Sunday, December 20, 2015

Moving Through Stagnation

I can't seem to articulate where my irritability and general rage at the world is coming from.
Internally, I feel as though a battle is emerging within my innards, a war of sorts. It's an emotional roller coaster right now and the crazy thing about it is that I can't put my finger on why I am so pissed off at life and the world. I had to sit with some pretty tough emotions these past few days, leaning into the uncomfortable, the icky, the disgusting shame I was feeling. I felt as though I was one of those shallow, hot ponds in the Maine woods, full of mud, bugs, and filth. Stinky. As I listened, I was tuning into a deep stagnation within myself. It make sense. That I know.

Stagnant. I get that way. A few too many missed gym days, not hitting my yoga mat for personal practice, and lacking in my laughter. Good, hard belly laughs. So, what do I do to move through it? Well, I get angry with myself, shaming myself for not doing the 'right' things. I shoulda/coulda/woulda. But I know better. That game has no winners. Pure shame.

My husband and I went out for dinner last night. He is my best, most favorite teacher. "Jen, you'll move through it. Be gentle with yourself. It's just a patch," he says.

I am not a fan of the hot yoga world, nor am I devotee of any practice that measures you by how far you can go into a backbend, but here's the deal: I was craving sweat and flow. It's dreary here in the PNW right now. A bit dark. Okay. A LOT dark. So this morning, I packed up my towel and block and strap, pulled on a pair of sweats over some yoga shorts, and drove myself to a Power Vinyasa class. It was like I drank a magic potion or something. I needed to deal with my shit. And that is how I needed to do it. I had to work out my anger, my rage, my annoyance with the mass consumerism around the holiday. I had to leave my homesickness on the mat. I had to let go of "what it should all look like." I had to let my heart open just a little but more for the abundance, gratitude, and joy to slip in, like stealth superheroes being all vigilante and shit. I shed my angry layer. I rinsed off the stagnant pond. And now, I am working again like a tinker toy who got a new and improved battery or operating system.

So what? Well, I am reminded that we can move through anything. We have to get friendly with impermanence and feeling shitty and down sometimes. It moves through us, but we have to know, deep in our hearts, that it's not really about us. It's about being human. And I am pretty sure that the other seven billion hearts in this world feel heavy, sad, and sometimes full of rage. But, if we can, just open up, even a teeny tiny bit more and take a small action, that action can support us in moving through what is there.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Notes On My Social Media Break


It was October 30th. A couple days away from a new month. I always think that the first of the month has energy similar to that of a new year. A chance to start fresh, a new beginning. I turned to my husband while we got into bed and said, "I am giving up Facebook and Instagram for the month of November." 


"Why?" he asked.  

"Well, it doesn't bring me joy anymore. I am constantly going for it at any moment of downtime; when I'm standing in line, on the bus, a break at work, when I come home and am tired, when I am sleeping in on the weekends...it's becoming crack cocaine and I don't like it. I am abusing my use of it. It's scaring me and numbing me out."

"Okay," he said. "Sounds good."




I uninstalled my FB and Instagram applications from my phone. I signed out of my FB account on my laptop. I let people know in my life. I felt like I had just threw out a bunch of old stuff that had been taking over my physical and mental space. I could take a deep breath.

So now, here I am. It's December and I wanted to share my "notes from the field," on my sabbatical. I will say, it was one of the best things I did for myself this year. Since the sabbatical, I have noticed a huge shift in my device habits. I also don't crave it as much. Since November 30th, the end of my own sabbatical, I have gone days without jumping on. I haven't even updated my status. It's like a part of me has died, in a really good way. Here's what I got: 

I got close with boredom and clear about distraction. I really came face to face with this idea of boredom and how, when there is a just a little window of space, my knee jerk reaction is to go for the device or the webpage. I found that there are so many moments of my life like that; waiting for the bus, waiting in line, at a break during a meeting, when I am bored of working on a project...the list goes on. I sank into this space of enjoying the space and finding other ways to be centered, versus running from the present. Breath work, a walk, a stretch break, journaling, listening to new music. All of those things were way more joyous than surfing mindlessly.

I craved quiet time and silence. I have been doing a lot of reading about digital noise and how it's just as chaotic and disrupting as actual noise we hear in our ears. After about a week into my sabbatical, I started sinking into quiet more and more. I realized how much I need quiet and silence in my own life, especially as a natural introvert. It really helps me build my own capacity to be in the world, doing the work I do, which led me to...

Turning my energy towards juicy stuff. Movement, meditation, yoga, real connection, and cooking. I came home to some of my loves. Now, I am not completely sure that ditching Facebook increased my participation in these activities, but I did make these activities more of a priority in November and loved it. I felt completely nourished and excited about my daily sitting practice (still going strong), and had new found energy to be in my kitchen. I also enjoyed many face-to-face connections with friends over tea and got on some great walks.  

I got clear about what my devices exist for. I have a new found relationship with my phone. I still don't have the Facebook app installed and I turned off my e-mail notifications for my personal e-mail. (I haven't had work e-mail on my phone since early 2014), and with all these tiny adjustments, I have embraced what digital boundaries are like. I also got clear on the real purpose of my device: to connect when needed. It's not a numbing tool, nor is it an anxiety provoker. It's not oxygen.

I enjoyed spaciousness and downtime. This is a new arena for me in my own life and something I have struggled with for most of my life. Having white space on the calendar used to totally freak me out, now, Sundays it is rare that I even leave the house or get out of my leggings and sweater. There became a sense of coming home and not having digital noise to jump into on the couch or bed (i.e. scrolling through my feed), allowed for so much rest and juicy downtime. 

I got shit done. Again, I can't really make the case for correlation here, but I got some key personal projects done in November, including a massive reorg and purge of my clothing. I also got a lot of reading done, and came back to my morning practices. I stuck to my action planning and it felt good to wrap up the month feeling successful. I also stayed up on my chores and errands. 

I found magic in my moments. Without the need for status updates and sharing of pics, I loved living in every moment with beginner's mind. I enjoyed moments for what they were and then cherished them as they passed. I don't have the need to document everything. The documentation is enjoying the moment fully and in the most present way possible. 

I developed empathy in having my head up and eyes opened. I looked at the world more. Without having my eyes down on my screen, I enjoyed people watching, feeling my feet, and my breath. I enjoyed quiet time and gleaning sparks of inspiration for my writing. I was more present with my husband and the people I was with. 

I stopped drowning in the black hole of comparison. This was one of the roots of my giving up social media in the first place. I was getting stuck in the comparison mindset, which does nobody any good, I promise. I got really clear that I have a beautiful, abundant, and quirky life and it's all my choice.


I got clear on what I really need. I ended the month feeling super clear on what brings me joy, what nourishes me, and how much gratitude I have for all the things. The good parts, the bad parts, and the messy bits. I also got clear on what matters and what doesn't and how boundaries are a really good thing and how sometimes, going cold turkey is the only way. I also have a new sense of self-compassion and listening to my own intuition. By really listening to my own internal needs, I show up as a better person in this complex world.

So what's next? Well, I am really reveling in this new sense of space. I may cut the cord completely, but who knows. I am still enjoying the process of discovery as I continue to exercise great caution and mindfulness in this arena. It's like learning a new language. 

More to come...

Friday, October 23, 2015

there's always room...

Fall Mums in bloom at the
North Carolina Farmer's Market in Raleigh, NC
There's room. Always.
...for more rest, going to bed early, and waking up before the sun.
...for more opportunities to move the body and sweat it out.
...for pause and deep breaths, in and out through the nose...
...for time in the kitchen to chop, bake, and stir.
...for real connection and eye contact. 
...for digging in the dirt and playing in the rain.
...for walks around the lake.
...for curling up with your loved one to watch a film on a school night.
...for morning tea and watching the birds from the chair on the deck.
...for a phone call or Skype session with a friends and family far away.
...for finding work and hobbies that light you up.
...for simplifying, tapping into what matters most, and purging the excess.
...for gratitude. Always. There's room. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

On When It's Over

Sunset Fishing in Corolla (Outer Banks), NC
We just returned from a nine day trip to North Carolina to attend my brother's wedding & military graduation ceremony. It was a week + of time spent with family, eating delicious food, exploring the Outer Banks, hanging out on the beach with a book, and morning coffee on the deck. We got back to Seattle late last night and took public transit home. We dumped our bags, unpacked a few things, washed up, and hit the hay. 

At 7am, I was wide awake, of course, being on East Coast time. While we were away, the days obviously became shorter. It was dark out and quiet. My favorite time of the day. I took advantage of rising early and hit up a 7:30am yoga class down the street. I arrived, unrolled my mat in my usual spot, grabbed my props and settled in for practice. Man, oh man, how I have missed my Saturday morning practice at the studio. It's become my version of church. As I opened up my heart, shook a bit in crescent lunge, twisted out the stagnation and toxins from a long travel day, I started reflecting on the downshift I am entering. 

My brother and I got married seven weeks apart. It was a big summer/early fall of traveling, preparations, and celebration. The past 10 months have proved to be full of good energy, lots of in and out, pushing through getting the to do list crossed off so we could party hard. There was so much good. So much to honor. So much love, dancing, sugar, and caffeine. Things went on the back burner, of course. Paperwork, meditation practice, writing, cleaning the bathroom. 

So now, here I am, back in my writing nook, reflecting on what life will be like now that it's all over. The thing that I remember to come back to the most is the fact that life is composed of all of these moments. They are simply fleeting. One after another. Training to be mindful and present is a huge challenge and it has been for the past year and a bit. When you live on a high for so long, the crash can come suddenly and feel, well, depressing. 

After our wedding and after everyone had left Seattle, The Man and I went through a big let down. Similar to that of letting the air out of a balloon. You feel expanded and full for so long and the coming down was a shock for us. I am experiencing a little bit of the same thing today. While settling into my savasana after 75 minutes of work on my mat, the word surrender came to mind. Also, this idea of being vs. doing. How can I embrace fluidity in life, now that big events have come and passed? I did some writing about this a couple nights ago as our trip came to a close:

Getting Back to Basics. Sleeping more and regularly, increasing my consumption of fresh foods and water, and also continuing my morning workouts. Sweat is my therapy.

Ground, baby, ground. Making time for my yoga mat and meditation cushion and integrating a pranayama practice for the fall season helps to ground the vata/air energy in this season. 

Simplify. I am ready to start doing a serious purge. The next three months will include some big projects, especially around my closet and clothing, my home office, our kitchen, and my bathroom. In addition, looking at making other areas of my life more simple; my commute, my meals, my wardrobe, and time for my hobbies. 

Prioritizing. I am back in school, so I need to be intentional about my time and where it goes. I want to be home more, cooking delicious meals and baking, as well as resting and focusing on my school work. My calendar will be having more white space and downtime. Naps are also going to be included in my weekends. 

So, with all that said, when it's over, whatever "it" is, I like to embrace more being. It's integral to our nervous system and our heartspace. It also allows us to nourish our relationships and ourselves in the best way possible. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dealing with Chaos & Difficult Emotions

The past couple weeks have been a bit on the trying side. With the wedding right around the corner and transitions happening all around me, I have noticed and felt more sensitive to all of it. I have had multiple sessions of crying, sometimes deep sobbing, both at home and work, and when I try to deeply articulate what is going on, I can't seem to put my finger on it.

A few weekends ago, I co-led a retreat on Vulnerability. I taught the complimentary movement and yoga pieces and it was truly wonderful; being around eight other fabulous, intelligent and wise women, eating delicious vegetarian food, sipping tea, quiet time in the woods, and napping. Yet, I came back a little more fragile than when I arrived at the retreat. And I didn't do a fabulous job of creating ease in my transition back, hence integration started to happen and I was running my life like I had been before I left: fast and unaware.

Through the years, I have been able to navigate and embrace change a lot more easily than I used to when I was younger, yet these past few weeks, I have noticed more and more that the chaos and the difficult emotions are harder to navigate. My sensitivity has gone up and in my environments, the chaos and whirlwind type energy has also increased. Needless to say, I have spent some time reflecting as to how to go about navigating these difficult emotions and the chaos with ease, grace, and a sense of spaciousness, and here is what I am finding:

To truly listen, I have to get quiet. I can't gather myself or my thoughts with all the noise. I have recently acknowledged that noise comes from so many places; our digital lives, the reading, the DVD time on the computer, the chores, the conversations with clients and colleagues, all of it. When I get quiet, really, truly quiet, I can get access to what's truly there for me in my emotions

Support comes in many forms. I have never been one to publicly display my emotions. Vulnerability has been challenging for me and asking for support and help from others is challenging. I have made progress in this arena, especially with The Man, but I have always been one to seek support outside of people. My books, journal, and yoga mat are just a few support tools that I turn to when the storm is rough. Also, being active and sleep. My morning workouts and 7-8 hours of good sleep support the processing.

Know the rhythms. It's a wonderful thing when you know your body so well and can attune to the rhythms that work for you. I know I am more sensitive late at night, especially when trying to work on a complex task that takes brain power. Mistakes trigger me in that space more than if I was working on something during the day. This is a huge change for me and my life, because I used to be a night owl when it came to work. Now, I have to consciously shut down life at 10pm and engage in my self-care and nourishment and regroup from the day.

The importance scale. The Man taught me about the importance scale...1-10, how important is it to you? I absolutely love this. We use it daily, recently, multiple times per day. I can look at a task, a desire, an errand and evaluate super fast how important something is and in that moment, I can actively engage or let go. It's a magic tool. I love, love, love it. I use it for just about everything that is fluff: chores, stuff, wedding decisions, etc.

A big lesson in spiritual practice is that the only thing permanent is change. It's the truth. It's not about creating pristine and sterile environments void of change, but instead learning to navigate the chaos and difficult emotions with grace and ease, and hopefully a little more space can be created to tune in, be aware, and hold ourselves with tenderness and love.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 100! Lessons, Takeaways, and Gratitude...


Here we are. The last post of my project. 100 days of writing & posting, minus a few remote writing sessions in the wilderness. It's been such a trip...many late nights with the laptop in bed (yes, in the beginning I swore I wouldn't write in bed, but that promise was broken 45 days in), nights that I had no desire to write but I did, and weekend afternoons where my thoughts and hands couldn't stop. I look back on the goals of the project and they were twofold:

1. Practice a craft that has been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember.
2. Put myself out there and be vulnerable, no matter what.

So, as I hit day 100, it's a bit anticlimactic. I am here writing a late night post trying to come down from all the energy that was created at my New Moon circle tonight around a firepit, and I am trying to solidify and streamline my thoughts about what this project has taught me and what I really got from it. As an educator, I find it so important to come full circle. Experience, reflection, transformation and application. So, without censorship, here is my brain dump of my lessons, my learnings and takeaways from my 100 day project, "100 Days of Jen's Musings."

  • Writing is hard work. It's a physical practice. Natalie Goldberg articulates this in her books. It's a full body practice and you have to be in your body to write. My body practices (yoga, working out, walking, gardening), help me be a better writer.
  • Things get worse before they get better...with content, transition, with honing a craft. 
  • Showing up is 80% of it. As long as I made my way to my laptop, the post would come. It was getting to my seat that was challenging. Meditators out there, sound familiar?
  • If it's important to you, that's all that matters. I don't really care what people think of my posts. I don't write for people, I write for myself. 
  • Setting a goal and creating an accountability structure works for me, not everybody. Challenges, 100 day projects, personal training...all those things work for me and provide a road map to my feeling successful but not everybody likes those systems. To each their own.
  • Be honest & authentic.
  • I can talk about writing, I can read about it, I can research it, but that doesn't make me a writer...writing makes me a writer. 
  • My writing became a spiritual practice and will continue to be one.
  • I don't ever know what I am going to write about until I sit down and breathe my three breaths. It provides the gap and the transition to arrive and then the faucets turn on.
  • Bits and pieces are sometimes better than the whole. Some of my shorter posts are posts I am most proud of. More does not always equal better.
  • If I value something, I make the time for it. No matter what.
  • When I don't write, I become agitated. Same for yoga, breathing, meditation, drinking water, and sleeping enough.
  • We all have a story.
  • Find the things that bring you joy and go do more of those things. Writing brings me so much joy and whether or not it's out in the cloud, the most important thing for me is that I get joy out of doing it.
  • My experiences are my truth and those are valuable containers to pull from. 
  • The bones and the muscles are more important than then clipped fingernails. I don't get caught up on grammar and structure and perfect spelling. The story and content is where I spend my time and that works for me. 
  • If you truly love something, care for it and nurture it. 
So that is a handful of my takeaways from this project. I will be continuing my writing here on my blog and also taking some time off in August for my "August Break," and will be spending more time with my journal for reflection before I get married.

Thank you for all the support...you all know who you are. I want to especially thank The Man who has been so supportive every day of this project. He reads my stuff and stands behind me as I make the time for this part of my life. It means so damn much to me.

Deep gratitude and hats off to the artists, the writers, the snowflake maker, and the rest of us who are creating, showing up, and being vulnerable in our work.

Blessings,
Jen

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 99: Bloom!

The dahlias are blooming, the dahlias are blooming! It's an exciting time in the yard right now. It has been quite a journey watching the process unfold in growing our own wedding flowers. And now, it's all coming to fruition. Seeing something bloom right before your eyes is like magic, or at least it is for me. It's like giving birth in a hardcore gardener type of way. I am so blessed to witness the process and to experience the joy that it brings.

As I step into the next five weeks and prepare to marry my best friend, the dahlias are here with me, blooming, and serving as a reminder that all will be totally okay. It will all unfold and bloom in the perfect way possible. The dahlias tell me in their beauty that this is a time full of joy, love, and hard work. They also tell me that it will be magical.

Oh yes, it will be so magical.

Monday, July 13, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 98: My 2015 Reading List

Photo from Lifehack.com
My goal this year is to read 52 books. It equals out to a book a week. I am nowhere near where I thought I would be. I am behind, yet I am being gentle. I have a lot going on and can't read during any free minute but I have gotten through some good ones this year. I thought I would share. I keep track of my reading list in Evernote.

I have always been a reader. I remember sneaking reading under my sheets at night with a flashlight & headlamp. It has always been a huge piece of my life and it continues to be. I wish I could spend days and days reading in bed, on the couch, or in the lawn chair, but until that happens, I fit it in when I can (99% of my reading is done at night before bed), and I soak it all up. I primarily read non-fiction and Buddhist studies, but every so often, I find a piece of fiction that totally lights me up. Reading is fundamental. It's a basic piece of my lifestyle nutrition. I strongly encourage it.

Goal: Read 52 Books in 2015...Here is what I have read so far...

1. Think on These Things-J. Krishnamurti
2. Thrive-Arianna Huffington
3. The Signature of All Things-Elizabeth Gilbert
4. Being with Dying-Joan Halifax
5. Making Space: creating a home meditation practice-Tich Nhat Hanh
6. Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play when Nobody Has the Time-Brigid Schulte
7. Long Quiet Highway-Natalie Goldberg
8. 5 Love Languages-Gary Chapman
9. Better than Before-Gretchen Rubin
10. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
11. Mindful Work-David Gelles
12. Writing Down the Bones- Natalie Goldberg
13. Carry on warrior: thoughts on living life unarmed-Glennon Melton
14. Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change-Pema Chodron

Sunday, July 12, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 97: Re-entry

Coming back from retreat is always a bit like being hit with a sprinkler without forewarning. You never know what you might walk back into. You have taken a few or maybe many days away from regular life, you have made space for quiet, contemplative work, and nourishment in the community and presence of others. Usually, retreat takes place in a beautiful locale, complete with hikes, yoga, vegetarian food, and time to nap, read, and journal. Then, you pull into the driveway and life feels like a jack-in-the-box toy; out pops to do lists, a garden to tend to, dishes to put away, laundry to fold, bills to pay, mail to open, work to prep for, dinner to cook...the list goes on and on.

I remember when I came home from my first retreat and felt totally pushed into the fast paced lifestyle again, immediately losing all the lessons and insights I brought back. It was as though I had put together a 1000 piece puzzle and boom! It was dropped on the floor and pieces were everywhere.
Now, I employ a few strategies that keep me sane; no commitments the night I get back, The Man and I always go out to dinner and ice cream (there is never ice cream on retreats, so it's a huge craving when I get back), and unpacking and enjoying downtime and connection. Sometimes, we embark on a little errand outing, but I am sensitive to my adjustment time.

The lessons I have on re-entry are not only applicable when I get back from retreat. They are applicable lessons that I want to employ all the time; being gentle with myself, clear about my needs and expectations, and practicing self-care.

It is unrealistic to think that life can be lived in total isolation. The magic is in this life, in the here and now. It's the intricate balance of all the work, of all the practices, of all the teachings. Bringing it back to this life, the here and now life, is the ticket.

Happy homecoming.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 94: To Friendship

We had dinner with friends tonight and I reveled in the fact of how good it feels to share in meal and drink with the people you love. I have a lot of nostalgia around sharing meals around the table. Growing up Italian, it's a huge part of culture- food and talking and sharing. It's just what you do. Long, extended meals with people having lots of conversations about lots of different things is what makes it so juicy and dynamic. The wine flows and the smiles and laughter increase. It's not yelling...it's passion expressed out of the vocal cords.

You will be interrupted, you will get sidetracked, and people will question you. It's the table where anything goes. One plate, many forks, because sharing feels so much better than hoarding it yourself. Manners have a place, but let's not get super stressed about it. talk with your hands. It relieves stress when you look as though you are flailing about. I promise you.

Lean in, look into the other person's eyes...connect with them. After all, they are your lifeline. Here and now in this life.

When the bread is broken, you never have to say it because you all know. You know that you are surrounded by your people. Your tribe that you have traveled around the world to find. You clink glasses in a toast. To friendship. The most priceless, valuable thing to have in your life.

You look over at your partner from across the table and he is laughing his laugh. He hasn't laughed like that in awhile. It's the medicine, right? This moment is so soothing in so many ways. Put life on hold, just for a bit, it belongs on the shelf tonight. Rip up the to do list and surrender. Walk away from the desk, because tonight, tonight is the night to toast and share with friends this thing so, so, so good.

To friendship.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 93: I Got Nothing

For the first time in this project, I don't have much to write about or say. I am empty. An empty vessel of sorts. Maybe it's total contentment with all that there is in life at this moment, maybe it's exhaustion, maybe it's being in love. Whatever it is, I don't have anything to write about. 

I could write about how today was like most days; waking up at 6:40am, making my lemon water and breakfast snack, packing the car, driving down to the gym, working out for an hour, driving to work, showering, having my morning coffee, and diving right into my day. 

I could write about my upcoming wedding and how it's a big transition and a new chapter in my life.
I could write about how I am in total love with work, my garden, my tribe, and what I am reading.
I could write about my wishes and dreams for the rest of the year.
I could write about how I believe we are all doing the best we can each and every day.
I could write about all my favorite things in the summer; dining and drinking wine outdoors and laughing with good people. So many stories are shared around the table. 
I could write about my looking forward to slower, lazy days after the wedding.

I could write a lot about a lot but I am empty. And being empty is okay. Because there is room for anything and everything. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 92: Wishes & Dreams

I wish for lazy days and long brunches with friends.
I dream of a simple life where clutter has no space.
I wish to learn how to drive a motorcycle.
I dream of traveling to exotic locations for three month sabbaticals.
I wish to spend more of my life telling the people around me how grateful I am for them.
I dream of a whole month where I never have to set my alarm.
I wish for spaciousness in all areas of my life.
I dream of eating junk cereal for breakfast.
I wish for campouts and fort building in my living room.
I dream of days where all I do is read in bed.
I wish for coastal hiking trips with beach campfires and chips, salsa, and beer.
I dream of a day where all people find work that they absolutely love.
I wish for soft hearts and open minds.
I dream of a day where everyone has a home to go to on the coldest nights.
I wish that everyone feels welcome in any place of worship.
I dream of the kind of time that stands still.
I wish that kindness was the universal religion.
I dream of communities that are built from small businesses and deep connections.
I wish for fancy drinks out of wine glasses.
I dream of listening more than I speak.
I wish for quiet time to be regularly built into my life.
I dream of beauty in my spaces.

It's imperative to pen our wishes and dreams. It helps us see beyond our day to day, to think and imagine bigger things and to help us hone into our values and align our actions to what is important to us. Take some time, pen them out, and see what small action you can take today to make something in your life happen. I challenge us all.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 91: The Moving Truck

Like most Sundays, I don't set an alarm. It's the one day of the week that I have set aside total flow time...get up when I want, eat when I want, shower when I want, chores when I want, etc. It has taken me so many years to arrive at this place of total grace in my weekends. I call them my scared Sundays because it's so open and spacious and it really allows me to restore and reflect before the week begins. I love operating from a powerful place of choice as well. I get to choose how I spend my time and if that means I am sleeping until 9am and reading in bed until 11am, so be it.

As I was making brunch for The Man and myself, I looked across the street and saw a U-Haul. Two people, most likely the parents of the individual who was moving, were loading comforters, side tables, an office chair, and baskets and containers into the U-Haul. I took a deep breath as I leaned on the counter and thought about my own moving experiences. There have quite a bit of moves. Big ones too.

My move to Colorado after I graduated high school left me with my mountain bike, and my backpack which I used to transport my bedding back up to my dorm from the UPS store. Then, when I moved off campus and lived with my partner at the time, that was a big step in my life. Two years later, I moved into my own apartment on campus, craving a deep sense of independence and solitude. Then, off to Seattle where I had no firm living situation, but lived out of my office for a couple weeks until I found a space. Then there was the moving into an apartment with my partner (same one I lived with in Colorado), and then we moved into a bigger place a year later. Then out on my own after we split, and then into my current place, with The Man.

Thinking through all of that leaves me a little out of breath. Even though I was young, life felt a little transient. Apartment leases in megaplexes do that to you. The other thing that remains true is that like anything in life, there are cycles. We move in and we move out...of spaces, places, jobs, love, friendships, passions, and interactions. It's all part of the deal in having this human experience.

In my environmental studies class in college, we talked a lot about having a sense of place. As I looked across the street at the U-Haul, I was overcome with the sense of home I feel here in my own space and Seattle. A lot of people have asked me why I am not getting married in Maine, my home state, and I can confidently say that Maine is absolutely beautiful and I got so much out of my childhood and young adulthood there. It's a magical place to visit and I am grateful to be able to go and visit.

Yet, my home is here, in Seattle, in our little abode.

Home is where I walk 10 steps and get to my living room or deck and sit and look outside at my garden. Home is where I can get to my yoga class in 8 minutes. Home is having my tribe surround me and share in bottles of good wine and snacks on a summer night. I breathe easy here. I fell in love with The Man of my dreams here. I have work that totally lights me up here.

So, my little wish to the person moving this morning: May your next space and place totally light you up from the inside out and keep you warm and loving. May you settle in and breathe easier. May your tribe be a moments notice away. May you enjoy your new sense of place. May it feel like home.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 90: What My Garden Teaches Me

Even though it was a holiday weekend, I spent a good chunk of my Saturday in my garden. I know, I know...I worked on the holiday in the dirt. It was so hot but it felt so good to spend time outside in the sun. When I am in my garden, I lose myself. I become so engrossed in the present moment (a very rare occasion), that I lose sense of time and I literally turn myself over to mother nature. As I was building some new soil mixtures into larger pots for additional summer edibles, my mind went to the place of receiving. My garden gives me so many lessons, both big and small, that I seldom take the time to articulate, so I thought I would take the time and capture just a few.

Like my life, my garden is always in process. There will never be an end point. There is always something to do, to work on. Like life. I walk outside and am so content yet I know I can always give a few minutes, hours, and days here and there to make adjustments, move things around, compost the old, etc. When I first started gardening, I had this fantasy in my head that there would be this end point, that everything would be "done." It's not the case. Ever. 

Like my garden, my life follows cycles and rhythms. It wasn't until I started gardening that I really tuned into the cycles and seasonality of life. Everything has a season. Sometimes, things are in full bloom, bursting with energy and are full of color and beauty, other times things are heavy, damp, and in hibernation, turning inward for rest and recovery. I can usually feel what my garden feels and I now honor that instead of fighting it. 

I just have to start digging. I can attend all the seminars I want, buy all the fancy tools and organic soil amendment, get the most beautiful pots and flowers, but it means nothing if I don't get my shorts and t-shirt on, put on my gloves, kneel down, and start digging. If I want results, I have to put in the work. Nike said it best...just do it.

It's way easier working in a team. Out of all the time The Man and I spend together, my favorite times are the two of us working in the garden. I cherish that time the most. We have some of our best conversations while digging in the dirt and we play to each other's strengths. I used to think i would be a solo flyer, never wanting to get married, and now, here I am, so deeply content with my partner in life and my partner in the garden. The support he provides me out there directly translates to the support he gives me in every area of my life. 

So that's it. My four favorite lessons my garden has given me. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 89: Summer Love: A Few of My Favorite Summer Photos

Okay, let's be completely honest. The summer has totally rocked. I have been having so much fun. It's been full at times, but oh so lovely. I thought I would share a few of my favorite captured moments as step into the last 10 days of the 100 day project. I hope you are having a lovely summer and getting lots of time outside and with your loved ones to celebrate the sun, the warmth, and the blooming happening all around.

The summer started with a lovely trip to the East Coast to kickoff our wedding celebrations. Lots of good food, laughter, and love all around. We pack light and I absolutely swear by my Dakine pack and my Burton roller. Essentials. Oh yes, and Chaco sandals. 
Our favorite little fish market in Maine. I love this old time signage and of course, I love lobsters. Essential and delicious! 
Summer days = hot evenings = cool salads and chilled white wine. Simple, refreshing, nourishing, and easy. All my favorite elements of dinner. 
Greenwood Car Show. Loved this little beauty. It's a dream of mine to have a VW van/bus. I want to road trip every summer to Maine and back in the fall. It will happen. It will happen....
Float Tank appointment. As an introvert, I need time away from life, sound, noise, and other humans. City living takes its toll sometimes and I have been dipping my toes into sensory deprivation experiences. It keeps my mind and heart nice and light. And resilient. 
Sunset viewing from the deck. The light is always different, which is totally fascinating to me. I sit out there a lot of the summer. We eat our meals, prep our gardening days, and read...lots of summer reading happens here. 
Frosty beers on Thursday nights. Date night. Oh yes, and Saturdays and Sundays too. Frosty beers all around.  So much joy packed into this little jar. 
An early summer photo taken at the Seattle Tilth Edible plant sale. Herbs, peppers, flowers and an apple turnover. My favorite kind of morning. All my peppers and herbs are blooming and delicious right now because of the early heat wave. 
I took this photo at Kerry Park on my 8th anniversary of living in Seattle. I had never been before (huge tourist trap), but I thought it was fitting to capture the beautiful city that I live in and totally love.
Saw this lovely poster at a work event. Laughter. It's what summer is all about for me. I have so many good memories of running on the beaches of Maine totally unabashed, living in the present and sinking into laughter and love. 
Grateful for the lovely woods by my house. A walk in the woods keeps me cool on the hot days and I love taking my camera and capturing the beautiful contrast of light and dark. When I am in the woods, I feel completely held and nourished and supported by this earth we live on. 
Luipnes! A total Maine flower. One of my favorites. It's the first time I grew them this year and they were stunning. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 88: Dishes

We don't have a dishwasher. Sometimes, I wish we did, but most of the time I am glad we don't. Dishes are my therapy. It's my quiet time. It's the time when I get to stand and move and work with my hands and feel this huge sense of accomplishment every single time after being done. Most of my days are spent at my desk at work, looking at a computer, in meetings, in conversations. Most of the work I do is sitting down. The dishes are relief for my spine and my hips, an opportunity to open my heart.

When I turn on the hot water and make the soapy solution in one of the sides of the sink, I smile and breathe deeply. My shoulders soften, my forehead relaxes. my mind gets quiet. I run my hands over dish after dish and the scrub brush between the spaces in the forks. The water running and rinsing the bubbles of the glass.

There is peace here, at the sink. This is what life is really about, yes? I engage in this acts every day, a prayer of sorts that has a beginning, a middle, an end. I am left with a blank slate at the end of every session. The countertop is clear. Awaiting more dishes, evidence that the bellies are full and the souls are happy.

Peace is here in this kitchen, at this sink. Good things happen. Wishes, ideas, creativity. It all gathers here, in the stainless basin, slippery with soap.

I am grateful for this opportunity, to stand, to clean, to wipe away the mess and start fresh yet again.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 87: What I See

I went to grab lunch at the Italian bakery/deli across the street from work today. It was a later lunch than usual because I had meetings and calls right through the traditional lunch hour, so I scooted out quick so I could get back and dive into more of my work. I notice myself being less present when I am hungry.

So, I headed out in the 88 degree sunshine, exiting the air conditioned building, being stung by the heat wave that engulfed my body. I scampered down the street in a speedy fashion, crossing the street in my heels and then anxiously awaiting the signal to turn at the crosswalk. I arrived at the bakery, grabbed my sandwich and lemonade and scampered back to the building. At the crosswalk, I observed a man with two women, one of the women was quite young, maybe in her late teens, and the other woman looked old enough to be her mom. Both of the women were blind and had walking canes and the man was teaching the young woman how to use hers for what looked like the first time.

I stopped dead in my tracks. I was overcome with both happiness and sadness. Joy and hatred. Hating the fact that this young woman wasn't able to experience the sense of sight. I was sad that crossing the street for her will forever be different from my experience. Happiness and joy for the man dedicating his life to serving these women at this moment in time.

You may be reading this and passing all kinds of judgment my way and honestly, I don't care. What I do care about is the fact that I move through my days completely detached from the depth of my human experience. I have so much to be grateful for. So, so, so much. It's quite incredible and it blows my mind in moments like the moment I had this afternoon as I scampered back from my lunch purchase.

What I see is that the world gives us the lessons we need in the exact moments we need them to show up for us. B.K.S. Iyengar, the father of yoga, said once, "Nothing can be forced. Receptivity is everything."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 86: PIE

My mom's flight was delayed/cancelled tonight which meant we had to hunt down a culinary adventure in Seattle. We ended up at Pie Bar in Capitol Hill. Oh. My. God. As I sit here at home in bed, I look at my very full tummy and am very, very, very blissed out. I am so grateful for the time with my mom and the adventures we continue to have when we get together. She is my best friend, my rock, my universe. Thank god for her and thank god for pie.

Pie is like a warm hug that takes care of you when it feels like everything and everyone is against you. Pie confirms that things in the world work. Pie equals nostalgic feelings of being home in Maine. Pie is god and pie is gold.

Monday, June 29, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 85: Just Me & My Thoughts

I took my mom to a sensory deprivation float tank this afternoon. It was her first visit, my second. I really enjoyed it the first time and then tracked down a Groupon of course so the both of us could go. One of the things I really love about going to float is the deep, dark, quiet experience. Feeling completely enveloped in the epsom salt water bath feels very womb-like. In the moments of being on my back in the warm water, I initially think about how noisy my life really is. How it's so rare to be in such silence and deprived from stimulation for a 60 minute block of time.

And then the thoughts start to weave their way in. Today, the thoughts ran wild. I got really in tune with how un-quiet my life has been the past few months. Yes, I have my personal practices that keep me grounded and feeling nourished and supported, but the silence is the juicy bit. It's in the silence that you really get to reflect on how you are showing up in the world. In my time this afternoon in the float tank, I reflected on how I haven't been showing up in the best way possible. I felt consumed with judgement, a big fat story around not good enough, and feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. But here's the thing I know about my thoughts. Just like a rainstorm, they pass on. It's not the end all, be all of who I am anymore. That ship has sailed.

Now, I can be with my thoughts, one at a time, and let them float by. Just noticing, just witnessing, because they are just there, making their micro-appearance and then leaving.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 84: In the Thick of It

Well, here I am, Sunday night, 10:50pm and I am finally coming up for a breath. It has been a full day, working on wedding stuff with mom and the man and I feel really good about all that I accomplished, yet, really feel as though I am in the middle of the pond and the waters around me are rough. I have been paddling so hard for so long and can see the shore, but it seems so far away. I have to remember that I can only paddle as much as I can, and then I have to rest.

Then, go again for a bit, and then rest. The paddling can't consume my whole life. Self-care is extremely important and resting is even more important. It's important to close your eyes and nap every so often and not let the paddling consume every part of your soul. Life is too short, yet you have this destination in mind and it's impending. You are in countdown mode and each day, you tick a day off the calendar, and despite the fact that time is moving so fast, why does it feel as though you are slogging through the mud, or in this case, paddling in circles?

There is gold in the process though. I know there is. The lessons in deep breathing, embracing grace and ease, in letting things go, and being gentle. Some days are better than others and that's okay, because that's life. I shall go to bed now and rest. Tomorrow will be a new day and I will open my eyes, put my two feet on the ground and be ready to paddle.

Godspeed.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 83: Gratitude

Every so often, I get a little cranky. It is usually because I have unmet expectations of how things should be or I am attached to how things already are and I don't want them to change. I had a little bit of that going on tonight. I look around my home and see project after project, a to do list growing and growing and feel a little closed in. All I want to do is sit back and sip cool drinks and read my book.
So, when I feel a little crankiness coming on, the antidote is gratitude. It always is gratitude.

I am so grateful for sunshine and neighborhood walks.
For hot coffee and french toast.
For chilled white wine on a deck at sunset.
For kisses and hugs, laughter and tears of joy.
For my garden, as it always teaches me that all of us are growing and in process.
For cool showers and comfy beds.
For quality time at the end of long days.
For mamas and papas who are doing really good work in the world, raising our future.
For clean water that comes out of the tap and lights that turn on without effort.
For beautiful friends and family who create a tribe that stands behind me every step of the way.
For time with my mom.
For Skype, cell phones, gmail, and text messaging. Because living far away from family requires these things.
For traveling and yoga, both of which shift my perspective on life daily.
For a man who stands with me as I travel and experience life.
For my books, notebooks and pens.
For my introverted nature.
For love. For love. For love.

Friday, June 26, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 82: Hot

It's hot. Heat has a way of slowing everything down. It just does. I notice myself just a tad more agitated, the need and desire to be lazy, and still forgetting to drink enough water. It brings me right back to the third leg of my trip in India. It was so stinkin' hot, right from the moment we woke up until we went to bed at night. Three bucket showers a day just started to bring relief. Here in the states, I get to wear shorts and tank tops and feel as though I can breathe clean air. I guess the heat here makes me grateful in a sense. Grateful that I have access to clean drinking water at any moment, that I can wear the clothes I want, and take deep breaths of clean air.

So although I have been talking about how much I have been dreading the heat here in the Pacific Northwest for the past week, I can think back to my trip and realize that I am oh so comfortable and smile. I can smile because of the freedom the heat here brings with it.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 81: Thursdays

Thursdays are my new favorite day. It's the day before the real wind down takes place.
There is always a lot of good energy surrounding life and work and love.
Thursdays are for sunsets and wine on the deck.
For sleeping in because you did your workouts the past three days.
For a good cup of coffee and time at your desk alone for work projects before the day ramps up.
For commutes home, knowing that it's your last for the week, since Fridays are for telecommuting.
For a date night in the market, breaking bread with loved ones over glasses of rose.
For a bouquet of market flowers, grabbed right before the farmer packed up to head home.
For barefeet and sundresses, taking time to be in the garden under the twilight.
For callused hands and feet from spending time in the dirt and in your garden clogs.
For catching up with friends and family on the phone before weekend adventures pull us away.
For celebrations, and hugs, and deep breaths.
For yoga poses and reading.
For planning golden time together.
For living the good life and the sweet life.
Thursdays are for love all over.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 80: On Digging

Today, I attended a groundbreaking ceremony down at the Pike Place Market. It was for the new Market-Waterfront Expansion project which is going to be fabulous. I had never been to a formal groundbreaking ceremony like that before. It was quite cool. Standing there with a bunch of people who were living in a mindset of what's possible-a dream coming to fruition. The people who were there had great energy. There was a lot of applause, good music, great speeches, and smiling faces. The hard work was being celebrated. Now, it was time to start digging. With gold shovels.

The groundbreaking ceremony had me think about symbolic forms of digging. For instance, when we embark on the spiritual path, stuff comes up. We are constantly in the midst of a deep, long term excavation project. Things come up, moment to moment. We have the chance to look at ourselves in a new way, a new light. Examine patterns and behaviors, reactions and triggers. Similar to a construction site, it's not pretty for a long time. Little by little, clearing starts to happen and new things start to be built.

A few weeks back in my Sunday Sangha practice, my teacher gave me such wise words about our practices. She said, "You just have to trust that the practices are working. Sometimes in ways that we will never know," which were tough words to hear in the moment. Now that I have really absorbed the words, as I type them, I have a new relationship with this statement. I realize I was confronted because I have a deep, deep, deep desire to know and be certain of things. It brought up for me the fact that I am still digging and excavating my patterns and desire to have certainty in my life.

So how do we embark on this adventure of digging and excavating? I can only speak from experience, but here are a few paths I have found helpful in my own "construction work."

> Get quiet and tune in. Listening to "the heart" radio station can be some of the best talk radio out there. When we intentionally carve out time and space to get quiet, wow! Good things come up. And tough stuff too. I find meditation a solid practice, but it could be legs up the wall pose or simply sitting in your car for two minutes before heading into the office.

> Be witnessed. When we share what's going on for us, the good, the bad, the ugly, the messy bits, we can feel witnessed and validated. Find your tribe. A circle, a friend, a family member. Ask them to put on their listening. That's it. No problem solving, just witnessing and listening without judgment. I sit in circle every month on the New Moon with some fabulous people and the practice of talking stick fulfills this for me in so many dimensions.

> Move. Get in your body. We spend so much time in the world living from the neck up. When we lose connection with our bodies, things build up. We need release and our bodies are designed to move, like, really move. So whether it is a walk, morning gym dates, a yoga class on Saturday mornings before the rest of the world wakes up, find something and do it. Being in our bodies helps us process what is being excavated.

> H20. Water baby! Anytime I am processing deep emotional stuff and experiencing the thick of transition, I notice myself getting bogged down in it. Drinking water, and lots of it, helps with the processing of everything. In the yoga system, we strongly believe that our stories live in our cells. Cells need water. Water is purifying. Purify your stories.

> Sleep and rest. Anytime deep stuff is going on, especially in the processing of emotional material, it takes a lot out of us. Get sleep and don't deny yourself a few extra minutes here and there. Honor what the body needs. And if you have a chance for naps, I give you full permission.

> Tree hugging. Get outside. Plain and simple. We live in the earth element daily. The earth supports us. Go out there and let it bathe you in its beauty. A trail, a beach, a patch of grass, whatever. It's necessary and vital to our well-being and when we are in excavation mode, it can totally be a game changer.

So there you have it. Plain and simple practices when we are doing our deep digging.

The beautiful thing about digging and excavating is that it is making room for something beautiful and mind blowing. Remember that.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 79: Impact

The question that has been on my mind the past couple months has been how to impact what's right in front of us. How do we do that? How do we pull on our focusing laser beam eyes and handle what's the immediate? How can we transform overwhelm into identifying and taking a clear action? How can we make the most impact in this moment?

I don't know the answers to any of these questions, except the fact that the only way we truly can make change and impact for the good is to follow our hearts. Our hearts are our internal barometer of what is true. Close your eyes, breathe, get quiet. Now, tune into the space right behind your heart. Can you feel your heart beat? In the yoga system, we say that we are beings full of prana. Prana is our inner life force. The prana that flows through you is the vehicle in which you make shit happen in your life. Action. Lots and lots of action.

It's so easy to get stuck, right? It's easy to muddle and fill up your vessel with the unnecessary, the non-essential, the boring stuff like gossip and e-mails and to do lists. But to take action, to have the courage to act on what is right in front us, no matter how hard it is, now that's the juice.

This is a rambling. Many thoughts on a late night. But maybe, just maybe, you might try out a week of posting a note on your bulletin board, work station, refrigerator, or bathroom mirror that says, "How can you impact what's in front of you?" Try it out. Experiment. After all, this life is a laboratory. You might just enjoy the results.

Monday, June 22, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 78: Hold On...It's Going To Be a Bumpy Ride

If you are anything like me, I have my little route, as we all do in our motor vehicles. We zip, zip, zip by...anxiously awaiting the moment when we can arrive, put the key into the lock, turn, and oila! We arrive to our little safe havens, unscathed, completely intact, in one piece. Yay! We're home! We can strip down, get into comfy clothes, pour a glass of wine, walk barefoot and let our toes wiggle. We can shuffle through our mail and choose whether or not to deal with it. We can choose whether or not we dig out pots and pans and start dinner or if we order in or head out on the town. We have choice.

The other day, I was on my way home from teaching yoga. I stopped at the red light and immediately a ladybug landed on my windshield. For those who know me, you know how much I love ladybugs and dragonflies. Two of my favorite bug species. So, little Ms. Ladybug landed on my window. I gasped. "Oh no!" You have to fly away before I turn up the street because the street I am turning requires high speeds or else you get run over. Fly away little one, fly away! Or...hold on for dear life!"

A long time ago, I think when I was in the 3rd grade, I was reading a chapter book and a quote from that book, which can be found on lots of motivational life posters, jumped out: Sometimes you are the windshield, and sometimes you are the bug. It's a tough one to swallow, but ain't it the truth.

Some days, we are the bug, holding on for dear life. Life is stinkin' hard. Let's just be real here people. It's hard enough without wedding planning, relationships, family dynamics, money, jobs, technology upgrades, clutter, bills, endless mountains of laundry and pages and pages of to do lists (all first world problems). It's hard enough to go out into the world, each and every day, seeing the pain and the joy, the sadness and the bliss. It's all a lot to handle.

We do the best we can, one day at a time. Even an hour at a time. Managing caregiving, managing people at work, managing the emotions of a partner, spouse, or child. Managing the feeling that we have to get it all done or getting it all done will land us in some special, superpower like level of life or something, or winning a game of Candyland.

Yet, despite all of this, all the emotions, the pressures, internal and external, we continue to hold on. Why? Because we are here to experience what it's like to be human. To be capable of love and thought and innovation and contribution and difference-making. To be teaching others, laughing with others, hugging and kissing our partners, experiencing the heart flutter after 8 years or 80 years of loving someone. We show up to love. That's why we hold on.

So I bow to you Ms. Ladybug. Hold on...it's going to be a bumpy but oh so amazing ride.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 77: The Best 5 Things My Dad Gave Me

For those of you who know my dad, this post may make you giggle a little bit, because, well, you probably know him and all of his little quirks that make him who he is. I am so incredibly grateful for the relationship we have. Last week was especially special because it marked my eight year anniversary in Seattle. I remember the road trip my dad and I took up from Colorado, through Utah, Jackson Hole, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Idaho. It was such a special trip for me.
Despite living far away, the conversations that we have are deeper and more meaningful than ever. I guess that is what it means to be getting older...your whole relationship with your parents transforms yet you can't really say when it happened...it just kind of does.

My dad is a special dude. He has taught me so many things and every day, there is at least something I do, think, or say that reminds me, "Oh yeah...dad taught me this."

Gifts that show up as lessons are super special. The best gifts really.

Lesson 1: Have dreams and work your ass off for them. My dad had a dream to own a Harley. He has one. He had a dream to build a camp up in the mountains. We spent a couple days up there in May. One thing I know about my dad is that he aspires to live big. Not big in the materialistic way, but in the dream big and work hard to get what you want. When I was going through my own financial recovery, my yoga teacher training and trip to India were my big dreams and they both happened. I had to work my ass off for them, but they happened. And it felt so damn good to fulfill on them. Thank you dad for showing me that dreams happen.

Lesson 2: Find your thing. My mom and I always joke that my dad doesn't know how to relax. He fiddles around, builds things, works down in the basement on projects. It's his zen. As much as I give him crap for not being able to sit still, I admire that he has his own monastery of sorts. Building, tinkering, fixing, inventing, repairing. Home improvement projects are his deal...mine is reading on the deck, or hiking in the woods (he loves to hike and be in the outdoors too, that's where I get it from), but we all have our thing. Honor that and do more of it. It's the fuel for life and your soul.

Lesson 3: Get to know something bigger than you. My dad travels a lot for work. He always has. He has been to every continent, except Antarctica, and most continents two or three times. I fell in love with travel through him. Both my parents inspired my brother and me to look outside of our own home and go on adventures. Near or far, we were always out and about, exploring, adventuring, walking on new paths. My dad taught me that travel keeps us on our toes, grateful for what we have right in front of us. For this, I am beyond grateful. It has inspired me to travel, near and far and take precious lessons home with me.

Lesson 4: It's okay to be quiet. My dad is naturally introverted. Just like me. Or me like him. Whatever. What I do know is that I love just being able to sit and be in the same room for a few hours, napping, reading a book, or watching a show on TV. Looking to him made me okay with my own introverted nature. I was never forced to go out and party a bunch or be super social and it was acceptable if I wanted to just sit in on a Friday night. This, combined with the outdoors made for some pretty cool wilderness experiences too.

Lesson 5: Breakfast. My dad is a breakfast king. Omelettes, french toast, hash browns, bacon, the works. My dad always said that having a good breakfast is a foundation. Growing up, a hearty breakfast was the ticket to powering through chores with an afternoon of goofing off or playing with friends. Every time I bust out my eggs and veggies in Seattle, I bow a little to my dad. He used to make breakfast for dinner when mom had evening things...best. thing, ever. Love the breakfast king. Hail to the king.

So there you have it. Some of my most precious gifts my dad ever gave me. Lots of love to all the dads on this Father's Day and every day. You do big work out there and you don't even know the gems you are handing off.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 76: Practice Evolution


I look forward to Saturday mornings. Let me take that back. I look forward to every morning because it's a chance to take advantage of a blank slate. I can show up with the attitude of, "I am choosing to be better than yesterday. Kinder, more patient, and less of a negative Nancy." Saturday mornings I get up around 7am (my new version of sleeping in), and quietly sneak out for my 7:30am yoga class in the neighborhood. The streets are quiet and the air is always cool. The garden is peaceful and so is my mind. The week is behind me and I can rinse the frenetic energy of "getting one more thing done," before shutting down for the day. I arrive at the studio and unroll my mat. And then I sit down. And breathe. And breathe some more.

I frequently express that my personal practice has evolved so much since I started swimming in the pool of the yoga system. I hung out in the shallow end for quite a long time, fiddling around, playing games, using the practice as social connection. Dabbling my toes. Creating a "bob-like" experience. Struggling to sink in deeper. And then my practice shifted quite a bit to explore the depths on my own. Finding the gems on the bottom, like meditation, chanting, and sutra work. I started to drift away from the "everybody else is doing this," philosophy and created my own version of what practice meant for me. It's the magic.

This morning something clicked in my practice. It was a stronger practice and the teacher did a great job of integrating opportunities for more challenge as well as ease. I chose ease this morning. Instead of vinyasas between sequences, I took child's pose. I didn't flip my dog. I stayed in table top, circling my hips and diving deeper into my bones and muscles, savoring the opportunity to infuse more grace and ease to my morning asana practice. Everybody else was pushing, sacrificing the grace and ease, which is totally fine, but it wasn't for me. Ten years ago, I would have been the pusher, the grit-master in the room. Now, I can discern what I need and when I need it. It's a bit of an ego boost to say, "Look at me! I can discern what my body needs! I don't have to push!" It's all ego, right? But there is a part of me that left the studio today totally enveloped in my own contentment and peace from my practice.

Evolution means lots of different things to different people. For me, it means that as I travel through the journey, not around it, I see the bits of ease and grace and more space in my life. I see myself showing up differently in situations that I am constantly in. The environments don't change that much, if at all. I change though. And sometimes, the change feels so damn good.

Friday, June 19, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 75: Gridlock

Friday afternoon traffic in Seattle is a beast. Just recently, I started working from home, so I don't have to deal with it as much anymore. Today though. I was traveling north after an appointment and I looked over at the southbound traffic on I-5 and it was complete gridlock. Now, I have been in that, believe me. Some mornings are brutal, brutal, b-r-u-t-a-l. But for the most part my schedule is designed in such a way where I don't have many days of being stuck in the gridlock.

So, back to this afternoon.

I was driving home from my appointment and looked over and saw this massive lock up of cars. As I gracefully drove north to the next exit, I was thinking about what getting stuck feels like. In our lives. Since I got home, I have been mulling on this whole idea of feeling stuck and how it impacts so negatively and can take us down, just like a Friday afternoon commute, when it's hot, and you are just trying to get home for the weekend.

There are so many reasons why we get stuck. Lack of passion, lack of motivation, lack of energy. Sometimes we are just done. The biggest lesson I have learned, especially from sitting in horrible traffic is impermanence. This too shall pass. It's the golden ticket. You will get through it. There is an end to this. Whatever it is. That's the beautiful thing about impermanence. Things just have a flow to them-a beginning and an end. That's it. It's all of life. It's a little stoic, but I promise you that it's one of my most cherished lessons from my spiritual practice. It's all here but only for a fleeting moment.

So the next time you are deep in your own life gridlock or backed up in some nasty commuter traffic, hold your hand on your heart and whisper or yell to yourself, "This is all going to pass. All of it will be over. It's all impermanent!" You may think you sound a little crazy, but it helps. It really does.

Enjoy the weekend and cherish all the moments- the good, the bad, the ugly. They are all only here for a bit, just like ourselves, and they must be held as though they are the most precious things in the world.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 74: Prayer Lady

I write a lot about my commute to the south end of Seattle. Not only do I travel there daily for livelihood, but I also travel there for morning dates at the gym. I have found my groove in waking up at 6:30am, packing up, and traveling south to get my ass kicked, and then heading to my building for shower, coffee, and work. It's been a good thing. Exercise is not something I do for weight loss or body image reasons. I exercise for my brain and sanity.

Today was a special day because as I pulled up to the main intersection where the light rail passes through and watched a woman in a headscarf cross the street. I could see her mouth moving and she was obviously making words. My windows were down. She was alone. My gaze shifted to her hands and I saw her prayer beads. She was praying and walking.

I was flooded with memories of India and Nepal, where prayer was so integrated into daily life. It's different here in the states. Prayer seems to happen behind closed doors and at certain times. I grew up Catholic and when I was little, I used to verbally pray before bedtime. Say my prayers. "I wish for my family and friends to be safe. I wish for the entire world to be happy. I wish I will get lots of time to read and play outside." That was the extent of it. Of course, now, I laugh about it, but a lot of it remains quite relevant and true.

I don't know the whole reason I decided to write about this, but it was a compelling experience. To see prayer right in front of me served me in the way that seeing somebody floss reminds you, "Oh yes, that. I need to do that more."

Thank you prayer lady for saying your prayers. You have inspired me to pray more.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 73: Run Towards the Light

Solstice is a very powerful time. It's the height of the seasons, the longest day of the year, and the sun, oh the sun, it does its thing so damn well. Bask in the glory of this day. Really bask in it. Allow the sun to soak into your pores and your skin, let the longest day of the year serve you from the inside out. Bask in gratitude, joy and presence. Because we all need more of that. Let the worries melt off your mind and the to dos burn up under the rays. It's the longest day for us. Don't let it slip through your fingers like sand in a child's hand. You have constant light. It lives in your heartspace. Close your eyes and tune into that space behind your heart. Deep within the dimensions of your heartbeat. There is space there to be filled with light only. There is a sign, "Only Light Can Enter Here," and let nothing else in. Run towards it. In your mind, as you sit, basking under the warmth. This is the peak. The peak of all of it. Gather it all up, like making a snowball full of light- a lightball, if you will. Gather it all up, pack it away in your bag of tricks and magic, because you will need it. If not now, save it for later, when the darkness comes. Don't worry though, the darkness serves us too. The light told me that. Contrast fascinates me. We can't have distinction without contrast, friend. So sit under the light...and the dark. They serve us immensely. One with another, not without.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 72: An Oldie But Goodie

This post was written back in January 2013. The Man thinks its not a real written post because I am "reposting," but I tend to disagree. This is an oldie but a goodie and really relevant coming off my monthly New Moon circle with some fabulous individuals who continue to push me to think harder, ask better questions, and show up in a different way over and over. I am so grateful for this space, to be able to explore deeper questions over and over. Enjoy this oldie but goodie. 

the real work
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2013

This past week flew by as most weeks do. Monday comes and then Tuesday, and eventually you reach the point of no return. There is something magical about the cyclical nature of time. It's quite fantastic to revel in the fact that we will all eventually arrive at respite, Sabbath recharge time at the end of the 5 days. But, we must not get lost in living for the weekends only as many of us sometimes do as a result of not loving the "meat" of our weeks. 

Before my yoga class last night, I just wasn't feeling well. I was agitated, on edge, grumpy, cranky. Even so, I got in my car and commuted down to the Ballard studio, parked, stored my stuff in the little cube, and walked into the room. Heat engulfed me as I unrolled my mat, the sound of a stickyness echoing the entire room. I placed my purple towel, my block, and my water bottle next to me and settled onto my back, knees bent, soles of my feet together. I just started to breathe. I thought to myself in that exact moment, this is the real work. Showing up is all it takes and the rest just flows and takes care of itself.

I have been reflecting a lot on my own personal spiritual practice and what I am coming to understand is not any knowledge about enlightenment.

The only things that are clearer to me now are:
1. Knowing my tendency to run away from the uncomfortable.
2. When my self-care remains a priority, everything in my life comes with grace, even the tough stuff.
3. Showing up ready to inquire and be curious about where I am at is all it takes.

So, with that said, the real work lies within. Our spiritual life is not something that is outside of us, some external thing we "do." Instead, it is an inner journey that we are constantly embarking on, whether we are ready to face the facts or not.

Monday, June 15, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 71: Lessons from Eight Fabulous Years

Today marked my eighth year of living in Seattle. Here is what I posted to Facebook:

"Today is a special day. I celebrate my 8 year anniversary living in The Emerald City. My time here in the city has brought so much joy, learnings, love, and a flourishing community. I am embracing gratitude today for the tribe that continues to hold me and create my home here. Evolution also comes to mind...I used to be a mountain & woods girl and now, I still am that and so much more. The city teaches me about grace, open heartedness, rest & respite, and voting with my dollars. The city teaches me that love can be found in the darkest of places and that small actions lead to big change. Eight years ago, I never would have imagined that my soulmate was working down the hall from me. I never would have thought that I would be following my bliss making a difference in my work on a daily basis and teaching yoga. I never would have imagined that I would be getting married in 9 weeks to a man who brings me so much joy, love, and light. So, I thank you Seattle for an amazing 8 years. I have no idea what is in store for the next 8 and beyond, but I do know it will be juicy and oh so full of the love and wholeheartedness that continues to come into my heart. Deep gratitude to all of you (you know who you are)."

And so here I am, eight years of city living behind me. With the gratitude, comes all the learnings, the deep lessons that I have gathered up around me from walks, talks, hugs, and tears. all of it.
Here are my top eight lessons that will remain timeless gems in my house of experience and reflection:

1. Don't Assume Things. It's so quick to judge circumstances for all of us, whether or not you live in the city or not. When I first moved here, I would break down into deep sobs when I would see homeless people on the street begging. I assumed a lot of things about those individuals and their backgrounds. It wasn't until I got really clear about my own assumptions and the thoughts in my head that I started showing up with a, "I don't know," paradigm. The only thing I know for sure is that I can be kind.

2. Respite and Rest Are Integral to Functioning. No matter how much of an extrovert or city lover someone is, I am reminded more and more that I need space to restore and relax, without noise. I make a conscious effort to find silent time on a daily basis and also retreat often to the woods or the mountains to get a break, because, well, we all need a break.

3. Saying No. There are endless things to do. Always. Especially living in a city where every second, a new event pops up that sounds interesting and lovely. I realized really fast that I can't do it all. I have to remember and come back to what's really important and what aligns with my current well-being. There will always be something else that pops up. And saying no isn't the end of the world. 

4. Turn the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary. Commuting in traffic. Waiting in line at the grocery store. Waiting to fill up at the Costco gas station. When you live in space with almost a million people, things get busy and congested. It's just the fact of the matter. Transforming the ordinary and the mundane is key: audiobooks, silent gratitude and meditation, deep breathing practices, all of it helps alleviate the frustration that comes with the crowds.

5. Finding Your Tribe Takes Time. It took me about 6 years to get my groove with a community and a tribe that fit my values and aligned with what I was about. I operated under a lot of assumptions when I moved to Seattle, that I would magically find all these awesome people immediately. Like anything that is priceless and amazing, it takes lots of little efforts over a long period of time. And the end result is oh so sweet. 

6. Commit To Trying New Things. New restaurants, grocery stores, condiments, ethnic food, clothing, travel routes, whatever. The saying, "Don't knock it till you try it," remains so true in the city. There is so much to try and the worst that could happen is that you walk away saying never again. The Man and I have a little joke between us..."It's a good story!"

7. Don't Get Too Comfortable. Bust out of the shell sometimes. I especially take this to heart in the winter months. It's so easy to go from bed to car to work to car to home to bed. It's also easy to get sucked right into your neighborhood and your comfort levels. Make it a point to try something different in your routine once a month. If possible, once a week. You might surprise yourself and it's okay to spice up your life once in awhile. 

8. Remember Your Roots. I make it a point to get home every so often. I also make it a point to connect with friends and family that live far away. There is such beauty in the technology that makes it all possible and I am grateful for that every day. Without my connections and my roots, I lose out on a huge part of myself.   

Sunday, June 14, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 70: Burnt

I got a little sunburned on my shoulders this weekend hanging out with our friends who were visiting. we walked down to the beach and had a lovely picnic on the beach, laughing, chatting, and sipping on cool drinks. Every time I come home with a little too much sun, two things happen:
1. The Man says, "Did you wear sunscreen? Why didn't you put on any sunscreen?"
2. Sunburns bring back really lovely, fun memories of summers past. They just do.

One of my worst sunburns was the summer after sixth grade on the shores & beaches of Cape Cod. I went with a friend and her mom. Her mom was attending a conference for psychotherapists for the week and my friend asked if I wanted to come along. The week was amazing for so many reasons, but the reason that stood our the most was the fact that we came and went as we pleased as long as her mom had a basic idea of where we went and when we would be back. Tons of freedom ensued.

We took our boogie boards to the beach and played really hard for a few hours, being tossed around by the waves, sometimes the waves crushing us into the sand, our mouths full of saltwater and seashore. Blech! Then we would eat the sandwiches we ordered every morning from this place called "The Picnic Basket." We would order two breakfast burritos and hot chocolates to eat there and then sandwiches and chips and bottles of lemonade to go. Then, we would hop on the bikes we rented backpacks full and bike down to the nearest beach.

So after our playtime, we would eat, read trashy teen fiction books, and nap. Hence, the worst sunburn of my life happened. So bad in fact, that there were blisters upon blisters and my skin ate up an entire bottle of aloe vera in a day. My friends mom called my mom letting her know what had happened. I had to stay out of the sun for the last couple days we were there and I was in so much pain, I had no desire to eat lunch or dinner at a table. The blacks of my legs were blistered so bad, the only way to pee was squatting.

But that summer trip was one of the best trips of my teen years. It was about freedom and playfulness and as a teenage girl, I did things that brought me joy. I still have and wear the sarong I bought on the cape that summer as well as my little yellow jewelry box.

The Cape taught me that sometimes we can have too much fun and that too much of anything can leave you burnt, sometimes to a crisp. I laugh now and am way more diligent about my sun exposure. 19 years gives you a bit of wisdom. Anyway, the memories that come with the burns are sometimes bit worth it. But don't tell The Man that.