Let The Light In

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Some days, I feel so scattered. Fragmented. Pixelated. Seemingly concrete thoughts connected to a core value scatter to dust as they transform into words. I see sentences come out of my mouth that run on and on as they try to find form and continuity.

I take wrong turns. I forget the whole reason I went to the store.  I send a short text and discover my children have destroyed the house I just cleaned. I burn the potatoes to a crisp when there is no plan b for dinner.

Ever feel like that?

The habit: Hit replay and be the armchair self-critic.

The choice: Soften. Kindness.

I can take a deep breath (or four) and know that my perceptions of my actions do not define me. My intentions, core values, carry me.

I can resume the lifelong peace talks I am having with myself.

This is when I turn to my yoga practice. The rhythm of breath, the ritual of a vinyasa flow, and the support of a restorative pose will bring me back together. I find myself grounded and healed. I am reminded:

Life happens.

Life is meant to be lived from a place of gratitude, not from a place of harsh criticism or judgement.

Life will not always be clear or in focus. It will be messy and uncertain.

It’s okay. It’s how it’s supposed to be.

I am alive and well.

I can lighten up and start each moment as a rebirth, a new start.

I can live this life.

I can love this life.

I can let the light in.

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New Moon

I love the new moon.

Once(ish) a month, our perspective from Earth is a sky without a moon. There is a dark, shadow moon in the sky. Whether or not you believe in astrology, let New Moon be a reminder to make space for subtle parts of life. Let this be a time to feel the currents that run deep and strong, far below the surface of our day-to-day life.

Make time to slow down. Make time listen to the quiet, steady voice – you know the one – the one content in the shadows, always there when the bright lights and shiny objects distract you.

Time to soften.

Let intuition lead the way.

Yogis: Be extra slow and deliberate with your yoga practice. Close your eyes more often. Find ways to deepen and fully experience each moment. Listen. Let each breath be so deep, so full, in the belly that your hipbones feel like they’re expanding away from one another on the inhale and softly contracting on each exhale.

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No Complaints

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What happens when you stop complaining?

Sometimes, a complaint dissolves, stopping in your throat or behind your teeth.

Sometimes, it escapes and you start the practice all over again….and that is why it is called a practice.

With each complaint that bubbles up, you get the opportunity to consider its source. You notice these sources of malcontent.

Perhaps your complaint is a manifestation of anger. There is an anger that can spark a positive movement. You can see something in your life and say, “I don’t like this, will not stand for this!” You have decided to stop complaining, so you will act.

Other complaints may feel like anger. Look closer and see how deeply entwined anger is with grief. Grief over life’s shoulds, coulds and woulds. Grief over the things you think you have lost. Grief over things and circumstances, real or imagined, that you think you want. You have decided to stop complaining, so you will begin to make peace with your grief.

You will notice how often you try to control things that cannot be controlled. You will see elaborate arguments with reality distracting you from a life of gratitude and purpose.

You will soften. You will let go.

Conversations will become simple, more fulfilling. You will feel cleaner, more grounded and present. Unrepentant, you will feel more connected to living as your best self.

Why am I trying to stop complaining?

I decided a long time ago that I do not want to live a life seeing the world as lacking or made up of dumbasses, dirtbags and stupid people. I do not want to look at the world as a construction of circumstances contributing to my discomfort or failure. I want to live in a beautiful world, full of possibility. Even in the dark times – even in situations of unspeakable violence and destruction – I want to see an opportunity for change and healing rather than blame and name-calling.

The stakes are now even higher. I am raising two girls, two humans, two little adults in training. Do I want to be a family that meets up at the dinner table to complain about the day? No. Do I have an opportunity to pass on positive values and useful tools to bring good people into this world? Absolutely.

I have the opportunity to do my best every day.

No more complaining. It’s a practice I am willing to take on. I am willing to stumble, fall and get back up, bigger and brighter each time.

This is my action.
(And, seriously – how fortunate to live in a stable home, not in a war zone or a garbage dump? How fortunate to have running water and the opportunity to wonder “Oh, I don’t know, should I buy the organic ones?” at the grocery store. What the EFF do I really have to complain about?)

Truth and Trust

My one-word intention for 2013 was truth. It unfolded unpredictably, painfully, and beautifully.

Launching intentions & prayers | NYE 2013 | Chiang Mai, Thailand
Launching intentions & prayers | NYE 2013 | Chiang Mai, Thailand

Nothing is inherent: Money does not buy class or happiness.Travel does not make one worldly or empathetic.Yoga asana is empty without aligned intention. Charisma is only skin deep.

No hurries, no worries. Saying, “I don’t know,” can be one of the most inspiring & liberating actions. 

patient introvert
The patient introvert | 2014 | Mekong River, Laos

I am less attached to building the resume I thought I wanted when I was in my 20s and early 30s. I am more devoted to living a life of integrity and gratitude. 

Yoga continues to infuse my life, reminding me to align action with intention. How I act in this life is more important than creating a life of shiny, empty actions.

Humility and gratitude: I can say all this and act from an incredibly privileged, first-world place. May we each remember how incredibly fortunate we are to live in a safe place with running water, access to education, etc.

My word for 2014 is trust.

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Writing

Recently, some unpublished JD Salinger stories were leaked. I love Salinger’s writing. His characters are old friends. When I was in the eleventh grade, I had a very vivid dream that Virginia Woolf and I were shopping for apples in the grocery store. We ran into Franny Glass, who was holding a glass jar of olives. My 21-year-old copy of Catcher in the Rye is duct-taped together.

Knowing that Salinger was very clear about these stories not being ready for publication, I decided against an eager google search. It was hard. I decided to continue the wait for the posthumous release of the rest of his work.

I believe that not all writing has to be shared.

Now that we all have blogs (and even podcasts), it seems everyone is writing. This is great. I love that so many people are writing. I am a believer in sitting down, listening, and letting it all pour out.

I am a believer that everyone has a story and that the process of writing heals.

I believe in questioning the readiness and intention of a piece before hitting “publish.”

In terms of writing something to share, I am a strong believer that there is a step that follows the pouring it all out on the page. I recently taught a writing and yoga workshop with my friend and amazing writer, Elaine Gale. In our workshop, she urged us all to sit down, write a big mess, and then go through the process of cleaning it up.

Make a beautiful mess, clean it up.

I haven’t been posting, but I have been writing a lot. Who have I been writing for? I don’t know. Maybe just for me. Maybe, there does not need to be an audience. Sentences have been spilling out of pens and erupting from my tapping fingertips on the keyboard. I have been writing because I can’t help myself. I have been letting out the big, beautiful messes.

I have revitalized my love affair with the craft of writing. I am enjoying the process of writing and then spending a few hours, days or weeks away before going back in to see what happened and what I can learn. I even enjoy looking something over and dragging it into the little trash can on my desktop. I love remembering a piece I wrote as being amazingly witty, discovering it really wasn’t all that great and then working on it so it lives up to my memory.

I love looking at something I’ve written and wondering how I can support the appropriate words with the best possible grammar.

I am reading to learn from other people’s writing – fascinated not just by the experience being shared in the story, but by how they write the story to life on the page. I listen to interviews with writers, comedians, musicians and other creatives to hear them talk about their life and process. I listen. I learn. I fall in love over and over again with being human and our amazing capacity to create.

I am not a professional writer. I write because it happens. I write because I can’t help myself. I have always written – and I am not, by any means, perfect. Typos and misspellings happen. I actively seek them out in my writing and ask: Where did that happen? Why did that happen? What was I feeling or trying to express at the moment? What can I learn from this? What does a semicolon do, really? And do I really know how to use italics?

Bringing it back to everyone is writing, I admit it: I am one of those people who winces when I see something published (and stay published) with glaring typos – be it a blog, a news story or even a Facebook post. When I see a potentially great story full of incorrect plurals and misspellings, I feel cheated. I feel sad for the story – like the story wasn’t loved enough to be cleaned up before being sent out into the world. As if the person holding the story didn’t love it enough to run spell check or go back after posting to edit.

I equate it to taking my daughter to the park without cleaning her up after breakfast. I could take this beautiful, joyful child out into the world without combing the dried oatmeal out of her hair, wiping the blueberry stains off her face or changing her out of the sticky, crusty clothes…but I won’t. Cleaned up, the sticky mess of breakfast will not be a distraction from her joyful self as she runs to the sandbox with other kids to fill endless Tupperware containers with sand and sticks. Yes, she had to get messy first – but I was able to clean her up. Nourished, happy and healthy, she will be at her best. Her smile is always beautiful, but it is most beautiful when it isn’t surrounded by a crust of old oatmeal she didn’t eat.

That is where I am with writing and why this little blog has been lightly posted upon this year. Let’s run with that metaphor a little further and just say there are some blueberry stains on the pages and I haven’t decided what park to take the kid to today. Out of respect for what is pouring out, I am not hitting publish as often. When a post emerges, it will be posted. I am focusing now on process rather than the product.

We all have stories. (No one, it should be noted, has storie’s or story’s. No one.) We can all write – we all should write, in my opinion. Writing strips us down and shows us who we are. All our bullshit and beauty stare back at us from the page when we sit back and read our work. There we are. How marvelous.

Out of respect for all that is sacred, write! Get it out. Make your mess. Don’t feel compelled to always publish or share.

If you choose to share, clean it up. Out of respect for your voice and your story, share it in its best possible light.

I vow to do the same. Whenever I am ready, I will post again.

(In the meantime, ctake a yoga class with me, keep an eye out for upcoming workshops at Asha and check me out on Instagram.)

Quote overload

Though I think all writing is really for ourselves, there is some writing that is good for sharing and some writing that is best for a closed notebook. I have articles and blog posts outlined, but the sentences have not been ready. Most of my writing lately has been for myself.

This was sparked about two months ago when I felt overwhelmed with quotes. On my Facebook feed, tagged in Instagram, tweeted and everywhere else. Believe me, I love a good sentence. I’ve been collecting quotes that inspire me since I was a kid the way some people collect cats or plastic tubs that can be reused so they never have to use Tupperware again.

I fell in love with a shirt that said “The Beloved is Everywhere ~Rumi” Since that is what I believe, I googled the quote to find the whole poem. Here is what I found:

 If the Beloved is everywhere, the lover is a veil,
But when living itself becomes the Friend, lovers disappear.
~Rumi

Wow. There is so much more there than I thought I was going to find. However, the nerd in my soul nagged me, “Why did they leave out the “if?”

Soon after that, for whatever reason, I saw a few people posting Machiavelli quotes in the context of yoga. In all honesty, it has been almost twenty years since I read The Prince, but I don’t remember it being a very yogic text. I could be wrong. What I do know is that Machiavellianism is defined as “the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct.”

This is the one that brought it to a head:

 ship

Yes, this is great! Love the sea! Be inspired! However, if you want to build a ship, someone is eventually going to have to collect the wood, assign tasks, build the ship and then sail it.

I spent a week stewing about this and the realized what was happening. These little snippets of language were sparking my curiosity and creating conversations. I was researching and searching for the original context, comparing it to the appropriated context and, ultimately, to my own life.

In short, I was learning. I was learning new poems, dusting off philosophical theories and becoming so mindful of what I was willing to quote or put out in the world.

Let the quotes lead your curiosity beyond the surface. Find the contexts. Be open to finding something deeper or that the quote had absolutely nothing to do with what you thought it did.

Be curious and act on that curiosity. And if you’re going to post something on the internets, know what you’re posting.

Look at it this way: George W. Bush said, “I am Mindful.”  and Donald Rumsfeld said “Don’t divide the world into “them” and “us.” Could you imagine those quotes written in cursive on a photo of a person mediating on a mountain?

Responsibility

Why does God let bad things happen?

How many times have we heard, even uttered this question?

There are so many teachings about God not being somewhere remote and far away but right in our hearts. There are teachings that each person we meet is God.

If we acknowledge that there is Divine Love in our hearts, then the question is not why does God let things happen, the question is why do WE let things happen.

I think this is relevant if you believe in a big guy sitting on a throne in the sky, three billion Gods and Goddesses each with many limbs influencing daily life, no God at all, or whatever.

Gun violence. Any violence. Unsafe food. Warzones. Environmental collapse. Weak education systems. You know the rest of the list….

Why do WE let it happen?

Then, most importantly:

What can WE do together to keep it from happening again?

Taken at Yoga Shala Sacramento, edited with Mirrorgram
Taken at Yoga Shala Sacramento, edited with Mirrorgram