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!

Are You Living in Color?

Are you living in color?  I’m curious…are you?

I spent a long time just drifting  along.  There were many years that I existed, settling for a routine existence that made a lot of people feel good about me.  I was safe.  I fit the mold.  I was grey.

After a long period of struggle, after years of allowing my decisions to be made by external forces, I remembered something.  I remembered myself, my soul…I looked in the mirror and saw the spark of the person I once was.  She looked familiar, but way down deep, I saw a glint in her eye, a flash, a little color.  It was still there, although I had long forgotten.  I started thinking about when the last time I felt colorful was.  Sadly, it took a while for me to remember.

Fast forward…or maybe slow forward.  Once I recognized how grey I’d become, I missed the color down deep in my bones.  It wasn’t a feeling I can really explain with words even now, but it’s one that you’d recognize yourself if you’d ever felt it. I knew I had to make some serious changes.  I knew I was meant to do more, give more, share more, love more.  I knew I was not being true to myself by staying grey.  I knew I was not putting into the world what I was here to share.I had to get the color back.  I had no choice.

I could fill the rest of the day writing about all the steps forward and back I took over those years trying to get back into a life that was colorful.  I wanted vibrance and love and I wanted to connect with people in ways that I knew were possible, but that I hadn’t learned.  I wanted every day to shine.  And I will not lie and tell you it was easy, or without great cost on may levels.

But I will tell you this: it was the best gift I’ve ever given myself.  I set myself free.  That’s what the color is really; it’s freedom.  It’s sleeping well after a long day of work that I love and that loves me back.  It’s connection to other humans who accept nothing less than that freedom for themselves.  It’s finding ways to inspire others to seek that color.  It’s keeping myself in motion, and sharing that motion with others so that forward is the way we go, always in color.  Always reaching for lives that are by design loving toward ourselves and toward each other.  Always moving to freedom, away from expectations that don’t match our souls.

I know firsthand what living in color is like, and how life can change when you dig in deep and refuse to settle for anything less that what drives your soul.  I know it’s hard to go against the grain of families and friends and all the shoulds and coulds.  I know it’s painful to rebuild.  And I know that I cannot fathom life any other way.

So I’m asking you again…are you living in color?  If not, how could you?  What would it take?   It can be done…I’m living (colorful) proof.

Love and color, people.  Love and color.

 

 

 

Easy? What if it really were easy?

easyI was in the company of some pretty awesome women Friday afternoon.  We gather every month, and when I am with them I feel surrounded by members of my tribe.  I feel at home.  We were having a discussion about how we were influenced by our parents, about expectations, and about how we choose to live now.  One thing that came up, that I’ve been thinking about for a while now, but that cemented for me over the last little while is the concept of easy.

Here’s the definition of easy from Google:

eas·y
ˈēzē/
adjective
  1. 1.
    achieved without great effort; presenting few difficulties.
    “an easy way of retrieving information”
    synonyms uncomplicated, undemanding, unchallenging,effortless, painless, trouble-free, facile, simple,straightforward, elementary;

    When did I decide that it couldn’t be easy? At what point was it decided that life would be hard, and that’s all there was to it?

    I remember clearly being told that things are not easy.  “Nothing easy is worth having.” That was a favorite.  “Life is just hard.” Another favorite.  When you hear things over and over, you eventually believe them…right?

    But, should you? What if, instead, I had believed it WOULD be easy?  That life was amazing. That I could achieve great things without great effort.  What would that be like?

    Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying that we shouldn’t work.  Work is fine.  I love my work…it’s what I do every day and I’m blessed to do it.  But what if I had made the shift years ago to decide that it was easy?

    I learned a few years ago that I could decide what kind of day I was going to have. I could get up and decide to have a good day.  I learned to practice mindfulness, to be present for each moment.  And I believe that’s when I started to learn that it could be EASY.

    I’m not saying without effort.  I’m definitely not saying without challenge.  But I am saying that we can meet these endeavors, all our endeavors, with an attitude of ease.  We can decide that we will be light, and reframe how we approach our lives.  We can connect to each moment, we can live an inspired life.  We can move with grace and fluidity instead of tension and resistance.

    Give it a try this week…set an intention to move through your day with ease.  Just give it a shot.  And see what happens…you might be surprised!

    Peace, love and ease, y’all.  Peace, love and ease.

What’s Your Next Move?

I’ve been reading a bit, studying, so I could find a way to practice while I have been away from the mat and from teaching. I discovered a book by Nicolai Bachman, The Path of the Yoga Sutras, that’s become one of my new favorites. Bachman discusses several points from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and does so in a way that is easily understood, providing examples and applications that are within the reach of anyone, whether or not they practice yoga at all.

Santosa, the second niyama (self-care, according to Bachman), has been my greatest struggle this summer. Contentment and gratitude. To truly practice this niyama, we have to be content and grateful for what we have right now, this minute. Some days that means I have to be content and grateful with the fact that my body doesn’t move like it did only a few weeks ago. I have to be content and grateful for what it does right this minute. I can’t compare myself to others, or expect my body to be different than it is, because those acts invite duhka…suffering.

I’ve had to read and re-read that chapter several times. I have become aware of when those feelings creep up so I don’t hold onto them; let them come to a slow boil. Instead, I’ve learned to meet them with gratitude. Gratitude for time off to heal and regain my strength and stamina. Gratitude for great care from friends and family. Gratitude for books, crayons, pencils, and paper. And gratitude for what my body is capable of right this minute.

Bachman says,”…accepting the pace at which your body can change and practicing accordingly can help you avoid … suffering.” He also says, “What is important is that we are moving in a positive direction.” Powerful words for anyone. Especially powerful to me.

So, I am grateful for comfortable shoes to walk in. I’m grateful for a nice breeze to cool me. And I’m grateful to recognize how far I’ve come over the last few weeks, even though I know there is still more healing ahead. And I’m content in the knowledge that I am moving in a positive direction.

What’s your next move?

  

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.

  
 

 

Starting with Intention

It’s that time of year again: that time when we start to evaluate. One year is ending, another beginning. We dig out the list from last year…you know the one. It says things like “learn a new language, lose 10 pounds, read more books, drink less soda.” That list. It’s exhaustive. Once I re-read it, I usually wish I’d never found it. Actually, I wish I’d never written it.

But last year, I made a change. I kept my silly list of resolutions..the one with the boxes I could check off as I completed the tasks. Admittedly, it got very little attention. I also had another list. I sat down in earnest as 2014 arrived, and set forth my intentions for new year. Believe me when I say that this is the only list I’ll ever make at the New Year from now on. Intentions are life changers.

First, what is intention? You can consult Merriam-Webster, but I choose to understand intention as an aim or plan of action. AIM…as in direction.   When I set an intention, I choose my direction. Let that sink in for a minute. If I set my intention as joy, then I CHOOSE joy.

The hard part starts when we encounter something or someone that attempts to steal that intention, and we have to choose that intention over and over again.   We have to get out of our own way on this one. It’s so easy to choose: simplicity, happiness, gratitude, etc. But it’s definitely not easy to stay there.

Let me walk you through it. I’ll use simplicity as an example; it was an intention of mine for 2014, and may be again. Last year, when I went through my year-end review, as I’ve done for decades, I made some decisions. I wanted to do more. I wanted to have a shift in my life and my practices, personally and professionally. I knew changes were coming. It was time to honor them and learn what I could. As I winnowed down what needed to shift and how I wanted to feel, simplicity was the one word that worked to describe what I sought.

That intention of simplicity led me down several paths. Environmental simplicity was the most obvious. I’ve cleaned out closets, recycled, given away, sold. I actually let go of some books. I’ve reconsidered purchases. Do I need another book? Do I need more shoes? Another t-shirt? Could someone else be better served by this ___________ (fill in the blank with random household items that are not serving me any longer)? These are just the tip of the iceberg.

Here’s where the real work starts: how can I bring simplicity to my day-to-day existence on this planet? Am I clear about what I want? Is there simplicity in my living? I can’t be everything to everyone, nor should I try. So simplicity in my day-to-day existence means coming back to my authentic self. Choosing me. Choosing what makes my heart sing. For me, that meant saying no and setting boundaries. (Remember, I told you this was the hard part.) It meant saying no to work that doesn’t fulfill me, even when the price tag made me think twice. It meant choosing who gets my time. It meant choosing to practice yoga and meditate more consistently at home, to read and study, to write, to color, to knit, to rest. And it still means all of these things. That’s the beauty, to me. Once the intention is set, even when you’ve achieved what you desire, you’re still living that intention. It’s a spiral that, when you honor yourself, lifts you up higher and higher.

As the days get shorter and the year draws to a close, take a few moments here and there. Start to write. Write for you. Write what’s on your heart, not what you think someone else wants/expects/needs. As you find the words for your intention, breathe them in. Gather them. Fill yourself with them. Soon, you’ll find there’s no room for anything but your highest good.

(If you want to learn more about setting intentions, join me at Mountain Yoga January 10, 2015, or  Serenity Now January 11, 2015 for a Mini-Retreat to explore Starting with Intention.  January is also the start of Living with Intention, a monthly group that will meet at Shakti in the Mountains to celebrate, encourage and explore an entire year of intentional living.)

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.

Did You Really Just Say That?

I was working on a project today. And had someone ask me in front of a group if I was sure of the answer. As much as I like to think I’m getting better at this whole letting go and not taking things personally thing, this was a flaming reminder that I am still working on it.

But, oddly, I am grateful for the experience. It made me think about all the opportunities we have within ourselves to do the same thing internally that she did publicly. I did manage to keep my head from spinning as I replied that yes I was quite sure. And then it hit me: how often do I do this to myself on a daily basis? Think about it…you look in the mirror feeling good about what you’ll see and that little voice says “not so much.”. You feel lighter and stronger, but then weigh and see the number and immediately think “I already messed up this week, pass me some cake.” I could give examples all afternoon, but you don’t need mine. You have your own…

How often do we listen to the voice that says I’m NOT? What would happen if we listened to the one that said I AM?

It’s not always easy, but I’m taking it a day at a time. And that inner bitch is gonna shut up. Because I AM. I AM smart, funny, pretty, strong, determined. I AM ENOUGH of everything. What are you? Take some time today to remember.

Namaste