Margot first self-published her memoir in 2011. I read the original version and even in its rough draft, I was awed at the raw honesty of her personal journey. When Margot re-released the book under the title Cloud Cover, I was excited to re-read it (something I rarely do these days.)
What I found within the pages of Cloud Cover was a deep, meditative connection to my own, unrelated struggles. When I mentioned this to Margot, she did not seem surprised. “I know when people read my story they are really looking at themselves in a mirror,” she said. Writing is really intended for the reader for going into their own reflections.”
The story is of a young woman (Margot), who discovers her self and her spirituality through the teachings of a Hindu guru. Margot’s path is bumpy, and she does not try to cover up the rough patches – she freely examines her own setbacks along the way.
I asked Margot what it felt like to release such a personal experience into the world, and her response was lighthearted. “My editor warned me, your life will never be the same. I don’t think she meant I would be rich and famous.”
After further thought she added, “I feel a lot like how I felt with my first born child- that somehow I belong more to the human race. People I don’t even know well are reading something that was midwifed by my editor. It is linking me to a larger realm. And I’m not in control of how that linking occurs.”
Margot laughed. “My editor very much felt like a midwife.”
Cloud Cover is also the story of Margot’s relationship with her husband, Bill. Because of their differences, their marriage was rocky at times. A marriage founded on less than 24 hours of familiarity, both Margot and Bill laid their faith in each other due to visions they experienced during meditation. Those of romantic or religious tendencies might call their story fate, while others might find it hard to believe or justify. Personal beliefs aside, Margot’s story is so raw and honest that it’s impossible not to identify with the emotional self-discovery, and find yourself similarly transformed in the end.
Margot’s relationship with Bill was not the only rocky relationship in the book. As is true in everyone’s life, tensions arose between many different people. Even Margot’s relationship with her guru was not always easy. This was largely due to a cultural divide, and Margot stressed that these differences were not a negative thing. “Too often we conform, but actually it’s the differences that make it so glorious,” she explained. “When I’m grounded in my self and can really feel real, we’re connected. It doesn’t matter anymore, if you don’t feel threatened with differences.”
This ability to appreciate people’s differences was one of the aspects of Cloud Cover that I appreciated the most. Margot explained difficult situations without letting blame fall on any of the individuals involved. At the same time, she didn’t sugar-coat the story in order to protect herself or anyone else.
“I tried to balance every personality. There were difficult things about my didi and my guru and my mother and father,” she explained. “The point of writing the book was to free everyone of that need to find anywhere to lay blame for anything in life- life is what it is, my fundamental belief is that as long as we feel like a victim we don’t get it.”
This ability to appreciate differences and forgive wrongs was not something that came easily to Margot. At one point, reminiscing about her guru, Margot told me, “He would say, The past is the past, and I would be like, Really?” But despite her incredulous tone, it is clear that Margot can now echo her guru’s words with assurance.
Although there are plenty of lessons within the book, Margot does not preach. “There were many things in the story that I could have preached upon but I chose not to. I let the reader mull upon it because it really was a story – you can do with it what you want.”
In the end, even though the memoir is about spiritual journey, Margot did not want to call it a religious story. “I have no interest in following religion, but I am extremely interested in personal practice. I’m interested in the discipline of learning to see from the inside deeply, and finding self at the core. That is practice, but not religion in any formal sense. I think it’s the heart of religion, but a lot of religions create observances that take you there over time.”
I was curious to know what kind of reaction she has been getting from her yoga community in Ohio, and from friends and family.
“I didn’t know how people were going to react at all. I was a little bit terrified,” she said. “The first group were some of my students. So many of them have had intense experiences of fear, or sudden loss of control, and I felt gratitude from them; Thank you for writing this. And then other people looked at me and said, Did your husband read this?”
Margot was careful choosing her words as she continued to tell me about people’s reactions. “People are hiding so much of who they are. People are struggling. Mostly I am receiving appreciation for the reality of the memoir.”
Fueled by the positive reaction within her community, and the cathartic feeling of releasing her story into the world, Margot is continuing to write. She is now working on a series of short stories about her life and her practice.
Buy Cloud Cover on Amazon
Margot's yoga school: brahmrishiyoga.org
Margot's new venture in yoga training: centerpeace-yoga.com