The Troll You Know

By | Writing

The other day I was talking to a friend. LIE! Okay fine, I was talking to my therapist because these days I have to pay someone that I do not ever need to interact with in a social setting to help me process life because 2017 has been a whole lot of things for a lot of us and most of those things have not been excellent! I was frustrated that I had made such little headway on my writing. I had the time, the ideas, and the discipline in other areas of my life but I was not where I had intended to be with my writing and if I had to answer one more well-intentioned but shame-inducing “How’s that book coming along?!” I was going to run into the nearest coffee shop and beg to be a barista again because at least then I could honestly claim to be a productive member of society.

We broke it all down. Was I afraid of success?
Hell no, I was not afraid to succeed in my writing. Bring on the book deal, the readers, the freedom to share my words, and how about a nice paycheck in there too!

Would I be happy if I wrote a book and no one read it?
I wouldn’t be happy but I would survive.

Was I afraid of online trolls? (By the way, she seemed certain that this was likely it.)
No, actually. I have written a great deal of things that are polarizing. The first thing I ever wrote and shared publicly after college was a snarky piece when I was brand new to teaching yoga that got a lot of negative attention and unfortunately with it, so did I.

She looked at me, giving me space to work it out aloud.

“It’s not the trolls I don’t know. It’s something like that though… It’s like the people I know…they’re not quite frenemies of mine, but they’re not intimate friends of mine either, it’s like they’re trolls but more personal. Ahh, it’s the trolls I do know! I’m afraid of the trolls I know!”

As the kids say, I was shook. (In my mind,one of the best things about aging is getting to say things like that. Hell, that shit isn’t a Mom or Dad joke, that’s just an old joke.) Anyway, I immediately knew that I truly was afraid of the trolls I know AND that I am one of those trolls. Or at least, I used to be. Let me explain.

For years, I was the go-to person if you wanted to share a screenshot of some annoying or embarrassing thing that someone in your social circle shared. Friends would fire off quick texts embedded with screengrabs followed by a string of emojis like 🙄😐

That person you claimed to be friends with who just shared another photo of her açaí bowl with ten hashtags? Text it to me. I’d answer back with a quickness. Who’s she kidding? Get over yourself, girl!

That yoga event that was overpriced and seemed exclusive and for cool kids only? You’d send it over to me and I’d reply even quicker That’s not yoga! Is that class any different than the one they teach every week? Why is it $35 more?!

I knew I had to look at why I was on the receiving end of so much of this. I wished it was because I was a safe person who people felt they could share their honest selves with. People would slide into my DMs with IG captures of events and snarks about other yogi’s posts. Let me be honest, I didn’t take the high road. I often snarked right back with them and it felt good for about 5 minutes. It felt like we were sharing something real. After the immediacy passed, I felt worse. I knew that I wasn’t someone that people could trust, just like I knew that the person who shared in on the snarking with me wasn’t someone who I could trust. It’s draining and petty and it definitely was saying more about us then about the people we were snarking on.

I was a troll! I was the troll you know. And I know that I’m not alone in this. We’re a nation of trolls. It permeates throughout our culture. It starts to seem normal to act like this. It doesn’t have to be the new normal.

I never actually held any malice towards the people I was secretly trolling. In most instances, I was annoyed or frustrated over a lack of communication about some other aspect of our relationship. Or I was jealous about opportunities that person had earned or frustrated with my own perceived shortcomings.

Once I realized that I was afraid of the trolls I know and that it was holding me back and once I recognized that I had been guilty of trolling people that I know, I had to figure it out. That meant that 2017 was a year of severing ties and tightening my social circle. It wasn’t easy. Or fun. The thing that I had to remind myself over and over again was that the people who shared in snarking with me weren’t the problem. They weren’t jerks. I wasn’t a jerk. The combination of us was the problem! The way that we communicated about others was the problem. If there was no genuine connection besides the trolling, than even though they seemed fun and I cared for them – we were a bad mix. End of story. We couldn’t continue to catalyze and encourage the other’s bad behavior.

To really live in a free zone to create and love, we cannot be afraid of the trolls that we know because there are far too many trolls that we don’t know. Once we get over the fear of the trolls we don’t know then it is time to do what I think is the even harder work of creating genuine relationships that don’t rely on putting other people down in order to thrive.

With sarcasm as my first dialect, this has not been an easy transition. It has been painful to let relationships that I thought were substantive melt when I realized that neither of us were getting anything long-lasting or positive in the deal. It has been lonely to realize that I often was feeding into drama without substance.

2017 has been a trying year. It remains a year that will test the strength of our convictions. I don’t want to waste one more second of snark on the small stuff because there are bigger battles to be fought here. I take strength from my friends who have done amazing things in this year despite its dumpster fire reputation. And when I catch myself about to snark to someone, I draft the text and let it sit. Later when I return to it, the message never feels so urgent. The need to take someone down in order to feel better has passed.

I welcome 2018 to be a year where I embrace reaching out to friends again sans snark. And listen, I get it, if I have been the troll you know who catalyzes your inner troll to get mean and you need to sever ties with me so that you can feel free to create and silence your inner troll, it’ll be painful, but it’ll be worth it for both of us. We may not be talking but I will be cheering you on. In time, the only emojis tied to your name in my mind will be ❤️☺️✌

Beers and Buddha Squats – I just don’t see the connection by LouAnn McBride

By | Writing

I have magical friends. Here’s just a sampling of what they have done in 2017 – sold everything and moved into an RV with their husband and 2 small children, had a fifth baby, wrote a play about not having a baby, moved to Asbury Park and re-started the career they had in their twenties, moved their family to a garlic farm to live and work.

See? Magical.

LouAnn McBride is one of those magical friends. She is a yoga teacher, creative Mama, garlic farmer, and a beautiful, loving soul. Please find her writing posted below as the first guest Creative I’ve ever been able to highlight here!

When Lou Lou was first teaching, I gave her feedback that said something to the effect of “You’re so moon and the stars! I love it but I want you to connect with everyday people. Make the guy who just got out of his shift and onto his yoga mat hear what you’re saying”.

Years and years later, she’s still “moon and the stars”. The only thing I’d change is that I wouldn’t tell her not to be. Please find her gorgeous, honest truth below.


I have experienced dark bouts of depression throughout my life and struggle with cluttering as an adult. I often feel as if I bear the depression and anxiety not only from my own journey on earth, but also that of my ancestors. It is times like these I distance myself from those around me, as I find it difficult to accurately articulate my feelings.

The darkness of depression is sometimes paralyzing for me. Other times however, this same sadness mysteriously ignites my creativity and I am grateful for it. When I feel this way, I could swear that I am being guided by an unseeable force. It is this force which has inspired my art, as well as a number of my classes and meditations. Many classes have been crafted upon needs that I had at a certain time. By teaching the class, I am also teaching myself. As I commonly express, it is mindfulness practices that have been a saving grace for me. Psychotherapy has also been extremely helpful as well, and I support the use of psychiatric medication. There is a place for it, and it helped me throughout my early 20s.

Counter to medication that may help our brain, frequent excessive alcohol use causes great harm. This is a scientific fact. It is because of this that I do not understand the newest trend to hit the American yoga scene. Is this not contradictory to what yoga stands for? When I approach a yoga studio and see a poster on the door for “Beers and Buddha Squats,” I just don’t see the connection. What message does this send to someone approaching a studio for the first time that may be suffering from alcohol addiction? Why are we, as teachers encouraging unhealthy behaviors within our classes? Yoga studios are supposed to be a safe haven in this wild world. Yoga practices open up the body and produce their own physical sensations and rewards. Why would we cloud yoga’s natural intoxicating experiences with alcohol? Alcoholism is a big problem and yoga should be part of the solution for those afflicted, not a souce of validation for harmful behavior. I rarely drink these days, it doesn’t serve my highest good and it took me years to come to this realization.

I wish to clarify, I am not here to bash drinking alcohol if it doesn’t present itself as a problem to you. Nor can I tell you how to teach or live your life. I am simply expressing that I have witnessed first-hand what addiction (a mental illness) has done to the people I love most. Something needed to be said.

It is indeed a strange time to be alive, yet I find beauty in the strangeness enveloping us. We are all discovering our own truths and speaking out. This breaks barriers and creates real connection. My first yoga teaching mentor and friend LA Finfinger courageously speaks out about the stigma on mental illness and has given me strength and a safe place to share a piece of my story.

I hope you find my sharing helpful.

Click here for more information about LouAnn McBride