Thursday, August 17, 2017

To the page I go...

Last night, before falling asleep, I turned to my husband and told him that when I was younger, I remember reading The Little Engine That Could, but it was never one of my favorite books growing up because it seemed like a boy book. I asked him his thoughts about creating a girl version, and as I rambled on about the male and female brain, I went to sleep thinking about writing a children's book because The Little Engine That Could is something that everyone needs to read.

This was sparked after coming home last night from a full yoga class at Maitri, or what we now affectionately call, The Yoga Collective at Maitri. When I first started dreaming up the yoga studio I remember the months leading up to it. I didn't research anything about the business of yoga, or yoga studios in general at all. Even though I would be moving to a new city, new state, I don't remember thinking very much about what it would take to open the studio itself. I just remember practicing yoga during that time and lingering after class waiting to talk to my teacher. One day I was gathering up my belongings from the space where we kept our bags and she came in with some cards. I had never pulled cards before and had no idea what it was or what it meant, but she told me to just pick one of the cards and see what it says. I pulled one and it said "trust." There wasn't any other guidance, but I remember the yellow on the card, and maybe there was a staircase or someone peeking around a corner holding a light. I actually have no idea if any of those images are correct or accurate, but that's what I remember. She asked me if it resonated with me and I nodded.

I knew. I knew exactly what I needed to do even though I had no idea how I would go about doing it. I had no idea what it would take to open the yoga studio. I didn't know how much money I would need or any logistics. I didn't even know if I would find a space or a place to live. All I knew was that I had an idea and even more than an idea, I had a desire to share. There was a tug. I didn't have any fears or concerns, mainly looking back now because I had no idea what to expect. There was nothing to be afraid of because I just didn't know. I didn't have an outcome. I didn't have a measuring stick, all I knew was that I wanted to share. Now, looking back, I thank God for these blinders because as I've sunk my teeth in, I realize that if I would have known, I would have been overwhelmed. There probably would have been way too many "what ifs."

As I have moved through navigating the studio, I have been amazed by the way it continues to grow. I am not even sure at this point if it is anything I have done. My job, my sole job has been staying out of the way. In some ways literally and in some ways figuratively. I am not even sure where all this blind faith has come from/came from, but I always have trusted and continue to trust that everything would be provided one step, one breath at a time.

In the past year, I have gone back to school to get my Master's in Counseling. I moved an hour away from the studio, and have gotten married. It's been a lot of change, and all the while, the studio space has been taken care of and I am in awe of it. The ladies that work alongside me are incredible, but that is an entirely different post altogether.

When we get out of the way, I truly believe the powers of God can be seen. As I type that, I question whether I am blowing this out of proportion, but I'm not. The studio is like the little engine that could. Along the way, it's gotten all the help it needs, and it continues to "chugga, chugga" it's way. It amazes me.

The only part I've played is not giving up.
So, today, don't give up.
If your heart is in it, it's worth it. I promise. That is a promise I can make, so trust, breathe and get out of the way.

Everyone needs The Little Engine That Could in their lives. Stay tuned... 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I wish I had blogged throughout my engagement, but you can't go back; and now here I am, married. Wow. People that didn't attend the wedding keep asking me how it was, how it went, and how it feels to be married. One sweet lady at a birthday party last weekend looked at us, newlyweds, and said, "now the real work begins." I smiled, looked at her, and nodded knowingly. People say that getting married should be the easiest decision of your life. While I appreciate the sentiment, I do feel that when you are going into marriage at the age of 31 and 33, most likely you have dated, a lot or perhaps that's just me; but, for the the most part you have probably had experiences that have shaped you, changed you, and maybe even given you a sense of self that isn't based on anyone else. These are all great, and wonderful things, right?! Yes! There have probably also been moments where you start to get used to all of this freedom, and really can't imagine life any differently. Living by yourself, heck yes! Dating, yes! Endless possibilities, best thing ever! But, then you meet someone and suddenly, you find yourself wanting to be around them more than you like being alone, inevitably, you spend more time with them. Then, you realize you don't ever want to be without them, but it's different. There isn't a fear of rejection because you know you could live without them, heck you have for so many years... but, you still might not like the idea of not having them around, so you keep dating. Perhaps years and months go by and before you know it, you find yourself in the middle of a proposal. You might not even realize he's proposing. It just sneaks up and then all of the sudden, you're engaged! Happiness, happiness, happiness, REALITY. Life is about to change.

Growing up, as a little girl I dreamed about a wedding one day and accompanying the wedding day an image of someone. He might be tall, dark, handsome, and I might have imagined him sweeping me off my feet, only to ride off into the sunset together. While that is a wonderful image, the reality of getting married feels much different. From the moment we got engaged, life was happening. We moved into a house together, and with that came talk of a mortgage and how we were going to do payments, and how much we were going to spend for renovations, etc. We both moved out of our own places, all while he transitioned into a different job and I started school to get my Master's degree. Life carried on, and we began planning the wedding while talking about our backgrounds, how we grew up, our differences, our similarities, and how we inevitably knew it would all impact our life moving forward as a couple. We had some tense moments. There were times when our living room fire would be blazing until the early hours of the morning. The 2am question would be, are we doing the right thing by getting married? This was not an easy decision for either one of us because we both knew it was the biggest decision we had both ever made, individually and collectively. It felt weird not to be basking in the warm glow of love, bliss, and all things wedding. It's what I had read about it. It's what I had believed was supposed to happen. You meet the one, and everything just magically falls into place. Were we doing this right? Was something wrong with us? Where is the engagement bliss?

I am actually not even sure I can give you an answer to those questions, but what I can tell you is that through our fear, differences, and difficulties during our engagement came a better understanding of what it meant and would mean to be with the person I now call my husband. Standing up with him at the altar, it didn't matter if he could ride away with me into the sunset; I knew he could stand with me in the fire. That became more important to me than anything. For the first time in my life, I experienced someone truly standing beside me.

Now, in this moment, today, all the fear that I felt over this perceived loss of freedom, loss of identity that I had built up for 31 years fell away, as I realized I still had it all and so much more. I've dated enough to know that this is rare.

So, while I wish I would have chronicled all of this during our year-long engagement, I am grateful to have the ability to land here and wrap my arms around all of my thoughts, feelings, fears, and perspectives.

For those of you walking down the aisle soon, just know whatever you're feeling is normal, and valid, just don't let fear get in the way.

This was read at our wedding and I love it.

"The Irrational Season"Madeleine L'Engle
But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made.
Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much
they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they
are willing to take…
It is indeed a fearful gamble…Because it is the
nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to
be created, so that, together we become a new creature.
To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can
If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as
many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the
courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love
which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but
It takes a lifetime to learn another person…
When love is
not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation
which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is
often rejected. 

Thanks for listening, friends. 

P.S. (The photo is from our wedding day captured by the amazing Rachel Havel)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Take Your Seat

"Take your seat."

I have been trying to remind myself of this since I said it in yoga last week. As the students were settling into class and beginning to set intentions for their practice, I was thinking about the word asana and how it translates to the word seat. So often, I think we go through life without ever really and truly claiming our seat. Sometimes we even give up our seats, and whether for good or not so good reasons, the eventual reality is that if we don't ever claim our seat in this world, in this life, we will miss the moment. While I do believe that what is meant to be, will be; I do not believe the sentiment means that we sit back passively. After class was over, and I had said all of this and more, a student asked me if I had read what I had said in a book. When I said no, she told me I should write. "Write these things down." It was an innocent thing to say, and something I've heard before, but now sitting here, I realize I've never wanted to claim this seat. I've pushed aside carving out time to write for other things that keep me busy, distracted and negate the risk of claiming this seat. However, the fact is this is the very thing in my life I want the most. I want to write.

So, coming back to this medium as something that I am comfortable with, I am going to work to claim this seat, this seat as a writer.

Today and every day, we have to decide to claim our seat. Whether it is sitting in joy, courage, compassion, or something/somewhere else, I believe we have to decide where we want to sit every day.

Take your seat.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Current Happiness

It's summer. Summer is here!

Let the fun commence...
I love these gender-neutral bedrooms from My Domaine 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Before doing anything else this morning...

I wanted to sit down and write. Yesterday, when I got home from work I found myself here looking through old blog posts trying to put pieces together. The pieces of my life that brought me here. I haven't blogged in a long time. I think I was told no less than four times yesterday that I am a writer. I've been neglecting this part of myself; maybe due to school work, teaching, and all the other stresses of life that swirl around what it means to grow up. Right now the news is muted. My coffee is waiting is for me, but there was one thing I needed to do this morning more than anything: write. I could feel my fingers ache last night, and that little whisper pulling me back here. Maybe, I even talked myself into being something else. Something other than a writer, because in the grand scheme of things, all I've ever really written about is on this blog... but, somehow it's enough. It's enough to remind me that deep within myself, without putting things down into words that form sentences, there is a part of my voice that gets lost. It's as if this is my way of anchoring; just like using my breath in a yoga class, it's an anchor providing me some sort of support to lean on. I wish I really knew where to begin, so I guess aside from searching for something to catch you up on I will just say that when looking through this blog, it makes sense. It all makes sense. The last blog post I read before going to bed last night was one I wrote before moving back to Arkansas.

I'll leave a part of it here:

But this issue of growing up, it's not all that easy because it requires a lot of courage. Particularly it takes a lot of courage to relate directly with your experience. By this I mean whatever is occurring in you, you use it. You seize the moment? moment after moment? you seize those moments and instead of letting life shut you down and make you more afraid, you use those very same moments of time to soften and to open and to become more kind. More kind to yourself for starters as the basis for becoming more kind to others.

One time when I was a child, I was feeling very upset and angry at one point. I think I was around seven or eight. And there was this old woman, who I later become very close to. But the first time I ever met her, I was walking down the street kicking stones with my head down, and I was feeling very lonely. I was basically feeling that nobody loved me very much and that people weren't taking care of me. So I was walking along angry at the world, kicking stones. And this woman said, "Child, don't let the world harden your heart."

And I always remember that. It was the first real teaching I received, I think. It's still a teaching I remember. And in terms of this teaching on maitri, this is really the key. People's lives, through all of time, have had a lot of difficulty in them The Buddha's first teaching was that there is suffering in life, If you're born as a human being, there's suffering. At the very least, there's the suffering of illness, of growing old and of death at the end. Not to mention that the more you love are able to open, there's the suffering of not getting what you want and of losing what you do want. Just some inevitable sufferings.

Nowadays, this is an especially difficult time in the history of this planet, Earth. it's a difficult time. And in times of difficulty, people get very frightened. Often when I'm teaching a lot of the questions are that people ask about just the subject. People inevitably say, "Yes, but it's dangerous, it's getting more and more dangerous just to walk down the street. We need to protect ourselves."

I think the point is when our lives are difficult, in small ways or large ways, when we're going through a lot emotionally, or when difficult things are happening in our environment, do those things cause us to become more uptight and afraid. Or do those very same things, when the teachings are applied, soften us and can open us?

To me, this is how I practice and this is the most important thing. You never know what's going to happen to us. In any day of our lives you never know what's coming. That's part of the adventure of it actually, but that's what makes us scared, is that we never know. And we spend a lot of time trying to control it so that we could know, but the truth is that we don't really know.

Really, I think a lot of people, like children, you're wanting some kind of practice that's not going to take you into anything uncomfortable but at the same time you want the practice to heal you. And it just doesn't work like that.

The question is how do you relate when things are uncomfortable? That's really the question.

As far as I'm concerned, in terms of spiritual path, that's the main question: how do you relate with the difficulties? How do you relate with the feelings you have and the situations you find yourself in?

This particular teaching on the Four Limitless Ones, on maitri, compassion, joy and equanimity is really a teaching on how to take the situations of your life and train- actually train- in catching yourself closing down, catching yourself getting hard, and training in opening at that very point, or softening. In some sense reversing a very, very old pattern of the whole species, which is a pattern of armoring ourselves. It's sort of like the essence of the whole Path is in that place of discomfort and what do you do with it? 

Pema Chodron tells this story so well, and I really love the message of this. In my life, I have experienced things that I blamed myself for, that I realize now, after a lot of therapy, were not my fault. I didn't practice loving kindness to myself at all for a long time, because I believed I didn't deserve it. The truth is, we all deserve it. When things are uncomfortable, it's a reminder that we are human, perfection isn't needed, but compassion is. 

With love,

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Let me teach you how to let go," she said.

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I could feel my heart pounding, my palms sweating and in that moment it seemed the world slowed down.
"I will teach you how to let go," she said.
I didn't really know what to say. I looked at her and she looked at me. I could feel life staring at me, asking me, "Will you play it safe?"

This question comes up ever so often; checking in with me, as if it wants to know where to go next.

I've always answered the question the same way; ripping off whatever idea I had of safety to set myself free. I breathed deeply and knew that I had to keep going.

There was something else. I'm not sure what, but I knew I had to trust myself enough to let go...
over and again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Verge of 30: Have I really learned anything?

Being that I am on the verge of turning 30; literally, staring it in the face; marching down the aisle, I can see it."I am not going to freak out," I tell myself. Up until this point, I have been excited about turning 30. "I've earned it." And yes, although this is true, I can't help but to be a little reflective, being that I am in the last two days before the final approach. "Have I really learned anything?" In high school, I took a psychology class and we were asked to write a certain number of pages each week. I am so thankful for these pages. Last spring, when I opened the journals up, I thumbed through the pages and could hear the voice of a very wise 18-year-old girl on the brink of setting out on an adventure. Since then, I have watched her grapple with change. I have witnessed her question every aspect of existence, worth and ability to be a successful human on this planet. I have watched desires change, while values have shifted into what feels more in line with the truth of the heart. I have watched as I, myself have fallen in and out of love while trying to figure out what it means to be in relationship, but slowly figuring out that the relationship I wanted the most was the one with myself. I have picked myself up off the ground more times than I would like to count and have whispered over and over again to my own sweet heart, "keep going". I will say this, I have lived my 20's well. They have been every bit of confusing and as I rest here in the experience of my own "growth," I will say that I am proud of who the 18-year-old girl has become. I continue to wrap my own arms around myself every day and whisper, "keep going". No one really tells you how hard it's going to be. No one tells you that if you choose a life of authenticity and truth it might feel as if you're marching to a drum beat that makes no sense to anyone else but you. While I sit here and write, I could not be more thankful for the practice of yoga in my life. The time when I lived in Houston, was a turning point in my 20's. I developed the best of friends who continue to stay with me in my heart every single day. They are the ones who have their hands on my back at all times encouraging me to keep going. Perhaps, we have those moments in life, when we are in this dip of healing. It might feel like a place in the valley between mountains. That is what Houston was for me. It was the place that fed me before I climbed one of my biggest mountains yet, which was my move back to Arkansas. I created a safe haven for myself in Fayetteville, where I currently live. The safe haven is a yoga studio affectionately called, Maitri and she is a light to be reckoned with. She has seen many teachers and students come and go. She remains steadfast, open and a soft comfort where I not only rest my head, but others do as well. I have made no money running Maitri. Maybe it is a fault of mine, but I realize that I am a terrible business owner especially when it comes in the form of a yoga studio. From the time I opened Maitri, I knew that I would rather fail than never try, so I have poured my heart into it and will continue to. When I was asked early on, at what point I would call Maitri successful, I said, "she already is." I have never publicized what people have shared with me about their experiences at Maitri, but I will say this, everything has been truly worth it. Maitri is a light in my life. I refer to Maitri as a "her" and I know it might be weird, but I feel that Maitri has become a place that belongs to itself and everyone who walks through the door. I don't feel that I actually own Maitri. The person who practices there and moves away carrying a piece of Maitri owns just as much of it as I do. My job is to make sure Maitri is taken care of so it can do its job in holding space for others. Maitri has taught me and continues to teach me more than I could have ever imagined. In a way, I know I could never repay Maitri in what it has provided for me, maybe not monetarily; but in every other way, Maitri has shown me my strength and perhaps, that is what I have learned the most about in my 20's: my own strength. I moved back to Arkansas, a place I thought I would never live again. When I packed up for college, I had no idea that I would later return. I thought I was returning to heal something, but maybe that wasn't it at all. Perhaps, when I was younger I fooled myself into thinking that I wasn't enough. I needed to move, to go... I got on a treadmill of trying to prove something to myself only to grow tired and realize that none of what I was doing mattered if I wasn't happy. I think we all have this picture in our heads of what our life will be like. My reality is an entirely different picture than the one I had in my head. I think that we have to always keep moving forward and do the best we can in listening and following our hearts. Right now, I am trying to listen to my own heart as I decide which graduate school to attend starting in May. I am down to the wire and a part of me goes one way and the other part of me goes the other. I have always been a "flight risk." Ugh, the thought of being tied down scares the crap out of me. One school allows me the freedom of movement, while the other school provides me with community. What I have missed out on most over the past few years is a community, what I value most is freedom. Which one? Which one? I think I am going to have go to yoga tonight, and as I breathe, maybe the answer will be revealed. Meanwhile, I will just pray on it. I am excited for grad school because in some ways, it is a new chapter. I am going back to get my masters in counseling; something I never thought I would do, yet it makes so much sense. Even as I read my journal pages from my psychology class last year, I realize now that I had everything in me then, and now it is just being revealed little by little as I get older. I am so grateful for the gift of 30. I think I have talked my way back to the excitement of the phrase, "30, I have earned you." The journey continues...

Thanks for listening. Thanks for letting these fingers type away as I try to make sense of the way I feel. 90% of time it's an absolute mystery until I can create enough space and stillness for myself to process in the comfort of the only sound being the keyboard keys beneath my fingertips.

I'm curious: Were any of you reflective upon turning 30? Did you feel sad? Excited? Scared? Proud? Did 30 feel different than other ages?

30 to me doesn't feel all that different, but it provides the best opportunity to say, you know what, "I am fucking proud of myself."

Love you all!

P.S. My birthday is Thursday, feel free to make a big deal out of it. Eat some cake!