“Well, I must’ve done something to manifest that…”

Somehow, acknowledging the power of our thoughts has, of late, gone through a rough spell of Self-Blame and Criticism. Life is full of inevitable ups and downs, but in an effort to take full power in our lives, we’ve come to believe that we should also have full control. (Cue the Game of Thrones theme song.)

Newsflash: there is a LOT that is completely and utterly out of our control. So how are we to find the sweet spot between self-blame and total laissez-faire apathy?

Taking charge of our own well-being and happiness requires one big, radical thing: Personal Responsibility.

It’s Not Your Fault, but It Is Your Choice

The train was late - especially late, and you missed your barre class. The hard-on-herself gal might think, “What did I do to make this happen?!” She analyzes her day to find any hints of how she must have sabotaged her happiness.

Either that, or she silently rages at the train operator, the crowds of people, or her coworker’s incompetence that kept her at work just a little too late. But we know that gets us nowhere fast.

The Self-Responsible gal will think, “Well, dang. Nothing to be done about it now, so how will I make the best of my time?”

A lot of things happen that we don’t choose for ourselves, both pleasant and not-so-pleasant. Those hiccups could totally derail our happiness if we let them, but we won’t- we DO have control over that choice, and we can reorient our attention and energy in a new direction at any moment by shifting our own subtle behavior.  

Enter The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, one of Barre & Soul staff’s favorite reads.

Freedom and The Four Agreements

If personal responsibility is the path to reclaiming our happiness, The Four Agreements are the stepping stones to get us there. Translated into 40 languages they are, simply, as follows:

  • Be impeccable with your word.

  • Don't take anything personally.

  • Don't make assumptions.

  • Always do your best.

Practically? You may not be in control of how everything happens during your day. Things will go awry. You will make mistakes. Sometimes, things will fall apart.

Skip the blame part and don’t take it personally. Drop the assumptions that anyone or anything is out to get you, and continue to do your best.

Head up. Eyes open. How can you take responsibility for where you go from here?

So you missed your 5:30 barre class. Luckily, there’s a 7pm - you can get a few errands done in the meantime and still get your workout. You’ve still got your head on straight.

Work has been slammed, you haven’t had a chance to go grocery shopping in days and your cupboards are looking dismal so you’re grabbing take-out again. Blame-free: it happens. Eat as healthy as you can and slot “groceries!” into your calendar ASAP.

You promised your coworker you’d have something finished for her by 5pm and it just didn’t happen when other things took priority. Being impeccable with your word, in this case, means owning it, apologizing that it didn’t happen, and letting her know your plan for completing your end of the deal. No self-flagellation, no groveling necessary, just a clear plan and honest apology.

Things happen. All the time. Will you succumb to the gremlins of self-criticism and blame? Or will you take a look around, do your best, and make an empowered choice:

Ok, what now?

Go get ‘em.  

Are You Ready to Own It All This Year?

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Happy 2018 everyone! As you may have heard, I spent last year working on a book, and I'm so excited to begin sharing excerpts with you!

If you want to make this your boldest and most wildly successful year yet – make 2018 the year you decide to own it all. What does that mean? When I use the word own," what I mean is…

  • Stop waiting for other people to step in and rescue you from situations you don’t want to continue in.
  • Begin taking personal responsibility for your choices, and your circumstances
  • Don’t blame others for your unhappiness, your financial reality, your overly busy schedule, or the way you look or feel.
  • Envision what you do want in your life, and how it will feel to be there – and map out an action plan to get there one step at a time
  • Quit waiting around for a parent, a friend, a mentor, or a fairy godmother to tell you, “Hey, you’re allowed to leave that awful relationship.” “It’s not too late to go back to school.” “You’re allowed to start something new.”

Once you accept 100% personal responsibility for everything you want to do, have, and become – you’ll be amazed at how empowering it feels, and the choices that are available to you.

Owning it all is a promise you make with yourself—a promise you keep renewing and practicing, day after day. There’s no perfection required in the process of doing this each and every day, but there’s continual progress. There’s always another level you can master, and there’s grace, beauty, and joy in the process.

I’m sharing my personal story, rebuilding from a shockingly low place to create a life I am in awe of each and every day. I want to share actionable, concrete steps that you can put into practice to eliminate old ways of falling into the same old unsatisfying routines and catapult your life in the direction of your dreams.

Stay tuned for more on my book, and get ready to own it all!

If you'd like to get exclusive excerpts from my upcoming book, Own It All, sign up here and as an added bonus, I'll send you my Radical Time Design e-course free, so you can start owning your day right now!

Marching into 2018 with Goals, Grace & Grit

Marching into 2018 with Goals, Grace & Grit

Congratulations – you survived the 2017 holiday season! We’re all cleaning up from lots of well-deserved celebrating, and now’s the time to recalibrate and hit the reset button.

Let’s talk 2018 goals 

We can recommit or establish new habits anytime – but there’s something that feels so appropriate about mapping out our boldest intentions and most thrilling goals at the outset of a new year.

In order to set yourself up for the most efficient path to success, you need to put a few things in place to ensure you’re operating with a healthy, high-performance foundation – inside and out. Here are a few pieces of advice we all can benefit from:

Gratitude & Being Present

As you set goals for the future, and envision how we want the coming year to go, be sure you don’t lose sight of accomplishments you’ve already made, and successes you’ve already achieved. Take a moment and bask in gratitude for the goodness you have right now – especially your health and vitality, and the opportunity to wake up each morning with a new day in front of us.

We often fall into the trap of feeling like we’ll finally “be happy when…?” Goals are important, but it's important not to live in a constant state of anticipation of the future at the expense of the present.

Do you have a future aspiration that is serving as a road-block to your happiness today? Ask yourself where and how this kind of thinking tends to trip you up – and pay attention to that so you can enjoy the present while working towards an even more rewarding future.

Creating Space

Clear out the excess and the clutter. File or just get rid of old papers and receipts. Donate items you’re not really excited about. And if you received holiday gifts you don’t want – give them away before they crowd-out space that should really be reserved for the things that bring you joy.

Create some breathing room.

Remind yourself how important it is to take great care of your body. It is the only one you’ll ever have! We tend to indulge in extra sugar and alcohol throughout the holiday season, so now is a great time to realign with priorities for a healthy body.

  • Go grocery shopping and stock up on your favorite healthy foods.
  • Make a plan to skip alcohol for a while.
  • Clear unhealthy options out of your kitchen so you're not constantly tempted to pick them up.
  • Bundle up and go for a walk, or try a new winter activity like snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
  • Schedule a couple of workouts this week and make it extra fun by planning them with friends or family.

Reflect & Envision

Reflect on and celebrate all the achievements you’ve made in 2017. Decide where you want to go even further, and start envisioning your goals in 2018. Make a mental note of what made you feel the best about the past year and what gave you the most happiness and satisfaction. Let that information support the plans and goals you envision.

A fun project I really enjoy to kick-off a new year is creating a vision board! This is a visual collection of images, photos, and words that symbolize, describe or depict the things, feelings, achievements or experiences you want to have in your foreseeable future. Studies show that if we put this in a prominent place where we can see it clearly for even just a few seconds each day – our chances of manifesting our dreams skyrocket.

Whatever your goals are, your Barre & Soul community is here to provide support and encouragement every step of the way. We’re here to cheer you on when you’re killing it – and since we’re all human, we are here to count on when you divert from the path to your goals and end up on an unplanned detour!

See you at the barre in 2018! Its going to be great!

P.S. Want to dream and scheme with me in person? I'll be holding two Dreamers Summits next month: one on February 18 at Barre & Soul, Portsmouth, NH and one on February 25th at Barre & Soul Harvard Sq. in Cambridge, MA. Sign up!

P.P.S. Are you signed up to receive my monthly love notes? You can sign up here, which includes a free 5-day mini-course on my Radical Time Design method for getting stuff done!

Xox,
Andrea Isabelle Lucas

The Most Unexpected Gift I got from Teacher Training

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Not so many years ago, I was a struggling single mom - I had no credit, no college degree, no job, and no money. I’d by lying if I said I didn’t feel hopeless on a regular basis, comparing my life to what I saw around me.

Each day, after my 7-year old son caught the bus to school outside of our tiny apartment, I would push my 1-year old daughter’s stroller down the sidewalks of a town that seemed picture-perfect, and full of picture-perfect people on their way to important meetings, coffee dates and social engagements that filled their comfortable lives.

I walked to a studio where I was trying something new – with excitement, but so, SO fearfully. I was training to be a barre teacher. I loved barre classes, I knew that. But I wasn’t a "good" teacher trainee. I fumbled over my words and feared the sound of my own voice. I was undoubtedly my own worst critic, at a time when the last thing I needed was self-criticism holding me back.

“Practice getting your words out,” my trainer would say. “Count aloud when you’re alone in the car to get used to it.” But even then, with no one around to hear me, the second I opened my mouth, a voice inside my head would insist: Just shut up, just shut up, just shut up!

It's not unusual to be intimidated by public speaking, I'm sure you've heard before that most people fear it more than death! Maybe it's something you'd like to get more comfortable with too. For me, it was especially hard because my life was at rock bottom.

Learn more about our Barre & Soul® Method Barre Teacher Training here.

To say I felt unworthy doesn’t even begin to explain it. It felt like every cell in my body was made of unworthiness. Who was I to teach these women anything about fitness, or well-being? I was still working on getting back to my pre-baby body, going through a long and wretched divorce, feeling unaccomplished no matter what angle I looked at my life from.

What did I have to teach these wealthy, successful, happy women, who seemed to have J.Crew catalog families and perfect marriages? How could they take me seriously when I was a failure at marriage, could barely support my children, relied on assistance to buy groceries, and on the Salvation Army for my kids' Christmas gifts in that terrible first year of my divorce. I wanted so badly to create major change in my life and be an example of better things – inspiring even – for my kids and for myself.

Determined to overcome my circumstances, I took baby steps forward. I used the word “confidence” in my computer passwords, hoping to invoke blessings and begin to establish a sort of mantra to move towards embodying this quality. I craved confidence like a dry field craves a drenching rain.

Find your voice and become a barre teacher! Find how here.

I had to type the word each time I checked my (tiny) bank balance, an incantation of power even in the face of my nearly empty account. Little by little, hour by hour, month by month, I did find my voice. I collected scraps of confidence in the moments when I could at last do a set of push-ups on straight legs - when I could teach a class to a few friends without losing my nerve - when I won a small victory in family court and started receiving the support I needed.

“Where do you get your confidence?” people often ask me now. "You seem so sure of yourself."

When I reflect on this, I call to mind the countless hard-won increments, gathered over many years.

There were no shortcuts. No celestial signs. No surprise inheritance or lottery ticket came to my rescue. And I certainly didn’t wake up one day and start a thriving business with multiple locations.

I simply persevered. Kept on. Pushup by pushup, password by password. I did one mildly terrifying thing at a time. I forced myself to keep practicing my teaching. I watched my classes improve, little by little. And one day, when I opened my mouth to speak, it was no longer scary. Soon, it was even fun.

The look of fear and shame in my eyes was replaced by shyness at first, then finally by passion and enthusiasm. Believe it or not I ACTUALLY LOOK FORWARD to public speaking opportunities these days. Teaching barre and yoga classes gave me the opportunity to embody the quality I had so longed for. By facing my fears and showing up again and again, in time, I found my confidence.

Wondering if you can do it? YOU CAN. Your barre teacher training journey starts here.

Forget Bikini Season, Do it for You!

I was as low as could be in my life when I first made a commitment to my mind/body fitness practice. This brought physical strength and stamina, along with a revolution in my confidence and beliefs about the goals I could achieve.

I was a single parent, struggling to work through financial strain, domestic violence and emotional abuse. At vulnerable moments, the last thing anyone needs is a message that we’re not enough.

Everyone has vulnerabilities that can be addressed in healthy, empowering ways through fitness. When I turned to barre and yoga in search of a little peace of mind, what I got was a meaningful breakthrough – it changed my life, gave me the power to “own it all” and, eventually, the vision to launch Barre & Soul. I want everyone who walks through the doors of our studios to have the same opportunity for personal growth and empowerment.

Women need to know we have the capability to shed emotional and physical burdens - rather than focusing on a few stupid pounds.

When fitness programs emphasize ‘bikini season’ and ‘shaping up for summer,’ this implies women’s bodies aren’t really their own. Assuming women somehow owe it to society to look a certain way positions us as objects for consumption.

Do it for your 100-old self

Do you envision living an active and adventurous life after retirement? Start building physical, mental and emotional strength and stamina into your routine now!

Do it for you, not to fit someone else’s definition of what’s “hot.”

Women are already under tremendous pressure to fit the mold - from career, to social and domestic life, to unrealistic beauty standards. This is all impossibly high-maintenance if we choose to subscribe to it, and it leaves us with less freedom and leisure time to devote to real self-improvement and development compared with men. So don’t buy in!

Don’t get me wrong — I appreciate my toned muscles and seeing my body physically transform had a huge effect on my belief about what I could accomplish. But that’s just the surface. We need to get real about how much we have to gain from making a commitment to our health and fitness, and stop reducing it to a silly notion like bikini-season.

FORBES: The Boss Behind A Feminist Fitness Empire on How To 'Own It All'

Get Inspired. Learn where Andrea, owner/founder of Barre & Soul came from, how it all began and what inspired and encouraged her to create her Feminist Fitness Empire.  GET INSPIRED.

Learn where Andrea, owner/founder of Barre & Soul came from, how it all began and what inspired and encouraged her to create her Feminist Fitness Empire.

History Has Its Eyes on Us

Oceans of Pink

Pink hats, handmade signs, the sun straining through an overcast sky, and the collective buzz, excitement and hope of women united. These are some of the images and feelings from my experience at the Women’s March on Washington that I will never forget. This historic event changed my life and, for many citizens of the world, redefined the relationship between our beliefs and the actions we are willing to take to support them.

As we made our way through D.C.’s brownstone-lined neighborhoods, I felt an underlying nervousness considering some of the worst case scenarios that could potentially occur. We passed the steps of the capitol building en route to the march rendezvous point and people poured in on all sides. My friends and I stood and soaked in the sight of the gathering crowds, and anxiety began to melt into gratitude. Grandmothers in wheelchairs, moms and children and a surprising number of men marched along with us - with no sense of patriarchy or self-sacrifice, but as true equals and allies.

Fear evaporated when I looked around and let my heart be filled with love for the diverse ocean of fellow Americans coming together, to support each other with compassion, to bear witness and to unapologetically raise their voices for freedom, equality, and respect for all. There are no words for the power of the experience - shoulder-to-shoulder in a crowd larger than I had ever seen or even imagined, standing united for their values and love of humanity. 

History has its eyes on you

"History has its eyes on you" read one sign, carried by a man passing by. I stopped him for a photo and he beamed with joy and pride in this message. This is why we marched. 

"Misogyny is not normal" read another sign. How interesting the relief it was to have this basic value expressed so clearly, publicly and affirmatively. We trekked our way through the thick crowd to a spot where we were able to stand on a low wall and view the jumbotron showing the stage from which the presenters were speaking. The messages weren’t new, but they were powerful in their simplicity. Cheers of support erupted through the enormous crowd – “Women’s rights are human rights.” “Black lives matter.” “We will never give up.” It is amazing, the power in hearing your deepest truths declared aloud, no matter how many times you’ve thought them before.

My eyes filled with tears over and over again as I looked in all directions at the size of the crowd we were part of. I welled up with emotion (and still do) – not because I was inconsolable that my candidate wasn’t victorious in a presidential race, but because, by being part of this event, I know I am contributing to a permanent legacy. I am part of history. My human family was gathered around me in solidarity for the equality issues I’ve been blogging and speaking about for so many years, often wondering how many others out there cared as deeply as me.

We didn’t find out until returning from the march for the evening that similar events were happening all around the world. Over 5 Million people marched world wide – over 1 Million in Washington DC! There are no words to express how it felt to see and know we're not alone. It was clear on this day that feminism isn't an extreme agenda driven by fanatics. The feminist values I’ve been fighting for all these years are about equality, social justice and progressing into a brighter future for all humanity.

We will not “get over it”

For those that might not understand where we’re coming from – for me, the march wasn’t a complaint or part of an angry political agenda. It wasn’t about an inability to cope with change, a lack of adaptability or acceptance of reality. It was a fulfillment of my duty as an American and a human who believes certain inalienable rights and core values that I hold dear to my heart do matter.

Just as suffragists fighting for women’s right to vote didn’t get over it, and civil rights leaders struggling relentlessly for desegregation didn’t get over it – we will not “get over” the issues that were central to that event.

I see it as our duty as members of the human race to work for equality. If you haven't been assaulted, or discriminated against for the color of your skin, your religion, your sexuality or your gender – then you’re fortunate, and I am glad you haven’t suffered in this way. I believe that whether or not you’ve been personally affected by these injustices, it’s all of our responsibility to make sure nobody else has to go through them.

If you were part of the Women’s March - even if only in spirit - don't let anyone minimize it. This is the dawning of a new era of alert minds, compassionate perspectives and global action.

On Inauguration Day

Prior to the march, driving from Boston to Washington D.C. with a car full of friends (including Barre & Soul's Chief Amazement Officer, Crissy and our Yoga Teacher Training Director, Carrie), we felt a somber occasion was unfolding. At the same time, we talked about how grateful we remained - for America and all the freedoms and opportunities we have here. Carrie had just returned from a volunteer medical trip to a country decimated by disaster and lacking infrastructure and the supports we enjoy and too often take for granted in the US.

She reflected on the reality there - lack of roads, safety, clean water, and essential medical care for many citizens. Following the Women’s March, I’m more aware than ever of how great America IS today. And how crucial it is that we stay vigilant about the elements of greatness that matter most to us – equality, safety, freedom, diversity, and opportunity for all.

Within American culture, and in spite of a highly evolved system of government and justice, many women still can't achieve their highest potential. We have come a long, long way, but we can’t allow ourselves to forget what propelled our progress.

Don’t stop striving. Appreciate the things others before us have fought hard for. Keep raising your voice for equality and for the freedoms that for so many have not yet been realized.

Thank you to everyone who has joined this movement. We may not see the the end of this fight in our lifetimes. Keep fighting anyway.  

Barre & Soul Founder, Andrea Isabelle Lucas, on the Real Talk Radio Podcast with Nicole Antoinette

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Nicole sits down with interesting, inspirational, and refreshingly imperfect people to have unfiltered conversations about what’s really going on in our lives. You know, all that juicy behind-the-scenes stuff, like fears, secret dreams, guilty pleasures, and more.

If You're Struggling Today, I'm With You

If You're Struggling Today, I'm With You

This post is brought to you by a pair of Hogwarts pajama pants that I've been wearing since noon. Today, even leaving the house feels challenging. Although I’m sure we are not unanimous in our political views, I think it is safe to say that the majority of us are in shock after last night's results. 

I share in your disbelief. My heart was heavy as I woke my kids up for school this morning. Our conversations were hard. I want them to feel safe, and to believe that everything is going to be OK, even when I myself need to be convinced that this is true. 

What Will History Say About You?

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Shaun King, the revolutionary activist, reporter and powerful voice for truth in the Black Lives Matter movement, spoke at Harvard University last month about what we can do to end racial injustice in our communities. I was lucky enough to hear him speak, and I want to share his top 3 messages. Then I want to talk about where you come in.

1) Be present

"SOMETIMES THE MOST POWERFUL THING YOU CAN DO IS JUST BE PRESENT."  - SHAUN KING

You never know how much your willingness to bear witness and be with someone else's suffering could mean to them. You won’t always know how to help, but just acknowledging the problem instead of turning away can make a difference.

2) Be bothered

Have you ever wondered how the hell you can be truly happy, when there is so much suffering in the world? Me too. I'm starting to think maybe "being happy" is not what matters. We are all bothered by certain things uniquely. I may have a fire in my belly for women's rights. Maybe for you it's children, or animals, or the environment.

 "YOUR PURPOSE AND YOUR PLAN IN LIFE IS REALLY EMBEDDED IN WHAT BOTHERS YOU. BE BOTHERED." - SHAUN KING

3) Be organized

"BE PRESENT FOR PEOPLE'S PAIN. BE BOTHERED BY INJUSTICE. BUT BE ORGANIZED" - SHAUN KING

There are systems of oppression in place that keep certain injustices happening, and it's going to take targeted efforts to change those systems. I’m struggling with this one the most, because I don’t have all the answers about how to solve the world’s problems.

I did come away convinced of something. We are living through a revolutionary period in history. From the misogyny and bigotry stirred up by this election, to the Black Lives Matter movement, the increase in mass shootings, and all of the tragedies our country has gone through in the last few years. History is being written now. Sometimes it may be hard to notice. You’re busy trying to pay the rent, or wondering if your kid has a fever, or what you’re going to have for dinner. While life goes on, the ground is shifting beneath our feet. Your grandchildren will read about 2016 in their history books. What will your part in the story be?

For now, here are a few things I’ve decide to do:

VOTE

Where I live, early voting is an option. I voted for Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States. I think the alternative is far too dangerous for our country and for the world. (That doesn’t mean I value your humanity any less if you disagree.)

PRACTICE FOLLOWSHIP

You don’t always have to lead to make a difference. Check out this quick TED clip explaining why. There are people doing great work, and following them can be just as powerful as starting a movement yourself.

USE WHATEVER RESOURCES YOU’VE GOT

For the past 5 years, I’ve been pouring my heart into blogging, passionately, if a bit sporadically, and wondering how I could reach more people. I’ve changed taglines, site layouts and titles several times along the way, and another change is coming.

See, I realized I happen to own a business, with not only several physical locations, but also a website that gets a lot more traffic than my blog. Because I care about my message reaching as many of you as possible, and because it’s important to me that you know the values behind the business, I’m going to be moving this blog under the Barre & Soul umbrella.

You might be wondering, what if people don’t agree with me or are offended by my message? First let me say that agreeing with me is by no means a requirement to be a valued member of the community at Barre & Soul, and I don’t plan to hound you with political talk as you lie in savasana, trying to get a little peace. I love and respect you and your opinion, even if it differs from mine.

That said, I will continue to blog and use social media as my soap box, because I care about the future of our society, and because I feel I must. Sometimes I’ll change some minds, sometimes I’ll be met with agreement, and sometimes I’ll be met with opposition.

In fact, sometimes speaking up means being attacked - both figuratively and literally. One of the greatest teachers I've ever had used to point to Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and John Lennon, to name a few, who changed the world and were taken from us by violence.

"You know the difference between you and them?” he would say. “They were all worth shooting."

Yep, he had a dark sense of humor. I mean, DAMN, he encouraged us regularly to be someone worth shooting. That’s pretty extreme, but when I question playing it safe or speaking my mind, I always think of his words.

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU.

What bothers you deeply? How do you get organized around the things that matter to you? And what do you think about the idea of being “someone worth shooting?” Will you be in the history books, and if so what will they say? Please join the conversation on Facebook!

How to Follow Your Dreams When They're Big and Scary

How to Follow Your Dreams When They're Big and Scary

People have asked me how I got the courage to start my own business. "It seems like such a huge risk!" they tell me. Before I started Barre & Soul, it felt scary to me too. In fact, the thought of starting a business gave me nightmares.

In these nightmares, tumbleweeds blew through an empty studio where I sat, weeping at the front desk, writing out rent check after rent check, nothing to eat but dust and shame as I slipped into financial ruin. I was potently afraid.

The part I feared most about opening a barre and yoga studio of my own, was signing a lease. Leases are a big commitment, a legally binding, enduring, long-term arrangement for people who don’t mind being tied down and who have enough money in the bank to float a few bad months, or years. When I was in the early days of Barre & Soul - signing a lease felt like signing my life away.

Andrea on HuffPo: Why Fitness Pros Need To Stop Talking About ‘Bikini Bodies’

We are thrilled to announce that Andrea will be a regular contributor on the Huffington Post!

Her first article is live, click the button below to read and let us know what you think!

What the F*ck Are We to Do About Street Harassment?

Good news everybody!  I've got a nice ass.  I was told not once but TWICE in the same day, by complete strangers!

I guess if you're not a woman, or have never been on the receiving end of street harassment, it may be hard to imagine how creepy, degrading, and even threatening it can feel.

My ass is so nice in fact, some people can't stop themselves from shouting it through their car windows as they drive past me, even when I'm standing with my kids.

Well, all I can say is, thank God.  All the barre classes have finally paid off!

...Kidding, obviously! Sigh...

A few months back, I read an article that a male yoga teacher (read: presumably evolved, compassionate man) had shared on Facebook. In a mocking tone, the author lists 'complaining about street harassment' as one of the many forms of 'humble-bragging' so rampant on social media.

Ummm, really dude? Bragging??? By the author's standards, this entire blog post is one big 'humble-brag' about all the ass-mirers I'm forced to deal with.

I guess if you're not a woman, or have never been on the receiving end of street harassment, it may be hard to imagine how creepy, degrading, and even threatening it can feel.

And as much as I know that, as Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent," it is hard not to react with anger and fear every time.

In case anyone reading this is still skeptical, please let me assure you: street harassment does not feel like a compliment. It feels like a mini, verbal sexual assault. Something on the low end of the rape spectrum. It can really fuck up your day.

When a stranger has the audacity to open his mouth and make any comment about your ass, what he's really saying is, "You might think you're all that, but you ain't shit." Manners do not apply.

And what is the appropriate response?  "Fuck off?" Instinctively, that's what I want to say. But I'm pretty sure that's not the answer.

My female yogi friends and I have been tossing this dilemma around for years.

As compassionate, presumably mindful yoga teachers, we know there's gotta be a better answer than "fuck off."

As Albert Einstein wisely said, "Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding."

And Understanding People know that no one is all bad. The wise-ass tow-truck driver who hollered at me from his window may be the same person who would go out of his way to be helpful and kind if I were stranded on the road.

I'd been reflecting on this a lot one day as I walked the peaceful Minuteman bike path in Lexington.  Two men stopped to asked me where the visitor's center was.  They were Asian tourists, with good English and heavy accents, and they were a little lost.

As I stood there pointing them in the right direction, a white woman on an expensive-looking bike swerved around one of them, and shouted, "Get out of the way, asshole!"

I immediately felt the need to defend them - imagine the millions of possible faux pas one makes visiting another country! This man had blocked the bike lane, but not intentionally.

I called out to her that her words weren't very kind or civilized and she mumbled a few more things over her shoulder as she sped away.

In that moment, I was reminded of my harassers. I recognized this cowardice.

See, I get the most grief right in front of my house, as I walk from my car to my front door. I think it's because I live on a busy street with no traffic lights or stop signs. The cat-callers are able to sling their petty words at me without having to slow down and be confronted.

The woman on the bike path was no better, no worse. She was just wrong. Wrong to think that other people don't matter, and most especially, wrong to think that we are separate from each other, any of us.

We are all one. The woman on the bike, the Asian tourists, the tow-truck driver, and me with my fine ass. All one.

Now, if you please, can you help me come up with a socially evolved response for the next time this happens?

Because, FOR FUCK'S SAKE PEOPLE... I know we can do better than this.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

This week, I've been sharing the above quote with my yoga and barre classes.

This quote comes from Steven Pressfield in  The War of Art , a book that  inspired me to start  my business,  Barre & Soul® .  I'm sharing it with you all this week in the hopes that it inspires you too.

This quote comes from Steven Pressfield in The War of Art, a book that inspired me to start my business, Barre & Soul®.  I'm sharing it with you all this week in the hopes that it inspires you too.

When I decided to start Barre & Soul®, I did feel fear.  I am grateful someone asked me this question:

WHICH IS WORSE: THE FEAR OF DOING IT, OR THE FEAR OF NOT DOING IT?

Immediately, I knew.  It was on.

This has served me well each time I get ready to take a new risk.  When I laid eyes on the space for the new studio in Harvard Square (which is currently under construction,) I was overwhelmed by the fear of NOT creating a studio there, which is how I knew it had to be done.

Even though construction is stressful (is 'predictably unpredictable' an oxymoron? Because it describes life pretty perfectly at the moment...) and I have no way of knowing yet whether this studio will be a success, or whether it'll just turn out to be the most expensive mistake of my life, I couldn't NOT find out.

After all, what's the worst that could happen?  (Answer: zombie apocalypse, obviously. And totally unrelated to the success or failure of my business.)

Ask yourself which is greater: the fear of doing it or the fear of not doing it.

Here's to feeling the fear, and doing it anyway.

Love, Andrea

If You Want to Achieve Greatness...

(This post was originally published in January 2014.) Happy New Year everyone!  Here's a post I did a few weeks back for the Lexington Power Yoga blog.  I thought I would share it with you here.  I hope you are feeling fulfilled and inspired in this new year.  If you're looking for a great book to help fan your creative flames, please read on for one of my all time favorites.

Last December I hit a rough patch.  In the wake of some very tragic events in the news, I became depressed.  In addition to that, an undercurrent of dissatisfaction had been lingering in me. This would often show up in the form of sour grapes when I saw what others were doing in their careers.

Last December I hit a rough patch.  In the wake of some very tragic events in the news, I became depressed.  In addition to that, an undercurrent of dissatisfaction had been lingering in me. This would often show up in the form of sour grapes when I saw what others were doing in their careers.

EVERY TIME I LOGGED ONTO SOCIAL MEDIA I CAME AWAY FEELING AWFUL.

It seemed like ‘everyone’ was doing BIG things.  I knew I should feel happy for my friends and colleagues, but mostly I just felt left out.

Luckily, I went in search of healing for a bothersome hamstring issue with a talented acupuncturist and body worker that winter.  When she looked at me, she saw that something deeper was wrong.  She noticed my low energy and sadness immediately.  She asked me what projects I was working on.

SHE ASKED ME WHY I WASN’T PERFORMING, WRITING, OR CREATING, POINTING OUT THAT MY FACE HAD LIT UP AT THE VERY MENTION OF THE SUBJECT.

In addition to some excellent acupuncture, body work, and vitamin D, she gave me a reading assignment: The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.

Is there a more overused descriptor than ‘life-changing?’Never mind, I don’t care!  There is no better way to describe my experience with this book.If I am lucky, the legacy I hope to leave will be to have written a book that changes lives as this book has done for me.It may have just been the right message at the right time, but I was transformed by this very important piece of work.

I won’t spoil it by trying to recreate the book’s message.It wouldn’t do it justice, and anyway, you could easily read it cover-to-cover in one day.It is concise, riveting and to the point.The author seemed to be personally calling me out on the fact that there was something better, more authentic, more inspiring that I wanted to be doing, and that I wasn’t doing it.The book also showed me that the key to doing it was already inside me.

At an event earlier that December, I’d been prompted to come up with a mantra that would serve me well in the face of challenges.I couldn’t quite articulate it yet but I knew it had something to do with giving myself approval instead of seeking it from others.Soon after reading The War of Art, I happened upon an image created by street artist Eddie Colla.The image read:

IF YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE GREATNESS, STOP ASKING FOR PERMISSION.

Just like that, I had found my mantra.

One of the things I knew after finishing The War of Art was that being an entrepreneur was important to me, and it was time to stop avoiding it.  I saw that a huge boom in the fitness world was happening around barre workouts.  I had been teaching this method for 6 years, often trying to explain it to people who had never heard of it.  Now this cult favorite in which I had spent thousands of hours was becoming a mainstream trend.

I saw many businesses trying to offer barre, and honestly, they didn’t seem to be doing it very well.  Some instructors I spoke to mentioned one-weekend trainings.  I couldn’t imagine how anyone could learn in a weekend what it took me hundreds of hours to learn, and to teach to other trainees in my former role as a manager and teacher trainer for a large fitness corporation.  I knew there was no reason to stand on the sidelines.

I WOULD CREATE MY OWN BARRE AND YOGA BUSINESS, ONE THAT STOOD NOT ONLY FOR EXCELLENCE BUT ALSO FOR HUMANITY, INSPIRATION, AND CONNECTION.

By the end of January, the seed of Barre & Soul began to sprout.  In May, I taught the first Barre & Soul class at Lexington Power Yoga, always loving the Lexington Yoga community!  By August, I was the owner of my own studio (Barre & Soul Studio, formerly B Yoga Center of Melrose), and in October I brought Barre & Soul to Equinox in Boston.  I can’t wait to see what is next for this venture!

These days, when I have time to look at social media, I am no longer jealous of the accomplishments of others.  My life is not perfect, but I love it.  I feel empowered.  Being an entrepreneur leaves me feeling self-expressed and fulfilled, and I know this is only the beginning of a long and creative career.

I think for a long time, I had been waiting for some kind of green light to get started.  As though I would receive a tap on the shoulder when it was my turn.  Thankfully, I realized that this is rarely the way things work.  If we want to do something great, we only need to give ourselves permission to start.  I’m so happy I did.

I Overcame Domestic Violence and Now I'm Talking About It

I Overcame Domestic Violence and Now I'm Talking About It

OK, it's official.  Right now is the most powerful point in my life (so far.)  I was recently honored to be a guest speaker to raise awareness for the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, serving the greater Newburyport, MA area.  Why was I asked to speak?  Because years ago, I was one of their clients, someone who needed a place to turn, and who came to them seeking help putting my life back together after domestic violence.