My Story… in sentences…

…written about my life through age 26. Here I am, 3 years later, with chapters more to tell… wishing I would have shared more then, and determined to share more now…

I’ll warn you that the story I’m about to tell often isn’t pretty. It’s not a fairy-tale or romance novel. It’s complicated, confusing, racy, and raw. This story isn’t pretty but it’s the only story I could ever tell, and it’s the only story I could ever live. This story isn’t pretty, but it’s my own.

This is my story.

I traveled the country in a teal, 7-person minivan that could never be large enough for two fighting parents and four competing siblings headed south for family vacations to Civil War sites, presidential palaces, and the occasional amusement park that offered a 2-for-1 deal.

I smoked Marlboro cigarettes with my adolescent friends inside sewer tunnels, behind abandoned buildings, and outside Wednesday night church services.

I dyed my hair white and pink and black and blue in an attempt to rebel and break my farming community’s expectations for well-behaved youth.

I proudly and arrogantly wore the title of Class President, Cheer Captain, and Homecoming Queen candidate.

I was raped in a walk-in closet by a large, terrifying man with skin a color very different from my own. I made futile attempts to push his weight off my weak teenage body, quivering with pain and crying with frustration. I didn’t tell my friends because I felt ashamed and guilty and gross. He told his friends to call him Cane.

I stood in a stainless steel-laden emergency room and gazed at a twinkling diamond adorning the ear of my dead friend who passed away at 17 in a naive yet heroic attempt to save her drug-dealing boyfriend from a life behind bars, only to then inhale a white line up my nose, without remorse, just days later.

I encouraged a young Chinese child to block out the bustling city around us and offer me a sign of peace and comfort in a smog- and construction crane-filled Beijing already prepping for the Olympic games.

I sped through the streets of Switzerland, singing and laughing in a car filled with as many nationalities as there were seats. I then had one-night stands with a Portuguese 20-something named Casper and a teenage Canadian hockey player still holding his v-card until I took it.

I helped run a bakery in the lush hills of Puerto Rico during a hurricane, just moments after a friend and I did shots of Dynamite and danced in a bar packed with a few-too-many dangerous men.

I was robbed by a gangster who caught me catch him dealing drugs in a ghetto, only for his lips to insist I smoke a joint with his friends inside a stone gazebo just minutes later.

I dined with dignitaries and soccer players and European models while caring for a young Senator’s son who was blessed or maybe cursed to be born with an Italian silver spoon in his mouth and a too-busy-and-pretty socialite as a mom.

I befriended a burka-wearing woman in a hotel hot tub on a quaint island coast just east of Madagascar. We discussed religion and the roles of women in our polar opposite worlds and then she used perfect penmanship to craft the script still adorning my wrists. Freedom and life are two things we both longed for, two things we both loved.

I spent a week in Amsterdam cleaning for an exiled-IRA member in exchange for supplies of brushes and speed so I could paint a psychedelic mural on the stone street-facing wall of our shared squat which got running water from a garden hose hooked to the apartment above.

I felt the strange sensation of being dreadfully alone in an endless sea of people as I prayed at the pantheon and listened to Pope Benedict preach to thousands in the Citta del Vaticano.

I waited for a war to subside in an Israeli bomb shelter for a week, wondering if the dozens of young people I shared my summer with would ever make it home to their countries thousands of miles away, to friends and families anxiously watching CNN, in fear another bomb may have fallen in our area.

Fueled at first by my lack of funds and sustained by my insatiable curiosity for Christ, I mingled with the monks and brothers of Taize in a small monastery in the south of France. I cleaned toilets with teens from Lithuania as a tradeoff for living there, and then I unsuccessfully attempted to silence my speech with a Swedish girl adopted from Sri Lanka.

I hurt a kind man very cruelly while he fought for my heart and battled heat and utter brutality while also fighting for my country, thousands of miles away in a Mideast desert city doing damage to its people and to the mind of my very own soldier.

Clothed in a plastic Ghostbusters suit and armed with a toxic chemical concoction and a cheap plastic spatula, I picked and peeled the bloody brains and splattered remains of a man who took his own life in a knotty pine, northern Michigan bedroom.

I flirted and toyed with a pair of cops while I clutched an underage-drinking ticket in my hand, drunk and desperate, upset not that I’d broken the law but that I’d have to ask my parents yet again for rides to work and money for fees and lawyers.

I witnessed the violent suicide attempt of a lover, horrified and helpless as I watched the pulsing blood spray from his neck and splatter on mid-February snow. I felt the weighty power of guilt and regret, somehow managing to carry around a big bag of what-ifs for years afterward.

I lived in a sorority-style party house just blocks from the coolest campus in our state. In two years, I drank and danced more than any human body is designed to handle in a lifetime. I made friends with snobs and junkies and artists paying for their college from trust-funds, drug deals, or, like me, an endless supply of unforgivable debt from our nation’s biggest bank.

Using an anvil of felt-covered speakers, I regretfully broke the nose and spirit of a girl who defended a guy who pompously attempted to display his dominance over me in a crowded, techno-filled basement bar. My friends rushed me into hiding and handed me a shot as I watched her get whisked away by bouncers.

I devoted my nights and weekends to a chaotic newsroom, learning the process and payoff of passionate work with a few dozen underpaid but dedicated journalism students, some of who would publish in the New York Times and Washington Post just a few years later.

I felt piercing pain and awe-struck disbelief as the man I planned to spend my life with cheated and lied, and then created human life with another while the two of us fruitlessly clung to our crumbling life together. I continued to work the reel of my romantic film, frame by frame, before it unraveled, tragically, as some blonde bimbo with little teeth squeezed me from my starring role.

I embellished my body with glitter and gold as I made a weekly appearance at the gay bar next door and the blackout ballroom in my mind, stopping at the eyepatch-wearing neighbor’s house on more than one occasion, who would hit on me then pass me blunts with a black, pistol-holding hand.

I ingested the poison and madness of monotony as I pushed open heavy metal doors and walked past security guards at a safe, secure, government job for five soul-sucking years. I befriended the Indian data geeks, using them as my sole method for cross-cultural immersion in a building strategically set for mice in a cage.

I twirled barefooted to the sounds of squealing guitars and dynamic drum beats in summer’s sweltering Tennessee heat, high on life and hallucinogens with my very best friends. I let go of my corporate composure after re-finding freedom and center in a field of hula-hoops and fire dancers.

I helped take away the only positive things remaining in my best friend’s life, two young, beautiful children, after hearing her reveal that she’d given her life to heroin and meth. What I perceived as a call for help may very well have been her last attempt to open up.

I defensively explained to judgmental ears why I felt called and compelled to sell half my belongings and pack away my life and relationships in an attempt to finally find purpose and peace in the jungle, and then relocate without prospect to the best west coast city there is, Portland.

I learned the connection of mind, body, and spirit as I woke at 5 a.m. each morning, committed to letting the sun drive my days that were filled with communal cob building, rainy afternoon yoga, and waterfall revelations.

I felt the gnawing teeth of a parasitic worm living in my leg, feeding on my muscles for nourishment and strength, somehow convincing my psyche to let him stay a bit longer… Others told me that if this child of mine were to die while still inside my body, I very well may die, too. I spent a week drinking, developing the courage required to bear the pain of his death…

I made love to a bohemian gypsy musician whose birth name I didn’t know, on a beach lit by a bright white Nicaraguan full-moon. He led me to a spiral in the sand where we handed me hash and asked to join me on my adventures northward. I kissed him goodbye, telling him I’d see him someday, a day that has yet to come.

I sat in lotus beside a stone totem for wisdom as I listened to my future unfold from a Mayan shaman. She told me I’m destined for partnered creation but that I must keep dance and change in my life… We looked across the magical, mystical lake at a plume of smoke rising from the Vulcan de Fuego.

I forced myself to move back home, still my steps, and intentionally create space, making my mind endure the pains of my past and reflect on the lessons learned through years of avoidance and attempts to escape whatever uneasy situation I found myself in at 15, 20, or 25.

I submerged my soul into ice-cold uncomfort, day after day, week after week, willing a release that would finally free my mind from the torturous, unfulfilling cycle of my own social butterfly life… of the butterfly who never grew wings but instead chose to fight nature and continually rebuild a warm cocoon of relationships or substance-filled anonymity, time and time again, and never truly fly toward her fate.

Then somehow, for some reason, I stopped…

I let go. Of plans. Of will. Of regret.

I shattered my walls of control already cracking with the pressure of freedom’s roots, fighting to grow through crevices created by flashes of vulnerability and softness.

I surrendered my life to the artist in the sky who’s been prepping the paints and palette for my life’s work, who has been giving my hands necessary practice with each pitfall and each triumph, giving my heart inspiration from each traveler I encountered who was either adventuring in the physical world or in the endless Universe of the mind…

I took a breath… Then another… And another…

And suddenly, I saw my life as it truly was.

I saw my dreams coming to fruition in my mind’s all-knowing eye and I saw my talents propelling me forward toward beauty and grace and wisdom…

I knew then all I needed to know.

I realized I’ve always had all the tools I’ll ever need inside my head and inside my heart.

I understood truth, and what it means to be free.

I decided to cocoon for one final time, but instead of creating a chrysalis for protection, I created a chrysalis for lasting, genuine change that would create the butterfly I was always meant to be.

I rested inside the cocoon for a while, just enough to catch my breath and let wings form beautifully around my body…

Then, I emerged. Materialized. Manifested.

I became willing and ready to work toward wisdom, impassioned to find and share truths, and inspired to paint my life in such a way that my canvas may inspire others to do the same.

Now I am here, grateful and honest and always open…

Reflection of the Mayan fire ceremony

written after spending time in San Marcos, Guatemala, on the incredibly magical Lago Atitlan… ~spring 2013.

I just came across this hurried set of notes I wrote in San Marcos (on Lake Atitlan) in Guatemala. This was just days after participating in the Mayan fire ceremony with Bri (my soul sister from New Jersey I met on a bus from Managua to Guatemala City). I wasn’t going to go to this ceremony, opting to let Bri experience it herself, but I am so grateful I did. I feel my life will never be the same after hearing some insights into the Mayan astrological sign for my life…

I need to take time to edit this into a readable story, but for now, the notes must suffice.

Notes below:

I know now that I’m meant to write and I’m meant to share and I’m meant to travel and I’m meant to create bonds and relationships between people and communities. I’m meant to share knowledge of what I know is truth (what this is I’m still unsure). I’m meant to be bonded with another and my full energy and spirit can only shine when I am making time for dance and play and creativity, and when I’m able to find change and sunrises. I also need to keep in balance the giving and receiving.

My energy nawal is No’j, which is the Mayan symbol for wisdom and turning intelligence into action.

I’m rooted in Toj, which is a symbol of balance.

My destiny is ruled by Kan, which is the creation nawal and full of sexual energy and relationships.

I have Akabal and Batz on my sides, signifying change and creativity.

The fire ceremony I experienced a few days ago was magic. Words will not be able to adequately describe what I felt during the 5 hours Bri and I spent with Jennifer and Sondri. We were told the ancient Mayan creation story about the two sacred snakes creating the human race four times, and it wasn’t until the fourth time that the human race was able to give gratitude to the creators. There were four races of people — red, black, yellow, and white, each having a correlation with an element. Red were the fire people, white were the winds, black was the water, and yellow was the earth (the corn).

Jennifer also told us about the tale of the two brothers who became the sun and moon after defeating the lords of the underworld and being brought from the underworld by faith from their grandmother.

She also told us that true paradise can only be found within, and it comes when we genuinely feel respect for all things. Everything deserves respect, she said.

We sat around the alter of No’j, my nawal, which just coincidentally happened to be on the land at which they were staying. Sondri prepared a fire circle while we’d been speaking, and we all lit it and took care of the fire together. We gave items to the fire (candles, leaves, broken sticks) as needed.

We called in the energies from each of the 20 nawals, some of which Bri and I did (I called in No’J for example) and the others were done by Jennifer and Sondri.

We sometimes used playful ways to call in the energies, like when we called in B’atz (which is symbolized by the monkey) we all made monkey sounds to show we were playful and respecting the energy we wanted.

There were sometimes we called out our names because our names have power and deserve energy.

There were times we held hands and used our elements – mine was/is Earth and the west (my actual nawal direction is east).

Sondri explained that everything is teaching us something. When the fire goes out, that means we were either proceeding too slow or that we needed to pay it more attention.

This event was quite moving for me, and for Bri. Bri ended up staying in the little magical lake town for a couple months after I left actually.

Untitled girl and a stream of consciousness.

Written November 2014, during a low moment…

Today is a new day, a fresh start, as is each and every morn’ that we wake and see the sky and salute the sun within. Today is a new day, a fresh start…

I don’t know exactly what happened or when, again, but I got off track. I let myself yet become overwhelmed with life and everything I thought I ought to do, including who I should be and where I should go and what I should do to make money and what that big ol’ purpose is for my life.

Guess what? That’s a terrible thing to do. Of course it happens to everyone from time to time, but when this happens to me, and if I let it continue to happen (which, of course, I’ve been known to do…), I lose myself.

When this happens, I’m scared me into a state of paralysis in which I don’t want to try. Anything. Yet, I’ll do just about anything to mask the paralyzing pain and numb myself while I wait it out. I find a way to almost constantly distract and busy myself… I don’t think that’s the best thing to do, but it’s what I do. (did. am doing. now.) I retreat into a safe zone of comfort. (family. foods. movies. beds. arms.)

I don’t want this for my life, but yet, when I am in that state, I lose my ability to really want for my life. I lose the ability to really feel or know pleasure. I lose the ability to even want to feel or know pleasure. It’s like I stop wanting to exist. Not die, just not “live” in the sense I know is possible. (my life is a roller coaster ride… up, WAY WAY WAY up, and then down. And sometimes, down really fucking fast… in my head at least…) I don’t know who this person is, because she surely isn’t the best me…

But I do know that she (me) is a side of Robin (me) that comes around from time to time and really messes up my flow. I sometimes hate her… And I don’t hate anything. (that’s a stretch, because those factory farms are seriously fucked up… and even then, I like ice cream… hypocrit, but I gotta keep it real.)

She’s here now and I don’t want her to hang around. So how do I let her go… How do I push her aside… She’s a shadow side that I probably (apparently. obviously.) haven’t addressed fully yet. I should probably learn to embrace her. Let the free lady bird gal give her a hug sometimes… Let myself soften and see and feel without hating. Stop picking at my cuticles and eating too many cookies and waiting until too late to prepare for my day and procrastinating with my work and dreaming of being everywhere except where I am. I should probably just let myself be. here. now. and love this. place. right here.

Is it possible to create an alter ego for myself? For the me I want to be. Maybe a fake name. Iris. (no one would believe that was my real name, unless I moved to Portland, which considering one of my Chrome tabs currently open is roommates wanted in the ‘city of my dreams’, isn’t too far fetched. but no. not Iris.) Maybe something new, reinventing the Robin I am. The one with debt and mistakes and regret and trust issues and walls that even she doesn’t know how to scale any more… The one who thought she had it (all aforementioned things and more) figured out, and who very publicly stood on a soap box (per blog. social media. ego-feeding tools.) and told you how, and told you what you didn’t know you needed to know. Who felt great and attributed it to the wisdom she gained in her quarter-life crisis. Who reconnected with the earth, with her body, with her heart… Who opened up too damn much. (maybe.) Who really wasn’t ready to leave (who really ever is?) but took off instead, heading overseas for a few-month adventure, letting herself learn and study and feel, deep deep deep down, for a little while. And even then, she was trying to be needed. Trying to find a way to assert her role. Trying to let others in, and trying to find that damn purpose again. (you can’t find it. seriously. we all know this, and I’ve learned it many times. but damn it, I want to know!)

The Depression Dams

…written in early December, 2015… And, I will add, that I’m safely ‘out’ of the depression I write of here. And I didn’t share this with anyone on my blog, or in my home, then because I was most surely in a shameful denial. Fuck shame… This is what my depression looks like.

full disclosure — written way too late, after half an expired sleeping pill, at my parents’ house (that I’ve been staying at more often than I’d like to admit lately…) — honest if nothing else, right?


It dams you up and blocks you, your voice, your brain, your spirit… It dams the vital bits that make you YOU, and it also dams the connections between them that make you FUNCTION like a human.

The damn depression dams.

Depression most often starts small… at least at first. A couple things start being different — “not tonight” is said a bit more often to your partner, the gym/the mat/the class can be skipped this week, and cooking is less than appetizing — and then slowly, without you even noticing, it’s back full force.

“Hello, I’m depression and I’m here to fuck you up.

I’m going to take pleasure away from everything you loved to do, so much so that you’ll stop doing them completely because why not? You’ll start to tell yourself you’re not any good at them anyway, or that you’re a phony, or that it’s too hard/too easy/too impossible to do… You don’t know what to do on that mat anymore, you yoga teacher you. *cough* phony *cough*!” depression says. You don’t want to hike for hours with your best furry friend, because it’s cold out there (even if it’s colder and getting colder wherever I’m around, my friend… he says). You don’t want to dream that big dream of helping heal others through yoga and cooking and gardening and creative expression… because that’s a terrible idea,” depression says.

“I’m going to take away your health bit by bit. Maybe I’ll start with sleep…and convince you to take those sleeping pills you hoarded years ago, stockpiling before the insurance ran out, just in case… Of course you’ll then continue to take them, daily, initially because you need them, and now in part also because you fear what terrible things may happen if you’re forced to face the world in this state, with a sleepless face looking even more vacant yet scattered than had you actually caught a few zzz’s. You’re afraid of being in your head for 8 hours without sleep… maybe that’s when the crazy will really come,” depression says.

“I’ll take away your appetite by filling your stomach with knots, with gurgles, with distended organ and very inconsistent and uncool BMs… You’ll painstakingly order food at a restaurant (that god knows you didn’t choose to eat at, because I’ve also taken away any ability of yours to make a decision…), opting to get that lunch-break martini as well, and drink all of it before the food arrives. Then you’ll have another (because although you’d given up alcohol before I came back, now you want to imbibe and ignore me, even if just for a moment). You’ll pick at that lunch, probably not confiding in your table mate that Depression has dammed everything all up and did a quick kick-flip of your life — so now you’re not you anymore — and blame it on a big breakfast, or being grateful for a smaller appetite these days (what is it, this LYING to cover up depression thing? it’s a big deal. time to talk.).

“I’ll take away your job maybe. Because god knows you didn’t want this job, the exact job you manifested into creation 2 years ago. Because it’s not like this job had all the opportunities you dream of. I’ll also take away any creativity or zest or innovation you have left, and I’ll fill these brain spaces with loneliness… with self-loathing… with thoughts of death, and the act of dying… and with so much fucking CONFUSION that you’ll start to rewear your socks for a full week just because you can’t actually figure out or remember how to use your own washer.

“The confusion one will be a big one for you, sweet unknowing soul, because you’ve always had such a sharp, bright mind… What happened now? Creativity and communication are things you pride yourself on, and things I’m going to take away.

“Oh yes, and I’ll take away your love. Of your partner. Of your self.

The Cycles

written in December, 2015, just before Jake and I broke up… about two months before everything shifted again..

Writing. Writing helps, right?

I’m in the middle (please dear God let it be the end) of a down cycle. A pretty big down cycle. And when I look back at so many of these times in my life I’m seeing that the cycles will always continue.

I don’t even want to say always, because I fear that word… But maybe I really do have to embrace it. Maybe it’s time to realize that what goes down WILL come up, but what goes up WILL come down. Maybe it’s time that I start to recognize that it’s ME that has to change it. It’s ME that has to make moves to come out of it. It’s ME that has to do things to turn the tide. Right?

Maybe not. Maybe I have to embrace it.

Maybe the shame I’m feeling right now for being a good yoga teacher, and then a yoga teacher who couldn’t get or keep her shit goether is just a part of who I am. Maybe this cycle was bound to continue. Maybe the relationship I’m in is one I really don’t need to be in or shouldn’t be in. Maybe it will come back around if I make a solid attempt to get myself better, and then maybe the relationship will get better. Maybe I need to somehow, someway, fuel myself with a community again. Maybe the little fortress I’ve built around myself was the worst thing I could have done. Maybe it’s all about positive self talk. Maybe I need to love on myself instead of hating on myself.

Robin, I love you unconditionally, exactly as you are, right now.

Robin, you have made some bad choices, but you have the opportunity to make some right choices. You have the opportunity to make moves that will change your situation. You have the opportunity to clean yourself up. You have the opportunity to grow, strong, in who you are. You have the opportunity to embrace the dark side… embrace the side that holds guilt and shame. You need a therapist, sure, but maybe there is a great therapist in the written word. Maybe you can write every day, no matter what, and see what happens. Maybe you can ask your body what it wants or needs to eat and do that. Maybe you need to hug that dog of yours, the one who has never done anything but LOVE you, and then play fetch with him even if it’s cold. Don’t be lazy, but understand that you’re in this place for some reason that you don’t understand. You’re in this place because for whatever reason you made choices that weren’t the best, and now you’re here and now you need to decide what to do.

Do you remember what makes you happy? Does that list you wrote years ago still apply? Yoga? yes…although now there is a lot of shame in it because of teaching it, and teaching it well, for a period of time and now not. Sweat? Yes…although when was the last time you even sweat? Maybe that’s something to work on… Writing? Yes, it’s therapeutic if nothing else. Nature? Hell yeah, but where is the nature here? More nature is needed, and there has to be a way to find it. Travel? Yes, but I have to go get the zest from within to do it. …and let’s be real, we’re pretty freaking broke.

So what do we do? Are we going to die? NO. Are we going to live? YES. Yes. Yes. Yes!

I need to be around people. I need to be open and authentic with how I’m feeling. Maybe my family isn’t the best to be around all the time, but the last thing I want to do is build another wall up that further isolates myself. I need to be walking, running, stretching, and opening my body…

Where has the music gone? And why have I not danced to it?