December 3, 2011

Waking up a different person.


Photo of Melissa Smith by mario covic

In 2010, I embarked on a mission to LIVE. Just get up and live a life that I’ve always dreamed I could. That mission rolled over into my 40th year. After hosting an epic birthday party where everything from a gospel choir, to a beautiful dred locked fire thrower to a kirtan band was present and ready to usher me into the next decade, I woke up and faced a decision I have been grappling with for over 2 years.

My 2011 journey has ebbed and flowed with both tremendous trials and explosive joy. I’ve morphed into a low-paying, intrinsically rewarding nomadic yoga lifestyle that is simultaneously intoxicating and displacing. Traveled to Thailand, California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Louisana, New York… and experienced more in this year alone than most people see in a lifetime (and feel enormous gratitude for having done so). I endeavored (but not nearly succeeding) to create balance at home, peace in the yoga community, and battled valiantly with my internal demon: fear of the unknown.

This year I journeyed toward refining the art of SERVICE. All of my life, I’ve desired deeper connections with both God and those I meet along the path and felt that service was the key to the intertwining of this giving and receiving. It’s been a fabric of intention woven from childhood all the way into my adult life. In my 20’s, I volunteered my way through the college years. I never drank or went out to parties but instead joined a service organization and competed vigorously with 2 other geeky service freaks in gathering the most community service hours. Puppet shows to kids about the danger of drugs. I did it. Painted house after house with Habitat for Humanity when I should have been studying for a final. Did it. Ran around with underprivileged kids in the hood of Bryan, Texas every Friday night for 3 years. Of course, isn’t that how all college students spend their Friday nights?!

I was an expert in what we called “the other education”, only cramming for exams when necessary and barely scraping my way through courses like statistics and accounting. I believe I knew even then what really mattered and will have the most impact on my world would be living a life motivated by serving others.

I can’t say that I’ve served without agenda. Everyone who performs an act of service knows that there’s a non-alcholic buzz from the praise of others for a good deed and an etherial high from knowing someone else’s life is enhanced by something you’ve done for them. 

When you fall in love with giving then will

you have the freedom to fall in love with life.

My birthday transformed from a month long event to what has now been jokingly dubbed as “the year of Mel” by my friends. I’m warming up to the idea of that. Awake to the possibilities, I got up one morning and figuratively jumped off the most terrifying and daunting cliff of my life. I woke up a different person.

A friend asked, what is it that you really need right now? I can’t remember that last time someone asked me that with the intension of fulfilling it. Transitioning from giver to receiver is mentally arduous and takes more than just saying “let go”. It requires a fastidious intension and action that I frequently feel incapable of.

What I need right now? LOVE. The word that would encapsulate the coming year (of Mel) would be LOVE. A recent recipient of unconditional loving support from people I admire and respect has shown me how vital it is to express love, in all it’s many forms: compassion, rubber chickens dressed like pirates as gifts, unsolicited encouragement, uncomfortably long hugs, prayers, listening, passion, showing up, and simply be-ing available emotionally. 

This coming year, I hunger to fall in LOVE with life, rather than just to LIVE. 


In December I will embark on a daily writing journey called #Reverb11. Thanks Elephant Yoga and Michelle Fajkus for the push. I’ll be a few days behind but then, no worries. Who says I have to be like everyone else anyway?  

December 1 – Palabra (Word) Encapsulate your 2011 in one word. Why that word? What would you like your word to be for 2012? Why?

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