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5a crop PROUD

Angel Photo & Design rocked this shoot!

If you’re a kid, pride is good. If you’re an adult, humility is good. Uh, whuzzat again?

Last week, I was away at an in-depth psychological, behavioral, and spiritual module of an advanced yoga teacher training. We’re a tight group, with a fearless leader in Karina Ayn Mirsky, who fields all the angles I come at her from with some pretty solid contact. It’s not like she’s putting a new spin on the ball, it’s like she’s stopping the spin so you can really see it. That shit went down last week, way down. Then spontaneously, our group started saying we were proud of each other. And I got all cerebral on this pride thang.

In prior situations, I’d get triggered if the “wrong” person told me they were proud of me. Like, they were assuming they were ahead of me in whatever race we were in that was measured by whatever-the-fuck they just said they were proud of me for. See? What is that? And, there are vocal segments of our culture that are always tearing people down for being – wait for it – prideful. How loaded is that word? What have we done to this thing called pride?

Next up: the universe starts chucking pride at me everywhere.

I came home from my training and decided to challenge my Yoga Boot Camp students with a one-and-a-half-minute hold in plank, with planned increases of 30 seconds each week. (Students, you may blame my badass Ohio yoga buddies Elesha & Claire.) Preparing for class, I watched the elapsed time on my playlist to take note of the lyrics students should use as a cue to stop swearing at me. The lyric, right at 1:30: “It’s a matter of pride.” (Natural One – Shearwater)

After teaching that class at dawn, I sped home to do my usual crazy morning shit – signed a kid’s permission slip that was due yesterday, tracked down a shoe the dog had stashed, dropped off a kid at jazz band practice before school. Soon, I got a phone call from my husband. Our kid’s jazz band director had called him right after practice with an urgent request: could we change our weekend travel plans and stick around for a jazz festival our kid had told us nothing about? The director said all kindsa things about how important our kid was to the trombone section and to the band. Pride, man! Pride! Right in my heart!

Most kids’ first experience of pride is initiated by their parents. “I’m so proud of you!” They may roll their eyes, but that’s not where you can see what’s really going on – it’s right in their chests, yes, swelling, and [cue angels singing] that’s where their hearts are.

Pride rolled on for me. A dear friend posted on Facebook about another dear friend she was proud of. I needed a theme for my studio for the month of February (yes, 6 days into it) and the theme I chose had in-yo’-face pride undertones. At an evening class, when I asked students what they’d like to work on that night, most of them said some variation of “I’m open to anything.” I told them I was proud of their yogic ‘tudes.

Be proud. Let your heart swell. It’s motivating.

And that night, I started class with something I never had before – I found myself asking my students to call up one thing they were proud of that day. The smaller the better. Just feel it. Be proud. Let your heart swell. It’s motivating. Let it motivate you in the challenging parts of your practice, and your life.

Let’s reclaim pride, bitches. Most of us have gotten so good at being – or appearing – humble, that we’ve lost something. Some fire. Some kick-ass energy. (Disclaimer #9: I’m not saying brag. This ain’t about getting credit from anyone other than yourself. Do it inside, and what’ll show outside will be Real.)

Kids are encouraged to have pride in their school. Tiger pride! Panther pride! Eskymo [sic] pride! (Yes, that last one was my high school’s mascot. That’s a whole nutha blog.) Many causes have taken up the word “pride” to de-marginalize populations – exhibits A, B, and C: Gay Pride, Black Pride, Yooper Pride. (Whole nutha.) So, what do these pride thangs got in common? Connection. In a rallying way. Rallying connection. I am so all over that!

We are hardwired for negativity. So, pride up. Rewire yourself into seeing the things you do well. Better yet, feel them. Pride is a fast track to your heart! And it’s in feeling that rewiring gets extra reinforcement. Start a pride practice. At the end of your day, call up something you’re proud of. Be present with it. Let your heart swell. Let your brain grow positive circuits. Let these new circuits fuckin’ light up your life. Do it.

And do it for others. Say you’re proud of them when you are. It’s easy to do with your kids – just take the time that you’d usually spend screaming about their appalling behavior, and tell them something you’re proud of. And remind your kids and others to turn it back on themselves: “You must be so proud!” This, too, is your pride practice.

Is this cheesy? Or is it Real? Does it make more sense to internally downplay everything in our lives and feel shitty most of time? Or, maybe we could, like, light up the world instead. Light it up. Light it all up.

-Proud Mary
Addendum: Another pride practice is this post on how to figuratively bitch-slap inanimate objects that you unconsciously interact with in an outta control fashion every day. Instead, get conscious, take control of them, and revel in your success. People are always jumping up and down telling me about the latest thing they’ve bitch-slapped. Join the movement!

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