All Posts By

MandyRoberts

All In

When scrolling through our latest images from a photo shoot I saw this photo of myself and it stopped me in my tracks. I thought to myself ” Hey, I think I know her!”. It took my brain a moment to realize this was actually me. I look so vulnerable and real, like who I really am.
 
I have a love/hate relationship with the camera. Over the past few years of photoshoots (and after living with my ex husband who is a videographer) I learned how to take a pretty “good” photo. I learned how to elicit joy and play and how to create a mood to give off a certain vibe. I learned how to tuck away my vulnerable parts to stay safe, I learned how to keep those parts of me hidden unless I invited them out to play. Deep down I am secretly terrified of being fully known and seen. I’m afraid of rejection.
 
But vulnerability is life asking, “Are you all in?”
The easy answer for me these days is a resounding”YES!” but it wasn’t always this way. Sometimes I still catch myself holding back to protect myself and sometimes I jump into the deep end head first, heart-bared-wide with no strategy for the swim home. Saying YES and holding back are both risky moves.
 
Vulnerability is unarmored, it’s courage. It’s real.
Brene Brown asks what experience makes us feel most vulnerable. For many of us, it’s moments of extreme joy: “Standing over my children while they’re asleep. Going in to remission. Having a baby. Falling in love.” I would like to add sharing a photo and bearing your heart to social media as a vulnerably viable option. 😉
 
We often mistake vulnerability for weakness, but in fact it’s a great strength. Vulnerability is showing up in our fullness without the need to rely on some overprotective ego pattern to shield us from life. We often greatly value vulnerability in others, but shut down our heart when it’s our turn to be vulnerable (pssst…that is fear running the show, the heart likes to feel safe). My work is in recognizing when fear is holding me back, and this isn’t always an easy inquiry. Fear will keep us stuck in a pattern or from going after something we really want in life and sometimes fear feels safer and more comfortable.
 
While I have gotten better at sitting with these parts of me I know that these parts (even the parts I don’t want to fully embrace) make up my wholeness. I know that recognizing where I get stuck is the first step towards liberation and this is a life practice. I value seeing my patterns through the many mirrors I am offered so that I may consciously choose how to live my life instead of armoring my heart to keep it safe. I am learning over and over again to let go of the past, my ego stories and fears that are holding me back from living my very best life. And you can too.
 
Our upcoming Women’s Weekend Retreat: The Sacred Art of Letting Go is happening September 28-30 in north Georgia. We will be exploring these attachments to our stories and old ways of being through yoga, the enneagram, mediation and so much more. Post or message me if you are interested in learning more or head to our website to get more details. 
Photo by 2TPhoto

Letting Go

“Our journey is one of movement and continual change. Each threshold different, each letting go with its own character-every set of experiences bearing their own teachings. If transformation were as simple as weeding through your accumulated possessions, it would not be daunting. But meeting life is daunting. It is the letting go, not of books and outgrown clothing, but of a conditioned way of being that has grown immeasurably comfortable. At this threshold you ask yourself, do I really want this? Am I finally ready not to waste anymore time?”
Paula D’Arcy, Stars at Night

Yoga was my formal introduction into understanding myself better, little did I know at the time it would be the thing that saved my life.

For years and years I was showing up on my mat. Day after day I was stretching and exercising myself into a sweaty heap of emotional and physical exhaustion. In my head I thought I was a “good yogi”, I was getting stronger and becoming more flexible. I was able to make all the shapes in class but I had no idea that I was not really practicing true yoga. I would judge my own practice, getting upset if I lost my balance or needed to take a break. I would compare myself to those around me celebrating if I was “the best” in the class, feeling bad if I wasn’t. I would show up 25 minutes early to claim my spot in the room and get irritated if someone was in my spot. I was hard on myself and hard on those around me, both on and off the mat. On the outside I thought I looked like what a good yogi should look like, on the inside I was deeply struggling.

One day, when my life was falling in pieces all around me, I realized that none of the stories, criticism or judgements I was harboring was serving me, none of it was helpful. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be liberated from reacting to the world around me. I wanted to be free from all those things that were weighing me down. At that moment I wondered what would happen if I chose a new way of being? It was at that moment that I consciously decided to make a choice to let it all go.

I wish I could say it was easy to let go of those parts that were weighing me down. I wish I could say that once you make the choice to let go then you magically achieve some sort of enlightened state. For me the choice to let go was the first step toward happiness, I immediately began to see some changes but I still had a long journey ahead of me. It took time to reprogram my habits and patterns, it took time to explore new ways of responding to the world around me without falling back into patterns. And as I grow and change I am challenged in new ways, I take on new habits and patterns (some healthy and some not-so-much). I have new challenges that I must navigate in my personal life, in business and in all my relationships. To stay on the path of growth I must be compassionately aware of my tendencies and my messy and imperfect humanness, and at the same time I must keep a keen eye and steady focus on my inner world (and not be afraid of asking myself tough questions and calling myself out on my bullshit and stories). This is my sadhana, my most meaningful daily practice.

Photo on retreat by 2TPhoto

Running Towards Your Dreams

Take a moment with me here.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask yourself the following question.

Are you running towards what you want in life?

This can be a tough question. I know I spent many, many, many years afraid of going after what I wanted. Looking back I see I was afraid of failure, I was afraid of rejection, and to be frank I was secretly afraid of success too. I was afraid, very afraid. One day I realized that I was the only one that could change my life, I was the only one who could reach for my dreams. No one can do that for me.

How liberating and truly terrifying that realization was.

When was the last time you got quiet enough to ask yourself what does your heart want? When was the last time you listened to that quiet (or not so quiet) heart song? When was the last time you ran toward what you wanted with arms open wide, heart pounding with excitement and possibility? When was the last time you said YES to your dreams?

Join me and my Soul Sister from another mister, Shari L Fox, on July 21 at the Dirty South Yoga Fest to explore how to live your life to the fullest.

Magic

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
― Roald Dahl

Magic. This is the word I often use to describe the feeling of being on a Soul Nourish retreat. But really it’s not magic at all, it’s what happens when we show up with pure presence. When we soften our edges and relax into our body the world becomes a bit more magical. Our mind starts to clear and our hearts become tenderized. Magic happens when we are seen and loved for exactly who we are.

This isn’t just a space we create on retreat, with practice this is a space we learn to access over and over. We create this space with permission. The permission to relax. The permission to open your heart enough to let someone else (or many someones) in. The permission to dive deep into what yoga truly means. The permission to explore moving your beautiful body in a compassionate and powerful way. The permission to speak your truth. The permission to share your dorky (or badass) dance moves. The permission to look deeply at what holds you back in life (and CHANGE it). The permission to safely explore your patterns and try on new ways of being. The permission to sing off key. The permission to lose your balance (or even lose your shit – thanks for that one Michelle Teel) and to be loved BECAUSE of it not in spite of it.

Are you ready for magic? I am. Head here to see where we are going next.

Photo on our El Salvador Retreat by 2TPHOTO

 

1 Year Ago Today

I’ve been in hiding, so it’s only appropriate that this interview  with Voyage ATL come out now (thanks Universe).
Yes, I have been full with the studio move, retreats and my already full everyday life but I have also been hiding. To give 100% disclosure I have been struggling for a while.

On a personal level my heart is heavy, I am going through a breakup that has been complicated and emotionally draining. I have been spending a great deal of time watching my shadow, shifting, subtly moving and studying what my next move should be.
Our brand new studio has my physical body. I have given this move so much dreaming, planning, energy and attention. We will be opening for classes this Sunday and I am mostly terrified and anxious.
What if I am making the wrong move?
What if our students don’t show up?
What if…
What if..
What if…

FORM yoga was built out of my darkest days. My entire life had just fallen apart. Everything that I thought was real was revealed warped like a fun house mirror. I was starting over. I was alone and I was terrified.
This was how I was cracked open.

From tragedy beauty was born, as it often happens (or so I have learned). This community healed me and continues to do so on days (or weeks) like this when I struggle. Like the ouroboros, a symbol of creation through destruction, FORM built me right back. It was written in the stars.
Thank you.

1/16/17

Photo by 2TPHOTO on retreat in Maui 10/25/17

Perfect in This Moment

As a woman living in such an image conscious media it’s not that easy to grow older.
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Just when we get a glimpse of acceptance, things change. In the blink of a crow’s-feet-wrinkled-eye, we are another year older {or so it seems to happen that way for me}.
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Life keeps going.
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I’ll be celebrating my 40th birthday in just a couple months and with every day that goes by in my life I’m learning to embrace myself, my wrinkles, my grey hair, my looser skin, my age.
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I’ll choose to go with the flow of life {I’ll flip on my back, open my heart and gaze dreamily at the stars as I float along}.
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I’ll keep posting imperfect selfies, I’ll keep feeding the callings of my heart. I’ll keep wearing skinny jeans and red lipstick. I’ll love what I am already becoming.
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Right now I am
#perfectinthismoment

My Name is Mandy and I Love Food

Those of you who know me know I love food. When I say love I mean LOVE. I get excited about dinner, I mean really excited.

In my younger years and as one of 4 children I was an army brat on subsidized government vouchers. This meant lots of frozen, canned and boxed groceries with preservatives and a long shelf life to feed everyone for the month.

When I got close to my teens, my parents divorced money was even tighter. I was the only child left at home at that point. My mother and I were on food stamps and for a time I received free lunch at school. I recall many of my days were spent skipping breakfast or even lunch and eating dinner at friends houses. I was often so hungry and deprived I would eat a couple of plates of food, a trait that followed me well into adulthood even though I had plenty of food at this point. I felt like there was never enough and I had to keep filling myself in case I didn’t get anything at the next meal. Some of my better food memories then were when my older sisters and mother worked at restaurants, I was usually able to eat for free while they were at work. My favorite meal was beef flavored instant ramen noodles (still nostalgic for me) and the best meal was if one of my friends parents ordered pizza for delivery (HEAVEN for this little girl!).

I remember being a younger girl at my grandmother’s house in the summer and being amazed that I could eat the pecans that fell from the tree or pick the muscadines from the vine and eat them. This is also where I learned to find the honey in the honeysuckle on warm days and where I had the realization that chicken was a CHICKEN. (Ummm, WTF, was beef then?!). Some of my favorite memories were going to my aunts house, snapping peas in her trailer. The smell of the tomatoes on the vine and freshly shucked corn still brings me back.

As I ventured into adulthood I had a very unhealthy relationship with food. I struggled with a few bouts of anorexia, severely limiting my food intake and counting every calorie and ounce of fat. I would bounce between binging and purging, rewarding and punishing. I was always searching for a healthy balance. I would limit my food intake as a form of punishment if I missed a day at the gym or if I messed up and ate a whole bag of Oreos in the middle of the night which was not uncommon for me in those days. I used to write everything I ate down in my food journal and sometimes I would write not-so-nice things to myself to “encourage” me to do better. In my head I thought this is what healthy eating looked like.

These days I understand that my relationship with food starts first and foremost with a healthy mental state. It starts with understanding I am not broken or missing anything, there is no need to fill myself with food to make myself whole. It is based on listening to my body. It is based on breaking through unhealthy patterns and learning to see where I am self-sabotaging, numbing or simply being mindless. This doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally sit on the couch after a long day and enjoy a glass or two of wine and chips and cheese, it means that when I do so it is because I am aware and honoring my desires in that moment (and not to numb or stuff myself to fill a hole). I choose to honor my desires that come from a choice to nourish myself in every way that I can, body, mind and spirit.

If you struggle with with food I would love to share the tools that I learned to guide you into a more healthy and honest relationship with your nutritional choices. Join me and my friend, and fellow FORM yoga teacher and health coach Jessica Calderon for our Level 1: Beginners 12 Day Online Cleanse. This is a journey of self-discovery and nourishment for the mind, body and soul including daily meditations, journaling, learning and support. Our next cleanse begins on September 25 and you are invited to join the ride. Go here to learn more.

Meditation on Twin Hearts

Find a comfortable seat. Close and relax your eyes, breathing deeply. Take a moment to bring your hands to your heart and invoke Divine Blessings from the Supreme God, the Divine God and Goddess, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, All Guardians and Gate Keepers. The Angels and all spiritual teachers. Ask for the Divine light and love to move freely through you to bless all beings and to bless our precious Mother Earth.

Bring relaxation from the top of your head down through your entire body focusing for a moment on each body part. Inhale good health, exhale pain. Inhale happiness, exhale sadness. Inhale kindness, exhale anger. Inhale lightness, exhale darkness.

Bring to your mind the concept of harmlessness and compassion. Bring to mind anyone that you have caused pain to or towards with your actions, your speech, or your reactions. Ask forgiveness from all those who you have hurt or are still hurting. Resolve to practice kindness towards other people and your actions, your speech, or your reactions.

Now visualize yourself forgiving those that may have hurt you. Send blessings to them in their life. Visualize yourself being forgiven by those whom you may have hurt. Experience the feeling of being forgiven. Resolve on this day to forgive and be forgiven.

Bring your hands at your heart and bring all of your awareness to your heart energy center. Recall the most pleasant feeling you have ever experienced in your entire life. Explore joy, love, kindness or compassion. You may be able to recall this feeling through many different ways. Allow this energy to grow as you breathe.

We will now share this energy with the entire planet earth. Visualize in front of your chest a tiny planet earth. Imagine a rich pinkish or green light from your heart center going to the earth and enveloping it with love. From the heart center bless the earth with the divine peace. Bless all the people on earth with forgiveness. Bless all the people struggling on earth with a new hope for a better world. Bless the earth with light and great joy. Visualize all the people you will meet every day smiling and being filled with joy and love.

Bring your hands to your crown energy center at the top of your head. Invoke the desire to share your life and service, to be of help to those in need and to see us all connected on earth. Now visualize a brilliant white light from the top of your head going to the earth and enveloping it with divine love and kindness. Bless the earth with peace, abundance and harmony.

Stay here and the space as long as is comforting for you.

Photo taken on retreat by Thu Tran of 2TPHOTO

Comparison

“Mandy shows us how much the power of laughter and love can transform! Her classes are always fun and meaningful.”
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When I read a testimonial about my teaching my heart swells. Sometimes I am very hard on myself. Sometimes I compare myself to others. Sometimes I wonder if I should be teaching yoga at all, after all I’ve never even read the yoga sutras.
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I read somewhere once that comparison is the thief of joy. I recite it often in class, probably for my own benefit as much as for my students.
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Over the past few years my relationship with Yoga has shifted dramatically. There is less comparison and more joy. Collaboration, with others who inspire me and with myself, is paramount.

 

Photo for Lululemon Athletica by 2TPHOTO

Dream Catcher

Don’t mind me, I’m just over here catching my dreams.
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In June I found myself surrounded by dream catchers. While leading our Women’s Soul Vacation in Todos Santos we learned one of the women that worked in the kitchen spent her spare time making the dream catchers that were lovingly hung in the dining area overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Though she worked full time at the retreat center cooking she, her husband and her young daughter all created these dream catchers to sell to supplement their small income. As a gesture to support her family we asked her if she would be willing to come in one evening after dinner and teach some of our ladies how to create their own dream catcher. We had no idea the adventure we were about to participate in.

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The woman and her young daughter patiently sat with us and guided us for hours and hours as we wove our individual creations with intention. Though we spoke different languages we shared, we laughed and we connected, woman to woman, soul to soul. We practiced our Spanish and the mother and daughter practiced their English. There were moments where each of us had to extend ourselves to try and understand the other. Our souls shared wisdom through work with knowing smiles, warm encouragement and tender glances. We sat working together late into evening. We didn’t let our differences stop us from connecting and learning from each other. We opened our hearts and we worked with our hands to create beauty.
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My dream catcher is now hanging in my sons room. I shared the experience with him. I told him about the love and work that went into my creation, I told him it wasn’t easy. I told him how I had to try hard to understand what the teacher was offering us and sometimes I wasn’t sure what to do. I told him that sometimes I messed up the pattern and I needed to ask for help to get back on track.
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I learned a few things that evening. I learned our dreams are always worth the effort. And that messing up is just part of the process. I learned asking for help is essential. And I learned that sharing our dreams with others makes the world we belong to ever more abundant.
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Psst…Interested in joining for my next adventure? Head here to save on your first Soul Nourish Retreat booking.

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Photo taken on location by @thulegit of 2TPHOTO.