As I sit here listening to Neil Young on Pandora, I am smiling because I just got back from a date...a date with myself to see"Eat. Pray. Love." The book sits on my shelf, thoroughly read and worn and the movie was indeed a treat as well as a good dose of self-love, inspiration, laughter & tears.
As I sat there by myself surrounded by other amazing women, totally engrossed in the film, feeling tingly as Julia Roberts ate herself simple in Italy, bowed to a guru in India, and made sweet love to a Brazilian in Bali, I thought about my own personal journey and how I ended up here, in Seattle, working for a non-profit, being in love with an amazing man, and living in a community where I feel supported, loved, and intellectually challenged. In the movie, Liz Gilbert, played by Julia Roberts is eating with a group of friends in Italy, family style of course, and they start talking about their "word." The "word" is described as the word that describes who you are, not what you do. For example, it could be love, it could be grace, it could be peace. You get the point.
Well, on my way home, I started thinking about my "word." So many came to mind: Change, Love, Patience, Grace, Inspire, Miracles. Then, as I put my key in my door, it came to me: Journey. Journey is my word. It sounds a bit cliche, but I think it fits. It feels right. Why Journey?
Ever since I can remember, I have always been curious. Searching. Learning. Exploring. I have always craved for change and a new challenge. I remember climbing Mt. Washington when I was 10 years old with my dad and my brother and got home and told my mom I was going to hike the Appalachian Trail when I graduated high school. I would flip through outdoor magazines, dreaming of the day when I had my own car and drivers license and I could pack up a backpack and escape for days on end. Well, fast forward 16 years and here I am, still passionate about adventure. About learning. About soaking up as much knowledge as possible.
The Three Journeys that have shaped me and continue to mold me from the inside out are The Journey of Yoga, The Journey of Love, and The Journey of Blissful Livelihood. This blog post is a three part series so keep checking in to complete The Three Journeys with me.
There have been so many transformational moments in my life around yoga. The first time I stepped on a yoga mat was when I was 16 years old and I took a yoga class with my mom at the local hospital wellness center. The teacher was so incredibly graceful. She had gray hair and her skin was tanned but smooth. Her voice put me right to sleep and I experienced my first ever savasana (corpse pose) and I never looked back. Yoga has been an integral part of my life. It was the only way I could put my type A personality on the shelf for 60 minutes and just be. I met a Vinyasa (Flow) teacher in college and studied with her for two years. I had been struggling with depression and deep seeded grief. I couldn't sleep and I felt as though my head was always under water, just covering my ears so I couldn't hear anything but I could see everything. I was an observer of life and that first yoga class moved something so deep inside me that I felt alive again.
I remember collapsing into Pigeon Pose, a very deep hip opener. Tears filled my eyes and started to stream down my face. My heart started to beat again and life slowly pumped through my veins. In November of 2007, my teacher took her own life. I was devastated and it took me a few months for me to get back on my yoga mat again. Each time I practice, I whisper her name and dedicate a smile full of life and light to her. She saved my life and I never told her in person but I know she knows.
My yoga practice has evolved since I was 16. I pick up my mat and have more fun. It is more of a playful practice and I don't get too serious with myself. I had a teacher in a class once that said, "Two Rules of Yoga: Smile when you wobble, laugh when you fall." I have a tendency to practice on grass & pavement, on a friends carpet, or in an office. I like to share yoga with others, including my partner who giggles with me as the dog licks my face in Cobra pose. A yoga mat lives in my car and the other day, I gave it to my campers to use as a sitting mat when it was pouring buckets on us.
Yoga books line my shelves and I have a subscription to Yoga Journal, compliments of my awesome brother who gives it to me every year for the holidays. I love yoga music and feel that no class should be without it. My favorite pose is headstand and I don't get to do it everyday. Yoga is the thread that always runs through me. It is always alive, even if I don't get to the mat everyday for a Sun Salutation. I still eat cheeseburgers, I watch reality TV once in awhile, and I enjoy the occasional glass of wine. I choose to stay under the warm covers with my man instead of waking up at 3:30am to meditate.
For me, yoga is not about being rigid. Yoga helps me to adapt and be flexible, not just physically. It is one of the few activities where I can just be with myself, raw and open, totally and completely vulnerable. It is the journey that never ends.