Time

One of the greatest insights that I have had throughout this experience of healing is that time is as equal, if not more equal, as money.

For as many years as I can recall, I have had the disease of being busy.  Some of it is that I love my work and honestly enjoy what I do.  It can also be explained as deeply seeded thoughts around my value and worthiness being directly related to how I busy I am, resulting in that I have struggled with saying no to work.  Another aspect of my need to be busy is that I somehow have believed that my needs/desires/wants/deserving are less than everyone else’s.

Keep in mind it isn’t as though I am a greedy or money hungry person. In truth, I live quite simply.  I had no debt until this recent episode of medical expenses and facing the reality that when you are self-employed, no work means no money. I bargain shop and live frugally by occasionally going out to eat and rarely shopping.  Of course, the reality is my busy schedule does not lend itself to hours spent at the mall or a luxuriously slow meal.

Until now.

On my last week of medical leave, I have spent hours looking at my current schedule and eliminating what does not feed my soul.  Getting rid of the unnecessary trips in the car.  Purging the craziness of being overbooked.

Making space.

Making space for time on my patio.  For reading a book.  For lounging around with my love.  For naps (what??). For life’s pleasures.

Because in the end, it is not going to matter how busy I am.  What will matter is that I had time to enjoy life.

 

 

Laughter

According to Webster dictionary laughter is defined as an expression or appearance of merriment or amusement. 

According to me laughter is the necessary nectar of a good and healthy relationship.  It is the soothing agent for when friction arises.  It shifts the moments of tension into fits of amusement and light-heartedness.  It is indeed the essence of life.

When I look back at the entirety of my life I see that it was mostly spent in a state of seriousness.  It isn’t as though my childhood was empty of laugher, but it certainly was not a common thread.  I recall laughing with my brother and my best friend from time to time but my home itself was not filled with jokes or humorous doings.

I jumped into the grown up world at a young age and that left little room for true deep belly laughter.  My world was raising three little kids and the source of my giggles often came from their antics. My relationships with adults took on a serious tone and there was never much space for laughter.

As my life evolved I developed a genuine friendship with an incredibly vibrant woman whose very being is one of great humor.  Her laugh itself is boisterous and loud. Her appearance is so gregarious she is known well for her spirited choice of hair style and clothes.  Her entire essence is that of pure and resounding joy.  How lucky I am to have her enter into my life many years ago.

Not long ago following a visit with her, I realized that in my life I had little laughter and therefore the seriousness of my life became stifling. Seeking to change that aspect of my existence I began to evaluate my life and where in it I could create more space for the merriment of finding humor on a daily basis.

Nearly eighteen months later, my life is a daily circus of amusement and hilarity mingled with a sensitive and deeply moving connection of sincerity and calmness.  A beautiful balance has occurred and my life is completely full of both laughter and intentness.

Incredibly grateful.

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Practicing Again

Here we are again.  Another opportunity to practice self-care and self-love following a surgery and a chance to look at my yoga ‘practice’ in a much deeper way.

This time around a hip surgery to repair a torn cartilage, likely damaged as a result of too much yoga.  Yea that is what I said…..too much yoga.  Specifically, too much external rotation in pigeon pose during in an intensely heated class.  From what I have learned about this type of injury, it is unfortunately quite common in yoga teachers and practitioners who practice in heated classes.  The ligaments, tendons and cartilage become too hot too fast and get over stretched and over loosened, often resulting in an injury like mine.  My pain specialist told me he currently has eight yoga teachers seeking treatment for the exact injury.  Hmmmmmm…..

The recovery for this starts with four weeks of minimal weight-bearing and the use of crutches. After that it is a slow and mindful period of rehabilitation and careful attention to not over rotate the hip to undo what the surgeon has done to repair the cartilage.  The complete recovery is typically three to six months.

Plenty of time to ponder and to practice in a totally different way.

One way my practice looks different is writing and collecting experiences. For years, I have wanted to document and write all that I have experienced through having my unique girl and as a result my teaching yoga to people with disabilities.  It has been a remarkable journey and to write it all into a logical book format has begun a beautiful practice.

I am also practicing more stillness. My typical day is one of five to six classes throughout the day with only enough time to drive from one location to the next.  I usually eat in my car while I am driving and by the end of the day, I am so overstimulated and nearly frantic that I collapse into a heap when I get home.  Now, I am required to sit and to mostly be still.  I allow myself a few hours of computer/writing time in the morning and then the remainder of the day is quiet awareness of what is going on around me.  I am watching as spring takes shape in my neighborhood through the beautiful front window.  I am noticing the sounds that I typically do not get a chance to hear when I am gone all day. I spend hours reading, journaling, building jigsaws and just being in the silence of my home.

One of the most beautiful gifts of this experience has been the connection I have developed with my mom.  She graciously offered to fly up from Florida and spend a week helping me.  The time together was far more than just her assisting me with daily care.  This was a visit of redemption.  Her loving ways and nurturing seemed far from the childhood memories of being sick that has haunted me.  As a little person, and as she was a single mom self-employed, when I was sick she was stressed.  Now that I am grown I can easily see that her stress was not about me.  For years, I took on her emotional state as shame of being weak, sickly and a pain in her neck.  Her coming up to help me healed so much of that falseness that I have carried for years.  I came to realize that she did the best she could during that season of her life and now I get to experience a non-stressed mom nurture me with the most tenderness I could have ever wished for.  The slight of hand caring and tenderness of her touch was like a balm for the wounds that I have felt most of my life.

I have done this medical recovery thing a few times in the last several years. Each time, I get a little more aware of what practicing really can be.  The mindfulness and respect for my body gets a little richer and a little deeper.  I am reminded of the fragility of the human body and the power that can come with being more in the present moment. I am grateful for the love that exists between a mother and a daughter and the healing that can come in unexpected ways.

Right Now

Over the course of the last five years, I have struggled greatly with a nagging back injury that comes and goes with an intensity that reminds me of the fragileness of my body and yet also fades just as quickly, which leads me to sadly forget that very lesson.

I am again in the cycle of chronic pain.  This time it is one that is vicious in its intensity and relentless in the duration.  Weeks and weeks of chronic, debilitating pain that literally brings me to my knees.  Writhing in pain more than being comfortable, I have leaned into it with a tenacity different from times before.  For the most part, I have surrendered.  I have accepted it as it is and have done my best to just be with it.  Gracious in my efforts, I have mostly stayed in the present moment experience and have eliminated the thoughts of fear that typically take over.

In understanding that fear, or specifically fear of scarcity and unworthiness, I have resisted the urge to tell that story.  Rather than allowing fiction to take over my life, I have stayed in the story of the now.

Right now, I hurt.  Right now, I have plenty of money.  Right now, I am seeking medical attention.  Right now, I my yoga practice has minimal asana.  Right now, I am walking with mindfulness. Right now, I am okay.

As I tread in these familiar waters , I am grateful that this time as I am doing so mostly without panic.  The fear of the unknown remains just that.  In the meantime, I am openly asking for guidance as to next steps and how to move forward on my path of service and sharing what I believe to be the way–grace and gratitude.

 

Little Did I Know

Little did I know how a divine meeting and some play with paintbrushes would lead me down the path to the present. 

Little did I know that through trials I would crack away the armor that has protected me for a lifetime. 

Little did I know that the capacity to yearn for someone else could come from the depths of this independent woman. 

Little did I know how the desire to be better would take me falling face down and risking it all. 

Little did I know that I am worthy and that I am good.

Little did I know that I am totally and completely all in.

My life had begun to change early January of 2015, if not before, as I began to listen to the inner voice nudging me that my current situation was blanketing my essence. Tired of hearing and feeling I was not enough, the spiral into ruins began the early months of 2015. At the time, I was preparing to just break free of the pain I was in and was in no way looking for anything other than soul work.

The Universe had a different plan.

It happened like this.

He reached for my hand to shake it and I instead asked for hug. A few weeks later, I painted.  A few more weeks, I painted again.

The process of ‘painting my soul’ required me to open the door ever so slightly to my inner thoughts and feelings. Through those two creative  processes part of my story was shared. A friendship had begun.

As I moved out of my home and left a life behind, he watched from the sidelines my decision-making, my crazy relentless schedule and my own process of healing.

Months went by and a closeness came.  More months went by and a tenacity came.  More months went by and clarity that only comes after a storm came.

Today, there is a beautiful space of connection and love. There is contentment that is immeasurable.  There is spaciousness and freedom.

Little did I know what a year could do. 

 

 

Unrolling the mat

Ten years ago I unrolled a yoga mat for the first time.

Awkward in my body, I struggled with the language that was being spoken, not Sanskrit, rather just the language that encouraged me to notice things about my body that were foreign. At that time I had no idea of the subtle ways in which my body could adjust or how my mind could attempt to be so focused.  And breathing?  Having never considered to pay attention to how I am breathing, that was all so new.

And I hated it.

I hated the stillness, the quiet, the physical struggle of my overweight body, the thoughts racing through my head of what others thought, the competition and comparison and oh, how I hated laying in savasana with only myself.

Until I got it.

The moment that I realized that something was happening within me was not on the mat.  It was a regular day in the early part of spring where I was walking into my everyday job.  I was going though the unconscious motions of the routine to get to work with a mind full of the usual clutter.

Until I saw the tree.  The 20 year old tree that I had passed hundreds of times.

But on this day, I SAW the tree.  As if it reached out with its long branches that were about to bud into its glory of leaves, I felt it speak to me.  I stopped and I stared. I felt the aliveness of the tree.  I noticed the signs of growth and also the signs of its aging bark as if for the first time.  I imagined it was breathing with me.  Here, I experienced oneness.

I attribute this moment to be one where I began the process of waking up.  Where I became aware.  I know for sure that this new found love affair with this tree became available to me because of the teachings on the mat.

Without a doubt in my mind, yoga cracked me open to become aware.  That special tree was my first applied experience off the mat.  And a glorious experience it was.

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My Lantern

Although I feel like I have spent the last ten years or so doing tons of self-work and unpeeling of the layers and layers of ‘stuff’ that has accumulated in my life, I still love that I am willing to do deep soul work.

Last year was a definite year of courage and the willingness to listen to my inner voice.  As the dust has begun to settle from the major changes in my life last year, I took a month or so off from the heaviness that can come when you are in the labyrinth of self-improvement.  Establishing myself into my new home space and adjusting (again) has been my focus.

And then, I began an online course on Courage.  Brene Brown has been one of my favorite authors and speakers in the last few years and when the course was offered, I said a gigantic YES.  To be guided through courage, vulnerability and shame with a leading researcher and expert was an opportunity I was not going to pass on.

Knowing that I had spent last year in the ‘arena’, I was curious as to what I would find I would need to explore in the bravery realm, but willing I was to examine it.  Lesson one offered over one hundred values to identify just one that guides your way in life; everything from accountability to balance to faith to humility to love to optimism to spirituality to well-being.  Where do you hold your highest regard and when this value is not in place you know you are off your path? In my ego mind I wanted my chosen value to be something easy like compassion or kindness.  My soul said go deeper than that and asked what is it that I know for sure, when this is threatened, I am off my center?

Safety.

Safety?? Yea, like in the form of being judged, not being seen or understood for who I am, financial risks, being unorganized and chaotic, feeling unsure of decisions, having people in my life who are disrespectful or threatening, allowing fear to creep in, etc.  Safety.  I wear the armor to protect my safety.  So going into the ‘arena’ again, I had to be open to the rawness and vulnerability of the emotional exposure around this value of safety and to be willing to set the armor down.

Using the metaphor of a lantern, she explains that the flame that burns is the identified value. The glass that surrounds the flame illustrates the behaviors you display and people that you have in your life that protect that value.  The handle of the lantern symbolizes when you have set your value down and walked away allowing your ship to get off course.

My flame is safety.  My glass (behaviors and people) that keep my flame protected include  boundaries, choices, self-respect, meditating, journaling, keeping a budget, being organized, people who support and honor me, a knowing and exploring of self.  When I have set this value down I am allowing fear to enter, I take risks, I allow people to speak or treat me in ways that hurt, I am not grounded and I worry irrationally.

Knowing that this value is held in such high regard to me, I can see why some life decisions I have made, and the experiences I have been offered, have caused me to feel such anguish. In addition to better understanding what it is that stokes my flame, I am way more armed with tolerance as to what makes me tick and then respond when the value is threatened.

Safety.  Indeed my highest value for my life is safety.  I know when it is threatened or I am off course because of the internal responses that I have that then lead to behaviors that diminish the flame.  It is so clear to me now.  While compassion or kindness may have been easier, I am so grateful for this new knowledge about myself and can move forward in my life with a strong flame and people and behaviors that will protect that part of me.

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The Dream 

The first five yoga classes that I attended, I left early.  Loathing the quiet and deliberate movements, I fled and entered back into the chaos of life, where I operated in comfort.  Yet, I was determined to keep at it.

And then the day came when I got it. For a snippet of time, I was no longer so incredibly uncomfortable within my own skin that I could actually lay in the stillness of my being and was actually okay with it.

More than okay, I realized that sweet moment of quiet and integration of breath and body.  I experienced it and that was all I needed to come back again and again.

Here we are ten years later and I share that sweetness with others!  Rarely does it feel like work.  The business side of it is even joyful as I am amazed that I am making a great living giving the sweet gift of yoga to others.

Once I realized that yoga was the path for me to fully embrace who I am, in so many areas of my life, I began to dream.  I dreamt of a yoga space where I could practice and meditate.  A light and airy space where people would come and we together we create a beautiful flow of energy through practice.

Ten years from the time I first unrolled a mat, my dream is fulfilled.  The space is complete and I am ready to invite others in for classes.  Yoga, meditation and workshops on wellness and living an authentic life.

Thoughts really do become things.  With attention and belief, life truly does unfold with a divine order. 

    
   

2016 day one

Just like the past nine years, I took off on a solo hike this first day of the year to listen to the inner voice and the voice of Spirit guiding me as to what intention might be woven into my life for 2016.

My mind was a flurry of thoughts, which I struggled to clear well into the first two miles.  As I rounded a bend in the trail that took me into the sunny meadow, I said “give me the word”.  And like that, it was so simple.

Peace.

Following the previous year of chaos discovery, I felt an immediate comfort in the simplicity of peace being my word for 2016.

Peace defined as:

  • freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility
  • freedom from violence
  • state of tranquility and quiet
  • state of security and order
  • freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts, emotions
  • harmony in personal relations

I will take it.  Peace on.

 

2015-Discover

Discover–to find (something or someone) unexpectedly or in the course of a search. Find, locate, come across/upon, stumble on, chance on, light on, bring to light, uncover, unearth, turn up, track down.

On January 1st, I sat down and wrote about my ‘word of the year’, which was Discover.

On this early morning, I sit down in the quiet after reading my last page of this year’s journal and reflect on what I have discovered.

I discovered what it means to really listen to the whisperings of the soul.  I stepped away from an experience that was diminishing me. While this was one of the most difficult things for me to do, I did so with courage and as a result, I discovered my resiliency. Throughout the early parts of the year, I discovered the inner voice that was waiting to be spoken for many, many years.

I learned that I am worthy.

I also discovered a deeper personal practice that includes ritual of daily yoga, meditation, reflection and intention.  I faced life with a stronger sense of self and I courageously moved forward in a way that serves my soul.

Volunteering in hospice has become one of my greatest heart treasures.  By witnessing this incredible process, I have committed to living a life that is full of hope and happiness, rather than fear and pain.

Discovering a healthier relationship with my body and finding a softer acceptance of myself has been a source of freedom to me.  Learning, or re-learning,  that life is a continual flow has been comforting.

This year, I moved twice and discovered just how badass I can be in times of turmoil. Efficiency and organization was paramount.

I discovered magnificent new trails to hike.  I developed friendships and relationships that feed me.  I jumped back on my bicycle and enjoyed the joy of speed and wind-blown freedom of riding again.

I discovered the solitude that was inevitable when my youngest son moved out and the reality of my life with just my girl was in my face.  Settling into that new quietness required a willingness to accept.

As I close up this chapter, I do so with gratitude.  I have discovered many beautiful things and know that 2015 will be one that I remember fondly through the lens of fearlessness and bravery.

The year in which I owned my life.