I'm so grateful to introduce you to my friend Aurora Myers today. She's a visionary seeking to make the world a better place and one that is safer for conversations about mental illness. She's launching I&I Outfitters © this month, a clothing line that aims to raise awareness about mental health and the stigma surrounding mental illness. Their goal is to create a global community where people can connect, collaborate, and share their stories of recovery, relapse, and growth, online and offline. I&I sees stereotypes and stigma not as limitations, but as opportunities and starting points to create dialogue and discussion around important topics.
My story was shared in an ambassador highlight on their blog, and I'd love for you to head on over and support them during their launch on November 11th!
1. Who are you? What is "your story?"
Hey there! My name is Aurora. I never really know what to write for these things because I try to see myself as a bunch of verbs instead of nouns and roles.
Verbs are in motion and are always changing. Nouns make it really easy for me to start attaching my self-worth to my accomplishments. It's a constant struggle between learning how to be proud of what I get done and remembering I'm not what I do.
So, hi, hey there, I’m Aurora. I like to teach and study yoga. I currently instruct yoga & mindfulness/meditation classes at Nike WHQ. I started a blog, Rooted & Rising, to share a little more about my journey with mental health, random musings on life, and resources for anyone interested in learning more about movement & inner-work.
I’m also in the middle of getting ready to launch I&I Outfitters, a clothing line to raise awareness about mental health and the stigma surrounding mental illness. Maris is one of the ambassadors, and I’m so excited to have her insight and presence onboard.
Oh, yeah, and a podcast! I’m starting a podcast as an offshoot of my blog. I like to stay busy, creating and designing stuff.
2. How did yoga fall into your life?
I took my first every yoga class at a Lululemon in San Francisco.
I showed up, 17 years old, wearing an oversized tee and some shorts (I had no clue what to wear!)
All of a sudden, a flock of beautiful, toned women in lycra leggings walked past me to enter the store, and I immediately felt out of place. So I called my mom and begged her to pick me up. "I've made a huge mistake I need to go home!”
My mom said no. Exasperated, I hung up, took a deep breath, and walked in.
"Have you ever been here before? Do you have a mat?" No and no. I filled out a waiver, found a spot in the corner, unrolled the rubber carpet and plopped down.
Everyone was chatting and looking beautiful and bending and I just sat there feeling awkward and nervous.
We got started and everything felt weird. I mean everything. I had never moved like this before! How am I supposed to focus on my breath and my body at the same time?
I was trying my hardest not to fall over and I felt like everyone would notice how sweaty and inexperienced I was.
At the very end we laid down and the teacher told us to place one hand on our hearts and one hand on our bellies. I closed my eyes and felt my heart beat fast. I felt my belly beneath my shirt that was drenched in sweat.
For the first time in my life I felt completely and utterly grateful for my body and everything it accomplished in those past 60 minutes. I felt self love. It wasn't like a slow realization. It was like a ton of love and gratitude and peace just bursting from everywhere, and it was from me, and for me. I created that feeling! And I had never felt that before.
I vowed from there on out to explore anything and everything about whatever this yoga thing is. And it’s completely changed the direction of my life.
3. How has your relationship with your body changed over time?
I think it's constantly evolving. I don't feel like I've "made it" to any particular mindset, quite honestly. I think I'm continually wrestling with negative self-talk and figuring out how to convince myself not to buy into it. I’d like to actively practice gratitude for my body, something that doesn’t come naturally to me, or most women, most likely.
But what has shifted is an understanding that I won't someday "arrive" at the perfect mindset where I am 1000% comfortable with everything about my body AND mind. For the longest time, I assumed that I could eventually work my way into complete satisfaction with who I was after I changed everything I was annoyed with. Now I'm starting to see that being in a perfect mindset isn't a prerequisite for happiness. It’s about learning to get comfortable with the way things are right now, instead of wishing them away, or hiding from anything.
4. What does it mean to you to be "strong?"
Taking the time to heal, supporting others when they are struggling, working through your own inner shit and unproductive mental habits, and showing up, even when it's hard, or nerve-wracking. Falling into love and letting yourself be open to feeling good, to feeling pleasure and happiness, and allowing yourself permission to rest there instead of convincing yourself you don't deserve it. That’s really hard. Making a commitment to choose what's healthy for your body and mind as often as possible, and not getting too down on yourself when you slip up.
5. Describe the fearlessly authentic you.
Lots of things. It means showing up, even when it's scary and intimidating. Even when you're sweaty and self-conscious and insecure and unsure and filled with all the uncomfortable feelings. That's me, a majority of the time!
It means ignoring the voice that says "not good enough" or "what's the point" and doing the hard things anyway because you value courage and transparency and you're willing to fight for it, even if it's your own mind that's trying to convince you not to go for it.
It's being the first person to raise your hand, even if you're embarrassed, and be brave enough to say "I hurt," or "this hurts" or "what are we going to do about it together?" when it comes to personal and collective pain.