Keep Your Eyes On Your Own Mat

As I lunge forward into downward dog, I scan the crowd behind me to see who actually has their heels down. And then I think, “Sierra, get your eyes on your own mat.” I retract Woman sitting cross legged with back to camera on wooden deckthem back to my pose and take a deep breath in. I think about how I am doing alright, and it doesn’t matter what everyone has going on.

I always thought this a metaphor for my life in general. “Sierra, keep your eyes on your own mat.” Don’t compare yourself to other athletes, other professionals, other parents, other women. Just look at you.

But my eyes do drift. I may not want to be the best at whatever role I am in, but I at least want to know I can hang. “What does that even matter?” I wonder.

I have been a novice swimmer since I hit the pool on my middle school swim team in 5th grade. Yep, where I grew up, 5th grade was in middle school.  Needless to say, I wasn’t very good. I tried and eventually retired the Speedo but have picked it up throughout my life, certainly a different size, and have used swim as recreational exercise.

Now when I am in the pool, I know I can’t hang with the pros. Sometimes I catch a glimpse so I can better understand how to swim or watch how gracefully others move through the water. I never feel competitive, just humbled. I trudge along.

Does it pay to look at what others are doing? Maybe.  From looking at others, there are some benefits. I can gain a better sense of how I might like to do things. I can see I might be doing just fine or even better than some. I can also look at how I might like to change or challenge myself.

I think there is a distinction to be made of when it is OK to look around, and it lies in our motive. Am I looking around to better myself or to put others or myself down? Am I looking around so I can judge or so I can challenge myself? Maybe push myself to do things I didn’t think were possible. Not with animosity or negativity but with genuine heart. This distinction can be hard to determine as there can be many layers as to why we do what we do.

All I know is it feels better, whether I am on the yoga mat or in the pool, and I am truley focused on me.  When I am not competing with anyone but myself to be just who I need to be for that day.  The strong athlete or the soft woman or maybe even a bit of both.

Maybe its time for you to keep your eyes on your own mat.  Be an observer of yourself.  What does it feel like when you focus on you and not what everyone else is doing?  What happens when you don’t compete or compare?

Remember, being you just as you are is good enough.  Namaste.


7874770862_1d83a7bbde_qWhen I was in my late 20s, I got mad. Real mad. It was hard to even find the words to put it all together. It didn’t make sense that after over 10 years of being out of my parents’ house, I was truly angry about all the things they didn’t do. The limits they didn’t set. The times they turned the other cheek. “Hello?  Is anybody listening? Did anybody see?”

I was scared to confront my parents. I wasn’t sure what it would do to our relationship. I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle what came back at me. Sadness? Anger? Pointing the finger back at me? I sat on it for a long time, and it festered.

Festering is not pretty. Imagine what festering can do to your insides. To your mind. When something festers and is not taken care of, it only gets bigger, uglier, and deeper. Soon it leaks into all parts of your world: relationships, work, school, friendships. It can lead to a deep sadness about oneself and the world. It can create anxiety, severe depression, abuse of yourself and others, and even lead to suicide.  Not pretty at all.

This story addresses a really poignant part of my life and for anyone who has an awakening about the things that weren’t ok stemming from childhood or teenage years. It is poignant because once we have an awareness about something, life can never be the same. We can try to hide but our minds and bodies know our truth and cannot turn back.

How difficult it is to listen to our truth and allow ourselves to be aware and awakened. Contrary, how beautiful it is to listen to our truth and be aware and awakened. When we listen to what is true and allow the awareness in, our whole being opens up, and we become free.

On a calm winter night in North Carolina, I finally got the courage to release my anger and heal the festering pain I held inside. I am free.

I allow truth to set me free.

Who I Used To Be

Before I had children, I was an outdoorsy girl. Relentless trips to the mountains. Biking, hiking, snowshoeing, climbing, swimming, camping, yoga by river. Whatever it was, I loved the mountain air.

Times have changed and so has my ability to do the things I once loved to do. No taking off for Tahoe on a whim after a days work. Not without a boat load of luggage and some serious planning.

There was a time I struggled with not being able to do what I wanted to do anymore. But somewhere, in some time, it shifted. While I still long for the spontaneity and the freedom, it now comes in a different package.

Spontaneity creeps out when deciding to go to the coast for an hour or taking my sweet dog Noelle out on our local trails. Or when I go to bed on a Saturday night at 8PM after loading my belly full of just what I wanted.  I am spontaneous with little surprises that bring lots of joy to myself and my family, like a breakfast out or family movie night in.

And freedom.  I have the freedom to be as silly as I want to be.  I have the freedom to read, write, discover, and learn all the things I was too busy to learn because I was constantly on the move.  I have the freedom to be the kid I buried long ago in the attempt to be older, cooler, and more accepted.

So I’ll take it.  While it may not elicit the excitement I imagined others felt when looking at my adventurous life, its what i have now, today, in this moment.  And while it took me awhile to really fully embrace it, I have arrived.


I embrace the life I live today.

The Holiday Wrecking Ball

pumpkin pie and red drink Holidays can crash the wrecking ball in on what people try to keep intact the rest of the year. An, “I don’t care” attitude about disconnections from family members. An, “It doesn’t bother me,” attitude about loved ones who are deceased.  In reality, it impacts people deep. Probably deeper than they even know.

Holidays can offer a real mirror into how alone people really are. Dinners with limited participants. Few, if any, gifts. And an overall feeling of just going through the motions.

Why do we do this to ourselves? It’s in the name of tradition, darn it! Tradition of what?  In remembrance of your parents and your grandparents being miserable with their own relatives? Fun!

There can be such pressure for people to do what they don’t want to do for the sake of others who are probably feeling similarly to you. Why spend time with people you spend the whole year trying to avoid at a time toted as being “the best time of the year?” Oh right, tradition.

How about making your own tradition? Spending time with people you really love. Doing good deeds for others. Attending a service or festivity. Reading a book. Doing something that brings the real sense of spirit into your heart. Now that sounds more like it.

I know there are just some things and people you cannot get away from. Well, maybe you really could but tradition and guilt and obligation are all tied, so there you are sipping some eggnog. But maybe the way you think about it could be shifted.

When we think we are going to dread something, we generally do. When we think an experience is going to be awful, it generally is to some degree. What if you take the glass is half full approach to whatever it is you are doing this holiday?

Try these on for size:

1. I am so glad I get to eat a home cooked meal.

2. While I wasn’t happy to see everyone, I am so glad I got to see my cousin Trevor.

3. I love Aunt Tammie’s special hot cocoa.

4. I am blessed for how I live my life.

5. I am a patient person.

Happy Holidays to each of you. Thank you for reading my stuff throughout the year. In an effort to have the glass half full, I am blessed!


I can feel positive during the holidays no matter my obligations.

Summer Activity for Girls in Petaluma

I am very excited to announce the opening of The Gathering: A supportive girls’ book club fostering connection and community in Petaluma.  The group is for 6th-8th grade girls and 9th-12th grade girls kicking off Summer 2012.

Why a Book Club for Girls?  Growing up on the East Coast allowed for many hot summer days, laying on the beach, and reading stories with my girlfriends as a teen.  I remember the close connection I felt to my friends as we laughed, cried, and embraced a story together while eating food and our beach blankets in a circle as we were transported to another place and time in our minds.  This time of my life was such a gift and I hold these memories close to my heart.  I am hoping to create this feeling through the The Gathering.

What to Expect?  Come enjoy stories as we lie in the sun on comfy blankets in the grass, eat delicious snacks, and embark on an adventure reading books together and discussing the messages and thoughts around the stories we are being told. Build friendships and learn to voice your ideas in a safe and kind environment. Books, snacks, comfy blankets, and a good time are all included in the fee. No reading prior to the group expected and there is no homework. We will read and discuss books together as a group.


134 Howard Street

Petaluma, CA 94952

Facilitated By:

Sierra Dator, LCSW


Summer 2012

Tuesdays, June 5, 2012-August 21, 2012 (6th grade + Junior High group)

Thursdays, June 7, 2012-August 23, 2012 (High School group)


10AM- 11:30AM

Cost: $30/session

Cash, Check, Credit Card accepted

*Please contact Sierra prior to attending the group at or 707-478-4351.