Spring

I’ve been giving spring a lot of thought the last few weeks, since my book, “Lessons of a Wayward Yogini” is scheduled to be released this spring. My editor, Dennis, www.5editorial.com gave me grief about not putting quotes around the title of my book in a recent post, so he will be thrilled that I’ve corrected this. And I might make major points since I’m also sharing his link. Even though I’m paying him as my editor/publisher, I’m trying everything in my power to encourage him to send along some of his BBQ. He seems to be a jack of all trades, or in this case, a Dennis of all trades, and I’ve heard he makes a pretty mean BBQ.

Back to spring… is there anything better than a bud on your plants as they awaken ever so slowly in early spring? I can’t help myself, I run out to my yard almost every day when the plants are filled with their tiny buds just to peak at them and marvel at their new growth that will in short order be something of delicate beauty. Against all odds, winters filled with freezing temperatures and snow at times, their tiny shoots nevertheless find their way from their dormant state to once again greet a new dawn, a new season.

I feel like a kid at Christmas, those buds are like presents wrapped under the tree. There is such a feeling of anticipation in the air, as well as such a sweet fragrance. It lifts me inches off the ground as I walk through my garden, if only in my mind. The scent definitely encourages a deep yogini breath, and brings a smile to my face and a contentment deep in my soul.

Spring to me, is the promise of rejuvenation, of another season, a second chance (or in some cases a third chance if we are speaking about the deer eating the plants in my yard for two seasons in a row, until we developed deer fencing 4.0.) And even the word spring, its synonyms are leap, jump, bound and vault… obviously a time of year with great potential for advancing all that needs advancing or healing.

I think we humans are no different, we need a new beginning every year or so, to rise up and bloom again. Our earth offers all that we need by way of nature and our fellow humans. It’s up to us to embrace the energy and support that surrounds us on any given day. Without that connection, it can be somewhat easy to feel alone, even when we are anything but.

I’m dedicating this post to a few of my friends who are a bit under the weather. If you have to be ill, I can’t think of a better time of the year to do it.

Here’s to spring… Namaste

Turkey talk

I’ve had a fire softly burning  this week to put my thoughts to this post. I’ve been thinking about kids and young adults making their way in the world.  Growing up is no easy task for, I would guess, many people.  There are a few lucky souls I believe who can say they had a blessed and happy childhood.  But I know far more people who can’t really say that.

When I came of age finally able to strike out on my own, while that was heavenly in many ways, personally I was a mess.  I think back to my twenties, and of all the decades, my twenties would be my least favorite, hands down.  In retrospect, I might have been one of the lucky ones, I found my therapist, Ron, by the time I was 23, so by 26 I was beginning to blossom.  But looking back, I was far from healed truly.  In a much bigger picture that can only be seen in retrospect, I was beginning my life, and in the early stages of shedding the drama that my parents left me with.

Years ago I read a book by Lillian Hellman entitled Pentimento.  The title means “a visible trace of an earlier painting beneath a layer or layers of paint on a canvas.”  Do you love that as much as I do?  The meaning  speaks to me of our lives … that girl I was at 26 only exists today as a trace beneath the layers of paint that have been applied over the years. I love my painting these days, but by golly, it’s been a work of art that has taken every minute of every day of every year since then.  And if my guess is right, it will continue until my painting is done, also known as until my life is over.  The work of creating and defining and improving myself I don’t think will ever end until I leave for higher ground.

As I thought about writing this post, I kept thinking about the turkeys that roam around our home.  Rick and I always call them a gaggle of turkeys , but I just looked it up, and it seems that a group of turkeys should more accurately be called a rafter of turkeys?  Gaggle … rafter … whichever, I couldn’t help thinking about how they travel together and the sounds they make with each other.  What a racket they make.

We as humans act much like those turkeys.  We  come into the world so pure and sweet, but from about day one, we are being bombarded by our loved ones and all they come to our story with.  We begin learning from a tender age about our parents’ sorrows and their insecurities, and in most cases, about their parents’, and so on.  The lessons aren’t taught necessarily in actual words.  In probably more cases than not, they are taught by actions.  There is no doubt that we continue to learn painful lessons from our parents for the following 20 or so years.  And not because our parents don’t love us, quite the opposite.  I think in most cases they are trying to save us from their sorrows and disappointments, so they warn us over and over again.

If my mom told me once, she told me one hundred times, that if I didn’t slow down, I would have a nervous breakdown just like she did.  I knew from my young twenties, that she wasn’t right about that belief, just like I knew she didn’t know how to drive on the freeway.  Years later I would congratulate myself on a basic instinct that told me her pain (nor her lack of driving abilities) did not need to be mine.

Back to those turkeys,  I always say,  we  just need to look to nature to understand our actions and behaviors as humans.  Families tend to act like a gaggle of turkeys, each gobbling louder than the next, working so hard to be heard and understood and above all, WARN our youth about what we have endured in the hopes that they won’t go down the same road.  As  I said, the gobble gobble starts in the minute we are born from a whole host of loving souls … otherwise known as our family.

Is there any wonder by the time we are about twenty heading out into the world that we are a bit confused and conflicted.  In most cases, we are just happy to be away from the incessant gobble gobble.  I believe it’s then the true journey of the soul begins.  It’s where we learn what of the gobble gobble resonates with us, and we begin to slowly but surely leave the excess non relevant gobble gobble behind.  It is no easy task.  And it doesn’t mean we leave those loved ones behind, we just choose not to carry their sorrows, their beliefs, their dreams with us, as we need room for our own dreams that we will be developing along the way.

Here I am at 62 still finding new dreams.  What a gift life is.  And while it might have been amazing to know in my twenties what I know now, I’d probably be long gone by now, as I  do so fervently believe life is about lessons.   My painting would not be nearly as beautiful had I finished it years ago.

Thinking back through my life up to present day, the journey has and continues to require a few necessary requirements, a dream or goal, perseverance, faith in a higher power as well as myself, and the willingness to work hard to achieve what I need.  It still remains sometimes easy to neglect what I need to do for myself, even when I know what  it is.  I think it might always be a little like that.  After all, if life was that easy, this world would be a much different place.  It’s not easy.  So, it’s up to us to figure out what makes us tick, what feels like a tick, and what tickles us.  They are three different things, each important in their own right.

I know yoga makes me happy, makes my heart soar truly, and yet over the last month when I have felt so down, I didn’t turn to yoga to help.  I’d like to say it’s just not ingrained enough, but I think that’s a cop out.  I am, once again, just human.  And sometimes I don’t gravitate to what I know I need.  And maybe that’s enough for where I have been, getting over being sick and anticipating the end of something I have felt a passion for, my job at Virgin America.

In the end, I return to the fact that, we humans are a puzzle.  I have faith in something higher than us, waiting for the time when we do choose to help ourselves.  That’s where our life changes and also the path where I believe we start to feel the higher powers lifting us along our journey.

I will close with a story about my dad, someone you readers have not heard much about yet.  I’m sure you will in time.  My dad probably taught me the best lesson ever about never taking my passions for granted, and more importantly, never wasting any blessing waiting for another day.  (I’m still human and overlook this lesson at times, but there will always come the time I remember…I love his voice reminding me.)

Without going into too much detail at this point about my father’s youth, suffice it to say he suffered true heartbreak as a child. He developed a love for music as a young boy, and it became his passion.  His father, for whatever reasons, rejected my father, and blatantly favored my father’s sister.   Thank goodness his mother took an opposite stance and from what I know supported him at every turn.  He worked at paper routes as a boy and any odd jobs he could muster up to pay for his music lessons.

He made his dreams come true, becoming in time an accomplished musician.  He played both violin and sax.   Family pictures line my hallway, treasures that I stop often to visit.  I have a number of pictures of him as a young man in various bands, and another in a group that played on a cruise ship, in the era of Titanic, so nostalgic.  I will use one of them as my post picture.

His passion came to a tragic halt when in his twenties, traveling in a storm, he crashed his car traveling over black ice, his arm out the window.  He spent a number of months in the hospital healing, and in the end they were able to save his hand, but his fingers would never again play music.

As a child, this story was lost on me.  He was just my dad, with the funny scar on his stomach from the skin they used to graft his wrist, and the stiff and missing fingers.  I think in retrospect his heart was broken beyond repair, but he never let me see that.  He had his demons for sure when he drank, but when he was sober, he was a light-hearted man for all he had been through.  He never passed up a chance at playing a practical joke.  As a child, the dog, the bird and I fought for his attention when he walked through  the door at the end of his work day.  He took his time with each of us.

I never knew my dad to be a musician … tragic really.  I didn’t see that underbelly that most likely defined my dad.  I was left with a man who never complained, but always had his music playing.

I loved him more than I could ever put to words, until he broke my heart.  And that’s what I mean when I refer to the gaggle of turkeys.  They can’t help themselves traveling together making so much goddamn noise … neither can we as humans.  We will all hurt each other in time.  That’s a given.  What’s much more important is what we learn to forgive both in ourselves as well as others.

My dad taught me more lessons than I will ever be able to count, but one that stays with me consistently, is this … never take for granted your gifts, whatever they may be.  Make the best of them every day, because you just never know when that passion or that gift will become only a memory.

Celebrate life … celebrate yourself with every single solitary flaw you possess … they will all come together to make a beautiful painting one day.

With love and namaste …

 

Concoctions

Gosh, I haven’t been sick like this in years.  I start to get better, then relapse.  Nothing to do but wait it out.  With that said, our friends, Janet and Lalo, arrived for a visit on Wednesday.  I thought I was getting better, but when they arrived on Wednesday was about the time I was starting back downhill again.
I have a sneaking suspicion they are really angels,  just posing as humans (a couple of posers).  They just happened to be here visiting last year when my mom and I were going through so much, just about the worst time of it.  They helped so much at that time, both so supportive.  Hmmm, seems a little coincidental.
When they arrived yesterday, they assessed the situation here and each in their own way, went into help mode.  In two days time,  I can’t even count the foods they’ve made, the concoctions created to help me heal.  They’ve cleaned and worked in the yard.  (I’ve started discussions with them about moving in.)
Seriously, friends are God sent, for sure.  Janet and Lalo both love to cook, and I’d be hard pressed to say which one is a better chef.  They rival each other.  Yesterday we had home-made chicken soup for lunch made by Janet, and then chili relenos made by Lalo last night for dinner, along with fruits and salads and tasty treats after dinner.
All day Lalo made me concoctions to heal, things his mother and grandmother had made for him as a youth growing up in Mexico.  I have to say, they really helped, and were so much nicer to take than the over the counter meds I was taking.  By the end of the day I felt a lot better, and this morning woke up feeling even better yet.
I never grew up with a grandmother like that, but I’m sure many of you did.  We need to remember their ways, and from here on out, I think I”ll remember Lalo’s family’s ways.  That’s the beauty of life, we can chose to be whatever we want and adopt traditions that fit us, no matter who we are or how we grew up.
Last night we wanted them to watch a program we had already watched and loved, Chef’s Table, Season 3, Episode 1, Jeong Kwan.  I didn’t realize when we put it on, how much it would tie into the blessed day I had just had.
The program is about a South Korean Buddhist nun, and is such an inspiring show.  I quote, “With food … we can share and communicate our emotions.”
“It’s that mindset of sharing that is really what you’re eating.”
“There is no difference between cooking … and pursuing Buddha’s way.”
I’d say that pretty much sums up my day, as I received so much more from these kind souls than food.  They shared with me their history, their stories, and in that, their love.
It may go down as one of my nicest sick days ever.
They helped me feel better just in time for our celebration of the end of the class.  My kids wanted to come up and have a nice little celebration, include my classmates, and also adopted son, Peter.  Was worrying that I might not be up to it, but after yesterday, I’m feeling confident tomorrow will be great.
Windows are all open airing out the house.  Time for fun.
Back next week to finally tell about the end of class.
Namaste
 
 
 

Lighting the world, one candle at a time

Good morning.  Another week, but a special week indeed, as I have completed my training … oh my, I think I’ll be posting about this for quite some time, just so much to share.  The weekend came and went in a heartbeat.  Each drive in, Friday, Saturday and Sunday I spent reflecting, remembering all the pieces of this journey that went together to bring me to the ending of our class.  Like a projection on a screen, my mind replayed image after image of the moments that made up this journey, the faces and hearts of those I shared this experience with, the personal triumphs I enjoyed myself, and the triumphs I watched others experience.  Like any good movie, our story did not come without the instances that surely felt like failure, but in the end there is no such thing as failure.  There is only growth, a need to keep trying, and keep trying and never give up trying until you have reached your goal.
I can’t really even put into words what a unique experience this has been, getting to know these wondrous spirits, their stories, (who doesn’t have a story?) their sorrows and their joys.  Fifteen special souls came together and created a divinely positive force, lifting each other, but if I know anything about it, helping lift more than just ourselves.  We did our tiny tiny part toward raising the universe’s vibration, because we each will take that love and positivity and share it with those we encounter going forward, our loved ones and friends, but also strangers.
I keep thinking about the 70-year old gentleman I told you about in an earlier post, the fellow who does work at our house once a year, this being our third year, who told me in our phone call how happy I sounded.  When he came out a few days later, he seemed so genuinely happy to see me.  I have to wonder … was this because I shared my happy heart with him in our phone call?  Maybe.
All I know is that this stranger, for all intents and purposes, offered me a hug after he finished his work with us.  I gladly accepted even though he was covered in dirt and I was dressed to go out.  I was not going to pass up that gift.  How many workers that come to your home want a hug when they leave?  I’ve had a ton of people work on my houses over the years.  They’ve never been in the habit of hugging me when they left.  I have to think this nice man felt what’s filling me these days, and took a chance at asking me to share a bit of that with him.  I was more than happy to oblige.
I’ve always loved math, and I find myself contemplating the possibilities … all the billions and trillions of individual spirits, if united with other kindred spirits toward a common positive goal, taking the risk of being vulnerable, sharing their tender hearts, working together helping each other to heal and create and inspire and conquer, and then taking that back out into the world, compounding exponentially, what could we accomplish?  I’m a dreamer, I know, but I do believe there is nothing we humans united could not accomplish, no hurt in the world we could not heal.  Our united hearts could light the world.
Just the beginning of the end … will be back soon.  I have so many thoughts swirling around inside the waves of my mind.  It’s high tide and there is much activity.  I have nothing but gratitude for this time in my life.
Namaste
 
Photo:  Candle made by my classmate, Kim, Tipsysisterscandles@tipsysisterscandles.com

Enough

One of the major themes throughout our two weeks in class has been self-acceptance.  Our instructors have done a fabulous job of teaching us to look at how we speak to others as well as ourselves.  It’s a bit surprising to realize just how much I apologize, for this, that and the other.  In the first few days, our teachers would stop us in our tracks when the words  “I’m sorry” came out of our mouths.  By the second weekend, the teachers didn’t even need to say a word.  If one of us was speaking in front of the group and began to say “I’m sorry” you’d see the speaker’s face flinch as if they’d been jolted with a small amount of electricity.  We looked like a bunch of Pavlov’s dogs.

It’s not as easy as you’d think to stop saying you’re sorry.  Tess, our female teacher, is such a little spitfire, I just love her.  And man, she just peers into your face and asks you, “WHAT ARE YOU SORRY FOR?  WHY ARE YOU SORRY?”  And she means it, she wants an explanation for why you are sorry.  In most cases, I find myself realizing I’m not really sorry at all.

There has been a major focus on the idea of being enough, and accepting that we are always enough at all times, regardless of what we can and can’t do, what we do and don’t have, that we are right where we need to be at that moment in time.  Interesting concept for some of us.  It’s so easy to always have my eye on something I think I want or need, or something I need to change about myself.  And not enough time is spent appreciating what is, right now, just this, just me, nothing more, nothing less, this moment being perfect.

The instructors have definitely gotten their point across in a short time, as  I am finding myself contemplating the concept of acceptance and enough throughout my days.  I think of myself as a pretty confident and happy person, but I have to be honest, I say I’m sorry a lot now that I pay attention.  The hike I talked about in my last post, I spent the whole way up saying I was sorry and thanking my angels.  They kept saying, no need to be sorry.  And they were right.  Why would I need to be sorry to someone else for my fear, and needing to take breaks to catch my breath when I’m not used to a hike like that.   WHY WOULD I BE SORRY FOR THAT?  Yet, there I was … sorry.

Check it out yourself, just pay attention to your thoughts, how many negative thoughts run through your brain in an hour, or a day?  We humans can be damn tough on ourselves.

With this philosophy in mind, I will share a really nice realization I had on Saturday evening when I left yoga.  Part of our homework has been to clean and clear our spaces, both internally and externally.  We were asked to purge our surroundings of unnecessary objects.  Since Rick and I moved in the last few years, I don’t have very many items left that need purging, but I did have a pile of old videos from my mom’s stuff sitting on my dresser.  It seemed the perfect place to start my assignment.

On Thursday night after dinner, I got comfortable and started to play each video.  Some were my kids from their preschool years, but there were two in particular that were films my mother had transferred onto video, and they dated back to when I was a toddler.  It was a collection of images, no sound, myself and my cousins going down a slide at the San Francisco zoo, our parents dressed in their Sunday best laughing among themselves, chasing after us, and others with just my parents and I.

I sat somewhat mesmerized studying the films, yearning to see more, searching their faces and actions for some clue as to how these seemingly happy people became what I would remember them as, two very unhappy and unfulfilled souls.  I finished looking at the tapes and went to sleep that night feeling so sad.

As I drove to yoga on Friday night, I was listening to the Beatles station on Sirius radio.  They were playing a collection all weekend of the Beatles’ top 50 love songs as voted on by the listeners, I’m sure in honor of Valentine’s Day.  For anyone who hasn’t listened to the station, they will put together a collection and then play it over and over all weekend, it just loops around and around.  I came in at the beginning of the songs working down from No. 50.  As I came through the canyon they played Julia, which is a song written for John’s mom, I believe, after her death.

I couldn’t help thinking about my mom, and still feeling melancholy from watching the tapes.  I found myself thinking how sad our life together had been, so much unhappiness and turmoil, and feeling like we had wasted our precious time on this earth together.  The mood hung in most of the night, and when I drove home around 9:30 coming through the canyon, Julia played again.  And then again the next morning, and then again the following evening. Coincidence?  I’m only in my car 20-40 minutes depending on where the class is, Auburn or Roseville.  I’m not sure what the odds are of coming into the rotation at the same place every time I get in the car, but I thought about heading to Reno to do a little gambling since my mom seemed to be in my back pocket.

Saturday morning my mood shifted and I welcomed the song, enjoyed my drive through the canyon and greeted the new day with an open heart.   What would day five of this adventure bring?  It was an eventful day in class, lots of yoga and instruction, but what would be the most important part of the day would come as Julia once again played on my way home (of course it did).

Instead of thinking my mom and I had wasted our time together, I asked myself “what if what we had together was enough? What if it was just what it was supposed to be?”  With that door open, my mind raced remembering what I’ve always believed, that we come here to learn and that sometimes our lessons are hard.  With that thinking in mind, then truly my mom and I kicked some ass in this lifetime.  We’d hiked our own trail straight up a rock hill and parachuted down to the river below.  Just maybe I had this all wrong.  Amazing.

And if all that is true, then it would explain my reaction when my mom did finally pass. Hospice had called early that morning to let me know she was close.  She’s been close for three months, but this day was different and I knew it the moment I walked into her room.  I settled into the big blue chair next to her bed with my book.  I’d pretty much said everything I needed to her in the previous three months, so there was no need for words at this point.  She was already somewhere far away.  I watched her breathing all morning, reading a page or two, and glancing up.  Although her breathing was labored, she was interestingly very quiet.  I could not rely on sound to monitor her.

At some point mid morning, I glanced up and found she had made her way ever so peacefully after such an arduous journey.  I sat watching her for a few moments and once I knew for sure her chest would not rise again, I said, “Mom, I didn’t even hear you leave.” I let the tears come, and after a few minutes, the next words out of my mouth were, “We made it, Mom.  We did it.”

They are interesting words for someone who has just lost her mother.  They were not words prepared or thought about beforehand.  They were the words of my heart, and what I was feeling.  And I don’t know about you readers, but to me, they sound like the words of a gal who made it with her mom to the top of the lookout.

I will close with the words of one of my favorite songs from You’ve Got Mail, hauntingly beautiful lyrics and melody.  For some reason, I do believe,  in this lifetime we choose to forget what we know in order to learn our lessons.  It’s nice when we remember …

“Long ago, far away

Life was clear, close your eyes

Remember is a place from long ago

Remember FILLED WITH EVERYTHING YOU KNOW

Remember when you’re sad and feelin’ down

REMEMBER TURN AROUND

Remember life is just a memory

Remember close your eyes and you can see

Remember think of all that life can be

Remember-

Dream, love is only in a dream, remember –

Remember life is never as it seems. Dream

Long ago, far away

Life was clear, close your eyes”

 

Remember lyrics – Harry Nilsson

http://www.harrynilsson.com/

 

If I walk away from this class with nothing more than this realization, it will be enough. But between you and me, I’m not thinking that I’m done.  Until we meet next week,

Namaste

 
Picture taken on our sunrise hike to the outlook over the American River, Overlook Park, Auburn, Ca.

Angels

I don’t even know where to begin with this weekend.  I think I’ll work backwards and share in two posts.  So let’s start with Sunday, a day I will surely remember for a long time.  Our group began our five-mile hike (one mile down, four miles up … I know, it doesn’t add up, but that’s sure what it felt like) at 5:30 a.m. through the canyon to reach a beautiful outlook where we could watch the sunrise and meditate.

Typically hiking for Rick and I consists of a nice wide carved out path, some hills, but in most cases just a nice Sunday hike by the river.  Let me also say that as I’ve aged, I’ve come to fear some things I did not fear in my youth, such as jumping from rocks into the water below and … wait for it … climbing rocks, especially a rock hill that from my vantage point looks to be about a 90-degree climb.

I was in the group bringing up the rear, so most of the tribe was already half way up the hill, maybe more.  I literally stopped in my tracks when I realized I was being asked to go UP the hill.  I glanced around for the trail that most assuredly must be off to the left for the peeps who don’t mountain climb. No such luck, no trail, and time to climb.  Oh, and by the way, careful cuz there’s moss and water in quite a few areas.

It’s been quite some time since I can even remember reacting like I did yesterday, I just dug my heels in and started crying. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a crier, but not usually because I’m afraid.  I cry when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m grateful, when you cry, when the sky is pretty, you name it, I cry … but not usually because I’m scared.  In my head I was screaming, “No, not happening! I didn’t sign up for this.”  (Yoga … yoga is what I signed up for, not mountain climbing.)

But you see, yoga is about self-discipline, moving beyond what you believe you can do, into what you actually can do.  I feel certain our teachers thought long and hard about the group and its abilities before they chose this hike, and in the end, they were accurate in their assessments.

I had a handful of angels surrounding me, as always, but these were the kind that I could physically touch and lean on, which came in handy.  I told them in no uncertain terms that I was not going up the hill, and that I could sit on the rock right where I was and meditate and watch the sunrise and that I could rejoin them when they came back down the hill.   My classmates, Kyleigh and Molly, reluctantly informed me that the group was not coming back this way, it was up and out from the lookout.  (Seriously?)

I’ve never really liked being left out of something, so thank goodness for that yesterday.  And thank goodness for my angels.  They just went into action like a team, Kyleigh and Molly offering their hands to hold, climbing ahead of me to pull me up, Molly giving me her headlamp to light my way, Kyleigh supplying the Kleenex for my running nose thanks to my tears, Patrick taking my backpack to lighten my load and offering a shove up on the first rock, which was a large rock to climb for these short little legs.  He offered hesitantly, as the only way to shove me was putting his hands on my ass.  My answer, “Shove away, Patrick.  No room for modesty at this point.”  (I later joked with him that it was the highlight of the hike.)

I cried probably the first five minutes of the ascent.  I’m not sure what was worse, my fear, or my bruised ego.  I’ve always been a doer, and not let too much get in my way.  And having grown up an only child of two alcoholics, I learned at an early age to count on myself, so it’s not easy for me to ask for or to accept help.

My inner voice was screaming at me, but as I negotiated each new rock, she started to quiet down a bit (man, is she ever noisy when she’s upset.)  And by the time we reached the midpoint of the hill, I found myself welcoming the help that was being given.  It’s nice to receive without resistance, but not easy.  Many of you who are also independent might relate to that tendency to want to decline accepting help, in whatever form it might take.  It’s so much easier sometimes to say, ”no thanks, I got this,” than “yes, that would be nice, thanks for the help.”  Right?

Kyleigh’s mantra every few minutes was “Only five more minutes, Sue.  Only five more minutes.”   It had a nice rhythm to it, with a hint of humor, and she made me smile every time she said it.  We ascended and rested, began again until the next break, and slowly but surely, we made it up the hill.  I was greeted with applause and hugs by the tribe when I finally got to the outlook, and of course, Scott, our teacher, with the all-knowing “I told you so” look.    Amazing, my team of angels.

The vista was amazing, and as we sat facing a gorgeous sunrise, each of us in our own silent worlds, I couldn’t really meditate because my inner voice just had too much to talk about, but I was content to listen to her in that moment.  Meditation would be saved for another day.  She was proud of herself, and very happy she had taken the chance, defied her self-imposed limitations and conquered a fear.  That’s a lot of work to have accomplished by 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

As we began our jaunt back to the cars, we again were faced with the same type of rock climb , but this time I just found my girls, grabbed their hands and up we went with no hesitation, taking breaks when needed along the way.  The difference for the balance of the hike A) I wasn’t afraid any more, and B) I continued to hold their hands not so much because I needed it, but because it felt good to stay connected.  As adults we grow out of some lovely behaviors like friends holding hands.  We shouldn’t.

Close to the top, Kyleigh slipped and fell.  And guess who was holding on to keep her from sliding down?  Interesting?  They had listened to me all the way up thanking them for helping me.   In contrast, she said, “gee, if I hadn’t been holding your hand to help you, then you wouldn’t have been able to help me.”   Great food for thought.  I believe in life, we are all teachers and we are all students … it just depends on which lesson you are studying as to who is teaching who.

Our day was to continue with a 90-minute yoga class at 8:30 followed by observing a second 90-minute yoga class at 11:00.  As we gathered at the cars discussion was had within the group about all of us actually participating in both classes instead of just observing one.  Again, I thought … well, I think you guys can figure out what I thought.

But … once I got in my car and relaxed for the 20-minute drive back to the studio, I found that I wasn’t really feeling all that tired, and that if they could do, so could I.  By 12:30 p.m., much to my surprise and delight, I finished my second yoga class after a five-mile hike.  The second class was a restorative yin class, which if you’ve never taken a yin class, is an amazing experience.  Lots of deep stretches for longer periods, so relaxing.  Toward the end of class in what’s called a pigeon pose, I was lying on my stomach face down on my folded arms, soothing music filling the space.  The tears rolled down my face for the entire pose.  My heart was filled with so many emotions, pride, excitement, relief, wonder, but most of all … gratitude … for this day, for my angels, for the sunrise and for my body which has infinitely more strength than I give it credit for.

Saturday was an equally powerful day, but I will save that for my next post.

I will end with this thought … when you think you can’t … think again … and then do it even if you have to work through tears to get it done.  We have the power to create amazing possibilities in our lives.

Namaste

P.S.  Getting closer to that skydive.

Jalopy girl

Good morning, or night or afternoon, wherever or whenever you join me.  Time to fill you in a bit more about my class.  While I knew I’d be learning a lot about yoga and stretching, I had no idea how much of the class would be spent looking beyond my postures and into my heart.  I think we all to some degree spend a fair amount of time considering ourselves, our actions, our thoughts and our feelings.  It’s human nature.  But life is busy for most of us, and distractions are ever present, so we can sail through days, months, and even years in a kind of status quo.

That’s been the case for me the last few years.  I had my plate full taking care of my mom, moving, working and commuting regularly to the bay area for work, and making time to enjoy my loved ones.  This class is clearly going to allow me the opportunity to reconsider old ideas or patterns, decide if they are still working for me, and change them if they aren’t.

Each student is required to spend a fair amount of time speaking in front of the group.  After all, public speaking is a prerequisite for teaching yoga, so it’s important to become comfortable with that. Unfortunately, it’s NOT comfortable for the average person, and especially if you find yourself in front of a room of strangers and you are being asked to tell the group why you are crying.  (Do you guys have some time on your hands?  This may take a while.)  I’m not certain if all yoga instructor classes are like this one, but our teachers encourage each of us to share what we are feeling as we go through this process.  There was no shortage of tears last weekend, and I’m confident that was only the tip of the iceberg for this group of amazing old souls.

You see, each student came to this class with different desires and needs.  And after listening to each of my classmates over the weekend, I would have to say that even though we package our needs in different wrapping, bottom line is that we are all there to heal in some way.  I was so touched by each story, and so happy to be connecting with these souls for the next five weeks in their individual journeys.

You might ask, what are some of the reasons my teammates have chosen this class.  And I thought it would be nice to share a few of the backgrounds throughout my posts (of course, with their permission) but to serve as an inspiration for anyone who might be reading this blog and have similar feelings or know someone who does. Yoga is just one approach to healing or change, but the bottom line is, there is always help if we put our need out to the universe.  It’s up to us to be brave enough to, at least internally, acknowledge our true feelings.  But once we take that step, it is amazing how quickly life answers us.  Kenny always rings true … endless second chances to take it one chance at a time.  It is never too late to reinvent yourself when makin’ it don’t make it any more.

I wrote in an earlier blog what my reasons for joining the group were …  generally a desire to return to taking care of my body.  This old girl (referring to my physical body) has been taking good care of me without proper maintenance or nurturing these past few years.  She’s overdue for some attention and a good old-fashioned overhaul (I’m sounding a bit like a jalopy, right?)

But one weekend into this experience, I’m a little suspicious that my needs go a little deeper than that, and that I’ve manifested this experience to also help me heal and mourn my mom’s passing.  And most likely, there’s more I’m still unaware of.  But at this juncture, this is the view I see on my horizon.

I was so moved by each person’s story, but the one I will start with is a woman in her forties who was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago.  Outwardly she is the picture of health … strong, fit, with an outgoing and friendly personality.  But when she began to speak, I doubt there was a dry eye in the house as she described the fear she lives with on a daily basis … afraid she is going to die of cancer.  She expressed how tired she is of living in fear and that she chose this path to find a peacefulness and heal not only her body, but maybe more importantly at this point, her soul.

I doubt there’s many readers that can’t relate to this in some form or another, whether it’s cancer or some other life-threatening disease, and whether it’s fear for yourself or a loved one … we’ve all been there.  It’s a lonely and frightening place.  I look forward to watching her crusade against the fear, and have no doubt I will learn much from her journey.

On a lighter note, there was no shortage of down dogs, up dogs, and my body was doggone tired by Sunday afternoon (by about 2:30 all I could think was enough with the dogs!!)  We practiced both instructing and being instructed.  And you’d be surprised how hard it is to guide a pose when just learning, “inhale plank pose exhale …  uhhh …. uhhh …. inhale again … no, exhale again …. long pause … people’s faces turning red … need to think … what’s next … mind is a blank …”  It really was hilarious.  We all were novices and everyone held poses for prolonged periods of time while the “practicing teacher” was working through the mixed up jumble of words clogging their brains. It was a pretty good workout.  Lots of laughter and camaraderie as we each struggled with what might seem to be such an easy task.

But isn’t that life?  All beginnings can be challenging as we slowly learn  to master the baby steps, until one day we sail through that which at first seemed so difficult.

Tonight we begin weekend 2.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again.  And this week when I pass Carmelita’s Restaurant next door, I may still eye the good-looking meals, but I will not be yearning to duck inside and call Rick to come rescue me.  I will be content to try their cuisine at some date in the future when this adventure is complete.  I have no doubt I will most likely be sitting there in tears as I wax nostalgic about my experience in this amazing class.

Moving forward … baby steps.  Life is good.

Namaste

That Devil in your Ear

A few preliminary comments before I delve into yoga topics.  First, this morning,  just wanted to wish my dearest Lorene a happy birthday.  Make it a good one, sissy.
Second topic on my list, my mate, Paul S (Pfiefferfilmsandmegmovies.com) stepped up to represent and welcomed me to the UK a few days ago, which was wonderful.  And I’m not complaining (just sayin’) it’s still just me and Paul.  Where are the rest of my peeps?  And, I mean, I love Paul S, don’t get me wrong, nothing against Paul, he’s a fabulous bloke, really.  But I’m feeling a bit gutted as I was just thinking it would be a larger turnout for my homecoming.
But you know the saying, when God closes one door, somewhere he opens a window (or in this case, when he only opens a door by a smidgen and you can’t seem to fit in because you weigh too much … okay, digressing again) well, my new yoga buddy and fellow blogger in Asia, yogafivefifty.com, on the other hand has brought me a few new friends, so thank you, and Namaste.
It’s all good, and I am so enjoying writing this blog.  I probably will say this a lot throughout my posts, but your comments and likes mean more than I can say.  I can’t respond during my work hours, but do try to follow up later in my day.  I tuck your responses away until I can spend some time, and they feel like tiny presents waiting for me at the end of my work day.  It feels almost tangible.  Amazing.
My hope is that amidst the joking, that we can connect on some of the serious topics I touch on, weight, health, stress, etc.  Your responses bring us all closer to realizing that none of us are alone, and that at the end of the day, we are all human, with strengths and weaknesses.  When we begin to let go of our fear of discussing a problem, we find that there are so many people with exactly the same issues feeling exactly the same way as we do.  For me, at least, that helps me take that deep breath and really look at the problem and begin finally to address it.  So, please continue to share your thoughts.
On to yoga. I attended class Wednesday night, one final class before our training starts.  Feeling a little like when I’m going to the dentist and I get so much better about flossing the two weeks before my appointment.  (Yeah, the dentist doesn’t notice, right?)
During class my anxiety about the training was definitely starting to kick in (or maybe that was just the yogi’s foot next to me, was a pretty crowded class.)  That voice in my head can be so negative.  (hey lady, you in the last row, can you put a cork in it!  We heard you the first five times you said it.)
I mean, really, I’m sure I’m not alone on this … when I start to obsess or stress about something, my inner voice just keeps repeating the same thing like in minute intervals, and it’s such a negative dialogue.  In class Wednesday night I got really tired, and I needed to rest.  Instead of being nurturing and kind like I would be to anyone else, that devilish dialogue starts in, “I don’t think you’re ready for this training.  Oh, yeah, the teacher must be looking at you thinking, sweetheart, you are NOT ready for the training class.   What were you thinking when you signed up for this class?  And aside from that, you really should floss more.”
I got to laughing at myself the other day because I was thinking, man, if I talked to my loved ones or friends (hopefully they are one and the same) like I talk to myself, repeating the same negative things over and over again A) they’d be having thoughts about my short-term memory problem, and B) they probably wouldn’t be my loved ones for long.
Ever since I had that comical visual, I’ve been more cognizant of that inner dialogue, and turning it off a bit sooner.  Bottom line, it’s usually just fear getting the better of me.  And if I can consciously bring a positive thought in disrupting the negative flow, it’s pretty effective.
So, on that note, I’ve prepared myself with some positive thoughts that I will keep handy beginning tonight.
Bloody good job, Sue.  You are blinding (not too sure about that one, bringing up a bad image)  but supposedly blinding is a good thing. Brilliant job!  What an Ace.  Cheers, you should be chuffed managing to do that pose.  Hunky-dory, little mate.
It’s just important that I show my peeps that I’m serious about being British.  And in the not too distant future I will be a lot smaller and I’m planning to slide through that crack in the door.  I just hope Paul S is not the only Brit welcoming me.
As always, thanks for sharing.  Send a positive thought my way the next few days.  Will be back next week to share my experience.  You all have a wonderful weekend.  I know I will.
Namaste

Weighing in with the Wayward Yogini

This post ought to have a lot of viewers (she isn’t really going to tell us her weight?  Bloody hell!)  Well, before I begin my class tomorrow, I do think it’s important to adjust … I mean document the numbers.  Throughout this class I will have numerous goals, and while losing weight is not my primary goal, it is an important one, if I want to lower my cholesterol levels and avoid taking medication.
As my stepson, Matt, puts it so well in his recent blog entitled Math at mferrera.com “You cannot bullshit math.  And you should not bullshit anything else.  Especially yourself.”  He’s right.
With that said, when I first went to the doctor a few months back, my weight was 148 (backspace backspace 3 8 backspace backspace L I A R backspace backspace backspace backspace breathe … deeper 4 8.)  148, there, I said it.  And truthfully, my tiny British frame should not be carrying around that many pounds.  It’s a reality.  And for some of you, 148 may not sound bad, but I’m exaggerating if I say I’m 5’1″, so this is not a healthy weight.
But here’s the good news, I began working to get ready for this class, going to yoga, hiking/walking and adjusted my diet somewhat.  Mainly just cut back on amounts, and tried to eat a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.  And as I begin this class, I have dropped down to 141, so that’s a nice start.
We worked hard in our yard this last weekend, moving limbs and brush from a recent tree pruning, and also spent time collecting rocks to build a rock wall.  We had help from our amazing friends/houseguests, Janet and Lalo (not sure how we got lucky enough to have friends who actually love to work in our yard with us… must have done something right in a past life).
But what I have to tell you is that I was shocked at how much easier it was for me hiking up our hills, bending and stooping, than the last time I did this a few weeks back.  And that’s just 7 pounds, so how much better will I feel if it’s 17 pounds?  I was amazed at the difference in my energy level.  It made me think about the analogy of walking around with a weight in your hands while you are working, and the extra strain that’s putting on your heart, lungs, everything really.
The doctor I have been kidding about was just filling in for my doctor when I went to get my test results.  I had a conversation with my actual doctor on the visit before that one, and he was discussing taking medicine for high blood pressure which at the time we thought I might be suffering from.  Turns out it’s just white coat syndrome.  But at that time, it wasn’t clear.
But nonetheless, it was an interesting discussion because I said to him, ”I don’t want to start the medicine, because this is something I can correct. I haven’t worked hard enough to see if I really need this or not.”
His answer to me was, “well, probably about 85% of the medicine I prescribe is unnecessary … or would be unnecessary if people did what they needed to do to correct their issues.”
My answer was, “exactly my point.  I want longer to work on this before I accept that I need medicine.”
Obviously, there are many hereditary conditions that require meds, and no amount of working out or diet can change those.  But short of that, don’t we owe it to ourselves to try our best to do our part, before we put chemicals in our bodies, many of which solve one problem but create a new one?
I think Matt’s right, we shouldn’t be bullshitting ourselves into thinking we have no control in the instances where we actually do have the power to change and heal ourselves.
The body is a temple … my body … your body … a gift we are given to travel through this lifetime.   And given that my mom lived until 99, there’s a good possibility I might need this body to take me the for the long haul.
I have a few last things I am going to try to post about tomorrow, before our first class.
Namaste
 
 

Navigating the Learning Curv(Y) Trail

One day into blogging, I must confess when I pressed send for the first post, I felt sheer terror followed almost immediately by exhilaration.
While I’m still afraid of parachuting with my son ( his 21st birthday wish was for us to go parachuting, he’s 26 now, he’s still waiting) a few more exercises like pushing send agreeing to offer up my underbelly both literally as well as figuratively, I might just find myself one of these days sailing down from the heavens right behind my son.
Posting my first blog did present a few technical issues.  I’m not saying user error, but it seems I sent a few invites to friends with my username as the sender, a female name no one would connect with me, Rickiesue.  (It’s cute, right?  Good luck name Rick and my name combinedWell, anyway)  When you receive an email saying “check my stuff out,” from someone named Rickiesue, it can be misconstrued.   Depending who you send it to, there are some who might avoid opening the email.  (understood)
And then there might have been a few who did open it, and ended up quite disappointed with a sunset and blogging about yoga.  It’s all in the details.
Apparently I also titled it “Y”, and ended it with an “I” followed by nothing.  (Why Y? strange title, must be some deep meaning) 
The good news is I’ve found navigating the site that there’s an extremely convenient edit button that lets me change my blog even after it’s been published.  Brilliant … (Oh and I recently found out by DNA testing that I’m 66 percent British, so I’m liking the idea of using the word brilliant more as well as Namaste.)
I concede this will be a bit of a learning curve, but hey, we’re on an amazing path, hiking boots on, water bottle in hand.
It’s time to hike.
 
Blog photo is on a hike from our house down to the American River.