Sunday, December 4, 2016

sunday grace: the hard season

bleeding heart liberal (work in progress)

the hard season
split you through.
do not worry.
you will bleed water.
do not worry.
this is grief. 
your face will fall out and down your skin
there will be scorching.
but do not worry.
keep speaking the years from their hiding places.
keep coughing up smoke from all the deaths you
have died
keep the rage tender.
because the soft season will come.
it will come.
both hands in your chest.
up all night.
up all of the nights.
to drink all damage into love.
– therapy

{nayyirah waheedsalt}

i've got work to do.

recent events (the election, the murder of black americans, standing rock, to name a few) have left me angry with and ashamed of my country, my race, my gender, the religion i was raised with.  

angry with and ashamed of my self.

i'm unpacking the painful discovery that knowing and caring are not enough.  

i want to be a true and effective ally. 

i want to see and know the whole awful truth.

i want to come out of the soft denial of my own experience, privilege, responsibility, and responses to that whole awful truth.

i want to stand and speak and act against that whole awful truth.

grace will help, but it is not the whole story here.

i've got work to do.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

sunday grace: thank you

hopeful me, circa 2008

on tuesday, november 8, 2008, i voted for the america i believe in.

the next day my friend meggan told me the story of how she fell asleep before the results were final, but left her radio on.  she woke hours later, in the dark, the voice of her next president, a kind, smart, dignified human being, in the near distance, graciously accepting his charge.  and she was filled with peace.

i've thought of meggan's story many times in the eight years since.  when i'm feeling half-asleep or in the dark or disoriented, and when i disagree with that very same president, i hear the voice of calm, the voice of kindness, the voice of humanity.

i've thought of meggan's story so much this week.

and i can hear the voice.

thank you, president obama, for your voice.

thank you, president obama, for your leadership.

thank you, president obama, for your dignified diplomacy, for reminding us that we all have a higher self and we need to use it.

thank you, president obama, for the way you laugh, the way you look at children, the way you father, husband, friend, and president.

thank you.

we are in the dark.  but we hear your voice.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

sunday grace: wild awake

yesterday a wee group of us gathered under the unusually bright and warm october sun to picnic.  we are yoga teachers and practitioners, teachers, social workers, artists.  but more importantly, we are humans who love other humans.  we gathered together to talk and share and explore and start something.  we are not quite sure what that something is yet, but we know we want to serve, connect, share, give, support, advocate and ally.

we know that our practice has power.  and we want to share that with those who do not have access to or feel comfortable going to a traditional yoga studio.

so we explored our intentions and our privilege and did some inner work and then softly committed to keep moving forward.

when everyone had left to go about their individual weekends, i stood still in the silence and peace of the space (sacred space really, i just learned of the civil rights history of the grounds where we gathered, and that martin luther king, jr himself had once come here to connect with and pay respects to its keepers) and just knew that this is what i am here to do.    you think that when you have a "this is what i am here to do" moment, it would be momentous, the emotional equivalent of a confetti cannon and exuberant marching band.  instead, it felt quietly normal and certain and resonant with full-body luminosity.

i hope they felt this too.

wild awake.

"if you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time.
but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."
-lilla watson

Sunday, October 2, 2016

sunday grace: the magical month

{bits of october, 2009-2016}

october.  let it transform you.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

sunday grace: just be true

"the privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are."  -carl jung

i used to have a favorite t-shirt designed by my friend jen lee that read, "just be true."  i really miss that shirt.  i lost it at a yoga festival a few years ago.

but even though i no longer wear the words on my body, i carry them in my soul.

a few weeks ago, i worked through a values exercise with a class i was teaching to clarify our most important personal values.  top of the list for me:  authenticity.

i work really hard at showing up as my genuine self.  i don't pretend to be anything i'm not.  i enjoy being a beginner, living in the learning stages.  i also enjoy developing expertise, but i understand there is no quick road to that.  i'm not a fan of fake or imitation.  i even cringe a bit when people say, "fake it 'til you make it."  (for many valid, spiritual reasons, but that is another post.)

i am very sensitive, as i'm certain most people are, when my ideas, art, work or projects randomly show up, presented and claimed by someone who is not me.

i blogged about this very thing a few years ago:  stealing buddha.  (holy moly, nearly FIVE years ago!)  i reread that blog before i started writing this one.  because the message i keep getting is to just let it go.

but in the years since that post, casually using others' work has become even more commonplace in our culture.  it is often just called inspiration.  i see it as a spectrum of intentions and behavior that we must check in with on a regular basis.  if we operate from a place of replicating someone else's work, we are not using the time to truly discover our own unique thing.

. . . . .

inspiration:  when you are drawn to a piece, practice, project or person and there is an energetic flash of connection and you think, "i want to do something like that."  amazing.  i am endlessly inspired by so many artists and thinkers, i can't imagine what my life and work would be without them.  i honor their influence and the work they have done by connecting with them, learning from them, and publicly recognizing the source.

practicing:  this happens a lot in creative fields, when someone practices the work of another to learn the technique in their own practice, trying it on to see how it moves within and relates to their own style and body of work.

duplication:  when you put out the same work or ideas as another, without doing the foundational work or having a depth of understanding and meaning about the process.  the end result is often accompanied by a sense of secrecy, hollowness and desperation.  there is an overwhelming feeling that it is not connected to who you are.  your intended audience feels that, even if you don't.

race-to-finish-first:  this is the person who sees others working hard and putting in time for a future release of something that looks like it's going to be fantastic.  they quickly throw together what they perceive to be the elements of the work so that they can be the first to release a quick, fake copy.

impostor:  this is a little more involved than copying.  it is when someone takes on characteristics and practices of another and presents as a particular kind of person with specific knowledge, experience and skills, when they haven't developed those things.  this is not to be confused with impostor syndrome. (although sometimes people say they struggle with having impostor syndrome, when they might want to consider that are actually engaging in impostor behavior.)

stealing:  if you use or copy another's idea, art or work to make money or to gain popularity/publicity/attention, it is stealing.  this is doubly true if the person you stole from earns a living from their work.  your stealing cuts into their livelihood.

. . . . .

we are all influenced by the work of others.  but it seems we are losing touch with discerning the range of influence. dabbling anywhere but the inspiration-practicing end of the spectrum prevents us from discovering our own true gifts.

it prevents us from discovering and being our own true selves.

let's be true.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

sunday grace: things about summer

"you do not have to be a fire for every mountain blocking you.
you could be a water and soft river your way to freedom too."
                                                                                                                              -nayyirah waheed

Sunday, July 17, 2016

sunday grace

i dream a lot about flying, flying like a bird and metaphorically flying (accomplishment).

it's often the steps that are required to take flight that keep me grounded.

this poem reminds me to keep trying, be patient, do the work.

Friday, July 1, 2016

trauma-informed yoga


some friends have asked me, "what exactly is trauma-informed yoga?"  this conversation is so important, so i thought i would write about it here.

the answer is complex.  so complex that i had to edit down this post because the original was a mile long and i still hadn't begun to capture the breadth and depth of the topic.  i whittled it down to a few fundamentals that are critical when offering trauma-informed yoga.

trauma occurs when our ability to cope is overwhelmed.  trauma exists across a spectrum and is defined by how events are experienced and internalized, rather than by the event itself.  this means that anything could be experienced as a trauma.  when something overwhelms our ability to cope, our nervous system provides the cues to the physical body to mount a response to the danger--fight, flight, or freeze.  when our system restores to a sense of safety (regulation) after the threat has ended, trauma can be experienced without long-term or debilitating effects.  it is when our nervous system does not return to a sense of safety and we are unable to return to a place of healthy regulation that we remain stuck in survival response even though the actual threat no longer exists.

the practice of yoga is uniquely suited to people who have experienced trauma, allowing them to experience safety and learn and practice very effective self-regulation techniques. yoga brings our awareness to what is happening in the body (over and over again),  this act of focusing on sensation grounds our experience in the here and now, rather than the past.  when we practice regulating the body in this present state using sensation, grounding, orientation, breath and other resources, the door is opened for our brains to step out of the stuckness and construct more hopeful possibilities in the face of perceived threat.  this is the process of cultivating resilience.

ahimsa, the first yama in the yogi's ethical code, means non-violence or do no harm.  first and foremost, we have the obligation to ensure that we are not causing harm, triggering, or in any way re-traumatizing yoga students (to the best of our ability).  with trauma, this can be tricky.  we start by not taking this responsibility lightly.

some things to consider about offering trauma-informed yoga:

  • understanding the complexity of trauma is key.  i wholeheartedly support that each and every yoga teacher know the basics of trauma and the many ways it can show up in a class.  however, i worry about oversimplification and that the concept is becoming a bit of a flavor-of-the-month in the yoga world.  we must ensure our behavior remains true to its original intention to be of service.
  • there is a difference between a yoga teacher being informed about trauma and taking measures to promote emotional safety in a general studio class and a yoga class or program that is held specifically for a known traumatized or marginalized population.  a good rule is that the teacher's experience with and knowledge of trauma is congruent with the known level of trauma in the room.
  • when working with trauma, a high level of self-awareness is critical.  we have to know our own privilege, tendencies, blindspots and triggers.  a behavior, personality trait, words or teaching approach we have and use could unintentionally cause harm to someone with trauma.   unfortunately, so many people are operating from a place of unconsciousness and have no idea how they harm or trigger.  yes, even yogis.
  • we must know and manage our own trauma histories.  there are not that many humans in the world (if any) who are have not experienced trauma to one degree or another.  if you are operating from a place of unaddressed trauma, you are unlikely to adequately gauge when you are doing harm. 
  • when a student has experienced trauma, they are also not likely to adequately gauge when harm is being done to them or when things are dangerous.  this is one of the explanations for re-victimization. this makes the ethical obligation of the trauma-informed yoga teacher even more imperative.
  • consider your preparation to be trauma-informed.  there is an abundance of fantastic information about trauma-informed yoga.  self-study and online courses with reliable professionals are appropriate for trauma-informed teachers of general studio classes, however, due to its complexity, trauma isn't really a topic you can unpack and understand in a few sessions.
  • there are more in-depth, lengthy and in-person programs for those who teach classes and programs intentionally designed for students with trauma.  other professional experience working with trauma (i.e. as a therapist, social worker, first responder, etc.) is sensible here too.  
  • we must check our motivation to teach trauma-informed yoga.  we are motivated to be of service, to create and maintain emotional safety for others, to offer effective tools for self-regulation and embodiment.  we don't teach trauma-informed yoga to be heroes or because it feels important or we're working out our own shit or because all the popular yoga teachers are doing it.  

teaching trauma-informed yoga or being a part of a class or program intended to teach yoga as a resource for cultivating resilience is a tremendous gift and a huge responsibility.  it is not for everyone.  each of us has our own unique gifts and areas where we can best be of service.   

trauma-informed yoga is a never-ending journey of study, reflection, self-awareness, empathy, presence and selflessness.  it feels so big to me and i worry when i see or hear about others treating it so casually.  titration is intentionally used in the practice of trauma-informed yoga and the same cautious, deliberate and gradual exploration approach should be mirrored in the preparation to teach it.  

follow along as i continue to grow soul studio in an intentional, meaningful way.  we will be providing trauma-informed yoga and trauma-informed expressive arts and writing programs soon.  

Sunday, June 5, 2016

sunday grace: grounded and oriented

orient.  10"x10" acrylic, ink, paper, pencil on wood.

i'm studying how to teach trauma-informed yoga and the material is rocking me to the core.

so many times here, i start to write that i can't wait to begin teaching yoga and art to teenage girls, but that is not true.  i can wait.  because the material is complex and important.  the girls are complex and important.  it's going to take some time to process and integrate and practice.  i want to offer something authentic and meaningful.

for so many people, feeling safe in the body doesn't come naturally.  it requires consciously becoming grounded, orienting to the space, and cultivating resources for emotional safety.  one of the many cues i learned for orienting that really resonated with me is, "look around the room and find four blue things."  i practice this myself when i am overwhelmed or frustrated or feel sad and to start my yoga practice.  it's simple and effective.

i woke up this morning wanting to create a piece inspired by four blue things.  because, you know, i process in color. i love that the abstract shape in the center unintentionally formed into a compass.  it also resembles my favorite yoga posture, ardha chandrasana, balancing fear, strength, lightness and beauty.

these things are my grace today:  learning, orienting, seeing the path more clearly, patience.

four things that just might be blue.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

sunday grace: these four unlikely friends

{clockwise from top left:  the artist, frida kahlo; the mystic, anandamayi ma; the activist, angela davis,
and the believer, anne frank.  acrylic paint and image transfer on wood.}

yesterday i completed the fourth piece in an ongoing series of mixed-media work dedicated to my own personal archetypes.  i began a month ago just wanting to pay homage to frida kahlo after i daydreamed about us being friends and the kinds of things we would do together and talk about.  how would she listen to me?  what wisdom would she impart?  how could i make her proud?  i realized pretty quickly that i was actually exploring my archetypes, those women who hold particular resonance for me and who are the ideal personifications of qualities i wish to cultivate and maintain in my self and life.

i allowed the selection of the friends and the creative process to be informed by a current mood, need or memory.  i love the unlikely and powerful gang of heroes that emerged and who comprise the first four. even though they lived in different times and are of different cultures and have such a diverse treasure box of gifts, they all share a courageous and dreamy spirit with which i deeply connect.

. . . . .

i met my husband ken while we were both acting in the play the diary of anne frank.  the play was being produced in my hometown in california and the proceeds were dedicated to the agency i worked for at the time, to create a secure and confidential park where children in foster care could visit outdoors with their biological parents.  as both an actor in the play and a social worker at the agency, i was asked to give a speech at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

i remember writing and speaking about the commonalities among children, the things that both the foster children and anne frank shared:  resilience, a connection to their parents no matter what, and a deep love of the freedom and light of the outdoors.  anne wrote in her diary, "the best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside."  it moved me deeply that we were building this space where children and their families could share time outside when that was the very thing that anne longed for while she was hidden in the annex.

i intentionally let her sit and write and smile in the open glorious outdoors in this piece.

friends, i am loving doing this series.  the physical time spent with the paint, photographs, scissors and glue gives space and time for me to ponder my own embodiment of the qualities of these extraordinary women.  i encourage you to spend time thinking about the remarkable humans who inform your life.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

sunday grace

moments of grace this week:

  • this wee patch of wildflowers at sunset, its beauty magnified by the fact that it is bordered by a busy highway to the east, a no-nonsense holiday inn to the south, applebee's to the north, a large government complex to the west.  it quietly stood its ground and whispered, "i'm still magnificent nature, even here in this bland chaos.  p.s. you too."
  • my meditation practice that saved me on a whirlwind tour of the state working closely with the most extroverted and energetic person i know.  
  • a mama raccoon and her two wee babes in a hollow tree behind the house.
  • homemade aqua de horchata over shaved ice in a newly-discovered hole-in-the-wall mexican joint in the middle of nowhere.
  • checking out the class schedule on the front window of a yoga studio, glancing inside to see a class in progress and a mother doing mommy-and-me yoga with two brand new babies, one lovingly held in each hand.
  • participating in two amazing yoga teacher trainings at the same time, one for yoga inclusivity and the other to teach trauma-informed yoga to youth in high-risk or marginalized settings.
  • reading poetry, perched on the edge of the blue ridge mountains.
  • receiving sas' my mindful year email for may.  this month's focus is cultivating mindful friendships.  these words:  "telling myself the truth is the foundation for every connection in my life." (you can sign up to receive the monthly emails here.) 
  • creating six little motivational notes for a fifth-grader as she breezes through her end-of-year tests this week.

    what were your moments?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

sunday grace: imaginary friends

imaginary friend {№4}:  the artist.  mixed media and image transfer on wood.  photo by leo matiz.

hello loves.

i'm deep into exploring my own personal archetypes over here.  i tend to think of them not in the traditional sense, but as muses:  badass gentle spirits whose lives, hearts and minds guide my own and spark curiosity and inspiration just when needed.

i like to call them my imaginary friends.

meet my artist friend, frida.

when we are lying around on the grass in the bright sunshine, exhausted after hours of talking and laughing, here are the things she whispers to me:

  • color is everything.
  • passion is everything.
  • justice is everything.
  • don't ever stop painting.
  • people will let you down, don't stop loving them.
  • animals will never let you down.
  • see it and say it.
  • be weird like me.
  • find other weird ones.
  • being a misfit is the most glorious gift.
  • visit the wilderness often.
  • visit the city often.
  • be well-read and never stop cultivating your intelligence.
  • be comfortable with silence and aloneness.
  • you must tend a garden and a home, they are the beautiful containers of your life.
  • scream when you need to scream.
  • dance when you need to dance.
  • paint.
  • paint.
  • paint.

(my spring|summer art project is to create a series of paintings of my imaginary friends.  i can't wait for you to meet them.)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

sunday grace: all the feels

alchemy cards, emotion deck, recently made with mindy tsonas' inner alchemy circle.

i am a sensitive human.

this is not new, i've always been tender and dramatic and melancholy and passionate and poetic.

but i used to fool myself into thinking i was keeping it a secret, carefully cultivating a moderately unaffected persona.

on occasion, one or more feeling might grow too powerful for containment and seep out in a big way.

big anger.  big fear.  big disappointment.  big grief.

sometimes my empathy kicks into overdrive and i get to feel others' emotions too.  (big fun.)

i learned that you can do a decent part-time job at hiding your emotions.  but you cannot not feel them.

i am developing a new-found appreciation for my deep feelings and ever-evolving empathy. i am observing them coming and going, watching their habits, their rhythm.  i am sitting with them and hearing their stories (which are my stories they've been trying to tell me for years and to which i stubbornly refused to listen).

so here we all are on this particular sunday morning; having coffee with me at the table is a little bit of restlessness, some disappointment, a lot of hope, compassion, courage, a mild sense of injustice. i'm trying not to pick at the scab that has grown over a recent wound to my heart.  i'm letting my feelings inform my wisdom and vise-versa.

and rumi is here too:

the guest house

this being human is a guest house
every morning a new arrival.

a joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

welcome and entertain them all
even if they are a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.
still treat each guest honorably.
he may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

the dark thought, the shame, the malice
meet them at the door laughing
and invite them in.

be grateful for whoever comes
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

things i am not very good at

the other day, a sweet friend commented on facebook, "is there anything you can't do?"

um...yes.  YES!  tons of things.  here is a list of things i can't do and it is, by no measure, exhaustive:
  • pottery.  while i tend to do pretty well in the creative arts, the whole pottery wheel magic has eluded me.  i have tried time and time again.  clay is just not my medium.  this failure is evident in the bowl above.  it was intended to be a large, magnificent bowl.  but once on the wheel, i could not get the walls higher than three inches.  and the glaze job is so shoddy (and i really tried!) that i couldn't even bring myself to post a photo showing the side.  it does serve a few purposes though:  random crap collector and humility totem.
  • fried chicken.  i can cook and (sometimes) bake, but the perfect fried chicken is forever outside my wheelhouse.  
  • self-promotion.  ugh, i get a little vomit in the back of my mouth just thinking about it. someone told me once that if i liked my own posts on facebook, they would get more exposure. i don't even know what to say about that.  
  • tolerating narcissists.  and their annoying partners sycophants.  this year seems to be the year i am flooded with narcissists.  are you experiencing this too?  is it a cultural phenomenon related to trump?  it's so bad that i couldn't even watch the new season of house of cards.  i had no space left for manipulative, sweet-talking, self-centered emotional vampires.
  • keeping house.  i don't know where my lack of effort and ability in this area comes from.  i have never been in the economic position to have a housekeeper, yet i have never developed a practice of cleaning up after myself without first throwing a hissy fit (a la five-year-old me).
  • being in a work group.  ugh.  for me, group participation goes deeper than simple introvert aversion. i can't remember being in a group that didn't have drama or dysfunction.  because i am an introvert with a lot of ideas, inevitably a more vocal, insecure person in the group takes credit for my input.  for the life of me, i can't understand the appeal (well, except maybe for that person who doesn't have their own ideas).  social workers are supposed to be the champions of the group process, but the evidence just isn't there for me. i truly value, request and give credit to the input and counsel of others if i am working on a project, but i prefer to do autonomous work.
  • learning a new language.  this one makes me really sad.  i like to imagine myself speaking fluent spanish and french, but once the lessons advance to more than simple memorization of words, i'm lost.   i know that my receptive language is far greater than my expressive language (i take in way more than i can process and express) and i am highly empathic, often feeling others' feelings and "hearing" the things they are not saying.  i've wondered if all that energy impedes the process of learning good old symbolic methods of communicating.
  • telling a good joke.  i tend to start over-explaining really early on, which kind of ruins the whole thing.
  • parties.  i do like planning parties and being in small gatherings with dear friends and new, interesting humans, but any time i am forced to small-talk for more than one minute, i fail.
  • sports.  again, i wish i could.  i spent my youth trying again and again to be good at anything athletic and failed over and over.  i would love to be a runner or a tennis player or kick a soccer ball around on a field with friends, but i have learned that my physical activity abilities are pretty much limited to dancing, yoga, hula-hooping and walking in the forest.
  • i ran into a wall at this point on the list and asked ken, "what else am i not good at?"  he is a smart man (and an actor) so he just allowed a perplexed, deep thinking look to take over his face.  i asked, "...maybe patience?" and he broke role immediately with an unconstrained, emphatic "YES!"  so there you go.

even though i don't do a great job at these things, it doesn't stop me from trying new things and even revisit a few of these from a new perspective every once in a while.  

it's also important to note some things that i failed at and, because i kept plugging away at them, became things i do pretty well:  listening, painting, confidence, public speaking, photography. gardening, discerning evidence from opinion...  

it doesn't feel very good to be a failure at something, but we all know that we learn from these experiences.  as i was writing this post, my curiosity was piqued about how i could learn to tell a joke or refine my attitude toward keeping the house i love.  writing the post was oddly inspiring for me.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

sunday grace: now

now from lisa parks on Vimeo.

hello loves.

i made my very first tiny film.  i am still (forever) practicing with camera work and editing, but i kind of love it.

i hope you do too.

things have been weird lately.  i needed to focus my attention on beauty, rather than harshness.  love, rather than resentment.  all while still being present, awake and alive in the somewhat fucked up emotional landscape of now.

i love you.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

sunday grace: the path

this was my path.

even before i could name it.

when i was much too small and american to know of buddha

or pema chödrön .

my sense of wonder saved me.

all the unknowable things gave me reason to stay.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

sunday grace: just for one day

this painting is propped on an easel in the downstairs studio.  i started it last september and it has been painted and repainted about six times.  its current state, still unfinished, still a bit of a mess, was inspired by my feelings following the death of david bowie.  i love that i know and experienced its understories.  all of them.  not one of the layers underneath the surface has anything to do with david bowie.

and yet they have everything to do with david bowie.

each layer we live, each moment, each transformation, each version and story of who we are, never leaves us.  they are all there beneath the surface, in the tissue, in the fiber, in the blood, in our individual and complex limbic terrains.

when we show up, they show up with us.

i take great comfort in this thought, especially on days like today.  i am uncertain and a little fearful today.  but i have had some courageous days.  and they echo in the back beat of my pulse.  today they will show up with me, in all my uncertainty and fear.    my own little gang of heroes.

Friday, January 29, 2016

five senses friday

it's been a while, five senses friday.


  • brilliantly white fresh snow
  • pink, purple and blue january sunsets

  • the sound of my own voice learning yoga asanas in sanskrit (my new favorite sound)
  • listening to my own "om"
  • last week i stayed in a hotel that played barely audible house music in the elevator and hallways, i still hear the echo of the beat.  

  • medicinal herb-infused bone broth
  • rose-cardamom syrup in hot cocoa

  • purple hyacinths on the window sill

  • each sacred ordinary object as i arrange and rearrange the tiny altars throughout the house
  • folding one thousand paper cranes

Monday, January 18, 2016

tiny memoir: best of my love

a boy and a girl, too young to be married, much less parents, sit in the parked car around three in the morning following one of his shows. both are exhausted from the endless arguing and disappointments. he is smoking a cigarette. she is desperately trying to figure out what to say next, what to do to lift them from this suffocating place. the familiar acoustic strums of best of my love drift from the radio. the song, already over ten years old, isn't a favorite of either, but they both know all the words by heart. because eagles music softly accompanied the raising of kids in southern california in the 70s. she leans her face against the window and stares up at the night sky, his gaze falls straight ahead and they begin to sing along. there is a moment of lightness, the magnetic pull of a shared story, but as the music fades out, they both know that singing that song is the last thing they will do together.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

the care and keeping of the yoga teacher trainee

in less than two weeks, i begin om yoga teacher training with cyndi lee.  i am excited and scared. i am ready and so not ready.  i've done my pre-training reading (twice), gathered notebooks, index cards, pens and pencils (i LOVE this bookish-girl part), and maintained a regular asana practice.  i've organized my calendar for the next six months; with increased out-of-town work hours, daily asana practice and weekend trainings, it's going to be full.

this morning i spent some time thinking about how else i can be more ready, how i can prepare in advance for the inevitable challenges that will arise.  i just kept coming back to the same questions:  what are the ways you can take extra care of yourself?  what things do you need to nourish and nurture your body and your soul?  it turns out, i already do and have these things.  i just need to be more intentional about using them the next six months.

for the soul
i chose a guiding word for this journey:  trust.  i know that self-doubt is going to creep in and i have to remember that i can trust my body, my mind, my teacher and my sangha.  i pulled three other art of attention cards (pictured above) in addition to trust that i know will support and motivate me:

  • see:  see your surroundings and lessons as blessings.
  • intuition:  your intuition holds ancient wisdom, trust it.
  • awaken:  awaken to another possibility
i am creating a little practice altar for meditation each morning before training.  here there is a little blue tiny buddha to remind me to have fun, ganesha to clear the path, a wood lotus to represent community, aqua aura quartz for clarity and spirit, and my little "be" ceramic stone.  to further remind me to just show up as i am that day, i will include flowers or greenery from my yard, whatever and however it is on that particular day of the year.

for the body
i need to stay well and capable the next six months.  not a simple task with winter colds bouncing about and lots of travelling.  in addition to my regular winter wellness support, i am adding or increasing the following:
  • bone broth (upper right corner) is kind of the perfect food, especially when you need something powerful but light so you don't have a tummy full of food during practice.  i do like to make my own at home, but i know the time involved is going to be an issue.  i've been testing packaged bone broth for the past few months and the winner is from bone broth company.  i have a feeling a hot cup of bone broth in the morning and afternoon during training is going to save me.  
  • hot water with raw honey, lemon and thin slices of ginger.
  • golden milk (lower left corner) every night before bed.  the turmeric softens and eases body tension and the magnesium promotes deep and restorative rest.
  • i am most worried about my lower back.  i've got a wee bit of a pinch on my sciatic nerve that flares up every once in a while.  in addition to a regular practice of asana specifically for my lower back, i've stocked up on arnica cream and made up a roller ball of doterra deep blue and almond oil.  
  • hot baths with sea salt, epsom salt, baking soda and ginger.
  • maybe a massage.  or two.  or ten.  
i know i can't prepare for every single thing that will pop up and threaten to grow my resistance, but i also know what when i don't take care of myself is when resistance has its tightest grip on me.  these little things give me a fighting chance to make it through with grace and resolve.

i'll keep you posted friends.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

sunday grace: tea + apathy

some days i struggle to stay engaged with the human race.

some days i only want to talk to my dog.

some days the world is too loud and too stupid.

some days the tired seeps into my bones and i just want to sleep for a week.

some days my hyper-awareness of the flaws of people overwhelms me.

some days i am overlooked, betrayed, fooled, manipulated.

some days i feel poor, even though i no longer am.

in these moments it's seductive to slide into apathy, to find ease and relief and comfort in not seeing, not knowing, not caring, not listening, not speaking, not acting, not connecting.  the balm of indifference.  the relaxed posture of passivity.

sometimes i indulge in little sips.  enough to remember that it's just not my cup of tea, that i will always choose to live with curiosity and courage and compassion.

Friday, January 1, 2016

a strange feather

{my first painting of the year and the first in a series inspired by poets and poetry.}

a strange feather

the craziness,
all the empty plots,
all the ghosts and fears,

all the grudges and sorrows have

i must have inhaled
a strange

that finally