Danger Will Robinson! Danger!

Near the end of July, I implemented a Daily Practice Challenge at the studio and included both bellydance and yoga students. I’ve been frustrated by my efforts around practice in general (both yoga and bellydance) and needed accountabilibuddies to help me figure it out. The Hive feels much like a laboratory to me and because my students work SO hard, I truly feel accountable to them. I wouldn’t ask them to do something I’m not willing to do— at the same time there’s a big difference between being willing to do something and actually doing it.

So I started the daily practice challenge as a means to kick myself into shape, get disciplined and practice more.

That worked for a total of .1 seconds.

My students were practicing and excited and I felt exactly the same and unsure of what to do. I couldn’t shake the feelings that warn me of burn out. I couldn’t motivate myself to make any real changes in my practice.

Because Laura (my awesome coach and friend and fellow detective) has helped me prioritize progress over perfection, I was able to take an accurate accounting of how I was feeling and accurately reflect on how I’ve been reacting to all the changes (and whoa, there’s been some big ones!) in my life over the past year.

Just like I encouraged my students during the practice challenge to keep trying, no matter how many times they fell off of the wagon, I jumped back on. I gave myself permission to be curious rather than judgmental and kept starting over again. Each time I fell off, I looked around and wondered what was making it so hard?

And then I considered my options. Which at first felt limited, but only because I assumed the consequences of making any change would be disastrous. Change felt so frightening, it was easier to assume there were no options rather than deal with the unknown of doing something different. I couldn’t…wouldn’t allow myself to consider any of the positive/helpful consequences.

Hmmm. No options. This definitely felt familiar and because of the familiarity, it felt comforting…except now I also felt smothered by it rather than safe.



When I feel that comforting/smothering stuff, I know it’s habitual and I need to stop drop, and get curious. I’m supposed to take a non-judgmental look around and start asking Why? The past several years (heck, the past few weeks) have shown me over and over how many options there are, how many beautiful people exist in my life, how willing the Universe is to co-create the Life I want most. Because life has been so beautiful and filled with so much creativity and imagination, I forgot about the natural rhythm of expansion and contraction. I forgot that even when things are AMAZEBALLS , in order for it to stay amazeballs, I need to be vigilant about the things most important to me. When my priorities are in order, everything else falls into place.

And the absolute top priority on my Life is Awesome list?


Pema Chodron encourages us to focus on ourselves in order to be available for our family and others in need, available to Life. When I started working with Laura I told her I wanted to be the most important person to Me.

Some of you may think that’s selfish.


It is.


And yes. I have 2 children. And a Partner. And friends.

And yes, living in this way takes a lot of courage, clear communication, and taking responsibility for what I want. It’s not easy, folks. On the other hand, that single-minded focus makes things simple.

No, this doesn’t give me license to do whatever I want whenever I want. But it does give me permission to make conscious choices based on what’s best for ME, which has always proven to be what’s best for everyone else in my immediate circle of influence. If I get to choose, so do they.

I am not a patient person by nature. My first instinct is to be self-protective, judgmental, irritable, and fearful. After reflecting on the experiences in my past, I understand that these characteristics developed out of a need to feel safe and in control. Through meditation and other personal practices, I feel like I’ve transcended these safety mechanisms. However, as soon as I stop making my needs a priority, well, let’s just say, it’s easy to fall into old habits. I don’t really like that version of my Self. I’m grateful for all she’s done to help me get here AND I don’t need her anymore.

While I started the practice challenge in order to improve my dance and nail that handstand (I’m SO close), with the support of my family and students, I learned new things about myself, I’m clearer about some of the things I thought I knew, and I’m making some pretty big changes in the schedule at The Hive and at home to make room for Me and my practice.

Ya know, I think our culture doesn’t understand that there’s a difference between being selfish and being a narcissist.

When I take care of my own needs, I have plenty of energy to care for others and be there for them. “Yes” comes easily to me and I feel less greedy with my time. If I’m the only thing I have control over, if my behavior is the only thing I can control, wouldn’t I focus as much energy as possible in that direction? If my children learn most from what I DO rather than what I say, don’t I want my life to reflect the kind of life I hope for them? If I believe that committing myself to a personal practice of meditation and healthy eating will increase my longevity and emotional stability, wouldn’t I make that the most important thing in my life?

Whew! I’m grateful to be a part of this community, this place where we get to show up exactly as we are and have permission to change and noodle around and catch ourselves. I caught myself!! That’s the practice!! I did it!! I can feel the celebration happening in me right now.

To Recap:

  1. I started feeling boxed in and tired.
  2. I honestly connected with feeling boxed in and tired without blaming anything or anyone.
  3. Rather than reacting and getting judgmental, I got curious about the feelings.
  4. Took some time to take an accurate look at everything I’m doing and not doing (almost 3 months, The Daily Practice Challenge HELPED SO MUCH!)
  5. Considered all options for change (no matter how crazy or ridiculous—even though deep down I knew what needed changing.)
  6. Decided on what I needed to change.
  7. Implemented said change. (Just this morning)


Recap of the Recap:

  1. Persistent feelings of discomfort, disease, unhappiness, exhaustion, feeling blue,  arise. (or whatever feelings you might fill in the blank ____________)
  2. Connect with the feelings without judging them (or you) as something bad or wrong.
  3. Get curious. Pretend you’re a detective and start paying attention to the clues.
  4. ACCURATELY survey all the things you are doing (or not doing) in your life. (Most of us are great at creating lists of things we aren’t doing. I like to focus on everything I AM doing first.)
  5. Consider your options. (We always have them—we just might be a little scared of them.)
  6. Decide on what you’re going to change or not change. (Deciding NOT to do something is still doing something)
  7. Implement your decision.

I love to write. Since The Hive opened I’ve been committing and re-committing to a weekly blog and monthly newsletter. I’m making room in my life for more writing. I’m excited about the time I’m creating to meditate, dance, and yoga. I’m grateful that all of this can happen within a Life space that already includes meaningful Work and Love and connection and music and laughter.


May we enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

May we be free from suffering and the root of suffering.

May we not be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering.

May we dwell in the great equanimity free from

passion, aggression, and prejudice.





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Progress Over Perfection. Take #32

Progress over Perfection. That phrase has been a guiding light for me over the past many months. During the Hive’s repair, it was difficult for me to see any progress. Even though I understood rationally that the accident wasn’t a punishment from the Multiverse, it took a LOT of energy to stay in a moreContinue Reading

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Habit. (and not the kind Nuns wear)

Since my retreat in October, I’ve been immersed in a state of forgiving mySelf. In the past, I’ve been known to blame mySelf and take responsibility for EVERYTHING. Seriously. I mean everything. Even stuff that didn’t have anything to do with me.  When I take responsibility for stuff, it provides me with the illusion thatContinue Reading

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Open. For realface.

When I found out a car had crashed into the side of my building, I’d been dancing and enjoying a day filled with great friends, music, food and drink. There were still several hours left for fun and I knew that no one had been hurt in the accident. I had a 2 options (it wasContinue Reading

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Upper Limit Problem-TAKE 2!

Upper Limit problem. Take 2. I’ve been thinking about Upper Limit Problems A LOT since my last blog. Once I understood how ULPs affect me, I couldn’t stop noticing them. I was experiencing an ULP many times a day EVERY DAY. EVERY. DAY.            Several times a day.   ULP. (…giggle…) I devoured the book, The BigContinue Reading

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Upper Limits

Upper limit problem. Laura, my co-detective when it comes to sussing out the inner workings of Me, and I have been talking a LOT about this recently.  We’ve been talking specifically about happiness. The idea that we, or I (let me speak for myself), have grown accustomed to a certain level of happiness. As I beginContinue Reading

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Deep Space: The Final Frontier -or- How I learned to become a Warrior Monk

I’ve been thinking lots about what it means to be my biggest self and why I sometimes choose to play it small. Whether it’s conscious or not, each moment provides me the opportunity to choose between LOVE and FEAR. (BREATHE, Melissa) Before I went on retreat, there was so much fear around this notion ofContinue Reading

4 Responses to Deep Space: The Final Frontier -or- How I learned to become a Warrior Monk

  1. McnuttMt says:

    Enjoyed every bit of your article.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.

  2. peter platten says:

    Wow! I’m feeling so many of the same things right now. It seems like the retreat was right on time.

  3. Asha Barkett says:

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

    • Melissa Lopez says:

      Asha! I don’t think this is easy at all—simple, but not easy! I believe every person has it within themselves to be able to be their biggest, most beautiful Self! Baby steps, time and the desire to change is all you need. Thanks for reading!

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Kathryn Budig, an international yoga instructor known for her excellent instruction and strong inversion (upside down) practice, came to Cleveland this weekend to teach a series of workshops. I must tell you that 15 months ago, I was petrified—clammy hands and forget about butterflies in my tummy, I’m talking a stampede of elephants pounding fromContinue Reading

7 Responses to AIM TRUE

  1. Prudencio says:

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Not enough ___________. You fill in the blank.

  Scarcity thinking. Me? Nuh-uh. I’m a gratitude junky. Just take a look at my Facebook timeline or spend a day with me. I’m always giving thanks for my many blessings. And—in the same moment, I’m feeling like there’s never enough time to get everything done. CONFESSION. As I’ve grown accustomed to my teaching scheduleContinue Reading

One Response to Not enough ___________. You fill in the blank.

  1. Gail says:

    I am grateful for synchronicity… that you brought this up when I just had a breakdown about it yesterday.
    For me, I spend most of my time in the scarcity trap concerning time. It seems I barely have enough time to get daily things done, let alone get caught up on things that I am behind on or have time for the things that I am passionate about(I miss dance!). I do my best to be grateful for what I have, but I take for granted whatever time I have to get something done or to sit around replying to a blog. And as I am typing this, I caught myself thinking I don’t have enough time to do laundry. So I guess I am unsure of how to get out of it…yet. But awareness is key. So I guess I will start working there.
    Thank you for this. I am really loving this part of The Hive.

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A Legacy of LOVE

It’s time to return to my “normal” routine. Today marks a week that my Mamá died. Time has had such a different quality over the last 7 days…well, really over the last several weeks. We held vigil for her. Singing at her bedside, praying, helping her Spirit fly free from the heaviness of this corporalContinue Reading

13 Responses to A Legacy of LOVE

  1. Jennifer Borrelli says:

    This is beautiful!

  2. Nicole Helsley says:

    Absolutely beautiful…a wonderful tribute to the woman we call Mamá….

  3. Robyn says:

    So beautiful she would be proud!!! my condolence to you and your family.

  4. Maria Roman says:

    Mama would of been proud. I love you!

  5. Shelly says:

    So touching. You were able to give those at the service every sense of her. God Bless you and your family

  6. Lalena Montes says:

    This was one amazing tribute to a very wonderful woman! She is with her Father and his Son…Rejoice ye shall be with them soon! Awesome Eulogy!

    • Melissa Lopez says:

      Thank you so much. While I miss her, I know she is here with me always and in a peaceful and joyous place!

  7. Bob & Jo Kritz says:

    Wonderful tribute to a wonderful Women & Friend. We are glad to have met her and her wonderful Family years ago.What a wonderful example What a wonderful example the little children there Grandmother has left them. We have a wonderful Angel watching over u. God Bless Carlos and the Montes Family. Our Love to all. Hugs & Kisses

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