Morning Offering

I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.
All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Wave of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
~ John O’Donohue

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The relationship

As the years have gone on, I have settled into a wonderful sense of peace with the relationship that I have with my girl.  Certainly it is very different from those of typical mother/daughter, yet it is a comfortable space that we share. We spend time planning out next outing to the coffee shop or library, what short trips to the store we might take, and hitting up our favorite lunch spot.  We do not talk about heavy subjects, and she is the wise teacher of staying in the present by rarely talking about the future.

And yet, that pang of sadness that comes when least expected.  The awe of watching a mother and her daughter interact.  Wondering what it must be like. It took me by surprise as I caught myself gawking at what appeared to my eyes as something remarkable and even perhaps foreign.  To others, it may appear an everyday phenomenon .

I watched the duo enter the yoga studio for the first time together.  Mom had encouraged her 14-year-old daughter to join her for her first practice. Showing her where the mats were located, choosing the perfect spot, unrolling the mat, and then facing each other to chat while the room filled with other yogis.

It was as if I was separate from this space and I felt myself feel things that I have not felt for many, many year.  It reminded me of the first day of kindergarten and feeling hopelessly heartbroken that my girl screamed with terror as the bell rang.  A disheveled mess of tears and twisted clothes, I was not on the receiving end of happy goodbyes and cheerful excitement of the first day.  I sat in my car and wondered if it would ever be easier.

It has been easier. And it has been beautiful.  And yet, I have a space in my heart that yearns for the relationship I do not have, and that I will never have.

 

This little piggy

One year ago today, I had the big joint on my first toe replaced. What was anticipated to be an easy in/easy out surgery ended up to be a year-long challenge. The lessons were many and the gifts embedded within the pain have been ones that will forever be cherished. Just a few of the richness that ‘this little piggy’ taught me:

1. I am deeply loved. The people in my circle rallied around for my greater good and showed me unconditional love. Over and over again.
2. I am resilient beyond measure. Just when the toe began to feel better, the blood clot made itself known. Just when the blood clot resolved, the toe needed another surgery. Just when the toe felt better, I re-injured my back. Throughout, my spirit remains uplifted.
3. I am worthy. Yes, I am. Of love, of health, of friendships, of acceptance.  Indeed I am .
4. I am grace. Not always graceful physically speaking as I grunt and groan coming down stairs, but I am grace. I am tender and I am kind and refined. I speak with grace.
5. I am humbled. I am no longer twenty years old. I heal slower and I hurt more. And yet, I am so grateful for my body and the ability to experience life.
6. Accepting help is easier as time goes on. A once dominated root-chakra-independent-woman-who-never-accepted-offers-for-help, I am now much softer. Needing assistance getting your pants on, or being driven everywhere for 7 weeks makes one quickly shed her armor. Learning to say ‘can you help me’ has been life changing.
7. My body is capable of great things. When I listened, I heard the signs of something wrong and I acted. Knowing my body, really knowing my body, has been a gift. Appreciation for my body has helped me to see all that it is capable of.
8. Patience. For myself and for others.
9. More patience. More for myself and my body.
10. One weak part leads to a wrath of compensation and misalignment. The toe is connected to foot that is connected to the ankle that is connected to leg that is connected to the hip that is connected to the back that is connected to the shoulders that is connected to the neck. You get it.

On this special day of remembering all that I have endured, I am taking my first ever adult ballet class.  I am loving my toe, loving my body, and loving the little girl in me that has always wanted the ballet slippers and tutu.  Plié on!

Dear….

Dear Physical Body,

I am no longer attempting to ask why.  I no longer see this pain as a message for me to do anything different.  I am not questioning my purpose, my choices or even the divinity or timeliness of what you are experiencing.

Instead, I am loving every inch of you.  I am feeling the sensations of pain with an awe for what you can endure.  I am trusting that the messages that you are sending to my spiritual self are exactly what I need in order to take on this very real challenge.

I look at each limb, joint, fingernail, and inch of skin with adoration for all that you have allowed me to find joy in.  I know that my Yoga practice, my years on the bike, and the miles I have walked have all been beautiful gifts.  I recall the younger years of my youth and a soft smile comes across my face with memories of the vigor that you brought into my life.

Rather than push through this with determination for something different to happen, I am instead simply observing.  I am insightful as to what you need and what you crave. I am honoring you.  I am present with what you are feeling and experiencing. More than the presence, I am trusting in your infinite wisdom.

In gratitude,

Me

The gift

Sometimes I get lost.  I get lost in my own thoughts and in my hopes for something to be different.  I get lost in the ‘doing’ of life rather than the being. Sometimes I am so future-thinking that I lose my grasp on the moment of now.  Planning, organizing and hoping are sure ways for me to become lost.

And then the divinely guided angels come into my life and pull me back into the now.

This particular angel has not only offered me a glimpse of what a brother-sister relationship could look like, he also holds the light of awareness that I sometimes neglect to carry.  With a complete and raw state of being genuine, he said this to me: “You were created to share. Thank you for accepting the gift you were given”.

Whoa.  Talk about a stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks statement.

Thank you for accepting the gift you were given. Thank you for accepting the gift you were given. Thank you for accepting the gift you were given. Thank you for accepting the gift you were given. Thank you for accepting the gift you were given. Thank you for accepting the gift you were given. 

Several days have passed and I am finding myself looking deeper and deeper into that statement.  It made me wonder what other gifts have I been given that I have neglected to accept. I look around at those in my life and wonder if they too are accepting their gifts.  I wonder how many individuals close off those inner gifts and suffer endlessly with a sense of being lost or unworthy.

Knowing, understanding and then using these gifts will be the portal to staying in the present and staying alive with life.  I know that when I become lost in my thoughts of future, of planning, or of worry, it is that statement that will be my mantra.  It is the thread of gratitude that exists in my very being.  It is my truth.

Thank you for accepting the gift you were given. 

 

 

Summer List

I love summer.  I love everything about it.  I love the pace life becomes and the ease in which each day unfolds.  Sitting in my garden this afternoon, inspired me to make a list of all that I love about this season.  Here goes:

  • watching flowers open and close
  • the first glimpse of a tomato
  • morning coffee on my east facing porch
  • long walks with a slower than normal pace
  • the ability to teach yoga, and even more yoga
  • eating fresh flavorful grilled food with fresh herbs
  • organic and locally grown produce
  • blueberries…lots and lots of blueberries
  • reading novel after novel
  • riding my bike with the destination and purpose simply to get a great cup of coffee
  • teaching outdoor yoga….especially nightfall full-moon yoga
  • rainstorms that lead to plump trees and pretty rainbows
  • visiting with neighbors outside
  • the rare moment when my eyes close for a cat-nap during the day
  • time to ponder things
  • morning birds and evening frogs
  • crisp, chilled sauvignon blanc
  • the sound of a distant ice cream truck
  • seeing joy in the eyes of others

When fall comes, I know that I will lovingly welcome that season as well, as it offers many wonderful things too.  For now though, I shall sip on my wine, plan the next weeks yoga classes and watch my tomatoes grow.

 

My new mantra

For 547 days I logged everything that passed through my mouth.  Every bite and every drink.  For the past 395 days I tracked every step I took and my sleep patterns.  I became a data source that could rattle carb to protein ratios, calorie counts of most foods, and I knew which walking route would take me to the precise distance I set out to walk.

I had tried to stop tracking awhile ago, but strangely it was a real internal struggle. I was not ready to give it all up.  I was reliant not on the food choices or walking, but the data. There was some sense of control in the form of accountability if I were to log what I ate and measure my steps.  At times my enjoyment of food and walking was altered greatly by the numbers and there was definitely not much pleasure. Going out to eat became a worry about what to eat. If I ever chose to sit with a book the creeping thoughts quickly came in to get up and move.

And then I go to Sedona.

The softening of Sedona and time away from the chaos of life often puts everything into a perspective. The stillness of the Sedona land and the wisdom of others reminded me of things I already knew.  Let go.  Become softer.  Pause.  Enjoy.  Be.  Tap into my female energy and soften my hard edges.  Create joy.  Giggle.  Explore being less focused on goals and outcomes and more focused on myself seeking joy.

Gulp.

The second evening in Sedona as I settled into bed I habitually reached from my bracelet that tracks steps and sleep to set it into the sleep mode.  Is it not ironic that the device was dead and completely unresponsive?

After further exploring of this crazy data tracking phenomenon I realized several things.  First, it was incredibly useful in my lifestyle change of eating healthy and moving, especially while I recovered from a very hard year physically.  Second, for a person with an additive personality the data became the addiction. Several days into my ‘rehab’, just hearing other people’s data about calories burned or distance moved, I felt like a smoker being told how great the cigarettes were.

So yesterday I found myself on a trail alone, not for the distance, but for the trail and my mantra came easily. I eat to nourish and I move to feel.

I eat to nourish and I move to feel.

I eat to nourish and I move to feel.

Thank you to wisdom of the rocks of Sedona, the wisdom of women, and mostly for the internal wisdom of me.   I am free.

 

Looking inward

Recently I had someone very close to me throw some pretty sharp verbal daggers my way.  With all of my might, I tried to not react but rather listen and process. I attempted to sort out what might be this person’s own “stuff” and what was useful for me to think about.  The most challenging part was wanting to value this person’s opinion but also set boundaries to keep myself from being hurt.

Of the many hurtful words that were directed at me, the two themes that stunned the most were that I am not authentic, and that I am a lousy and irresponsible parent hiding behind my spirituality and acceptance.  Yeah.  Exactly.  Stunning…..takes a breath away…..incredibly painful. The rest of the nonsense can be mostly dismissed as a child-like fit of unsolved anger and resentment but for those two themes, I cannot easily dismiss.

Granted I have spent the last 24 hours thinking about it all, I came up with the teeniest bit of truth to not being authentic with what I “project into the world”.  Yes, it is true.  I speak of being diligent with my diet, and yet I consume cookies when they are within arms reach.  I do not meditate every day, nor do I have a Yoga practice beyond 30 minutes a day.  I really do not like my car that I pay a lot of money each month for and I will skimp on quality foods for the insatiable teenager.  I prefer to be alone and I use a large portion of my social time on social media where I am comfortable. There it is: I am not the clean-eating-mediating hippie-cavewoman eating-Yoga guru-happy about my car purchase-out going extrovert that some may see.

As far as my parenting.  I have a practice of reflecting on a daily basis as to how I handled the day.  It is not evaluative in nature, but instead it is a moment of grace.  A moment to choose what I get attached to and choose what I allow myself to feel emotions over.  It is not a denial system, nor is it covering myself up with the shawl of spirituality.  It is self-care.  It is creating a space both in my heart and in my physical world of acceptance and of grace.  It is cultivating a sense of peace and trust.  It is my way of shining the light along their path, knowing that it is they who have to choose the way.  I do not rank my parental worthiness by their financial success or their plaques of accomplishments.  Instead the real and meaningful conversations about their hearts, their fears and who they are is my radar for success.  Not owning their mistakes as mine and having clear boundaries about what I choose to harden my soul with is one of my greatest strengths as a parent.  Certainly it may have made my son’s life a lot easier had I stepped in with my checkbook to bail him out of his life changing mistake years ago.  But then again, that may have made it a non-life changing event.  I have learned through experience that there is a huge difference between worry and caring.  I choose to care and to trust.  To me that is not irresponsible and their challenges are not a reflection of my bad parenting.  It is a reflection of their choices. At the end of the day, I love them and they know without a shadow of any doubt, I see who they are.  I see them.  I accept them.

With a tender I heart I move about my day and I get an opportunity to look at who I am and who I have become.  Nothing happens in life, or relationships with others, that isn’t a chance to look inward.  Believe me when I say it…. I am looking inward.

 

Color everywhere

My morning walks are my sacred time to think, process, grieve, celebrate, or allow whatever else that my spirit may be seeking. Almost every morning I either bundle up with layers, or on days like today, I jump into shorts and a tank top and head out. Either way, the time alone is precious and nourishing.

About half way through my jaunt I felt overwhelmed by gratitude. As if I was within the beautiful landscape, I became one with the multitude of colors and sounds. Birds and trees enveloped me as I realized how alive with the surroundings I was. No longer in my head, I was completely in the moment. Completely. Standing in stillness, in total awe for what my eyes and ears experienced. I became so grateful for this day.

Colors everywhere, sounds everywhere, life everywhere. I couldn’t help but take this photo displaying a sea of yellow wild flowers. My cow friends still slumbering in an adjacent pasture, this one field remained pristine in the morning sky.

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A reflection

Last week I said good-bye to one of my greatest teachers.  For him the move is a good change and for me, I will have an empty space in my heart and in my Yoga class at the Lodge.

The young man attended every single Yoga class at the brain injury facility where I teach. Week after week he showed up–sometimes in his wheelchair and sometimes he opted to sit in a dining chair.  He had developed a beautiful practice that became as unique as he is.  Slow movements that took all his attention and power, partnered with a developing breath awareness.  A beauty to watch.

The presence he has is so hard to capture in words.  Our paths crossing made me a better person and a better teacher. He has me taught me determination and amazing courage.  Despite his devastating life circumstance, his laughter and joy was radiant.

There are countless moments of inspiration that we shared.  The time I walked into the space where we practiced Yoga to see a giant pile of what appeared to be dog poo.  His laughter and excitement for my reaction to this prank was pure joy.  Always the jokester and one to make me smile, he loved to bring laughter to the class. His memory of events, birthdays and personal stories brought the class members together.  He was the keeper of the activities within the Lodge.

One evening while I was offering another client to try a standing pose I heard his voice behind me say he would like to try.  Hiding my uncertainty and surprise I turned and faced him.  I held his hands, asked him to look up at me and in one giant inhale, he stood.  Although my strength was mostly supporting him, he was standing.  We looked into each others eyes and both smiled and cried at once.

Each class we spend a few minutes repeating positive affirmations.  Things like “I am amazing”, “I am perfect and whole”, “I am worth it”.   My friend rarely said these things, instead he opted to say he was broken, or even bad.  Over time these words shifted to “maybe I am awesome”.  The last few classes he chose to not say anything.  Two and half years of weekly affirmations was beginning to make a shift in his self-concept.

The ending of our Yoga practice is usually the same.  A Rumi quote: The beauty you see in me, is a reflection of you.  One evening he was particularly sad and withdrawn, he kept saying he was bad.  I knelt before him and asked if I too was “bad”.  He said, “no way, you are good”.  I insisted that if he saw the goodness in me, it was because it exists in him.  He looked way and said nothing.

I went to say goodbye to him the day before he was being transferred to a facility in another city.  I knew that this would be an emotional goodbye for me because I feel that we are soul-friends.  Beyond client-teacher, we have developed a deeper sense of mutual trust and respect.  I see who he is.  I distracted my sadness by bringing him cookies and card. I wanted to come with joy for his new adventure and not have sadness as my external emotion.  I entered his room to find him surrounded by boxes and a few treasured items. I watched as he methodically used his weak hands to open the card I brought him.  Tears stinging my eyes for the smallest task is so hard.  The visit was short, yet meaningful. We spent time laughing, taking silly pictures together and talking about how awesome he is. It was a visit I will hold in my heart for a long time.

As I was leaving, I stopped in his doorway and turned back.  Hunched over in his wheelchair.  He pointed at me. He paused.  He said, “Stacie, you are reflection of me……you know, like a mirror”.

Yes indeed.