Tuesday, May 23, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 50- all the love

I turned 33 today and my birthday was beyond amazing. So much love from so many people in so many different expressions. Flowers and chocolate and cake and beautiful books, stationary, and cards...and the texts and the lovely little shout-outs. It was amazing. It really made my heart swell with so much love. So this post is going to be short because reveling in the love is what it's all about.

Image result for loving kindnessI taught a yoga class this afternoon to a group of mental health counselors I have been working with for almost two years on a monthly basis. It brings me so much joy to share the practices of yoga with this group. Today, we spent a good chunk of time sitting in meditation practicing metta, loving-kindness meditation. I asked them to picture their hearts being bathed in sweet, bright light, the light symbolizing all their true-nature qualities; joy, happiness, compassion, love, kindness, self-expression, creativity.

The format I use is borrowed from Sharon Salzberg, a well-known Buddhist teacher and the practice that most resonates with me. It continues to be an anchor meditation in my own personal practice.

May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
May I be happy.
May I live with ease. 

This meditation can be expanded beyond the "I," and expressing the intentions to our loved ones, our community, our colleagues, and individuals we have challenges with. There is so much power in this practice, even if it is simply taking our hands to our hearts for five minutes and breathing into our heart space.

We need as much love as we can get. My invitation to you is just that: find all the love possible.

Monday, May 22, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 49- seeing the love

Image result for cartoon holding hands
Okay. I have to admit something. I love watching people having public displays of affection. I know. It sounds voyeuristic and weird and creepy, but it's not what you're thinking. I love seeing people being in love. For example, I was coming out of the gym this morning and across the street was a couple. The woman was loading up her car for what looked like a commute of some sort and her sweetie was out on the street with her. They took a moment to embrace, kiss, hug, and say goodbye. I could see both their eyes twinkle, their bodies relax, and happiness flood their systems.

On my way to teaching yoga class, I saw a similar interaction with a couple waiting to cross the street. They were kissing each other. It was adorable.

For me, I have to try pretty hard to find the joy. Dealing with depression can sometimes suck the joy right outta life and moments that bring me back to remembering joy are moments to be cherished. I am a firm believer in always saying goodbye to The Man in the morning. Like, really saying goodbye. I look him in the eye, give him a great big monkey hug, and a smooch.

Every. Damn. Day.

Why? It's important to me that every opportunity I get to express love, I take advantage of. Seeing the love out in the world reminds us to come back to loving ourselves as well. That we're not in this crazy world alone. Whether we want to embrace the idea of common & shared humanity, or walk on the path with our partner, we're in this thing called life together, all doing the best we can, trying to be happy.

So, whether it's a kiss before you leave for work, or offering a cool drink to your sweetie when they come home from work, or offering to water the garden after they have had a rough day at the office, we must do everything we can to show our love. Don't hold back.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 48- the disco-ball in my head & the cave in my heart

Image result for disco ball

I just finished three days of an intensive yoga workshop on Yoga for Anxiety & Depression. It turned out to really be yoga for emotional health, and it was amazing. It's funny how the universe gets you to exactly where you need to be when you need it. In our closing meditation, we were asked to visualize a cave in our hearts, one that we could enter, one that housed an altar and provided clear access to beams of light from the center of our skull. I was picturing this hobbit-esque cozy cave with a little fire and a pot of soup which was deeply comforting. I was also picturing a rockin' disco-ball in the center of my skull, shooting out beautiful spectrum and beams of light down through my center channel and into my heart. It was mindblowing.

Now, it's the end of the weekend, time is precious. There are dishes piled in the sink, I just finished watering the garden, and don't feel super ready for the week ahead. But guess what? All of that is petty stuff. No need to create anxiety for any of that. I can breathe, recognize that I am all light and love, and move through whatever is in front of me with freedom, grace, and ease.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 47- the sun & doing less

It has felt like a looooooong winter. Oh wait, it has been a long winter. The grey skies, the immense amount of rain, and just blech. This weekend though, the cycle has been broken. It is sunny & warm. I am so grateful for this because this weather helps us sink into spaciousness and the theme of doing less. We ate lunch in the park today in between my yoga workshop sessions and it was so nice to be outside, barefeet, eating lunch, with the sun beating down on my face.

The Man and I started talking about our dreams and wishes for the summer. More hikes, more hanging out, more outside time, a puppy, enjoying our garden, and just being. This whole idea of doing less resonates so deeply with me as I get older. Less pushing, more being. So, that's my overarching theme for the summer ahead: do less.

Friday, May 19, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 46- what I am loving right now

Image result for i heart

It's always a great reminder for me to articulate what I am loving in the moment. It keeps joy actively present and that's so good on so many levels. So here it is:

I am loving prioritizing sleep, which includes not setting the alarm on Sundays, clocking 8+ hours on week nights, and not feeling bad about either.
I am loving minimalism. I have been on a tirade to get rid of material possessions that no longer serve me or bring me joy. It has decreased my stress levels and created more spaciousness at home.
I am loving Bulletproof Coffee. Butter, MCT oil, and organic coffee from Maine all blended together has been such a treat and has kicked me into high octane gear.
I am loving Dan Harris' 10% Happier podcast. 
I am loving the extra daylight, the sunshine, and being able to wake up with the sun in my window. Game changer.
I am loving being back on my meditation cushion again in the mornings. Deep breaths set me up for success. 
I am loving my 100 day writing project.
I am loving carpooling with The Man one day a week. That extra time we get to spend together is such a treat for me and the fact that we are doing a little bit for mother earth is such a bonus.
I am loving setting some time aside on Sunday afternoons/evenings to plan my week, set goals, and schedule in my self-care.
I am loving teaching yoga. Rocket fuel for my soul.
I am loving garden dates during the week with The Man. Digging in the dirt is the best therapy ever.
I am loving spin classes and yoga classes on the weekend.
I am loving the time to be with friends, like really be with them. 
I am loving my acupuncture and massage treatments. Another game changer.

By capturing all of these 'loves,' I can embody gratitude at the deepest level of my core. Most of these things are experiences and not things at all. My loves revolve around quality time and self-care, reminding me of my values, priorities, and joy.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 45- viruses & body barometer

We went to the Puget Sound Dahlia Association meeting tonight and learned about viruses. There is some fascinating research being done over at WSU around dahlia viruses; how dahlias contract the virus, how the virus presents, and how it may be possible to have clean stocks. We learned about the many different types of viruses, and how some theories point to the fact that all dahlias have a section of the virus coding in the genes, and it just takes time and chance for the virus to present itself to the human eye.

I found the whole talk fascinating, of course. And here's why.

Image result for diseased dahlia plant
A diseased Dahlia with a virus of some kind. 
Plants are like humans. We can simply look at plants and learn about ourselves, our bodies, and how stress can take us down. Fast. Viruses, pests, and disease look for "run down" plants that are under stress. It could be lack of water, sun, and/or nutrition. It also could be that a virus is just stronger than the plant.

Currently, in this moment, I am feelinga  bit run down. My nutrition and hydration haven't been up to par, I have been pushing a little too much, and self-care has taken a back seat, at least for the past few days. As I have mentioned before, my body is my barometer. It talks to me and I feel like it's screaming. I have a neck flare up happening at the moment, and can barely keep my eyes open. So, I am going to make this short. Bodies talk. We have to stop, listen, and look oh so carefully. It's easy to plow through, because that's what most of us are conditioned to do.

They also say to take your virused plants and put them right into the trash, not compost. You don't want that shit to spread, like stress, disease, and bad energy.

I will curl up now with my hot cup of tea, my book, and plan to sleep in just a wee bit before my morning massage tomorrow. I am smiling and I am grateful for this barometer of a body.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 44- passages

In my meditation space, I have a collection of inspiring spiritual literature. It ranges from Zen Buddhism, to positive affirmations, to Tantric wisdom and everything in between. I let my intuition guide me in what I open, some days opening nothing and just sitting and breathing. Some days, I thump through pages, waiting to land on a passage that somehow is always relevant. I love this part of my practice. As an avid reader, words on a page are nourishing, supportive, and always seem to find a way to my heart. Today's passage from 365 Tao was potent to say the least.

Healing takes time. It's a process. Challenging situations are impermanent. Trust that all will work itself out. Destruction and healing are cyclical and necessary, not only to maintain balance, but for our own growth. Deep breath. We'll all get there, in either this lifetime or another.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 43- the lover and the fighter

Learning to love each part of myself is one of the hardest things I have ever had to learn. For the past year, I have been on a personal journey. A journey in which I have become more intimate than ever with the shadow side and the light side of my being. This journey has taken me to the depths of my sadness, my anger, my self-hatred at times, and my self-doubt. It has also taken me to the places where I find immense and infinite amounts of self-compassion, joy, happiness, laughter, and love.

Image result for partsI have arrived at the conclusion that we are all just many parts and to get angry or resentful of these parts causes a lot of trouble. We get into the trap, the infamous loop of being angry about our fearful part or getting sad about our shy part. Is there room for tenderness? Yes, I believe there is.

One of my Buddhist teachers introduced me to this whole theory. It's based in the Internal Family Systems model. Mary-Anne Johnston, a Jungian Analyst, gives a really great description of the parts theory.

In the course of a day, many of us may think, for example, ‘a part of me wants to do this and yet, at the same time, another part of me wants just the opposite’. Sometimes, this is felt as an inner conflict or ‘stuckness’. Usually, we simply notice this conflict and override one of the arguments. In a healthy personality, there is a fluid shifting from one part to another depending on what approach is needed, what is appropriate, or what is necessary under the particular circumstances.

Often, some of us feel stuck. We feel like we have run out of solutions. We don’t know how to move forward. In other words, our usual approach doesn’t work anymore. We may have difficulties with a partner,or we may feel as if something is ‘missing’ in our life, or we may feel depressed. Most of us have, over time, become dominated by a few strong parts that ‘run the show’ pretty successfully.

I can love the fighter and fight the lover. They are just parts, they are just pieces of the self. I get a lot of relief from this theory as it helps me approach the nuances within with a bit more compassion, love, and lightness. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 42- how building a wall can be a good thing

Tonight, I had my students bring their yoga mats to the wall for 50 minutes of asana using the wall. It's rare we get the opportunity to make our way to the edges of the room and spread out, but tonight, the class was small enough so that we could expand out and get playful. As I led the group through multiple poses and shapes, I used the wall for key support for spines, legs, and shoulders. I am always struck by how coming to the wall can create immense amounts of ease in the body, the nervous system, and our musculature. I remember in yoga teacher training we talked about floors and walls serving as these amazing props for people. Yet, I know in my own practice, I resist the support...I muscle my way through.
Image result for legs up the wall pose stick figure
Watching people on the wall created a unified sense of stability. I saw people sink into poses, strengthen faster, and access their inner power a lot faster than without the wall. It was a rich reminder to me that building walls can be forms of support, instead of a blockade from the outside world. Walls can be fluid forces, showing up when needed, just to give us an extra lift in turbulent times. Coming to the wall can support our heart expanding and lifting up and open, collarbones wide. I saw my students accessing support and my hope is that they remember how vital it is to have these supportive pillars in our lives, whether it comes in the form of healthy food, time outside, valuable and rich livelihood, good friends and family, and self-compassion. 

Yes, of course we can build walls that keep people out, but I like the version and model that I am building. Walls that can keep us stable and strong in the most turbulent of waters and forces.  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 41- in bloom

For Mother's Day, we took my mum-in-law down to the Pike Place Market for the Flower Festival. It was the first time in my almost ten years of living in Seattle that I ventured to Pike Place on Mother's Day. Typically, crowds have a tendency to drain my energy and deplete me, but today was different. I was energized, enjoying every minute of it. I loved spending time with my sweetie and my mum-in-law and adventuring through the market.

Of course, the flowers were absolutely stunning. It was amazing to see all the farm stalls and the buckets of colorful flowers in bloom. It had me reflecting on this time of year and the blooming that happens. Creativity, innovation, love, and energy are the themes at the forefront of the season. As I get older, I realize that life has cycles, seasons, and rhythms and the more I fight the cycles, season, and rhythms, the more suffering I create. I am way more knowledgeable about my own moon cycle and moon time now more than ever. I don't push super hard in the fall and winter, and I am reminded that when I eat by the seasons, I feel a hell of a lot better.

So, back to the flowers. The beautiful, blooming, colorful flowers. They reminded me of my own blooming right now. I am working on some really exciting work projects, my yoga teaching has ramped up, I am volunteering on a grant review committee, and tending my garden and home, as the summer approaches. The weekends are a lot more social, which is exciting, and I am motivated to go out and have local adventures in the evenings again. My energy has an expansive quality to it and I am really grateful.


I am still very present to not depleting myself, getting resentful, or worn out beyond exhaustion. Alignment is also a theme that comes to mind. Our values + our priorities + our actions = alignment.
As the blooms show us, this time is precious, important, and all of our energy must go towards that which is more important to us.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 39 & 40- downshifting

I skipped writing yesterday and I almost wanted to skip again today. The past three days have been chock full of really fun adventures. I was also in two full days of all staff training on Undoing Institutional Racism. We also have a friend in town, and are celebrating a birthday and Mother's day as well. I made it a point to get to yoga this morning and also call my mom. Needless to say, it has been a full few days but all of it is so good. So juicy. It has all made my heart warm.

For the past couple months, my "life pace" has significantly downshifted. I have made it a point to not schedule myself back to back to back, running ragged and rushing. Part of my downshifting was forced, healing from injuries but it also was because I began to look closely at my life, my priorities, and what matters. For me, I have been pruning away the things that really don't matter. It was tough at first, but now I am super clear on what's a "yes," and what is a "no."

My body does feel tired, a little run down, but it's just information. I treat my body now like a barometer, letting it inform me of what I need to take on and what I need to let go of, when I need to rest, and when I can push a little longer.

Over the past couple days, I have been reflecting on what does matter in the current moment:
...spending quality time with the people I love, including my Seattle family, The Man, and my friends
...taking the time to connect with my family who lives far away, whether it's a text or a phone call
...taking advantage of rich experiences, like hearing my favorite author read from her latest book
...using public transit every now and then, and getting some long walks in
...ditching the dishes, pikes of laundry, and list of chores and choosing a 90 minute yoga class instead
...date night over surfing Facebook
...visiting friends who are going through tough times versus running endless errands
...time out in my garden, planting and digging in the dirt
...sitting and breathing

The ripple effects of downshifting are astonishing and I notice it more than ever when I am pushed into the "being busy" space. And I am constantly reminded that I have choice and that is the biggest thing that matters.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 38- holding my breath

Recently, I have been doing this thing with my breath at the top of the inhale. I hold it. Then I notice I am holding it, and I let it go, but it's a little too late. Not only has this been creating a lot of internal tension in my body, especially my upper back, neck, ribs, and shoulders, but it has been a steady ingredient in my recipe of anxiety.

I started noticing it mainly at work in the mid-afternoons, when I start to realize that I have come up short in my goals or feeling like I haven't gotten enough done. I also notice it in meetings and challenging conversations. I also notice it's been happening in traffic, and on the massage treatment table. I literally stop breathing. I am holding on, bracing, armoring up, putting up a protective sheath with my energetic and breathing body. My good friend told me that my awareness is the first step in the unraveling of this response.

Unraveling. I love that word. I really love that word. A lot.

I crave unraveling. I crave spreading out and expanding, loosening up, Not gripping so hard. I read somewhere that the skills we learn in our first half of our lives are survival skills and in our second half of our life, we realize these skills don't serve us. Yep, makes sense.

The armoring up, the bracing, the deep protective nature I so intimately know has started to take its toll on me, my body, and my life. Slowly, but surely, like a big ball of string that is tangled, I am delicately unraveling. One day at a time. Some days are easier. Some days feel really hard. Some days require copious amounts of chocolate, wine, cheese, and hugs. And some days feel glorious.

Holding my breath is my lesson at the moment. It's my mindfulness practice. There is nothing to solve here, nothing to see, really. It's just my breath and me, hanging out in this space called life doing the best we can, moment by moment, and unraveling one day at a time.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 37- sitting practice, part I

Like many practitioners of meditation, I have a love/hate relationship with my sitting practice. I go through phases...the hardcore phase and the neglect phase. Recently, I have been in neglect phase. Looking at my cushion and altar every damn day and walking away. Sometimes I stand looking at the cushion with my hands on my hips and take a deep breath. Actually, it's more like a sigh of disappointment, mostly in my self, not my green zafu and statue of Ganesh and my salt lamp. Sitting practice for me is flossing my mind. It keeps my clean, stable, soft, and strong, all at the same time.
Sometimes inspiration wanes, but that's not the point of meditation for me...I don't sit because it's inspiring. I sit so I can know myself better, cultivate self-awareness, get to know my hooks and triggers, and to soften my heart just a wee bit more.

I stumbled upon meditation in my early teens, reading a book my mom had by Tich Naht Hanh about mindfulness. It was then I started sitting in my room, lotus pose and all (I was a heck of a lot more flexible then), closed my eyes, and took deep breaths. I would time myself. It became a game. And then I would go outside and play or head to soccer practice, or do my geometry homework. I wasn't resistant. I was highly curious and playful.

Fast forward to today. I have been neglecting my sitting meditation practice big time. Super resistant. Super uninspired, despite that not being the point. But tonight I sat. I did in fact get some inspiration from a podcast in which Sharon Salzberg was interviewed. She brought up the practice of metta, or loving-kindness meditation. It's about sending loving-kindness to self, others, and all creatures & beings, even creatures you have difficulties with. Over time, one can start to exprience great tenderness, compassion, and love.

For today, it feels accessible. A fifteen minute sit. I am a tad more curious and a little less resistant. Here's what I know though: there is power in just sitting my ass down. And if I give up all my stories around what it's supposed to feel like, look like, and be like, I might just get inspired, even though that's not the point. Ha!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 36- getting 29 dahlias into the ground

Tonight was the night. The air was perfect. The sun had been shining all day. It was warm. The perfect conditions for dahlia planting. I had been starting 29 dahlias inside our house...new varieties I picked up from the Puget Sound Dahlia Association this year based on my wish list after the August show last year. It was time to bring them outside.

As a grower, you live by the seasons a lot more than living by the typical calendar. You notice the sun and temps more than the date and the clock. I am super inspired by the Greeks and how they classify time; Chronos and Kairos. When I am in the garden, I am in total Kairos...not a care in the world, just working at a sustainable pace and when I feel done, I am done. Gardening has taught me a lot about the process versus the product. Things are always in stages. Plants teach you that. I find the planting of the plants to be super meditative, relaxing, and a time out from the craziness. Being outside with my hands in the dirt is one of the greatest things on earth to experience.

A blank canvas of soil
ready for the 29 dahlia tubers
Back to dahlias. Typically, Mother's Day is a good milestone on the calendar to plant dahlia tubers in the ground. The soil is usually at a good temperature and the chance for frost is slim to none. I am never on time, but this year I was committed. I want everything in the ground by Mother's Day Sunday. The reason for this? I want to enjoy the heck out of my garden this year. Maybe even host a dahlia party at the end of the summer.

I plant a lot of tubers, but this year I am being more intentional. I am grateful to have The Man's analytical brain for the details, the measurements, and the intricate nature of planting, fertilizing, and gridding out the raised beds so I can fit plenty of tubers. Tonight was gardening night. I came home, ditched my work clothes, filled up my water bottle, put on my garden shoes and hat, and went to work. Five hours later, one raised bed is completely planted. 29 dahlias are in their new home ready to grow and be beautiful. I still have another raised bed to plant but again, it's work that doesn't feel like work and I am beyond grateful to have something like that in my life.

Monday, May 8, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 35- on noticing & feeling the joy

One of my most cherished memories is when my brother and I went to Vancouver, B.C. on the train from Seattle. We took a day trip together when he came and visited me in the PNW. We had a blast exploring Vancouver on foot. I think we walked a crazy amount of miles, ate delicious food, and explored shops and neighborhoods. What I remember about the train was how the perspective you get looking out the window is like  nothing else. It's so much different than a plane, a ferry, or even a car. It's a consistent flying by in which what you see trickles through your view, like grains of sand slipping through your finger tips. 

I was reminded of this moment when I was sitting at a red light by my office. The light had just turned red and I was behind the first car at the light. Normally, I would just zone out, changing the radio station or fumbling with my bag or taking a sip of hot tea from my travel mug. Today though, I simply turned my head and I saw a man with a young child in his arms. And there was so much joy. So much joy. She had to have been two or three years old. Clearly she was laughing and totally enamored with him, putting her tiny hands all over his face. He was carrying a tiny pink backpack, clearly hers, and they were happy as clams. 

After getting home from work, I went into our office to drop my bags, and I looked out the window at our neighbors deck. I saw a beautiful, new, glass wind-chime they had hung. The light had caught it just right and I could hear the chime through the open window. It was a lovely reminder to stop, pause, and recognize the beauty. 

When The Man got home tonight, I wrapped my arms around him like I usually do, but really hugged him. I was present in the hug, feeling his broad shoulders, the weight of his torso, and his strength, almost like he could scoop me up and carry me off into the sunset. I took a deep breath and realized that being with him is being home. 

These three little pieces of my day lasted no more than a minute or so, but they made me realize that I must notice. I must do a better job, wait, I want to do a better job, of noticing. Of being aware. Of keeping my eyes up and heart open. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 34- sunday & my grateful note

It's almost 10pm on Sunday night and I have been going nonstop since 8am this morning. I went to spin class, came home, talked with my mom, had brunch, planned the week with the man, took a shower, ran errands, cooked a big pot of split pea soup, talked with my dad, did dishes, planted some plants in the garden along with some yard work, we prepped dinner, ate dinner, did more dishes, packed away leftovers for the week, vacuumed the house, and wrote some cards out for Mother's Day. WTF?! 

Image result for gratitude

Sundays are meant to be my unplug day, with lots of downtime, but it's all good. We have a couple busy weeks coming up which will make us MIA at our house, so it's about getting out butts in gear, finishing some nagging tasks, and then coasting this summer so we can enjoy being on our deck, sipping our fancy drinks, and chatting and laughing with friends or going on hikes, seeing concerts in the park or grilling yummy food.

At our dinner table, we try to always share our gratefuls, expressing what we're grateful for that day. It can be anything. Tonight, I shared how I am grateful for the ability to go with the flow. I didn't get everything done on my list, I didn't get a ton of downtime, I didn't make it to yoga, but I went with it, knowing that tomorrow is a new day, another start to another week with lots of space to rest and take it easy when needed. For that, I am so very grateful.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 33- my heart is calling for the outdoors

For the past nine months, I have been participating in a really inspiring and deeply nourishing leadership program though the Center for Courage & Renewal, a nonprofit that focuses on bringing the teachings and works of Parker Palmer to social impact leaders, teachers, and individuals looking to meld their vocation with their hearts, their spiritual selves, and the cycles of the seasons. I have been learning so much and diving deeper into the big questions around who I am, what my values are, and how my daily actions and choices align with my intentions. Part of the program requires each individual to be in a smaller leadership circle that meets monthly to talk through all of these questions. I am lucky to have three other women join me every month for this. Last night, we met and I had a pretty big Ah Ha moment in which I heard my heart call for the outdoors. 

Nature and being outside has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Swinging on my swing-set and playing in my sandbox and running around in the backyard were just part of daily life as a tiny person. I remember so many family hikes, weekend backpacking trips, and building snow forts on snow days. I remember riding my bike out to Hotel Road in Auburn, Maine and taking walks after dinner with my mom. Summers were filled with beach trips and trips to the lake, swimming and reading on my beach towel. I think I spent more time outside than inside growing up. 

Last night in circle I realized how being outdoors is ESSENTIAL to my heart, my soul, the places deep within that fuel my work and my zest for life. I get quite cranky without the air and realized in my sharing that I need to sprinkle in more of that time on a daily basis. So, more walks during the work week, continuing my garden time, and sitting in my chair in the morning on my deck with my tea to watch the birds. It has to be a daily practice and I want it to be. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 32- insomnia

Last night was brutal. I had terrible insomnia, a bit of anxiety, and couldn't shut my brain off. Every so often, I have a night like that. I used to beat myself up for it, but then I arrived at a place of tenderness, the need to be gentle when I have rough nights, because, well, I'm human. And things don't always work out the way we want them to. I used to get super attached to what my self-care looked and felt like. I was living and practicing my self-care as though there was some gold star and when I strayed from the routine, I deserved to be punished, by myself of course. Anyway, insomnia is sucky and I am sitting here writing, craving sleep, wanting to curl up and travel to dream land, so that's what I am going to do...honor the need and taking active care of myself.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 31- inviting anger to the table

I've been in a long-term relationship. It's had it's ups and downs, the peaks and valleys. It has scared me silly sometimes. This relationship has destroyed things and also left me with newfound wisdom and self-awareness, deep self-compassion, and faith.

It has been my relationship with anger.

Image result for stormI have been spending some time getting to know anger more. Getting intimate with the pressure cooker feeling that arises inside of me, a feeling like I am living on a precarious edge of control and being out of control. I have experience the storm called rage, in which I am left exhausted, depleted, worn out, and feeling like a muddy puddle, confused and unclear.

There's no right or wrong in this. That's where I have arrived at in my own learning. I can feel the anger, but like any storm, it passes, and can I stay with it? Can I stay in the dark, scary, turbulent waters, knowing there is relief on the other side? Can I call in my knowledge of the Buddha's four noble truths...suffering is part of life and why we suffer is because we're attached. Ahhhh...yes. That wisdom. I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said it gets easier over time. I still feel the visceral response in my blood and veins and bones when I am angry. But now, I just invite that part to the table instead of shutting the door in her face.

Anger can coexist with tenderness. Or at least that's my learning right now. I don't have the answer, but what I know to be true in this lifetime, or at least for today, is that I am stronger because of my anger. More vulnerable because of my anger. More tender and compassionate because of my anger.

Let your anger serve you rather than destroy you. It's quite possible, especially as we hold the truth that there is room for everyone, all the feelings, and all the suffering.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 30- love is a garden

In the garden this afternoon, I spent a good chunk of time transplanting my strawberry plants out of their winter containers and into the raised bed. It's a somewhat tedious process, digging them out, being careful not to shock the roots. It takes delicate patience, a skill I struggle to embrace. I like to get shit done, move branches, throw yards of soil around, but every so often, a task in the garden requires some of the delicate, fine motor skills and I surrender.

It starts off challenging, trying to get all my tools and system in place, the bin for the dead compost, moving the thorny branches aside that I have in my edible bed so that the outdoor kitties don't do their business in my plants, and getting a good radio station on my portable radio. I have to use my hori-hori to separate the plants, being tender with every manipulation of these fresh, young roots. It's frustrating at times. I feel my wrist start to ache, my lower back scream out, "WHY!!!???!!!"

But then, I find my rhythm and get into the groove...digging up, transporting over, digging the holes, placing the plants down, filling in with soil, repeat. Over and over and over. And then a magical thing happens. I finish. I stand back, look at how much I have accomplished and feel satisfied. My knees and arms and hands are caked in dirt. I am sore, sweaty, and tired. I feel my heart swell with warmth. I did this. I am building my life in this garden. I learn the skills of patience and love and respect and more patience. It's a pause in the action, a chance to commune with that which is bigger than me. I feel expansion.

I pack up my tools, water the newly transplanted plants, and head inside for a shower without out the light on. I scrub my fingernails and my knees and I breathe. I let go of all the worry, the stress, the self-doubt. We go and grab Vietnamese food...it's late and the food is light. I come home, my belly happy, my heart full, ready for another afternoon of learning about the qualities I can learn...the patience, the love, the kindness, the ability to be gentle with myself and with my life and with others.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 29- filling the brita

Image result for brita filterWe have a Brita filter on our counter with room temperature water in it. It's from when I lived alone and had one. The Man has a much larger Brita filter that lives in the fridge with icy cold water which is not my style. So when I moved in, I brought my Brita and it camps out by my electric kettle and the toaster. But here's the thing about the Brita. I have the hardest time filling it when it's empty. i use it up, rush out the door or to the table to eat, and then lo and behold, one of us goes to get some water and the thing is empty. I have lived in the house for almost 6 years and it has happened from day one.

Why, why, why, why? It causes a lot of scuffles.

I guess I just hate to wait. It takes some time to fill it up; turning on the faucet, letting the water filter through, and the refilling it enough so there's a surplus. This whole process makes me impatient and cranky and I finally put my finger on it. I am a 'rusher' by nature. It's tough to slow down. To take breaths, to pause and rest. It has always been a challenge for me.

So tonight, I went ahead and di my thing again, emtyping it out into the electric kettle for tea and didn't fill it up. The Man said something to me along the lines of "Are you going to fill up the Brita?" to which I replied, "Oh yeah. That's right." So I am committing. Committing to a pause in the action. There is plenty of time and plenty of room for the rest and the pause. There is nothing to argue in regards to that. But I have to want the rest, the pause, the breath. And I do. I get it now.

Monday, May 1, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 28- celebration

I just got home after celebrating 30 amazing entrepreneurs completing their business training at Ventures, the nonprofit I work for. I always walk away from those evenings inspired, motivated, and enthralled with every one of the businesses. Tonight, as I drove home, I got thinking about celebration. When I was experiencing my dark knight of the soul in my early twenties, I wanted nothing to do with celebration. For me at that moment in time, celebration was for people who were happy. I was lucky if I showered and was in class on time. (I guess that was something to be celebrated too.) Anyway, celebration. We need more of it, but it's a fine balance. Too much celebration causes the dilution effect, watering down the significance. Not enough causes us to feel like we are spinning our wheels and working too hard in the world. This leaves us in the place of celebrating what matters to us. Aligning our celebrations to our own lives, our own values. It brings up conversations around religion, obligation, and holidays. At the end of the day though, we get to choose. So tonight's post is short. My insight here is that celebration is good for us and it takes many forms; the high five with a colleague, the sharing of delicious food and sparkly beverages on a birthday, the kiss after making it home from a long day, the lighting of a candle at dinner to acknowledge gratitude. All of it is celebratory.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 27- sundays

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For me growing up, Sundays were all about family time. Being raised Catholic, I used to go to church and Sunday School when I was little, and then soccer games replaced that, but we always had a family meal on Sundays. It was a big deal to gather at the table before the start of the week. Sundays have a special place in my heart, mainly because I used to book myself solid, starting the week completely depleted. Now, Sundays are dedicated to white calendar space, doing what feels good, and nourishing and renewing my space, which includes home cooked meals, opening a bottle of wine during an early dinner, and getting to spend lots of time outside and curled up with my book before an early bedtime.

Here's what I love about Sundays...
...not setting an alarm
...maybe a workout with the man
...cooking brunch at home
...hot tea
...making soup, a quiche, a sauce, or another batch recipe for the week
...inviting someone over to dinner impromptu
...spending time outside in the garden and getting my hands in the dirt
...talking with my parents on the East Coast
...folding clothes and getting things in order for the week
...spending time with my book or my journal
...writing sweet notes & snail mail to friends
...taking it easy
...slowing down
...playing the Etta James Pandora station while I do the dishes with hot, soapy water
...clearing the surfaces of our common spaces
...changing the sheets
...sweeping the floors
...starting anew

Saturday, April 29, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 26- notes on exercise

I am a devout cardiovascular exercise nut. I am one of those people who finds joy in going to the gym to workout, sweat, and "feel the burn." But here's the truth, really. I go for my brain, not my body. I have no interest in getting a chiseled abdomen (I like brie and prosecco and lemon bar ice cream wayyyyy too much). I have no interest in sculpting my shoulders or toning my calves. I mean, those interests are totally cool and I totally respect you and everyone out there who has those interests and goals, but that's not me.
Image result for beet vegetable
Okay, so back to why I go. For my brain. Something happens in the rewiring sense when I get exercise. My brain feels calmer, more at peace, more mellow. It works. It has been my medicine since I got off medicine. I know the science is piled high to support exercise being good for the brain. There is no doubt about that. But for me, it borders on survival. The fact that when I exercise, I feel like I am able to survive the world. Deal with the unknowns. Go with the flow. Sleep better. Be the turtle and let things roll off my back. It's magic.

So I try. I try to get there everyday. Which is highly and insanely unrealistic, just like someone saying I am going to resist the black of the hole of the internet for the rest of my life. I mean, come on, right? So, I feel successful when I hit my 3x/week minimum. Anything above that is a B-O-N-U-S. When I am on the elliptical, for example, I am actively taking care of myself, my brain, my nervous system. It's a radical act of self-care, compassion, and a reality check for myself. It gets me out of my head, into my legs. Out of my small self and into my big Self, able to see the world just a bit differently with a teensy bit more perspective.

And so that's why I go. Not everyday, but most days. And it makes a real difference. I may look like I am a beet vegetable ready to explode and drop dead, but I am smiling dammit. I am friggin smiling because I am at peace and it is in those moments the world and life feels doable.

Friday, April 28, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 25- I stopped using the word busy

Image result for pig penI used to be one of those people who, when asked how I was doing, would automatically vomit the words, "I'm okay. Really busy." Just typing it makes me want to barf. It's boooooorrrriiiiinnnngggg. It's completely lame actually. No substance in that response. It's lifeless.

So I stopped using the word and I also stopped asking people how they were doing. Now, don't think for a minute that I am a total b*tch and am not interested in my people. I am most certainly interested. So I started asking people what is new and exciting in their world. And you know what? I never get the busy answer any more.

I feel it's imperative we stop getting caught in this paradigm. Busy equals frenetic, chaotic, out of control, soul sucking. We. Must. Stop. The. Cycle. We can do it through our language.

Our words have power. Our language creates our reality. What we say, we honor. So, in essence, we have complete control over the pace of our lives. We don't have to succumb to the 'natural speed' of how everybody else is living.

I am amazed at how caught we all get, including myself. As soon as my pace picks up in my life, things start to break down. I tend to knock things over, bump into corners of tables, forget the route I drove, get frustrated with technology, and get real snarky with the people in my life. I stop being present. There's a cost to that and it's not worth it for me anymore.

No day is ever perfect and it's not about 'arriving at an enlightened place,' but rather, taking the sweeter, slower approach. It tastes better, it feels better, it syncs up with my heart better.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 24- 11 screenshots of wisdom

Here's what I love about the internet. The wisdom out there is infinite. Every time I come across a gem, I screenshot it, save it, and keep it in a folder on my computer titled "screenshot motivation." Here are 11 of my faves. Caution: PG-13 Language ahead...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 23- letting go

Buddha in the Snow, Skagit Valley,
taken by my good friend & teacher.
Here's a joke for you.
Q: Why don't Buddhists vacuum in the corners? 
A: Because they have no attachments.

This theme continues to rear its lovely head. 
I wish I had no attachments. Wait. It's not that I don't want to be attached to anything at the emotional level, but I don't want my attachments to consume my being and mind. How do I do that?

Meditate. Be skillful. Be mindful of when you are feeling the grip. These are the things my teachers say in a multitude of ways. When I am on my mat or cushion, practicing with other like-minded spiritual do gooders, it makes perfect sense. I know that the only thing constant is change. I know that all of life is impermanent. I know attachment causes suffering. 

After those deep dharma talks, I make my way out the door of the studio, get in my car, and drive home and usually in that drive, I get angry about one driver. At least one. all the wisdom out the winder with maybe my middle finger. 


But here's what I know (it's not much). The effort is the gem. It's not about getting it all perfect. That's why they call it a practice. We live in the land of paradox.

We can have so much joy...and there can be so much suffering.
We can have tough & crucial conversations with our loved ones and our colleagues...and we can be compassionate in those conversations.
We can be disciplined in our living...and we can embrace flexibility and going with the flow.
We can be giving of ourselves...and still have healthy boundaries.

Attachment causes issues when we start to spin. One of my teachers has mentioned this idea of being hooked like shutting your jacket in a taxi cab and the taxi drives off and instead of letting go of the jacket, you are hanging on for dear life, creating a whole boat load of issues for yourself. 

I write this for a gentle reminder, mainly for myself that letting go can create an immense amount of freedom, space, and peace. I need this reminder more than ever. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 22- all good things take some work

My brother Nate swimming in 30" snow, Dec. 2016
I was talking with my dad tonight on the phone and he mentioned something that really struck me. He said that New Englanders are gritty, direct, and know how to roll up their sleeves and work (i.e. shovel snow & shop wood). That piece wasn't the surprising piece, as I am very in tune with my inner New Englander, but the piece that was surprising was when he mentioned that those personality traits piss a lot of people off and make people feel uncomfortable. This got me thinking. And here's what I arrived at: it's kinda true, but it sucks that it's kinda true. 

Reflecting on my own experiences, especially in my jobs and career, I have been publicly and privately shamed for my work ethic. It used to bother me a lot, especially when I was younger and figuring out who I was in this crazy world. It would range from being called out as a teacher's/bosses pet to being a perfectionist, to the Ms. Know It All or more recently, the competent one. When one lives her whole life like this, it becomes a double edged sword; you get praise for the qualities of a hard worker and the results and outcomes of that archetype, but you run the risk of being shamed and criticized.

Here's what I know now that I would share with my younger self struggling with the paradox:
If you believe in the work, it's all worth it. If the work totally lights you up, then keep forging the path and don't give a shit about what people think.

Know that there is a fine line between engagement and burn out. Burn out is not a fun trip to go on. Ever. It happens before you even know it's happening, so find someone who can compassionately keep you in check. Don't lose yourself in your work to the point where you aren't taking care of your basic needs and getting time outside in nature.

Don't sacrifice who you are. Don't resign yourself completely and swing the other way of not caring. I tried this once or twice or a hundred times. My care-o-meter is either 0% or 100%. I don't have the middle guage, but that's me. I refuse to succumb to mediocrity in my own work as long as it's not holding up the end result or impinging on someone else to get their work done. 

Know who is in your corner. Whether it's your boss, your colleague, your spouse, or your meditation teacher, have someone who can pick you up when you are feeling down and doubting that this whole hard work thing isn't worth it.

Stop giving a shit about what other people think. Within reason of course. You can't just be a bull thrashing around expecting people to like it. But spend your energy on what matters versus what people think. That's plain blazing insecurity and it's not sexy. I promise.

All good things take work. Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was your local yoga studio or the amazing nonprofit you support or the coffee you drink or the plants from your garden. Good things take some time and effort and some work. That will always be a reminder in doing our work out in the world. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 21- nineteen

Image result for 19

There were 19 students in the yoga class I taught tonight. One of the biggest classes I have taught in quite awhile. The space can comfortably accommodate about 15, so we were pushing it. And the latecomers who tiptoed in were welcomed with open arms, "Here, there is a space right here," and "Let me move my mat over, one sec." It's this sense of community that is the reason I teach. When I was on my path to becoming a yoga teacher, I would hear teachers say they get so much more out of teaching yoga than taking yoga classes. It's true. It becomes the juice of my own practice.

I hear so many people talk about/post about/complain about Mondays. I look forward to Mondays because I know at 5:20pm, I pack up at work, head down to the studio, change into my stretchy clothes, and show up. Every. Single. Monday. Sure, every now and then I have to get a sub for a class, but the Monday nights are non-negotiable. It forces me to step outside of myself and show up in a big big big way.

I show up for the Muslim women to come to class and laugh during our balancing poses where even I wobble and smile.
I show up for the father/son pair who call it their "date night."
I show up for the landscaper, the retired couple, the elementary teacher, the newcomer, the retiree.
I show up for the ones who deal with chronic pain; emotional, physical, mental.
I show up for the athlete looking for a little more flexibility.
I show up for the old, the young, and everyone in between.

It's pretty amazing to witness 19 people showing up, breathing, stretching, and cultivating self-awareness. It's one of the most magical things I have ever been witness to and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity, Every. Single. Monday.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 20- walking

Going for a walk is one of my most favorite things to do in the whole wide world. It goes back to when I was younger and would go hiking a lot with my dad. Just walking in the woods would make me feel as though I was in my home away from home. Being outdoors has always been so nourishing for me, a time to reflect, to turn inward, to breathe, to feel expansion. The seasons of spring and fall are especially potent as the change of the seasons is more extreme, and the air has a special quality to it. Recently on my walks, I have been enjoying the boldness of the tulips, the smell of the cottonwood petals, the emerging green against the backdrop of dark soil, the puddles left from the recent rainstorm, the pots and gardening supplies strewn about in yards that have been hibernating all winter, and the light. The more light, the better I feel. 

Getting on a walk allows me to process and reflect, taking a conscious time out from whatever I am doing, move, breathe, and take a break. It's in these moments where I have my best ideas...a problem or challenge that I have been pondering suddenly presents a new angle...a theme for an upcoming yoga class...a brilliant date night idea. A pause in the action allows us to get some space, some breathing room, and being in the outdoors is just a cherry on top, so why not?

Walking is good for our soul. It's good for our health. It's good for our senses and our brains. But most importantly, it's really great for our hearts. A time to reconnect and serve as a reminder as to what is possible. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 19- what I think about when I am doing the dishes

Summer view from the kitchen sink
Being the family dish walla gives me a lot of time to have my hands in soapy water and do some deep thinking. So what do I think about when I do the dishes? Here's a snapshot.

I think about the amazing conversations I would always have with my mom growing up. When she washed, I would dry. It was always great time for us to talk about everything under the sun and we still have those amazing conversations when I am home. When she comes and visits, I wash and she dries, and still, it feels like yesterday I was about 8 years old helping with dishes.

I think about my Italian grandma and great grandma, two super strong women always whipping a wooden cutting board out of the sink and gracefully putting things away. My hope is that I embody as much grace and passion for cooking now and as I age.

I think about how grateful I am for hot water and that it comes out of my faucet whenever I want it. When I traveled to Nepal and India, the work it took to create hot water humbled me and I always think about the ease I live with. 

I think about the meals I share with the people I love. Whether it's a squash soup on a winter evening or a grilled salmon with The Man, coming together for meals creates a feeling in my heart that can't be replaced or replicated. I value this precious time and wouldn't trade it for the world.

I think about my day and how I showed up with my interactions and my work. Did I make a difference? Did I make people laugh? Did I empower people to live powerfully? Did the day feel like a win? Are there things I need to complete in terms of my interactions and if so, can I have some grace with myself around those things?

I think about the garden and the yard, and how there is so much to do, always. It's overwhelming yet exciting all at the same time.

I think about getting out on hikes more. The kitchen window above the sink looks out to the Olympics and I feel the adventurous spirit in me wanting to drop everything and go.

I think about the state of the world, the suffering, the collective pain and say a prayer for more peace and ease and compassion. 

I think about the last time I practiced yoga or sat for meditation. It always seems like ages ago and make a mental note about stretching the next morning. And flossing too.

This carved out time is a meditation, a time to reflect, a time to also just do the dishes. It's part of my spiritual practice, a time to slow down and just be. I always feel super proud when I finish, the stainless steel double sink gleaning with accomplishment. The dishes stacked high in the drying rack. Soon I will make my cup of tea, brush my teeth, put on my sleep clothes, and wind down with a book. And tomorrow will come and more dishes will be used because meals will be cooked and eaten with love. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 18- on tenderness

What does it mean to be tender? What does it mean to be gentle? What does it mean to be kind? What does it mean to embrace all of these qualities for ourselves?

I have been asking myself these questions for the past few months and what I am constantly encountering is how self-compassion feels so clunky for me. I beat myself up. All. The. Time. I run the ______enough story; not good enough, not smart enough, not sexy enough, not competent enough, not healthy enough, not powerful enough. Even as I write this post, I am thinking I am not kind enough with myself. The brutal irony.

I remember when I first learned what it meant to have self-compassion. It was on my yoga mat in Colorado when I was heart deep in my Vinyasa practice. I showed up to my mat with armour-esque strength, very little softness. My heart hurt from being in deep depression and I was sad. I beat myself up daily for my lack of motivation, my lack of love and passion for the life I was living. I would go into strong poses which perpetuated the cycle.

More strength, more armour. More strength, more armour.

My teacher at the time, Miya, would come to me on my mat and whisper the words, "Soften, let go, surrender," right in my ear. It would fire me up, I would feel the heat in my throat. I didn't want to soften. I didn't want to be tender. And yet, I continued to come to class and each time I practiced, a little bit of armour fell off. It was during that time in my life that I learned what it meant to be tender.

It doesn't get easier for me. It actually gets harder to be tender, to express deep compassion to myself because now I know the other side and the true cost of what it means to live in a constant state of war against my own being. I shut down, I get cranky and resentful. I get mean.

In the pause between inhale and exhale is a moment that feels like magic. I use that moment sometimes to remind myself what grace is and what tenderness should feel like. A little uncomfortable, a little scary, but magical.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

#100daysofwritng: day 17- enough

Image result for enough

It's late. It's been a long week. I am taking the day off tomorrow for much needed rest and nourishment. I worked a lot at my computer this week so my body is cranky. I didn't get a lot of physical activity in, nor did I meditate.

But here's what I did do: I continued my writing practice. I didn't eat at my desk at all. I got out on a couple walks and worked in my garden. I enjoyed some evening unwinding with some great comedies. I continued my coffee experiment. I had lovely home yoga practice. I kept up with the dishes and didn't accumulate a huge pile of clothes. I talked with my parents. I facilitated some great meetings and finished some key work projects. I enjoyed time with a visiting friend. I enjoyed time with The Man.

Our culture is so focused on the negative. Our brains just naturally go to the place of what's wrong. We live in constant scarcity...never feeling like it's enough. So I am trying to change my brain. To focus on what is working. Focusing on what matters most. The priorities. Small wins over time. Capturing and celebrating the wins is beyond inetgral to my peace of mind and my contentment. When I see all the things I did do, it's a radical act of compassion and grace. It isn't perfect and I didn't do all the things, but it still feels so good to validate myself for what is working and what is happening.

One of my most favorite mantras is something my mom shared with me growing up.
I am enough. I do enough. I have enough.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 16- home practice

I never thought of myself as much of a homebody. I always thought of my home as a base camp, a place to stage my next adventure, my next outing. It wasn't until I got Lyme disease a few years ago in which I was literally home-bound at times due to the agony, fatigue, and paint, that I realized what a treat it is to be at home. I learned that my home is a healing container, a place for respite, a safe space to process all my feelings and experiences, a place of retreat and quiet. As an introvert, this is so integral to my well-being and my overall happiness.

Take tonight.

I spent a good chunk of time in my car traveling south for a meeting and then making my way north. It had been a long day, and my back and neck were not liking my being in the car. It was a bit late when I pulled in the driveway, so gardening was out of the question. It was overcast and I was just feeling the overall blah. I walked inside, unpacked my bag & lunch pail, and changed into some yoga clothes. I plugged in my iPod and unrolled my yoga mat in the living room, lit a candle, and gave myself a gift of a 40 minute home yoga practice. It totally was the remedy I needed.

For me, home is truly where the heart is. It's where we can restore ourselves, engage in daily practice of meal prep, cleaning, folding laundry, reading in bed, journaling, sipping hot tea, and conversing with a loved one. It is such a sacred container and must be treated with the utmost care and responsibility. I am so incredibly grateful for my home, no matter how tiny it is. I am grateful for all the super cozy nooks and spaces we have, a great kitchen to cook in, and outside space that is both nourishing and fun. 

Take a moment to reflect on what makes your home your home. What about it is nourishing, supportive and safe? It is in these questions that we can find our own sources of contentment, ease, and grace in a very hectic world. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 15- my favorite poem

In 8th grade, my Honors English class hosted a beatnik-esque poetry night. It was great. We got to read poems of great poets and write our own poems and share those. We dressed in black turtlenecks and I stomped around in my Doc Martens. I found my all-time favorite poem that year, Fear by Pablo Neruda and fell in absolute love with Neruda after that. In 10th grade, I traveled to Spain and was enamored by romantic poetry and Spanish culture. It feels like a lifetime ago, but still so present and current for me.

The poem itself is a bit much to grapple with for an 8th grader, but I was always ahead of my time, contemplating mortality, asking profound questions about my purpose in this lifetime, less concerned with traipsing around the mall with my fellow peers.

So here it is. My favorite poem for a Tuesday evening.
By Pablo Neruda

Everyone is after me to exercise,
get in shape, play football,
rush about, even go swimming and flying.
Fair enough.

Everyone is after me to take it easy.
They all make doctor’s appointments for me,
eyeing me in that quizzical way.
What is it?

Everyone is after me to take a trip,
to come in, to leave, not to travel,
to die and, alternatively, not to die.
It doesn’t matter.

Everyone is spotting oddnesses
in my innards, suddenly shocked
by radio-awful diagrams.
I don’t agree with them.

Everyone is picking at my poetry
with their relentless knives and forks,
trying, no doubt, to find a fly.
I am afraid.

I am afraid of the whole world,
afraid of cold water, afraid of death.
I am as all mortals are,
unable to be patient.

And so, in these brief, passing days,
I shall put them out of my mind.
I shall open up and imprison myself
with my most treacherous enemy,
Pablo Neruda.

Monday, April 17, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 14- thoughts on challenging times

It's a crazy, crazy, crazy world we live in. The energy is palpable, some of it really inspiring, passionate, uplifting while some of it is heavy, dark, and depleting. Now more than ever, I see myself vacillating between sadness and joy, holding the paradox of so much good and so much pain & suffering. I am puzzled by this constant straddling as to how to show up as my best self, the best partner, the best friend, and the best contributor in this world.

Image result for take a stand
Photo from NeoGAF poetry corner
I notice myself more tender, more sensitive, more in tune with the suffering.
I notice myself craving more alone time, more time reflecting and engaging in quiet activities.
I notice myself drawn to more one-on-one time versus big groups.
I notice myself prioritizing self-care, good food, hydration, and outdoor time.
I notice myself a tad more emotionally sensitive, sometimes agitated, and sometimes downright pissed off.
I notice myself wishing for peace and contentment.
I notice myself wanting to be more physically active.
I notice myself ditching numbing behavior like mindless social media scrolling or endless hours of TV.
I notice that I am noticing more, cultivating a deeper self-awareness of my own needs.

There is no right or wrong way to deal with what we are dealing with. We are all just doing the best we can to navigate the tricky territory of our communities, our workplaces, our neighborhoods, and our cities. I take a stand for you so that you can show up with a little more curiosity, wonder, and ease in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. I stand with you and for you.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 13- feeling my feelings

I used to hold my emotions and feelings with so tight a grip, true suffocation would ensue. It still happens, although not as often and a big personal growth intention that I have been holding for the past six months has been to feel my feelings. To let my feelings really seep in, like a good, thick coat of stain on a piece of wood. It's hard and I don't like it.

I read somewhere that the skills and habits and patterns you develop the first half of your life don't necessarily serve you in your second half of life. This makes things complicated. Or at least it has for me. So I have been on this adventure of feeling my feelings, all of them in fact; sadness, joy, frustration, depression, contentment, passion, worried, curious, happy, anger, and all the ones in between.

Image result for feelings truthbomb danielle laporte
My findings:

Naming feelings is quite powerful. Similar to meditation practice and naming thoughts as they arise, articulating my feelings by naming them adds a whole other dimension to the feeling itself. It's self-validating and gives them a container to be in, which sounds super woo woo and weird, but it has given me such an immense amount of positive power with the difficult feelings.

I have a new relationship to crying. I was never a huge crier growing up. If I cried, I did it behind closed doors, but would let it build up so much that it felt as though a tsunami came over and through me when I did let it out. Now, I find comfort in shedding tears and similar to passing gas, better out than in.

Holding my cards close doesn't let people in. When I don't talk about the difficult stuff, I don't give the people in my life an opportunity to support and hold me with tenderness, compassion, and care. When I open up, even just a little bit, not only do I find breathing room, but I get to have more love and support in my life. Can't complain about that.

Feelings are the ticker tape of life. Nothing lasts forever. Feelings are impermanent. Similar to the news ticker tape at the bottom of the screen, letting feelings move through me without getting stuck is a practice I continue to hone and develop. It's like riding a big ass wave.

I am constantly reminded that feeling my feelings is a constant practice. There is no end goal, finish line, or miraculous destination. It's a radical act of self-compassion and is super challenging at times but it's so worth it. So incredibly worth it.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 12- saturday yoga

Saturday mornings have always been carved out for taking my weekly yoga class. I try to get to a studio class during the work week, but I quite frequently don't make it, unless I get to a early morning class. Forget the after work fiasco and stress. I tried that for a while and my nervous system said, "Oh nay nay." So, Saturdays at 9am is it. Sometimes I go to the 7:30am if we have plans for the rest of the day, but for the most part it's part of the weekend plan. I wake up while The Man soundly sleeps, I make tea and sit at my desk and make my weekend wish list, including both work and play into the mix. I then slip into yoga pants, tank, socks and a hoodie and head to the studio. The morning air quiet and cool. The birds singing. There is a quietness in the atmosphere. I try to get there early so I can get my back corner spot near the wall. I unroll my mat, grab my props, and sink in.

I sink in deep. 

I release the stress and worries of the past week. I connect with my body. I get really curious about my breath and my heart. It's one of the most sacred times of my week. 

This morning I went to a Level II flow class, a class I seldom frequent. Vinyasa yoga used to be my practice for so long. I craved the sweat, the music, the community. The challenging poses like side plank, reverse half-moon, headstand, and pigeon. I transitioned away and found more nourishing and supportive practices for my health challenges and mental space but every so often, I need to get my sweat on and this morning was it. It was a bit like riding a bicycle. My body didn't forget. I surprised myself at times, grabbing my ankles while on my belly and bringing my heart forward into bow pose. Having no qualms about turning upside down into headstand. I was aware that my left ankle, despite being about 10 weeks post surgery, felt strong & stable. I noticed a calming in my brain. I felt like I was home.

And so I drove home, made my eggs and tea, and felt like a new person, a new soul, like I was connected to my body and soul again. It was then I realized that's why Saturday yoga matters. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 11- what self-care means to me now

Ahhh...the magical words of self-care. It has been such a buzz word for so long and the topic of so many thousands of self-help articles and books, that I notice a bit of numbness to it. For me, I was introduced to the concept of self-care back in 2004, specifically as it related to getting up close and intimate with my own struggles with depression. I had started going to yoga regularly then, and my teacher at the time was a big advocate for self-care. For a number of years, I held the belief that self-care was always an act of doing something. Another thing to add, like a massage, soaking at the spa, curling up with a blanket and a book, or adding kale and herbal tea into the grocery cart instead of pints of Ben & Jerry's, although, that is self-care too sometimes.

Self-care has evolved for me in some really fascinating ways. Yes, I still build in active self-care; massage, acupuncture, spa time for soaking and steaming, journaling, walks in nature, meditation, yoga, all of that. But there's a new energy to all of it and that energy is truly receptive and fluid. What I notice now more than ever is that unless I am deeply grounded, listening to my intuition, and keenly aware of how my body, mind, and spirit feel, there isn't space to hold a conversation about self-care. Period.

Doing stuff only gets us so far. We live on the hedonic treadmill for the most part. But we have choice whether we stay on it or go take a hike into a different way of living.

Self-care has transformed for me personally to really encompass self-compassion and kindness.

It's consciously taking a lunch break away from my computer on a daily basis.
It's being realistic about how long things will take, including traveling, meetings, and projects.
It's saying, "Tomorrow's another day and I get another shot."
It's also saying "This can wait until tomorrow."
It's not setting the alarm on Sunday mornings.
It's dropping everything to watch a sunset or sunrise.
It's choosing garden time over dusting,
It's being in communication with your partner.
It's finding solace in soup instead of a big mac after a late night of working.
It's taking it easy during my moon time.
It's browsing the library for a few minutes versus rushing to my next errand.
It's feeling into how my body feels and what it needs.

We all have a choice and that's what makes this so great. We can choose a new way and create our own definition of self-care.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 10- what I read in 2016

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I love to read. I love books. It's my thing. Usually, I write a post early in the year talking about what I read in the previous year. My goal is always 52. I haven't reached it yet. 2016 was a good reading year, despite being in school for my nonprofit management certificate, but I got my hands on some great stuff. This year, my reading goal is the same, 52 books. It's been a slow start, but I know I will find my rhythm. I keep a reading log in Evernote, one of my most favorite apps ever.

I closed 2016 reading 26 books, all of them fabulous, touching, and inspiring in their own ways.

Fast Facts from my 2016 reading list:
  • Smallest Category: Fiction (1 book)
  • Largest Category: Memoir (10 books)
  • 15 of the books I read were written by women
  • I read for professional development for the first time (thank you school!)
  • 19 of the books I read came from the library
  • Fates & Furries-Lauren Groff
Professional Development
  • Leadership On the Line- Ronald Heifetz
  • The Leadership Challenge- Barry Posner and James M. Kouzes
  • Deep Work-Cal Newport
  • Originals- Adam Grant
Lifestyle & Self-Growth
  • Hands Free Life-Rachel Macy Stafford
  • Everything That Remains-The Minimalists
  • The Gratitude Diaries-Janice Kaplan
  • Essential: Essays by The Minimalists 
  • Now Go Out There and Get Curious-Mary Karr
  • Why Not Me? -Mindy Kaling
  • Vessels-Daniel Raeburn
  • Falling-Elisa Cooper
  • My Life On the Road-Gloria Steinem
  • Bedwetter-Sarah Silverman
  • Here if You Need Me- Kate Braestrup
  • Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It-An Anthology
  • In the Body of the World - Eve Ensler
  • Love Warrior - Glennon Doyle Melton 
  • The Geography of Bliss-Eric Weiner
Spiritual Self-Study
  • Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up-Norman Fischer
  • Fierce Medicine-Anna Forrest
  • Let Your Life Speak-Parker Palmer
  • Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living-Krista Tippett
  • The Great Spring-Natalie Goldberg
  • The Great Failure- Natalie Goldberg  

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

#100daysofwriting: day 9- how I show up in my commute

Commuting can be a challenge. I admit, it's probably up there in my top ten least favorite things to do, followed by cleaning my bathroom, dealing with forgotten food in the back of the refrigerator, and forgetting my rain jacket on days with downpours. But, like all the other stuff, it's part of life.
I used to have a big story about my commute and complained crazily. And then I realized I had a total choice in the matter and how I could be about it. 90% of the time, I don't have to commute during peak hours, but it happens and that's just the way it goes sometimes. So here are a few things that I have found really helpful and things I consider as part of my survival kit for my own commute.

  • I try and notice 1-2 new things each commute. Whether it's a new piece of construction equipment, a billboard, new graffiti, or even a mom walking her child to the bus stop, I try to notice something new.
  • Hot beverage. Essential for morning commutes. Need I say more?
  • Podcasts! I also had a huge story about me not being able to retain audio information (i.e. books on tape), but then I fell in love with some awesome podcasts and because technology is so awesome, I subscribe using the PlayerFM app, they automatically download and I listen to those. My faves: On Being, Unmistakeable Creative, Good Life Project, Kate & Mike Show with Kate Northrup & Mike Watts, and 10% Happier. 
  • I have intentionally limited my news intake in my life, but especially in the morning. What you digest first thing has profound impact on your cells and your energy. No joke. 
  • I ditch my jacket in the backseat. I am a firm believer in comfort. It's one of my core values in life....to be comfortable. 
  • Always have sunglasses handy. The weather in the PNW changes so fast so one minute it could be dumping and the next could be blaring sun. No fun squinting while driving in a machine at 60 miles per hour.
  • I use my evening commutes to connect with family & friends before I get home. Not always, as I find it challenging to talk and drive at the same time, but I do it. Hands free only though. 
  • I practice my breathing. Commutes are perfect opportunities for pranayama practice. I use the morning for energizing breath work and chanting sometimes, and the evening for more calming practices.
  • I keep a mala in the car. When there is absolute gridlock, I run my Nepalese mala through my fingers and pray and send my gratitude and wishes to the universe.
  • On that note, I do a lot of gratitude practicing. The fact that I can get in my reliable vehicle every day and drive myself independently to my awesome job and then home to my awesome husband and house is pretty freakin fantastic. 
  • I don't commute every day. I work from home on Fridays and The Man and I try to carpool at least once a week. It breaks up the driving and we get to spend a morning together, which is usually slim during the week. 
And that's it. What I think is important to acknowledge is that at the end of the day, we all get to be in a place of choice; in our commutes, in our work, in our lives, in our relationships. It's the cool thing about being human, at least from my perspective. Sending you love for your commute or whatever it is for you.