Shine on!

New Year’s Eve always fills me with mixed emotions.  Actually, it fills me with the should’ves and could’ves.  Over time and with lots of practice, it’s better.  Those voices are not nearly as loud as they were when I started this journey.  This year, they seem to have piped up a bit, though.  It’s been a while since I’ve sent out a newsletter or properly tended my website.  2015 brought with it an unexpected surgery that took me totally out of the game for almost 2 months.  That seemed to be the kickoff for a chain of events that, while I couldn’t control any of them, certainly challenged me and my yoga practice every day.  I’ve said often that my yoga practice happens off the mat way more than on, and this year was no exception.

As I have for the last several years, I’m skipping the resolutions. I am setting intentions deliberately and with great care. And I’m getting ahead with one of mine, because I set an intention to shine.  The definition of shine is glow, sparkle, glitter, beam, radiate; to be a source of light.  The opposite of shine is dullness and darkness.  I chose shine because I feel like I’ve come out of a dark space, and am grateful to have relocated my shine.  It’s an intention I hope you will set for yourself as well, because we all have that light to shine.

Think about it.  How often do we hear about shining?  “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”  “Do not hide your light under a basket, but set it on a lampstand.”  What about Maya Angelou’s wise words: “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” I could go on, but you get it.  How bright could this world be if we all chose to shine?

I’m writing this evening to tell you thank you for being part of my journey.  I’m writing to tell you that 2016 is going to be full of creativity and color.  I’m writing to invite you to join me in 2016 for some adventures that will be announced shortly.

But more than anything, I am writing to tell you how valuable you are and how much I want to see your shine in 2016.

Wishing you a 2016 filled with love, wonder, and shine!

Shine on!

Watch Your Mouth

Have you ever listened to a friend talk about themselves?  You know that  conversation…She says,”I’m not good at _____,” and you spend the rest of your time with this friend explaining how they are in fact quite good at _____.  Isn’t it exhausting sometimes?  Don’t you want to tell her to stop belittling herself that way?  And don’t you wonder what it’s like when she looks in the mirror?

What’s it like when you look in your mirror?   What is the last kind thing you said about yourself to yourself?  You know…that little voice that handles your self-talk. Do you remember?  Why don’t you think about it?

Go ahead. Think about it.  I’ll wait….

While I wait and you think, I’ll share.  Earlier today, I was on a rare trip to the mall.  It always feels like a trip to hell, so I was on a mission. I knew exactly what I wanted, and calculated the approximate time it would take to procure the item in question.  I inherited this trait from my Dad.

Anyway, I walked in and spotted what I was there for.  On the way to the register, I spotted another item.  It was splendid, this gorgeous blousy thing the likes of which I rarely glance at, much less stop in my tracks over.  I am fortunate that my work clothes for the most part are yoga pants, so business or dress attire isn’t a necessity.  But this top…

I could feel myself light up the way I lit up as a kid when I’d saved my babysitting money to buy a pair of fancy pink ballet slipper-style heels.  (Those are another story…once a shoe girl, always a shoe girl.  Don’t let the Danskos fool you.)  I touched the fabric, and before I knew it, I had it in hand on my way to the register.  While I was standing in line, plotting my next moves, I didn’t hop into the land of shoulds (I should get something more subtle, less showy, more appropriate, black) or the  can’ts (I can’t wear that!). Instead, the chatter was fabulous.  I had a little celebration in my head.  I said to myself, “That color is going to look amazing!”  And I didn’t stop there.  I told myself how exciting it was to find something so vibrant and unusual.  I told myself how fantastic it’s going to look. And it went on from there.

I tell you all this, because it’s taken a long time to get to a place where I can listen to the voice in a way that is celebratory, instead of inflammatory.  I am happy to be in a space in my life where the self-talk is positive.  I can share this story.  There was a time when I wouldn’t have.  The things I’ve said to myself in the past are things that I’d unfriend you for saying.

Watch your mouth!  Watch what you say to yourself.  Think about it…would you say these things to your best friend?  If you wouldn’t say it to another human, why on this Earth would you say it to yourself?

Words carry so much energy and power.  They can force a smile or a frown.  They can cause tears or laughter, someone else’s or your own.

When you look in the mirror, watch your mouth.  Choose carefully and from love when you speak to yourself.

Love and turkey, y’all.  Namaste.

Big Magic, Indeed

Every so often, something comes along and challenges you.  Challenges how you do things, how you plot your day, how you speak and move and see.  This happened to me a couple of weeks ago, and it’s take a little while for me to bring it here.

I’ve been a list maker for a long time.  They make me happy, especially the crossing off of a task well done, or really, …sometimes just done.  I put events on the calendar, no matter how small .  Everything is an appointment.

But wait…something was missing.  A couple of weeks ago, I started looking around my calendar.  I looked at the google calendar first…not there.  I moved on to the paper planner…not there either.  It was no where.  I went back weeks, then months.

Finally, back in July, I found what I was looking for:  ART.  ART was written in turquoise ink on July 2 at 1pm.  I had scheduled ART.  I stopped looking then, realizing that I was wasting precious time.  I learned what I came for.

What happened was Big Magic. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a fabulous book about creative living, and I read it cover to cover on a plane to Las Vegas. And the effect was immediate.  I thought as I read how awesome it was that I scheduled my time so well; I already had ART on my list.  But 1 day in the last few months doesn’t cut it.

Gilbert posits that we not only have to say we’re open, we have to do the work so the ideas come.  It’s up to us to find the way, the time to foster those creative sparks we all have.  (WE ALL HAVE THEM.) Read it.  Just do yourself the favor and read it.

After Big Magic got me all fired up, I revisited Gretchen Rubin‘s book Better than Before.  It’s about habit, and she covers how difficult they are to create or change. This is another one for you to read; I won’t get into it, except to say that I had to come here first to get clear on how to rebuild my habit of creativity.Rubin has some solid ideas about how we form and resist habits, and I was definitely resisting.

Now, you might be thinking habit and creativity…hmmmm.  “But I want to be wildly creative and just be and make art, and commune with my crayons, clay, camera, etc.”  Let me ask you this: when is the last time you were wildly creative?  When was the last time you communed  with your art project of choice?

Exactly…was it on your list? Did it have a place among the other daily tasks you check off?  Mine didn’t either. My head exploded a little when I figured out how much I had put off being creative.  I identify as a creative person.  I’ll tell you straight up that I am creative, but I wasn’t giving my Creativity a permanent home in my day.  I was treating it like dessert, you know, something you get to have occasionally when you’re good or you’re celebrating. It showed.

Once this realization hit me like a truck delivering craft supplies, I made a change.  I added ART back to my daily calendar.  It’s there first thing.  I write, I color, I make something with my hands.  I invite it in and let it have a home with me.  I’ve already noticed a change.  Not only are my days brighter, but my ideas pop.  I have them more frequently, and with greater clarity on how to bring them forward and share.  And I am a happier human.  Score all around.  (And thanks to Gilbert and Rubin for their assistance!)

So,I have to wrap this up because the next thing I get to do is color.   It’s on my calendar.  And it’s first, because it’s vital to my well being, as much, if not more, than any gym time.

Got your crayons handy? Paint? Put it on the calendar…see what happens!

 

7 Limbs

I have an opportunity.  I have no choice but to see it this way, so I am.  You see, I can’t teach yoga for the next several weeks.  I have to limit my activity and my practice.

I had a little surgery that keeps me grounded for a bit.  No driving for a couple of weeks.  No lifting.  No vigorous activities.

Notice I didn’t include yoga in the list of no-no’s.  That’s because it isn’t there.  (But wait, you ask, you just said you can’t teach or practice…so it must be on the list!)

Yoga is an 8-limbed path, many times depicted like a tree.  So, you see, I have 7 other limbs to practice.  Asana, postures and poses used in classes or home practice, are but one.  The other 7, not as popular in the mainstream as asana, but equally valuable are: Yama, Niyama, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.

I’m going to use this time to dig a little deeper, seek out the dark corners and shine the light.  And you’re welcome to join me.  I hope you will.  What questions do you have?  If the yoga experience seems appealing, but the asana practice doesn’t, what would you like to know about deepening your own practice?

The beauty of yoga is that there are no rights or wrongs.  It is a practice as individual as each of us.

Love and light.

  
 

 

Peace Treaty

This week, it seems I’ve been at war.  With myself.  So I decided this morning when my feet hit the floor that the war is over.  It’s time for a peace treaty.

It seems that lately we’ve been bombarded with images and words about what is real (or not), what is beautiful (or not), what is right (or wrong). And I have to confess, I let it sink in a bit.  I hopped on the scale.  I compared myself to others.  I judged myself against some standards I can’t meet (and if I’m being really honest,  I don’t want to).  Have you let yourself go there?  I understand…I was there, too.   It’s a war zone.

It hit me early Thursday morning..literally hit me:  I broke my toe.  And as I was assessing the damage, I started studying my foot.  I saw all the little rough spots from being barefoot and in the yoga studio so much.  That was my A-HA moment…I stopped long enough to be grateful for all that mat time.  I was grateful for my little scraggly foot and how it got there.  I will not get hired to be a foot model.  But I share a lovely yoga practice with you any time I get the chance.

I was overwhelmed by this feeling of relief.  I got it.  I had choose to celebrate that moment and that discovery.  I had to be at peace with what is, and grateful for it.  And, I had to make a decision to choose to do that every time the opportunity appeared.  Believe me, there were lots this week.  I didn’t make this choice early enough to escape without harm.  But, as I say often, I am a work in progress.  Progress was made.

Now, please don’t be fooled.  This is not the first time for this particular bolt of lightning to strike.  This lesson is one that I’ve learned again and again.  I may have to learn it all over tomorrow.  But what I can do is practice…I can shut down that voice that says “you’re too_____, you’re not ________.”  I can stop it by yelling at the top of my lungs, “OH, HELL YES, I AM.”  Even if I only yell in the mirror…

I have a plan.  Every time the voice starts up with something negative, I am reframing it.  With gratitude.  The only perfect I can ever be is me.  When I lose sight of that, the war rages.  So the treaty shall stand.  NO MORE WAR.  I AM WILDLY, FABULOUSLY, IMPERFECTLY ME.

YOU ARE WILDLY, FABULOUSLY IMPERFECTLY YOU.

See how that works…  I am giving myself this gift.  A Peace Treaty.  I’m sure I’ll have to give it over and over.  And over and over. But it will be worth the effort and practice.  Because I am worth the practice and effort.

So are you…Namaste.

Broken open…

I had the good fortune to spend part of last weekend with some of my dearest friends.  The bonus was that we were able to share space together practicing yoga.  It had been some time since we’d all been together, so we were giddy in the first place.  But to share that space, well…that was icing on the cake.  

The instructor led us for an hour and one half, which actually felt like about ten minutes.  As he directed us about moving our bodies, he also led us to move our minds.  To shift.  To dig down into the dark spaces.  To breathe down into those places and lift up into light.  He commented that we work so hard on the exterior, that we sometimes neglect the interior (if any of you who attend with me read this, forgive the paraphrase).  Let that sink in…

I felt amazing during and after that practice.  Lifted.  Broken open.  I felt like I’d been able to crack those deeply formed shells.  And where those cracks were, deep down, stayed open.  They needed to stay that way.   

When I woke up before the moon fell Sunday in the wee hours, I still had that feeling.  That feeling of almost floating.  I felt light.  And I realized the cracks were still there.  I was reminded of the Japanese tradition of Kintsukroi.  This art is the repair of broken pottery with gold or silver lacquer, and the understanding that the piece is all the more beautiful for being broken.  I like to believe that lightness I felt was the sliver and gold filling those cracks.  

It’s only been a few days since, but I am still feeling the effects of that practice.  I’ve set the intention to remain broken open. To allow those broken places to be filled with light.  To be grateful for the experiences of breaking and healing.  To recognize that each break was necessary.  To bask in gratitude for the blessing that have received form those lessons.  

Over time, have you been broken?   Have you allowed yourself to be broken open?  Be willing to go there.  And fill the cracks with gold and silver.  You’re all the more beautiful for it.

Namaste.

 

Brave…

I heard a song a little while ago. I’d filed it away as something to go back to and then promptly forgot until I heard a it again the other day…while I was getting ready to go to campus.

Before I go any farther down this road, I have a little “splaining” to do, as Ricky Ricardo would say. I’m always telling people to step away from their comfort zone so I recently decided to follow my own advice. Now I’m teaching a couple of business courses at a local college. My comfort zone has been mocking me on a regular basis from its destination far, far away.

I digress. I was getting ready for class when I heard the song BRAVE by Sara Bareilles. You should give it a listen…the lyrics hit me square between my sleepy eyes. I’ll save you all the quotes and just tell you that it’s about stepping up. And it was perfect timing that it played for me that day.

I was waffling about doing something about an article I read in Yoga Journal. And after that aural motivation, I picked up the phone. I decided to be brave.

Just like that, I put something in motion. I still don’t have all the answers to my original question. But, I did ask. And I’m confident I’ll get them in due time. In the mean time, I’ve made the choice to be brave in some other ways. I registered for the 500 hour yoga teacher training. I added a few stand-up paddle board yoga classes to my teaching schedule. I said no when I meant it, instead of yes. And I said yes as often as I wanted without going off the deep end.

Edmund Morris said, “History admires the wise, but elevates the brave.” Even if the answers are not what I want, I asked the question. If I spend more time in the pool than on the paddle board, I made the leap from participant to instructor. I have been brave. And now that I know how it makes me feel, I will continue to be.

My request is simple. Get out your dictionary. Look up the definition of brave. Then listen to the song. And decide what you want to do that is BRAVE.

(And, if you feel like it tell me. I’d love to know!)

Happy Fall Equinox!

What have I done for me lately?

I re-read my list of goals for the new year. Actually, I read it often. And I backslide momentarily into the why haven’t yous (why haven’t you done this, or that, or the other). But it’s only for a moment. Because then I remind myself of what I have done!

All these things are works in progress…so there’s no need to panic. It’s only January. I can do all of these and more!!! And I can savor each moment of each day and each effort!!!

So, when I examine my goals and my purpose, I can say without hesitation that I am doing what I need to to take care of me. I don’t have to ask what others have done for me…it’s not their job. So, sometimes in those little moments of stillness when I start
to wonder if I’m doing enough, I simply smile. Of course I am.

I ask what have I done for ME lately…and I answer: napped, read a new book, pottery class, yoga, scuba…the list goes on.

What have you done for YOU lately? May your list be as long as your arm and your smile as bright as the sun when you read it!

Peace, love and bright light….

Day #3

Did you do it? You know, that thing we do at the beginning of a new year. We make our lists of what needs to get done and we put it somewhere close for a few days. We’re only 3 days in, so you probably remember what’s on it right now. You still know where it is.

Here’s my challenge to you. Read it closely. What does it say? I bet if you look closely, you can learn a lot about where you were and even more about where you’re going.

And I will share mine…because I believe the more you check in with yourself and your progress, the more likely you are to succeed. I also believe in disclosure and accountability. So here it is:

Breathe
Spend more time out of doors
Learn a new craft and/or language
Journal
Teach often
Race again
Cook more & experiment in the kitchen
Travel often, even if it’s not far
Choose kindness
Leave my comfort zone
Love.

I admit it’s a short list, compared to some I’ve had before. But I can accomplish all of these. They will push me. There will be days that I don’t want to. But in the end, I know that I will benefit as will those around me. I have huge potential to make a difference with all of these action steps.

You have the same potential. What will you do? How will you step up?

My hope is that you will welcome 2013 with open arms and a glad heart. I have. And even though we’re only 3 days in, I already feel the benefits.

Love and light to you in the new year.

Namaste.