December 31, 2012
How is it going? How's life? Are you having fun? What do you like best in your day? Do you have a favorite moment so far for this day? I realize it's early yet, so there may not be one.
For me, my favorite moment of the day is the moment just prior to waking. You know it if you are lucky, that brief time when you are still yet dreaming and there is a fantastical story going on in your head of flying toy airplanes, complicated bicycle parking on college campus, concentrated choosing of the best colored crayons to take notes in your favorite yoga workshop, noting all the strange and beautiful faces in your dream, lost in a secret world in your head. And then it happens, your body begins to stir, to notice the physical place it's in, your bed, your room, on the last day of 2012. Today there was a little crossover moment in which I experienced two very different worlds.
This moment can be described as a Venn Diagram slice, one circle holds every imaginable possibility and fascination, the other holds the so called real world, the one with limitations, expectations, and stipulations, magical in it's own right but somehow bound by gravity and solid fact. The place where things really do happen and all laws of physics apply.
The place where these two mingle is what interests me the most. Who am I in this place? Observer? Creator? Am I in it? Or am I watching? Or am I it? Will the two worlds ever meet? And what can I bring from one to the other? How do I or even can I affect what happens in this place?
All I ever seem to be able to do is to think about the visuals in my dream as I awake, to piece together some memories of this rich state of imagining. What is so very real and enjoyable dissolves into the vapors as if it never truly existed, even though I was there. I visited, touched, enjoyed, explored this dream world. Just as certainly, the real world dissolves each night as I close my eyes and cuddle up next to the warm bodies in my bed and surrender my rational mind to rest, deep sleep, travel and adventure.
As you go off to sleep tonight, whether or not you stay up past midnight, think of this letter, and think of me, and think about where you'd like to go as you sleep.
One thing I like to do in that moment just before sleep, is to use my imagination, like a warm-up routine to dreaming. I think of colors, sensations, ideas. I think of people I love, places I've been, things I'd like to experience. It helps recreate that space, that place where I exist between two worlds, and it always makes me happy.
Enjoy the last day of the year my friend, and embrace the first night of 2013 with all the passion you can muster. Together we can change the world.
Today I find myself in transition, the end of summer break and the beginning of a new school year. My current roles are many and include being Mother, Cub Scout Leader, Yoga Therapy Practitioner, Community Member, Volunteer, and with the exception of Mother, I took a significant break this summer from all these rolls. Phew, I needed that break. The kids went back to school this week and all those rolls are about to begin rolling again at a rapid pace. Big things are about to happen, I begin working at Yoga Jai Ma, I begin training for the Ultimate Hike in October, I begin taking seven boys through the end of their Cub Scout years and move them on to Boy Scouts, I begin Group Facilitator Training with Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, I take on some parent volunteer position at the schools, and I begin booking more clients. But not quite yet.
The house is currently quiet and I am adjusting from being with children for twelve weeks and my husband and children every moment for twelve straight days, to having luxurious hours of time alone to do with as I please. So what's that like? It's quiet and yet busy. There isn't a sound around other than the distant highway noise. I have nothing I must do today, but many things I fell motivated to do. I'm busy planning, scheduling, committing, wondering what I can offer to others, what I can fit in, the how and why of structuring my time over the next several months. Wondering what it will look like and how to prioritize. I'm trying to catch up on work things I feel behind on, and trying to get a jump start on new work things that have yet to begin. And I'm throwing myself a birthday party this weekend, which comes with a to-do list, shopping, meal planning, calling friends, collecting RSVP's, cleaning.
And yet it's quiet. Nothing big is happening just yet, and the busy-ness I feel is only in response to what I think is going to happen next, next week, next month, next season. The reality of the moment is that I am at peace. I am home. I am loved. I am free of outside pressures. I am free to be me. I am still enjoying summer "break" and only they have gone back to work and school. This time, this transition, is a gift, like the moment in a yoga practice when the hard work of doing the pose is over and my body can relax in downward facing dog, or child's pose, when I have that mental thought of really enjoying the down time, sometimes I move a little slower, linger a little longer and feel as though I'm sneaking in something really juicy. That's what's happening now, a little sneaking in of something really juicy, the first week of school, when my daytime hours have been given back to me and have not yet been parsed out to everybody else.
I am happy.
After an overnight hike in the desert my 90 lb black lab was full of cactus spikes, foxtails and thorns. He was clearly in pain, and there was the risk of any one of the multiple burrs in his toes triggering an infection. With a pair of pliers, and my fingernails I sat next to him and began to pull them out one by one. The wounds were many and spread all over his torso, neck and head, belly, and all four paws, fifty at least. As I pulled them out my mind began to wander with questions, as minds often do, I wondered how much pain he was in, I wondered if he understood my efforts to help him, I wondered if my hands caused him undue pain when I stumbled across a sticker not easily seen with eyes. He was whimpering a bit and now and then his breathing would speed up. Occasionally he growled and showed his teeth at me, letting me know, it just hurt too much.
It was a perfect time to experience what it’s like to work with others without dialogue, to just be with the experience without the role of “practitioner”. I slowed down, and tuned in to my own body and breath, and brought my awareness to my own movements and closely observed him for his responses, watching and feeling for anything that could inform me of what was needed. When I calmed down and took my time, he calmed down too. My movements and breath moved with him, my movements flowed with his energy. I could follow him because I was closely watching. When I pulled out particularly deep spikes that clearly hurt him, I stopped and waited for his body to process through the pain. I gave him room to lick his wounds, sniff the pliers, I gave him time to look in my eyes and communicate his need for assurance and care. When he needed to jump up and move away, I let him go. I knew it was his process to go through, I released my own concerns about vet bills, and his pain. Everything about the situation moved into a sense of ease.
I was there attending to the task at hand. There was space for me to enjoy the time together without concern for outcome. I did my best to find and remove the sharp barbs, and learned a little more about how to be present and at ease with someone else’s pain.
Lessons learned from Bali
The Bali people live close to the land, and a complex system of water ways brings water where it is needed. Rice fields and farms exist right where the people live, even in unlikely places such as the side of an active volcano, and on steep terraced canyons, behind storefronts and hotel rooms. Water is everywhere, in the air, in little canals that run through every village, in ponds, in rice paddies. Plants are everywhere, in gardens, in gutters, on the sides of buildings. There are plants on plants on plants. Birds are everywhere, as are relaxed dogs, and scrawny cats. Trash is everywhere, making me instantly conscious of every choice I made in my consumption. Take way: Live closer to the earth, closer to your food, your water source, and your waste.
The Bali architecture brings the outdoors in and the indoors out, at least in the restaurants and hotels I visited. There really is no separation between man and nature, and this was most evident in rooms with missing walls. While I appreciated every moment I could step inside and seal myself off from relentless mosquitoes, or revive myself with air conditioning, I also appreciated the ability to sit in hot shady spaces, open to nature, to enjoy a filling meal and fresh squeezed lime juice, or thick Balinese coffee, and amazing views. At times it was overwhelming to be among the bugs, the trash, and the poverty, but I felt healthy, more alive, and constantly nurtured by the environment. The air was saturated in moisture, the plants more vibrant, the sun hotter, and the occasional breeze served as a welcome reminder that all is well. The take away: Do all you can to remove the walls that create the illusion of separation.
The people were friendly, eager to get our business. I was put off at first by the constant honking taxis and offers of transport. But this was my cultural perspective at play. The taxis were honking to let us know they were available. The offers of transport were honest requests for work. Once inside a vehicle I realized the drivers honk to make others aware of their presence, when they are passing on the right, or when they are coming up on an unsuspecting motorbike, unlike drivers in the US who use their horns to express their anger, impatience, and hostility. Take away: Drive more carefully, and consider the well-being of others when I’m in my car!
Temples were plentiful, as were little spiritual offering baskets made up of banana leaves filled with flowers, and bundles of rice. We read in a book that it is taboo to step on or over these offerings and so we were at times a comedy of errors, the four of us, jumping out of the way of these reminders of spirit left lovingly every few steps on the sidewalk, warning each other to “watch out!” Beautifully carved stacks of decorative blocks, piled up with open chair-like structures on the top, wrapped in blue and white checked fabric lined the corners of each building. There is no getting away from the Gods on Bali. Ritual and local customs persist in the face of tourism, traffic gets stopped for processions, people pour into the streets carrying offering basket on their heads after temple services. Trees and stones and buildings are also adorned in fabric. When I asked our driver why, he said it is because of the spirits seen in those trees, stones, and buildings. He proceeded to tell me about the people in his village who can see spirits. His grandfather had an encounter with a dragon just last year. He said it was small, only a couple of feet long, and when it flew in front of his grandfather he was filled with fear and fled! Take away: Honor my own beliefs, bring temples, alters, rituals into my home, my yard, my daily life.
For me, one week in Bali was a great vacation, time to relax, eat great food, to take on little adventures, like volcano trekking, and white water rafting. But for the people who live in Bali, life is clearly hard. Everyone works and from what I saw families work hard together. It is a poor country economical, but rich in beautiful land, amazing weather, and welcoming smiles. We are not big shoppers while on vacation, preferring to enjoy activities over shopping, but now being home, I wish I had bought more handicrafts if only to have helped this beautiful place and its people thrive. What I did bring home was a soothed soul, and for that there simply is no price.
Packet 4 Cover Letter
March 14, 2012
To my Dearest Teachers,
In is with much gratitude that I write today. My journey through Level 3 has come to completion. I’m filled with deep heart-felt gratitude, self-love, integrity, and joy. Hands down this has been the most difficult and transformative two and half years of my life. I have gained skills as a practitioner, yes, but the real treasure is the improved skills of self inquiry, self witnessing, and self love. I have learned the art of being generous and compassionate with myself, and how to then express that outward to friends, family, clients, and the world at large. I have learned how to recognize my own resistance and to discern when to apply playfulness and when to get down and dirty and do the work. I have learned that I am perfect as I am, and there’s room for improvement.
I am deeply happy and satisfied with the opportunity to serve others as guide and witness, to be an intimate part of someone else’s healing journey, self-exploration, and divine expression of experience. I could not ask for more in this lifetime. It is an honor for me to be certified to carry on this amazing work and walk in the footsteps of my incredible teachers. I thank you deeply for the room you gave me to grow, and for the unconditional positive regard shown to me by teachers and staff, practitioners, peers.
I am equally happy and satisfied with my own efforts, my ability to stay with it, keeping my commitment to myself in the face of and sometimes in spite of and sometimes because of all the stuff life threw my way. Life continues to roll along and I’m excited to see what happens next.
Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Practitioner
Welcome to the Failure Club
“The fear of failure has been the death knell of so many great dreams. But what if you could remove fear from your pursuit of happiness? What would be the one thing you would change about your life? Would you do it?” – The Failure Club
Something interesting came across my radar today, the Failure Club. This made-for-internet show follows a New York Support Group developed to help seven people focus on their biggest dreams and to look at and dispel the obstacles that stand in the way of taking action toward realizing these dreams. The groups facilitators are not there to fulfill wishes, and state in the very first show that they are not there help anyone, but simply to guide. It’s not a show about success, or achieving something big, but rather about looking straight at those sticky, edgy places, that keep people stuck. The participants are asked to clearly state their intentions, and to speak to what gets in the way of these intentions. Every Friday brings about a new show that highlights the specific situation of one or two participants. They are asked to pick one action step and take it. The goal of The Failure Club is not success; it is to strip away the notion that failure is wrong.
Fear of failure is something I know intimately. I’ve allowed small and big obstacles to stand in the way of my biggest dreams for years! After two and a half years of plucking my way through the eight-month Yoga Therapy Practitioner training, I finally realized who I was resisting and struggling against, ME! I also realized I was and still am actually afraid of success. It’s very easy to stay in the comfort of my own self-disappointment. It’s much more challenging to go for it, really go for it, whatever “it” happens to be, but oh so much more rewarding. And it is done one baby step at a time.
I find myself now at the end of this training, wanting to acknowledge and thank the many people involved in my journey. If it weren’t for the support of my mentor, who asked me to state my intentions, to talk about what gets in the way, and to identify tiny steps to take, sort of working with my resistance instead of against it, I would not have made it through the training. If it weren’t for those first few clients who trusted me despite my fumbling, who looked beyond my nervousness, willing to try something really new and different I never would have even begun the journey. If it weren’t for my own willingness to try and fail, I would not have taken those first baby steps, nor would I have discovered the joy in knowing there is no real wrong way, and everything that happens in a session holds the potential for awareness and insight.
Every single session has been a learning session, a place for me to try new techniques, a place to practice my craft of listening, and holding no personal agenda for the client, moving bodies mindfully, and inviting awareness. Every single client has contributed to my learning. All of you are my teachers.
So as this year ends, and new one with great big potential begins, I thank you. I thank you for your encouragement, your willingness, and your business. It is a great honor to hold witness to your process as I hold witness to my own. If you have some dreams sitting on the back burner, and want to bring them to the forefront, call me and book a session. I will be happy to see you in January to kick off 2012!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year.
It's November, my favorite month of the year for celebrating gratitude. I think of gratitude, like many emotions, on a sliding scale. There are things that make my life easier for which I'm thankful, you know, the stuff, like my car, my computer, my crock-pot. Then there are the things or people that I appreciate a little deeper for the comfort they provide such as the warm heater on a cold morning, or the purr of my kitty who arrives to simultaneously give and receive affection. Then there are the things, people, circumstances which I acknowledge as essential to me, that fill my heart with a very deep appreciation, my hands, my eyes, my children, my mother and my father, my spiritual teachers.
And then there is gratitude! To me, gratitude is the whole-being feeling that comes when I begin to tell a simple story about some difficulty I experienced, and what showed up to support me in that, and how the situation transformed, bringing me to the very moment I'm standing in, and then suddenly, without warning, I choke up. Tears well up in my eyes, my heart pounds, and I touch my hand to my chest to settle my heart, which has just exploded with the realization of the miracle of my life. It happens when I have had to face and walk through something so big, I could not possibly do so without help. Those things in life that have brought me to my knees, in total surrender, turning myself and my life over to some higher authority. Those dark nights of the soul, so bleak and full of desperation and doubt. It is without fail that the very act of surrender is what ultimately opened my heart enough to let in grace.
Gratitude is the recognition that love stepped in to meet me, and I said, "Yes".
"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of someone else's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." Steve Jobs
We all need to stop and listen to our inner voice. Simply making the choice to do so begins the process of change. The next step involves spending some time with your self, allowing for enough stillness that the noise from the world quiets down, and connection with your own heart is possible. Go in and in. The answers are within.
If this is new to you, or you find yourself stuck in habituated patterns, or resistance blocks your path, getting assistance from a Practitioner who holds this intention with you may be needed. This is what I am trained to do. Give yourself the gift of presence, give yourself time to connect. Give me a call and book a private session.
"I release the past. I surrender to the future. I am here now, fully present to all that is."
Life is full of uncertainty, though most of the time we are lulled into the illusion that we have it all under control. There are certain times when the illusion is shaky, say when something big is about to happen, like just before giving birth, or just before a job loss, or before moving away to college. Suddenly, all the things we had lined up to satisfy our need for security feel threatened. We begin to feel "locked up with fear" and not quite like ourselves. We just don't know what's going to happen next and we feel like it must be something terrible, and we should be doing something to stop it.
What I know for sure about change is that most of the biggest, scariest, most challenging moments in my life have come without warning and without any real way to prepare. The one's I saw coming, were things such as I mentioned above, things I had a part in, choosing to buy a house, growing out of job to the point of having to leave it, or working for a risky start-up as a way to accelerate my professional growth and finding myself flat out of work one day, or choosing to invest in my education, or choosing to become a parent. All those challenges and changes were difficult, and unknown, but somehow I got through the those unknowns with a lot of support and without much damage.
The changes that were/are the hardest to bear are the surprise "nobody could have seen that coming" ones. Like a sudden death of a loved one, or finding out something terrible about someone you love, discovering your pregnancy is not viable, or that your beloved child has a disability, or when you or someone you love get diagnosed with a catastrophic illness. These somehow warp us into great big knots of pain, which take months, years, sometimes decades to unravel. Everyone suffers these, and usually privately and without much support. These things push us into the crucible, that place of really testing who we think we are, and how we choose to relate to others, how we feel about life. Long standing friendships, and family ties can be broken in an instant, marriages are tested, and easily break apart. And yet, these events can also be traversed emotionally and when we do so, we are forever changed.
After going through subtle and profound changes, and everything in between, I feel more than ever like I just want to enjoy what I have today, what I feel today, just as it is. Big changes are on the horizon (they always are) and I do believe life is all about change and growth and learning (AKA practicing) to love myself and others more deeply. Who knows what's coming up next? Why should it matter? My life is beautiful today. My practice is strong. If I'm not fully loving and enjoying every flippin moment when times are good, then what good are the good times?
Here in sunny Southern California our seasonal changes are so subtle they sometimes prove to be imperceptible. On this day my home is shrouded in fog. My son and I walked through the yard to appreciate the damp spider webs hanging heavy with water. The cool air reminds me of the beautiful years I lived on California's Central Coast. I miss wearing jackets. I am not fooled. I know by noon it will all burn off and my sweater and Uggs will be sadly out of place.
These days make me want to move to anywhere but here. Too much of a good thing (even sunshine) is enough to make my whole being shudder and want to crack open with some violent force that moves me across the state, across the seas, across the Universe!
The best I can do today is sweep the floor, put on some dance music and move my body, shaking my big internal energy all over the room. If I shake hard enough maybe my leaves will get with the plan and change their colors. I'm ready to put on those rusty reds, crackled browns, burnt siennas, and mustard yellows.