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.


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.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 69: When the Body Speaks...

When the body speaks, we don't listen as often as we should.
We ignore, push pass the language of the body and go on with our lives walking in our skin, using up our muscles and bones and cells. Every last drop of them.
And then, one day, we crash. We find out the consequences of not listening to our bodies. We use and abuse ourselves, yet we bash others who abuse themselves or others. What's up with that?
Can we look in the mirror and listen to the heart of our bodies saying, "You are beautiful, strong, soft, and confident. You have everything you need. I got your back,"

We push ourselves past our limits and yes, the body knows limits way more than the brain knows its limits. Just do this one last thing, make this last party, go see this one more thing, make this one phone call. And then all hell breaks loose because we end up dried up and used up, on the side of life somewhere, resentful and pissed off.

What would it be like to listen, like, really, really, really listen? To go deep every now and then. A steam room, a soak in a tub, a yoga class, a hike in the woods. To get down in your body, feel the feet that carry you, day in and day out and tune into the subtleties. What would it be like?

When the body says, "I need more touch," ask for it.
When the body says, "I need a break," find the closest bed or couch and rest those damn legs.
When the body says, "I want to have a night off from social commitments," honor that and curl up with a book or a journal and a cup of tea and be silent for 10 minutes or 10 hours or 10 days.
When the body says, "I need movement," go walking. It doesn't really matter what shoes you are wearing. Go for five minutes or five miles.
When the body says, "This relationship/interaction doesn't feel right," walk away. Your body is the vessel for intuition.
When the body says, "I am feeling run down and on the verge of getting sick," listen to that. The world needs you to show up and be your best for yourself and your life.
When the body says, "I need nourishment and support," get your ass into the kitchen and start chopping vegetables. It's one of the most meditative and nourishing acts to cook your own food.
When the body says, "I am in pain," breathe. Breathe deeply and for long periods. Deep, belly breathing rocks the party.
When the body says, "I need help and support," pull our your contact list and make that call. Don't think about it, just do it.

So, I ask you, when your body talks, are you listening completely and in a way that you are open to showing up differently? I ask you, just listen.

Friday, June 12, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 68: Leftovers

I was never really a leftover girl. I don't really know what it is about them, but leftovers just don't light me up. I can deal with them and believe me, with food costs they way they are, I happily pack last night's dinner for tomorrow's lunch. I may not be in love with it, but necessity outweighs desire and it's for sure easy peezy.

There are certain leftovers though that totally light me up. Thai food for starters is one. Good desserts is another winner. And then there is party food and snacks. That's the taker of the trophy. We just had a lovely outdoor happy hour on our deck this evening with our closest family and friends. I love entertaining. I love feeding people. I love seeing people having good conversations in the lawn under the sky. It all makes me super happy.

And then the night ends, the leftovers get packed up and sent away with people. I wrap up a few things and then head to bed. I think about how fun the evening was and think about all the snacks that I get to enjoy because of that evening. Eating the leftovers reminds me of the evening itself and how fun it was. I will enjoy them through the workweek and think about the evening when all my tribe came together in my yard and deck and shared in food and drink and then went on their merry ways, bellies and hearts full.

#100daysofjensmusings-Day 67: Love Is Messy

The Man has been sick for over a week now and I have been working long days and later nights. Our house looks like a bulldozer took a detour and the fridge is sparse. The week has been full and messy. And the best part is that love lives here. Love shows up despite the mess, shining through every crack possible. It's there. It will hold you.

When it feels really full like this, I know I can turn to my practices and my self-care, keep things stable for the most part and know that it's all impermanent. All of it.

And so this post is being written after a trip to Urgent Care tonight and the 24 hour pharmacy for The Man who ended up getting an ear infection. It's now 12:46am and love is still messy but it's what you do. It will ease up but it will never be easy. There are always things to work out for the bigger mission of what we're up to in our lives. The big stuff. But in the end, the big stuff always starts and ends with love.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 66: About Service

I just had a lovely evening at the SeattleMet Magazine event, Generocity. The event is about increasing philanthropy and service for non-profits in the Seattle area. It was truly inspiring. It was my second year attending and this year, I went as a guest instead of an exhibitor.

There are two things that I took away from the event:
1. Service is inspiring.
2. I couldn't be more solid on the work and livelihood I have created for myself in the non-profit sector.

I was reflecting on the fact that although I work in the non-profit sector, I sometimes get in my own way and lose sight of the bigger picture: I am here to serve and make a difference. It's who I am at my core. When I stray from that personal mission, I become resentful, empty, and unfulfilled. It's nice to get a superboost from others and drink from the same glass of that which inspires.

To celebrate this inspiring evening and carry the torch of service forward, I thought I would post some inspiring quotes, some of which were featured at the event tonight on the projected screens around the venue space.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 65: Chicken Legs

When you love someone, there are times when you look at them and fall in love with them even more than you ever could imagine. The Man is 6'1" and I am always in awe at his stature and his grace. He is way more graceful than I could ever imagine being, despite the years of yoga and meditation under my belt. Ha! I always joke around with him that he has chicken legs because he is tall, a bit lanky in the lower extremities, yet he is graceful beyond grace. 

This, among millions of things, is one of my favorite things about him. He swoops into a room with a mix of force and peace, striding from one task and room to the next. He steps in to help me reach something above me or help put a dish away on the top shelf. He'll turn the light on above the stove when I am cooking like it was the easiest thing ever. 

For the past 5+ years, his grace has filled me with love. He lives with strength and ease, grace and power, a paradox of sorts. He catches the spiders in the bathroom and sets them free outside. He plants delicate fuschias in hanging baskets every summer. He puts away the silverware in the most gentle way possible. 

So despite my making fun of his chicken legs, I sometimes sit back and watch him gracefully walk through life, touching everything with love and his open heart.

Deep love to the man...and to his chicken legs. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

#100daysofjensmusing- Day 64: Weaving the Web

Sometimes in the morning, before I leave for the day, I head out into the garden and look at all my plants and flowers. It's like a little sacred checking in of sorts. What I find the most fascinating is the webs that spiders weave through the night. Like an intricate map of fine, silver floss, I see the interconnectedness and complexity of these webs in the morning and I am awestruck. Through the night, the spiders go to work, weaving and creating, connecting things, making space, inventing something beautiful from the space of nothing. Pure presence.

I admire the spiders. I admire their tenacity and creativity. And then I remember that we are all weaving our own webs. We live our lives in a daily mode of connecting and creating from the space of nothing. What would it be like to show up like a spider, night in and night out, weaving and connecting, knowing that in any moment, it could all disappear?

What webs am I creating in my own life? The web of innovation and creativity in my work, the web of my new chapter of marriage, the web of spiritual teachings and writing, of vitality and health. Each day, it's an opportunity to get to work, to do extraordinary things, clear things to make things. 
It's all a web, all of it. Every now and then, we get to sit back and admire the masterpiece, but for most of us, we work and create and love knowing that it is all impermanent. There is beauty in that too. 

This story was shared with me years ago and I could listen to it over and over. May it serve you over and over. http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/September05/goddess.htm

Sunday, June 7, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 63: Through the Woods & To the Beach

This afternoon, I wrapped up chores and wedding invitation addressing and headed out for a hike down to the beach. We live in such a sweet little location where I can walk ten minutes and get to a trailhead that leads down through the woods and the trees, past a fruit orchard, along Piper's Creek, and then hits a beautiful beach and the shore of Puget Sound. I packed a little day pack with cheese and crackers, a Nalgene, my phone (for taking photos), a book to finish, a journal and a towel. I laced up my trail runners and headed out.

It felt super nice to be walking in the woods. It was a hit day, reaching 80 degrees in Western Washington and to be bathing in the coolness of the forest felt refreshing and served as a catalyst for taking deep breaths and sighs along the way. I used to walk our dog Ginger along the path often for a couple years. It was our favorite weekend walk and it would be just the two of us girls. Today, as I walked in the trees, I realized how much being in nature totally and completely nourishes me.

When I was young, we would go to church on Sundays or even Saturday nights sometimes and there was something about Catholic mass that would make me feel all good and clean for the week ahead. The walk today made me feel that way, like I was starting the week with a clean slate. Growing up in New England, I did a lot if hiking and I loved it. I loved the linear style- a beginning and an end. You either make it or you don't. Of course, as you get older, you realize life isn't so linear. Just because the shortest distance between two points is a straight line doesn't mean that a line is the best way to get there. Life can take you on a detour of sorts, pulling you out of the flow every now and then, usually for learnings.

As I got down to the beach and setup my little rest area, I looked around at all the joy happening right there in front of me. Joy, joy, joy! Children playing in the water, people exploring the sand and tidal pools, laughter and beer drinking among couples and groups of friends. This is what summer is. Pure joy. I was thinking about how much of a pleasant experience this exact moment was. How all is perfectly aligned and then poof! The moment is gone and new moment comes. Then poof! Again!

So as I walked back home from the beach, back up through the woods, past the creek and orchard, I was attuned to the present because, well, that's all we have.

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 62: Done

Stick a fork in me because I am done. Cooked. Spent. Dried up.

After my early morning yoga class and a Skype date with my mom, I spent the majority of the day in the yard and garden, digging in the dirt, moving pots around, prepping the deck for summer parties.
There is something about working in the yard, under the sun that makes me feel so damn good. Working outside brings me back to growing up in Maine and working with my parents in the yard on projects. Chores before play. It was a good model, one that I still use in my own life.
Digging in the dirt is good for the soul. Like, really, really good. Sweating and lifting and moving stuff around, getting dirt under your nails and in between your toes is like a sprinkling of magic fairy dust. It reminds you that the earth is where its at. Then, there is always something to look to and you get to say, "I did that, I grew that, I made that."

After gardening, it was on to wedding invitations and excel documents for wedding stuff. I managed to grab a bite, leftover vermicelli/chicken/veggie bowl and just finished season two of House of Cards.

Days like this remind me that instead of being resentful and depleted like I used to, I choose when to kick ass and how long to go. Ye,s I have some aches and pains in my hops and back from the yard work, but I feel good...that good tired people always talk about.

Tomorrow will have more breathing room, feel less packed. Bring on the restoration and sleeping in. My head is craving the pillow. Rest calls my name. It's my reward for being in the dirt, the sun, the world.

Friday, June 5, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 61: Stop Waiting

I have been really enjoying my work schedule as of late. Monday-Thursday are a mix of longer, fuller days of work, sprinkled with a few later nights for programs and events, so Friday turns into a personal day of sorts to catch up on all the life stuff, and then I get to spend time on the weekend winding down, enjoying yoga classes, time in my garden, and nesting at home and these days, it includes working on the wedding.

Anyway, in my errand adventure this afternoon to go and pick out a pen for addressing invitations, I came upon this quote written on a chalkboard-sandwich board outside a coffee shop.

Unfortunately, my phone camera has been wonky, so I couldn't take a pic in the moment, but I tracked it down online of course and have been reflecting on it the rest of today. 

As much as I preach about mindfulness and living in the present, I fall down the rabbit hole of impatience, running and rushing to the next thing, and living with an if/then mentality; "If I get my to do list accomplished, then I can rest," which leaves me, well, I don't have to say how it leaves me. 

This quote was a kick in the butt for me because a lot of life right now is getting little things off the to do list as I prepare for my wedding in August. Mix that with time for friends, life stuff, work, relationship, paperwork and finances, house and garden, and well, things feel full. The challenge is to really soak it all up-this is life. The string of to dos, actions and habits makes up how we live our lives. There is so much good already. I don't have to wait until Friday to soak it all up.

The time is now. 

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 60: Good Night

Good night. It's late. It's been a week of long days and full days at that.
The Man is sick in bed and I have been attacking my to do list left and right.
Morning workouts, protein packed lunches, powering through e-mails and phone calls.
I ride the high of the week to enjoy the coast of the weekend.
The bed and House of Cards on Netflix calls my name.
A yoga class and garden time and lounging in yoga pants.
So much rest to look forward to.
Good night.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 59: Celebrate More

Tonight, The Man took me out for my private birthday celebration. It sounds so swanky and over the top as I type, and to be honest with you, it was totally fitting for me, my personality, and incorporated all my favorite things into a third birthday celebration: Thai dinner date, a glass of prosecco, and a trip to the ice cream scoop shop where I had lemon chiffon ice cream cake. Tonight was about celebration and it got me thinking of the whole concept of celebrations. On our way home, I pondered why aren't there more celebrations integrated into our daily life?

Now, I know where your brain might be going:
-Celebrating everything dilutes the specialty element of celebrating something
-Celebrating costs money
-Celebrating little stuff and big stuff makes big stuff insignificant

Well, here I am, challenging you. Surprise, surprise! I had two interesting things come up today around this whole thing which got me on the thinking track of this post.

#1. This quote by Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours, one of my favorite books. (I love her Facebook page by the way). What if we did build celebrations into our day? Everyday? For most of us, we are living in forward motion, checking off the next task, running the next errand, sending the last e-mail. Are we taking time to reflect and think about our day? One of my yoga teachers I study with said something to me in teacher training that will stick with me for life: how we spend our days is how we spend our lives; how we practice today is how we will practice tomorrow and the next day, and the next day. Our actions determine our reality and so do our thoughts. Can we celebrate more and sabotage ourselves less?

#2. I had a great conversation with a client I was working with and they asked me, "Are celebrations and rewards the same thing?" I didn't know how to answer this, but for me personally, they are different but as I got thinking more and more about it, I realized that what really matters is that we acknowledge ourselves regularly in whatever way nourishes us and supports our work in the world. It takes something to live on the planet and do our work and service. It takes something to show up and play big in life and it's integral that we acknowledge ourselves for that. And the only acknowledgement that works is the one that resonates with you. For some of us, it's time in nature or taking Friday's off. For others, it's a weekly massage or dinner out with a spouse after a few long weeks of working late nights.

So, now what? Go and celebrate your fabulous self. It's important. It keeps our tank full. Allows us to keep doing the work we love in the world and showing up for the people we love and who love us. allow yourself to be celebrated.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 58: Grey Force

The sunshine has been hiding today. And I kind of like it.

We have been so lucky here in the PNW with long stretches of great weather. Eat on the deck outside at lunch kind of weather, beer-thirty kind of weather, get your peppers and tomatoes in the ground type of weather. Then, being on the east coast for a week and getting the hot, humid, east coast weather made me feel like summer was in my blood and bones.

And now, as I sit here and write, the fog is rolling up to the tops of the trees, the sky is painted with big, grey brush strokes, and it's damp and a little chilly. Jeans and hoodie weather.

I call it the "Grey Force," the weather that forces you to curl up, stay in, get some inside stuff done, and rest. Tune into the introvert, the reflector, the contemplative side of life. Clean things up, purge a closet, an inbox, a drawer, or cabinet. Put on some good jazz, get a good glass of wine on the table, and breathe.

For me, the summer season can be emotionally challenging. It's the height of the energetic pull of the seasons, full of life, blooming, and outward energy. Lots of things pull us; social commitments, yard work, weddings, babies, and friends. Meals al fresco, happy hours, and fire pit gatherings into the night. Mix all of this with a full work schedule, exercise, cooking, and spiritual practice, and you can feel as though life is at the level of almost overflow.

Use the grey days as a reminder to really pause, tune in, listen to what's there in the space. Use the time to create more space. It's there, just listen. Be in it. Roll your shoulders up and back, take an inversion or sit on the cushion. Read some great, inspiring words, or better yet, write some.

Monday, June 1, 2015

#100daysofjensmusings- Day 57: The Dose

Find something that is inspiring. It can be anything: a child playing a musical instrument, handmade artisan goods at the farmer's market, a trip to the museum, eating at a fabulous restaurant, watching a local indie film, anything! It's so easy to live our days with our heads buried...in devices, screens, gossip, drama, fast food, bad TV, etc. When our heads are buried, we miss out. We really miss out and it costs us.

I sat down this morning in my writing nook for some journaling before I headed out for my workout and jotted down some new core desired feelings for this birthday year. Usually, I get too heady about the whole process and spend too much time finding the "right" words. This morning was quite different. They spilled out really fast:

> Spacious
> Nourished
> Joy
> Gratitude
> Present

These feel really yummy for me and resonate deep within my core. But the best thing about these core desired feelings is the fact that they inspire the shit out of me. I feel like I stumbled across the gold mine. All is revealed. I am inspired.

Find the word, the picture, the dose of inspiration. Let it move you and get you excited to the point that you squeal a wee bit every time you think about it or experience in.