Wednesday, May 28, 2014

where the magic happens

Gone are the days of brunches in wine country, iced coffees and speed walking around the lake, and throwing ourselves into the meat market of Friday night clubbing. The women I run with are meeting in living rooms on the New Moon and shedding their layers and exposing deep vulnerabilities, having conversations worth having, stepping into deep power, love for themselves and one another, and getting real. I started attending a New Moon Circle in January of this year.

It manifested out of one of my goals from the Desire Map based on my Core Desired Feelings...engaged, vitality, aligned, nourished, limitless. My top goal was to find my tribe of amazing, goddess women. Boom. Fast forward to the May New Moon and I am sitting her completely in awe of the power that is generated in the three hours we spend together every month. Magic Happens. I am called to write, to write poetry to capture what I feel.

talking stick. i listen. i speak. only one at a time.
chanting to ganesha. om ganesha. remover of obstacles. guide me, embrace all of it.
holding space, feeling sad, open, ripped apart, muddled up.
it is held.
fuck. shit. damn, holy hell.
all of it.
the tears, raw and flowing. there is no harm here. just be.
sit with it. be with it, you are supported. that is all.
we discover through the night, as we sip tea that we all hold the stories
that hold us back. ahhhh, now i see. it is clear. shameless? hell yes.
that is my purpose. what is my purpose? legacy struggle.
marry myself. fearless on the cliff. the tears trailing in the wind.
if i am stable in myself, standing in my truth, all is well.
leave nothing unsaid, leave with your heart held in a new way.
nourished and new.
the intention is set.

Monday, May 26, 2014

and I run

It's Friday morning, May 23. It's raining. It's 7:30am. It's my birthday. I have only run once this week, it was Tuesday, and I put off Wednesday and Thursday, because, well, the bed seemed to feel a lot better than the pavement on Phinney Avenue. But I have made this promise to myself. It feels good to come back from my run and take my black Sharpie marker and make the smiley face on the training calendar. I LOVE THAT!
So, I lace up my Nike running shoes, pull on a long sleeve capilene shirt and head out. The rain pelting. All of life still dormant in the early morning hours. And I run. One foot in front of the other, my heart pounding. It feels nice. It feels, well, freeing.

About two weeks ago, I made the choice to start the Couch to 5k Program. It makes me giggle because back in the day (we are talking 10 years ago), I was the co-captain of my Cross Country Team and was running 50+ miles per week. Now, I am like most Americans (although I don't think of myself as such), working the 9-5 grind, doing what I can to eat well, be active, and keep stress levels at bay. This running program is one of the coolest things I have embarked on. I like the structure, the easing into it, the approachability, and the goal oriented approach...nine weeks, three running workouts per week, 20-25 minutes/run...totally doable. I love that. Although I will say that it has been a bit confronting.

Sometimes the running does feel super nice. The blood and oxygen pulsating through my system, the way the sweat beads on my lower back and forehead, the feeling of "hell yes!" And like everything. there is the other side of the coin. I start with the negative self-talk. "God Jen, you used to be faster, skinnier, more in shape. You let yourself go. Way too many wings and pizza slices lady!" Well, all that chatter is just chatter. That is it. What I have come to realize is that I can choose the two paths...I can be at peace with the fact that I am getting older, my body has changed and I am staying active and feeling awesome or I can succumb to the negative Nancy in my head that has nothing but shame remarks. I choose the former.

The things is, over and over I come back to the premise that one of my spiritual teachers speaks of all the time: we are all just doing the best we can with what we have. For me, it's a 10 year old t-shirt, some Nike shoes, and the iPod I got my freshman year of college. But I run. I enjoy those 20 minutes, even when they leave me totally breathless and humbled.

I leave you with something that is challenging. Pick up an activity from the past. Be open to being humbled. That is all.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

30 things I am taking with me into my thirties

Well, it's here. I turned 30 yesterday and I have sunken deep into reflective space. Even though there is tons to do like writing thank you notes, launching my yoga business website, planting things in the garden, scrubbing the bathroom, and tackling the pile of library books that I just had to check out because the cover made me get it, I am in a funky head space. I am sad to see 10 years of soul searching, finding myself, growing up, this is real life-ness end, yet, I am so ready for what is next.

My twenties rocked. They rolled. They blew my mind. They sucked. They sucked hard. They taught me about life. They were full of travels east, west, north, and south. They offered me community, tears, screaming fights, and belly laughs. Lots of endings, lots of beginnings. Being broke, feeling abundant. Learning to love all the parts of myself, even the soft, flabby bits, the creaky joints, the sickness, the health. ALL. OF. IT.

Now, I have closed the door on them. Why thank you, sweet twenties! Thank you for everything. But before I go, here are thirty things I am taking with me.

Life isn't just black and white...there is a lot of grey. Life gets a little more complex, I can go deeper on things and I don't have to live in this either/or, good/bad, black/white thinking mode. Flexibility, understanding, and playing in the unknown is way more fun.
Silence is golden. Sit. Meditate. It does my mind/body/soul so good.
Nourish your tribe. All of them. The way our culture operates, we are so digital. Coming together as tribes is disappearing. Create space for this in life. Having people come together from different networks is amazing and magical. Laughter ensues, debates emerge, the presence of other people is nourishing in itself.
Live the 80/20 rule. I am a huge fan of the Pareto Principle. It's the assumption of predictive imbalance. Whether it is food, fitness, temperament, work/life balance, being forgiving and gentle with myself makes life so much more enjoyable.
Say no. I don't do this enough. I have come into my own on embracing what feels good and knowing when things don't quote feel right...and learning to walk away. I know that it is imperative to create white space in the calendar and push back a little.
Share gratitude first. The Man and I do this at our table before meals. What are we grateful for? Just in that moment, everything falls away. It feels good to acknowledge the good, the universe and what it provides. It only takes seconds too.
Pleasure and desire are good things. This comes purely from Danielle LaPorte's Desire Map program. I have been working with it for over a year now and it is life changing. Focusing on how I want to feel first, and then aligning my actions and to do list with those feelings has changed my life. I started giving myself permission to want what I want and man, does that feel good.
Wear bright colors. Hot pink, lime green, orange, and purple are now staples in my wardrobe. Those pieces make me smile.
Change your mind. I am a mind changer and have finally started to accept that part of myself. Part of it is my inner Gemini, but the other part of it is taking time to let things process...not jumping to decisions right away.
Always be reading. My favorite habit by far...I read everyday, even if it's just a few pages. I try to block out 30-45 minutes before bed nightly and I love it. It is a habit I hold close to my heart.
Rest is key. My early twenties were packed with stuff to do. I was always pushing, always doing. Then I got sick with Lyme Disease and I literally had to learn how to rest. It makes a world of difference. It means doing nothing...putting my feet up, sitting on my deck and watching the birds as I sip tea, even a walk in the middle of the day can be restful. I sleep in when I need to, but gone are the days of burning the candle at both ends.
Nobody is broken. We are all just doing the best we can with what we have. That it is all.
Have your things. I am quirky. I am a geek at heart, totally introverted actually when it comes down to it. I like office supplies, pens, notebooks, and used bookstores. I enjoy little candles and soaps, and the feel of clean sheets. These parts of myself I don't hide anymore.
Commit. My early twenties were very free spirited...there was a nomadic quality to my way of life, coming and going, doing whatever felt "right." I am enjoying the new chapter of my life, being with the man of my dreams, nesting, grocery shopping at the same place every week, and knowing I have people to be with in my community. It feels good to have committed to my life in Seattle. I totally love it. 
Be humbled.When I started volunteering in my twenties, service became a huge part of my life. My livelihood revolves around working in the non-profit community and everyday I am humbled by what folks are facing. This keeps me grounded and in touch with what truly matters.
Don't just be fine. Share yourself completely and honestly. And if you can't, find some new peeps.
Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. This is the golden jewel in my lessons. It used to be so hard for me to be with pain and discomfort, primarily with emotional pain. My studies in Buddhism, Yoga, and Meditation have helped me make immense strides in this, but I still struggle and am in love with the struggle now, as opposed to total aversion.
RSVP. Manners matter.
My Family Totally Rocks. They are my best friends. They would come and get me out of jail. They make me pee my pants when we are together because we are laughing so damn hard, and they are good people with big hearts.
The More You Practice, The More You Shift. This wisdom is from one of my teachers. It has left a profound mark on me. My practices of yoga, meditation, breathing practices, and studying all keep me resilient. I think of my personal spiritual practice in the sense that I am running an ongoing experiment and I am the scientist.
Get Physical. Drink Water. Floss. Honoring my Temple has been key for my stability and functionality.
Laughter is love. I love making people laugh. I love laughing. We need more of it if we want this world to heal.
Heal My Feet. I battled a nasty foot thing for about 6 years and finally, I just healed it through some cleansing and some diet changes. Boom. Done. Sometimes, making some external changes heals things internally. Gotta love that.
Get on the floor. My yoga practice is more floor based now more than ever. It is the most grounding place to be and when I am feeling crazy/overwhelmed/anxious/etc., the floor is the place to go.
Get rid of some shit. I am into the Tiny House movement. We don't need all the shit we have. I am constantly looking for things to get rid of. I really want to try to get rid of 10 things every week this next year.
Ask deep questions...of yourself. I journal. It's my way of checking in. I love it. I ask deep questions like where I want to be in in 10 years, what fuels me, what do I need to stop doing.
Buy good beauty products. And sheets. I have learned not to skimp on the things I use religiously everyday...sheets and hair products. I invest in these and it pays off in....feeling amazing.
Play in the dirt. Gardening and working with the earth and getting outside keeps us in touch with what is bigger than ourselves. I love it and am amazed by it everyday.
For the love of learning. I just did a personality strengths assessment at work during a Management Team Retreat and Love of Learning was in my top five strengths. Could not be more true. I make it a point to live on the edge of learning new things and I eat it up. Like cake. 
Always be searching. For meaning, for new community, for ways to change the world, for challenges that spark me. I will never stop.

Friday, May 9, 2014

nourishing engagement

Photo: Spring morning at UWIt's May. It's gorgeous. It's fun and full and yet feels so nourishing and, well, beautiful. Part of this fullness is the simple fact that it's my birthday month and this year is a biggie...I am turning 30. I am putting the twenties away, wrapping them up in glittery paper with lots of sparkles, and bowing to them with deep, pure gratitude. There is pizza, chocolate, wine, delicious cheese, and cake as well. Of course, a birthday milestone brings up so much reflective qualities that are truly hard to ignore. It can whip your mind into the future and modes of "what if," and deep insecurities. "Am I where I want to be?," "Have I done enough?," "Am I rocking it?"

In this deeply reflective space, I can't help but look back on this year in general. 2014 has rocked the bliss. It has proven that no matter how full and good you feel, you can always add more full and good. The words that have been most prominent have been nourish and vitality, hence the name for my new yoga business Nourished Vitality: Yoga for the Soul which launched this week and by launch, I mean a business license, domain name, and website building in process. It has been a dream of mine since I was 16 to become a certified yoga teacher and now, 14 years later, the dream has come to fruition.

On top of my yoga, I got engaged and am also building my tribe of amazing, wonderful women. Connecting with new & old friends, making time and space for engagement and connection with key folks in my communities, as well as sowing the seeds for a sacred partnership with The Man, have all made me realize that connection can nourish us, right to the deepest places of our souls. We crave it, yet sometimes we are pulled away from making it happen. It takes work. Period. The cool thing about partnerships is that there is an equilibrium that is created when two people come together and create energy that works. There is nourishment on both ends, people feel supported, heard, and valued. Love flows.

All of these happenings have catapulted me into what it means to be part of a community, of something bigger than us. In Buddhism, we consider it sangha and some cultures term it as your tribe. Being part of a community is only one half of the equation. Being nourished in that community is the second part. Below are a few of my personal reflections on what nourishing engagement & communities mean to me, based on living in this new realm for the past few months.

It takes awhile to find your tribe. When I moved to Seattle in 2007 (now almost seven years ago!) I was lost for awhile. It was my first experience living in a big city and like every region, there were some quirks. It was harder to make friends due to my introverted nature. Over time, I got grounded in my space, engaged with my hobbies & passions, created relationships at work, embraced new experiences that were scary at times (going to a concert in a new part of town with a group of people I barely knew through a coworker), and having some bad fits. We never force a child to make friends quickly, we let it develop. 

It takes some elbow grease. You gotta make the time to connect, and I mean, make the time for in person, face to face, eye contact, hugs, etc. That time is valuable and is so nourishing. Due to my introverted nature, one-to-one time is so much easier for me than large events. I can manage my energy better, I can be present, and really tune in, but you gotta nurture those opportunities like a tomato or basil start in the garden. That means getting things on the calendar, calling people back, involving some food and beverages, and battling the "I'm too tired, busy, fill in the blank."

Know Your Energy. I have already mentioned plenty about my introverted nature, but to expand on this a bit, my personal philosophy/values/core desired feelings are all about alignment, nourishment, vitality, and engagement. I can't have one of those without the others. I know that I work late on Tuesdays and that Wednesdays are yoga nights and Thursdays are couple nights. That leaves Mondays, Friday's, and the weekend to nourish relationships and be in community. I monitor my energy and self-care to not be overextended and white space is standard in my calendar. Once or twice a week for nourishing outside relationships is my standard. Usually it does not involved late nights, drinking, or loud environments.

My hope for you is that you are out in the world sharing your fabulous self and spirit, because we need more of that. Go forth and engage with the folks that bring you joy. Let them support you, support them, and most of all, let it be the most nourishing thing you do.