Tuesday, November 29, 2011

the journey by mary oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save. 
~ Mary Oliver ~
(Dream Work)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I let a smallish person (my 5 year old) talk me into seeing the Smurf movie. I was prepared for the flash backs (a cartoon watching latch-key kid of the 80's) of how the evil Gargamel and his snarly side-kick cat, Azreal chase and attempt to capture the tiny blue happy Smurfs. Tra-lah-lah-lah..... lah, lah, BLAH! I felt completely Smurfed out after 2 hours of this popcorn infused bonding time. To it's credit, I did get choked up when the couple realized in the end: you must be true to yourself and follow your instincts in regards to work, make family time a priority, and allow room in your heart for magic to happen. "I smurf you", she says as she kisses her husband under the glow of the blue moon, and my son covers his eyes at the icky-ness of watching grown ups kiss.

Even lessons from the Smurfs seem timely as I turn 40 today. It's been more like a birthday month, than a single birthDAY. The whole fun of it has been in the planning process of the party rather than the party itself. (A little shin-dig I had over the weekend where there was a shark, fire thrower, gospel choir, Bhakti band, AcroYoga junkies, life sized flower creations, amazing photobooth, homemade food galore, henna, thai massage, and friends. Beautiful friends. Elves were invited but didn't show. I think I did have a smurf sighting at the Photobooth at one point. To enjoy the photos: click here.) 
As ridiculous as the Smurfs are, their purpose of to just to "be" is so relevant. That's it. Just be "smurfy" or happy. I think happiness is often the hardest most elusive place to be at times. It wasn't my party that made my birthday memorable, as spectacular as it was. It was the steps along the way which were smurfy. The cooperative sharing and plotting with friends who each contributed something they were good at, receiving help from them, and connecting with new friends all along the way. 
Through this journey, I've become "gutsy smurf", letting go of the fear that was holding me back and opening my heart wide, making room for the magic.
"Once you stare fear down. Once you declare yourself bigger than it, and take back the territory …your entire life changes." Living in fear is a paralyzing place to be. It's really true what they say about simply taking one step, then another, and another... that sense of eating an elephant (or small blue smurf) one bite at a time. That's how it's done. Anything, anything is possible. It really can be smurf-tastic. 

*singing smurf, andrew

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

lululemon community class playlist

Sunday, I had the privilege of teaching a community yoga class at the new lululemon at City Centre Houston where I'm honored to be an ambassador along with 5 other amazing athletes.

Can't wait for the next class!

Mateo with Playful Warrior, thanks for the musical requests and acro playtime post-class, and Kristina, who has an amazing Houston non-profit, Rawfully Organic, thank you for requesting the playlist!
Here's what we flowed to:

Daybreak Vision, Carlos Nakai (love the native American flute)
Guide My Way (Om Asatoma), Steve Gold (beautiful album.... especially love the song, so much magificence)
Amazing, One eskimO (try not to smile at this one)
Let Go, Frou Frou (indeed, let go)
Happiness, Goldfrapp (tech-y in a cool-vibe kind-a way)
The Mountain, Trevor Hall (my latest crush.... also check out: Brand New Day)
End of the Line, The Traveling Wilburys (thank you sweet Mandy for this one)
Roll Away Your Stone, Mumford &Sons (what's not to love?)
Lovin Yourself, Avasa & Matty Love (Very cool duo from CA)
Ong Namo: I call upon Divine Wisdom, Gurunam Singh
I Am, Guru Singh With Seal & Friends (Seal, THE Seal)
Wonderwall, Ryan Adams (this version is delicious)
Be Here Now, Ray LaMontagne (I love how the end of this song, puts you into a deep, dozy savasana bliss)
Encore, Soulfood (at the end, the sound of the ocean waves crashing into the shore...zzz)

City Centre Grand Opening Class with Kat, tomorrow, 5pm--click for more info.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I feel happy of myself

If this video doesn't make you want to conquer your next big project, dream, goal, adventure or nemesis...I don't know what would! Get inspired! 

To conquer-
I believe in myself project- The year of Me. (humble but let's face it, it's time to realize we are more than we think we are)
I believe in myself dream- writing 
I believe in myself goal- hand stands mastered
I believe in myself adventure- planning retreats(big one: Thailand!)

I believe in myself nemesis-releasing fear of moving forward

"I know you can do it. If you believe in yourself, you will know how to ride a bike!"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Love Letter to the Vulnerable Warrior of the Heart

6 years ago, I entered a hospital room in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with an extra 32 pounds on my already thick frame. Ankles so swollen they resembled the stump-like shape of an elephant's. I was told not to eat and given my first enema. Hours pass as the medication given to me began to be absorbed causing volcanic waves of pain throughout my body. I called for relief. After a number of sticks into my spine, the IV went in. Still able to walk, I moved in slow shuffles circling the hospital's white corridors. Fiercely independent, sensitive and not wanting to be coddled, I wasn't good company. My husband, engrossed by football on the TV, checks on me periodically. Finally, the doctor, a Korean man with a lazy right eye arrives, and declares that it's time.
He pulls on knee high galoshes, removes the end of the 3 part bed made for petite little Asian women and forces my feet into the cold stirrups. Long after the pain medication wore off, I hear the soft whaling of a baby's cry. Tears stream down my cheeks and I can taste their saltyness as I kiss an angel's soft, bloody head. The nurses quickly steal him away to bathe, weigh and check a myriad of medical things required. Then, a tidal wave of nausea hits as I lean over and vomit an orange eaten nearly 10 hours before the labor began.
So began my journey as mother of not one but 2 boys, my first born over 10 years ago in rural Arkansas. I'm constantly amazed at how different the boys are. I try to refrain from comparing them to each other, myself or their father, in hopes that they come into their own fullness: their own mistakes, personalities, dreams, and identities. Constantly labeled as a child, I struggled to break free from the pre-concieved character traits given to me by both my father and mother.
My father's words replay in my head: "You never listen to my advise. You will never make it on your own as a single mom, just stay married.  You're too sensitive. Your son is not responsible." And, occasionally, he realizes how harsh his words are, and he reassures me that I am a good mother. I am. I am a good mom. I'm certain he's said a million good, complimentary things to me. It's just curious how I can't recall them. One negative comment can erase a dozen good ones. My mind can be selective. Words pierce like needles in my veins that lead to my overly-sensative soul.
My mother: "You can become anything you desire- Ms. America, even! You are magnificent..." all good and positive words expressed in an exaggerated manner. I realize now that the over-the-top encouragement was used as bandaids for my mother's own lack of love and connection she deprived of in her childhood.
There is a Sanskrit word, Vajra which literally means diamond. It's said that having vajra wisdom is like being a diamond. It can be used to cut but nothing can cut or break it. In my own life, I desire this diamond like strength and yet crave the ability to draw from the wisdom of experience without comparison, break the legacy of my parents patterns of behavior, create new paths for myself, and a doorway of possibilities for my children.

"Vajra sees things as they are, rather than seeing things with ego, which makes 
us opinionated, judgmental, and sarcastic.  The challenge for vajra types is to pierce 
through the fear of intimacy and embody tenderness through being vulnerable 
and open. The movement from the reasoning, intellectual doubter in the head 
to the clear sighted, vulnerable warrior of the heart is the transmutation of 
vajra from neurosis to sanity.  The challenge is, as always, to stop living life from 
the head, and to live life fully from the heart."-- Adi 

In a love letter written to son # 2 before he was born, I share my hopes, dreams, and how it felt with him growing large within me. In a love letter I wrote today, I share how I desire in the years to come, that he will see me as a mother who tried her best to give him the freedom to be uniquely his own and "live a life fully from the heart".
I love watching him explore who he is and who he has the potential to be. Giving him room for the grief, relief, misery and joy that comes with the winding, often messy path of growing up is the invocation of motherhood.

Monday, November 7, 2011

in the Grip of Gratitude

Only 34% of American adults say they are truly happy. How can we cultivate this elusive happiness? Perhaps if we reflected on the joys in our lives. In other words, what are you grateful for? 

the state of being grateful; thankfulness
There's a movement on Facebook. Yep, I know, I'm so over Facebook, too. Considering it gets more face time from me than my "'job" of teaching yoga. (Any other yoga teachers out there spending more time promoting their classes than teaching them? Or is it just me?) I'm turning the corner... and even finding gratitude for social networks.... here's why:

The movement: A Month Of Gratitude. A friend, (we're virtual facebook friends, anyway) is opening a yoga studio called Gratitude Yoga. She created this thankfulness event. And, it's spreading... invited me and a few friends...I invited a few friends...then, they invited a few... then their friends have invited a few.... now there are hundreds of us who are showing their gratitude. It's viral, in a good way. 

So what are you waiting for? Join me in dedicating the month of November to everything that we are grateful for. It's never too late to start.

Each day list 5 things that you are grateful for. They can be anything! Tell your friends and watch your gratitude grow...

5 things I'm grateful for today:
1. the best night's sleep I’ve had in a month or more (could have been a post-Halloween sugar coma and/or lingering bliss from an extraordinary, serendipitous weekend)
2. donated 2 huge bags of candy to a local dentist paying $1 a lb. (what's he gonna do with it? sounds suspect to me)
3. friends rallying around my 40th birthday party.... the event has gotten a bit out of hand... the latest addition to the party... an artist will create larger than life... well, now, wouldn't you like to know? you'll just have come to the party to find out! 
4. great music, check out this song by Aloe Blacc "Green Lights"
5. my sons. they hung the moon, as far as I'm concerned. 

Here’s to a month of gratitude! 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NYC: a portrait

There is shadow and light in all of us. Having dealt with the depths of the shadow now for longer than I care to admit, I'm grateful to not only discern the light in myself but begin to appreciate both sides of me. I don't want to remove the sorrows or shortcomings. I hope that they serve to shape and mold me into that stronger, wiser person that's already inside me. 

One of the most played artists on my ipod, James Vincent McMorrow, is featured in this engrossing video of New York City. Listening to this album non-stop on a trip to NYC this past winter, it quickly became my anthem for the spirit of the city and and with repetition became ingrained into the soundtrack that revealed the light and darkness within my soul. 

Hearing it now floods the movie screen of my mind with emotions. I experienced a life-changing therapeutics (a 5 day immersion), roomed with an arresting and brave 20 year old dutch girl in a youth hostel, found redeeming love and forgiveness with a high school sweetheart. Wounds healed and new bonds of friendships constructed out of complete surrender. 

When I can realistically acknowledge my failings and not dwell on them but instead allow them to propel me forward to my greater purpose or dharma, I feel freedom. To grow in the midst of pain, as a friend reminded me, is like finding treasure in the most unexpected places.

"Everything can change in a moment; we have little control over the outer weather patterns as we make our way through the landscape of a life. But we can become masters of the inner landscape."--Elizabeth Lesser