Today I feel like a surprise cake in my second favorite flavor. I checked in on my heart, and found it feeling quite diagonal. I feel like I can dig it.
A few weeks ago, I found myself laying there in silence before an evening yoga class, surrounded by two blocks and a strap.
A smile started to spread onto my face as I realized: I had all the support I would ever need.
My back firmly rooted on my mat, blocks for when my I couldn’t reach the floor, and a strap to help guide me into deeper poses without hurting myself. I was completely and inarguably supported.
So today I’d like to explore support - how to support yourself, how to support others, how to ask for support.
Humans come with built-in support systems.
First of all, know that you carry the ultimate support with you every minute of every day: your breath. It’s the single common thread through our entire human experience, from the moment we emerge, shiny and screaming into the world, and to the moment our final page turns, our breath is first and last.
If you are alone, if you feel alone, if no one in the entire world supports you, you still have your breath. It will not let you down. Even if you aren’t paying any attention to it - it’s still there, hanging out, supporting your heartbeat.
From there, it’s essential to build routines and spaces in your life that allow you to feel supported. Maybe it’s a daily yoga practice, a writing habit, a moment of drinking tea or coffee in quiet, a daily chat with someone you love, painting your nails or doing your makeup, or reading a mesmerizing book. What is it that makes you feel like yourself? What is it that makes you feel capable or powerful or grounded or even just a little softer?
Create these things for yourself, because no one else is going to create them for you. In grade school and high school, we had assigned periods to study history, science, literature - we had designated times for exercise, for eating, for playing music. The support was built in (and it was required), but once we move from school into the real world there are no longer teachers who are telling us to read or write or play.
And if you need the reminder - yes, you have permission to give yourself space. It will heal you and allow you to grow in new and exciting ways.
Find your tribe and ask for what you need
Once you’ve established your own inner support network and begun to connect to your breath, you can expand if you want to. When I realized that I had everything I needed to support myself, I also realized that any support beyond my breath and those blocks was a bonus.
My husband’s support of my thirty day writing challenge (and his participation in the thirty day yoga challenge!) is completely optional - he doesn’t have to support it, and I don’t require his support to complete it. Obviously, it makes it entirely more possible and enjoyable, and I can’t express how grateful I am for his encouragement.
But what I’m trying to say is that external support is bonus. If you have it, celebrate it. Roll around in it like a dog rolls around in goose poop.
I have family and friends all across the country that have spent their breath supporting me and encouraging me, and it’s the most valuable thing they could give me. I have a community here in Los Angeles that grows stronger every day, and someday I hope to fully express to them what they’ve done for me with their love and their kindness.
If you feel like you want more external support, asking for it isn’t as easy as saying “I need your support.” Honor yourself and what you need and get really, really vulnerable and tell your nearest and dearest exactly what you need from them. Do you need space or time for writing? Do you need a text once a week or so reminding you to be kind to yourself? Do you need surprise coffees or check-ins to make sure you’re drinking enough water?
Asking for exactly what you want is a beautiful way to solidify your community too - it will deepen your understanding of who belongs in your tribe, and it will open up space for them to ask for exactly what they need. It’s a win-win.
Don’t ask for support in a long winded social media post - unless you truly, deeply feel like it emboldens and fortifies your soul when you see a comment that says “Hugs and prayers XO,” skip it. For me personally, I found that posts like that just met my ego’s whiny needs but didn’t fulfill me. Like Dorito’s - my taste buds love the experience, but I never feel good or fulfilled once I’ve finished eating them.
How to support your loved ones by donating your breath to them
And the frosting on the support cake isn’t necessary, but it is if you’re hoping to not go it alone. If you, like most of us, want at least a small ride-or-die tribe, you have to share your breath with others.
Yes, the one thing you truly have - the one support beam in your life that is truly steady - you have to give it away. When your best friend calls you and needs more support than her body can muster for herself, you breathe with her as you remind herself of her strength and capability. You spend hundreds of breaths staying up late into the night to listen to your partner’s hopes and dreams, lending a voice now and again for reassurance, but mostly just breathing through it all, being there for the ones you love the most.
So many of my dearest friends have donated their breath to me in my times of greatest need. Their breath comes on the wing of a joke, or silently alongside a listening ear, or red-hot with anger on my behalf. Their breath is filled with pride, sorrow, joy, consolation. They’ve truly, and literally, given portions of their life to me and I’ll say it again - it’s the most valuable, expensive gift they can give.
And I’m happy to give my breath in return, not because I have to but because I want to and I love to do it.
Next time you feel alone
Seek solid ground. I live on the second floor and often find it easier to feel supported when I’m on ground level at the yoga studio. If you don’t have a studio, find a shaded spot at the park to lay or sit down in. Go to a quiet library and sit and meditate in a chair that makes you feel secure. You can grab a book and pretend to read if you don’t want to creep people out, or you can creep people out and that’s fine too.
Put your feet in the dirt, in the grass, in the sand. And breathe.
Many people will choose not to support you, and some will choose to work against you. They’ll resist your forward movement, they’ll hate it, they’ll beg you to stop. They’ll list out all of the risks and try to break down your other support beams.
But just know this: they are spending their breath, the breath that is meant to support and give life, on doing the opposite. If they don’t support you, it’s them who loses - not you. I even think there’s a certain amount of compassion and grace we can send these people who may be hurting or feeling unsupported themselves.
But try, as much as you can, to no longer spend breath on people who say you’re wasting your own breath with your passion project, or career, or whatever it is you're leaning in to.
And again, anchor yourself. Breathe in. You are supported, you are whole.
Think of those around you who are sharing their breath with you and send them a few breaths of gratitude - breaths made in gratitude are never wasted.
Share your breath with your tribe, and they’ll reward you tenfold.
You are supported.