, hours delayed, still not feeling great with Dennis. We were still sort of fighting throughout that whole last day. It was just a mess. I didn’t sleep for 36 hours. I still had full hair and makeup when I arrived in Aruba 24 hours … No wait, not even 24 … 36 hours after I got the makeup done. Like, it was crazy. So, so, so crazy.
[052:02] And then here’s, like, the final thing, which was really … So I was itching to get back to the baby, exhausted, so tired. I was there from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., non-stop, without food. Like, ugh, without food. It was crazy, it was so intense. I was so tired, like, in the middle of dinner, I literally had … I had an Aperol spritz, it’s my favorite drink … got a plate of food put in front of me, starving, and then I got a text that said, “Oh, your flight has been canceled,” and I had to throw myself into the car with my friend Steven and go to the airport and try to get on another flight. Panic. Like, it was not fun.
[052:40] So then I was sharing little snippets of, you know, “Having a shitty day, and I can’t believe this happened,” and then in the middle of everything, I was venting of like, ugh, everything is blah. Kind of like how I’m sharing now. Then I got this email from this lady, like, a long, thought through email, about how can I complain, at all … I should be so grateful, I have such a perfect life, and I get to go to Los Angeles for this amazing thing and why am I complaining, can I just shut the hell up? You know … And then I felt awful. I felt so horrible, because I already had that moment arriving. Like, flying out of, “Wait, I am privileged, I need to be more grateful. Why am I complaining? I need to enjoy myself.” And then going back, the same thing. I felt like I was, like, I was horrible time, but I should, I should be enjoying myself more, I should be more grateful, I should be different.
[053:31] And then I just kind of realized, if I’m not feeling it in that moment, it’s okay, you know? If you’re having an unhappy moment, for whatever reason, it’s okay. It’s okay to complain. It’s okay that things aren’t … that you’re not overly grateful and overjoyed with all that life brings you every moment of every day. Even if you have a good life, like, it’s okay and human to get caught up in things when they don’t work. It’s okay to get lost in stuff when you’re having a shitty fucking time. It’s alright. I don’t think it’s healthy to pretend, to put on that big smiley face, of oh my god, all this shit is happening, I’m feeling like shit, but actually, you know, I should be happy about X, Y and Z, so let me just put on this big smile and pretend. No! It’s okay. It’s okay to vent and share and talk about stuff. When it doesn’t become okay anymore is when we get stuck in it, right? Like getting stuck in the story of how everything is always shit … Well, we all do have things that are beautiful in life. I think I do that pretty well. Like, I don’t know, lady who sent me that email, you really got to me, and it lingered for a while, but I think I do a pretty good job at feeling my feelings, which involves venting. And sometimes I have a whole podcast, like this podcast, where I’m not entirely sure what the fuck the topic of the podcast is, but I’m sharing and experience that I’ve had, and feelings and learnings attached to that.
[054:55] Usually people resonate, because yeah, we all feel the same things. Not always at the same time, but we all share that common humanity of sometimes feeling like absolute crap. Nothing goes our way. And then the next day, having a totally elevated, beautiful realization of how grateful we are, and how many things we have to be grateful for. So, I think we have to allow ourselves to live in those two sides of the spectrum. Like, it’s okay to not agree with your family, and love them anyway, right? It’s okay to fight for what you believe in. It’s okay to get emotional in the middle of an argument. It’s okay to fight with your husband because he doesn’t get you (laugh). It’s okay to cry because you leave your baby, and it’s okay to be pissed off because you missed your flight when you’re going home. Like, all of it is valid, as long as I don’t get stuck in this story of how everything is so horrible and I’m a victim of my own life, because that is not true, right?
[055:49] So, I think the reason I’m able to come back home, because since coming home, like, every day has been so good. So beautiful. Yesterday I shared on Instagram, I have moments where I cry because of how beautiful life is. I just sit there and I look at my baby, and I love her so much. The moment he reconciled and he actually can see, “Okay, I get it now. I didn’t get it then, but I get it now.” You know? I love him so much, I’m so grateful I have him in my life. I’m able to arrive back at that place of joy and of love and of gratitude because I let myself feel the shit.
[056:24] So, I guess what I’m going to leave you with is, whatever it means to you, you know, the idea of processing … do it! And do it more! Do it and do it more. It doesn’t all have to be through social media. It doesn’t have to be all dramatic and full of drama and crazy stuff, you know, and if you slip into that, it’s alright. Just do your best to arrive back in the things that are beautiful, because they are all around you. Especially during the holidays, you know, there’s a lot of… Like, Christmas is coming, New Years is coming, we build up this ginormous idea of having a perfect holiday time, and a perfect holiday season, and it’s stressful. We have a lot of stuff we have to deal with; shop and cook and bake and expectations and the family on top of that. Like, we love them, but we don’t always agree with what they say. It’s just clear, it is what it is. So we have to cut ourselves some slack, you know? If you’re struggling with some shit right now, acknowledge that you’re struggling, share it, vent a little bit, and then move on. And then move on. Because there is joy too. And the Christmas spirit is upon us. I think feeling our feelings is the single best way to come back to that place of magic, which right now is the magic of Christmas.
[057:42] So, thank you guys for sticking with me through this podcast, and for having my back. I mean, I don’t know if I say it enough, but for everyone who doesn’t send me angry comments about things, everyone who is supportive, there’s so many of you out there who share positive little comments, and just sending me love from afar, I really appreciate it. I really, really feel it. So, if I sometimes forget to acknowledge you, please know that I read everything and I appreciate the hell out of you, every damn day.
[058:15] Wishing you a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day, and beautiful time with your family that’s upon you as well, and I’ll see you next week!
[End of Episode]
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