Everyday Musings

A Dozen Reasons For Loving Yoga

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It relieves my GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder).

GAD is a bitch to live with…panic attacks, insomnia, worry…the list goes on. Yoga calms the demons and dramatically reduces my GAD symptoms. That, in and of itself, is enough for me.

I can turn my body into poetry.

When I was in my 20s, I participated in several semi-professional dance companies. But dancing was not my career, and it soon took a back-burner to the daily grind of earning a paycheck as a broadcast journalist. Then came the mortgage, the parent-teacher conferences, the soccer games, the divorce, the career change …and during all that I had no time to dwell on my weight, my posture, my breathing or whether or not I could do a perfect ‘brush’ or plié. My body lost it’s ‘poetry’…something that had always given me a great sense of joy and self esteem. Yoga has brought all that back. Now I’m aware, once more, of my posture, my alignment, my breathing…and the way my body moves – whether on the mat or pushing a cart down the grocery aisle.

The Happy Baby Asana

When was the last time you were in a room full of people, all of you laying on your backs, grabbing your feet and giggling?

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(Photograph from Pinterest)

NOT feeling terrified for an entire hour out of every day.

Face it, the world is a scary place right now. For the first time in a couple of decades, nuclear war is part of the geopolitical equation. Mass shootings have made going to concerts, the theater, to school and even to church risky business. We’re running out of resources, and natural disasters are headlining the news on a near-daily basis. When I’m in yoga class, however, there is no room for fear. In fact, sometimes in the middle of a particularly difficult asana, I will hear the universe whisper in my ear, “See, there is nothing to fear.”

My Yogis, and all their wonderful personalities.

One of my yogis is the very definition of serenity. Her voice is calm, her movements are fluid, and she has a nurturing quality that is incredibly soothing. Another of my yogis never goes anywhere without his scarf, he often chants or sings along to the music, is goofy funny, and he gently pushes everyone to their best limits. Another is athletic, enthusiastic and inspiring. Another exudes so much wisdom and compassion, I just want to stand next to him to bask in that glorious energy. Each one is a gift.

The sense of community.

When I walk into my yoga studio (or any yoga studio), I’m walking into a room full of friends, whether I know anyone or not. That’s just the way it works. I travel a lot, and I’ve been to dozens of different studios in different cities and towns – and they all feel like family when I unroll my mat on the floor.

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 8.24.31 PM.png(But this is where I usually practice).

The ritual.

Upon arriving, all the things needed for class are listed and provided by the studio: mats, bolsters, straps, blankets, et cetera. Some classes require only a mat, some require all the available equipment. The ritual of walking in, placing my shoes and belongings in a nook, grabbing my equipment, greeting my fellow yoga people and then rolling out my mat and waiting patiently and mindfully for class to begin is a daily ritual that I love.

My mind and body are working as a team, for the first time in three decades.

This is different than being able to create poetry…this is the very essence of being in touch with the vehicle that drives your soul around while you’re inhabiting this planet. I am so in tune with my body now that I can sometimes feel energy flowing through my meridians as distinctly as I can feel myself swallow a bite of food. In class, when we begin our asanas, I can feel what parts of my body are running at full capacity, and which parts aren’t…so I can adjust accordingly and give attention to whatever’s not working right.

I care a lot about what I eat, and I no longer crave unhealthy foods.

You are what you eat. Period.

Sometimes I cry.

Actually, I’d say I cry more often than not at the end of class when we are in Savasana. I’ll be staring up at the ceiling, looking at the twinkling lights or the raw wood, and I’ll feel a tear roll out of one or both eyes and run down the side of my cheek to my ear. Yoga is powerful, and sometimes a good session can connect you so deeply with your inner ‘divine’ that you cry. You are strong. You are loved. You are perfect in your imperfection. You are forgiven. You are the entire Universe, experiencing what it’s like to be a human. That’s big.

The power of OM.

Until you’ve made that beautiful, potent and sacred sound in unison with a dozen other voices, you haven’t truly lived, imho.

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(OM -artist unknown).

Namaste

At the end of every class we put our palms together in Sitting Prayer asana (hands level with our heart chakras, thumbs together and pointing toward the chest) and we bow to the divine in our instructor as he or she bows to the divine in us. There is something about the namaste that is so pure and good and grateful that it feels like a moment of sacred bliss. After that, you can roll up your mat, put on your shoes, and walk out into the world with the full knowledge that a). there is a divine plan, b). that you’re part of it, and c)…as a great poet once sang, “every little thing is going to be alright”.

 

 

Everyday Musings

Wake Up!

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I learned two really interesting things recently.

One: the earth’s water is part of the biosphere, which means not a drop escapes, nor has a single drop of water been added since the dawn of time.

So basically, your tears were once part of the ocean, part of the blood running through the veins of dinosaurs, and part of the dew on the grass where kings have walked.

The water you drink was once part of the Amazon River…it ran in gutters in Medieval Paris and it passed through the bodies of the Pharaohs.

This is a fact. Check it out. Science is fun.

Here’s fact number two: By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will be in water crisis. Water use has been growing at more than the rate twice of population increase in the last century. By 2025, 1.8 Billion people will be living in countries or regions with ABSOLUTE water scarcity. Where will those people go?

2025. That’s only eight years from now.

Wake up humans! Wake up!

Everyday Musings

Buying the Table.

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Every woman should be able to live her life on her own terms. She should own her freedom…which means she has her own means to provide, financially, for herself and her loved ones if necessary (and if possible). The concept of ‘provider’ shouldn’t be a ‘male’ one…but a human one.

Then again, I’ve never been supported by a man, except for the four years between the birth of my children and when I began to raise them on my own. I’ve always bought the house, and I like that. And if I have it my way, that will never change.

I guess I value freedom over the need to depend on someone in order to be in a relationship, because many men don’t like to share the pants (especially at my age). I enjoy compromise. I don’t enjoy “I’m the man, so I’ll dictate the rules”. Maybe that’s a flaw of mine, and maybe I’ll never achieve so-called ‘domestic bliss’ because of my opinions on the matter…but some women aren’t meant to be bought, bridled and groomed like a horse.

Sex and the City fans will recall a scene exactly about that…when Carrie walks past a horse in Central Park who isn’t cooperating with having a bit stuck in its mouth, and thinks to herself “maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed…maybe they just need to run free until they find someone just as wild to run with them”.

If the cost of domestic bliss is to give up my independence, then I’ll pass. I know how to compromise, form a partnership and share the reigns…but I do not know how to give up my financial freedom in order to make a man feel more comfortable.

Most of my women friends are the same. Some have chosen men who don’t need to dominate financially, and they are in satisfying relationships because they don’t have to contend with a fragile male ego.

Men who view women as equals are rarely bothered if their wives or girlfriends are financially independent. Does this make them any less ‘manly’? No. It makes them secure and attractive. (As a side note, I’m not talking about lazy-ass men who take advantage of their girlfriends or wives because they’re opportunists…I’m talking about actual ‘partners’).

And some of my friends are single because there aren’t an abundance of men out there than can handle a woman who can pay for her own high heels…her own car…her own house, (especially in ‘patriarchal’ states, where women should know ‘their place’). An independent woman is too intimidating for these types of men. After all, she could leave at any time if she’s not treated with love and respect.

I’ll buy the table…every time. That way I can choose who dines with me and who doesn’t. Harsh? Maybe. But there’s no greater freedom than being able to say “please excuse yourself” if the need arises.

Everyday Musings

Tears.

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I just found this quote, and I love it. Humans are emotional beings, and some of us feel more deeply than others. There’s a time to keep your poker face on…but those times should be rare.

If we are to have honest human interaction and connection, we need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and express our feelings. I cry when I’m happy, sad, angry, embarrassed, frustrated, relieved or proud. I cry a lot. But I can honestly say I smile or laugh even more.

The Source of All Divine Creation made our tears from the same formula that S/he made the oceans. Our tears represent a mighty strength…not weakness. Our emotions are the source of all great art, music and literature. Where would we be without our creative thinkers and feelers?

Repression of feelings, I believe, is a far greater sickness than what some believe to be the ‘madness’ of emotional expression. To consistently hold back emotions is to warp our humanness…and it hardens the soul.

And pardon me, but a brittle soul just doesn’t seem all that appealing.

Everyday Musings

The Little Things.

After that last super heavy post, I thought I’d  lighten things up a bit and write about things that are making me happy today.

Sometimes it’s the little things. For instance, I love the way my friend Janet turned my plain, white table into a bohemian work of art.

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I like the way my dog pees on the tires of this grossly macho monster-type truck that’s parked near the dog park in my apartment complex. He pees on the driver’s side rear tire every morning…this one right here.

tire

I also like this bar of soap that’s in the dressing room/bathroom of my little shop.

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Here’s something fun…the new labels I made for Luna Joon’s Sea salt hair spray. I love mermaids, and this spray is bomb:

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Speaking of mermaids – I love that it’s July. July means lots of pool time…especially when my daughter comes to visit in a couple of weeks. July is a great month for mermaids.

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Lately I’ve been drinking lots of fruit waters and experimenting with different combinations. Fruit water has replaced just about all my liquid intake (except, of course, my morning coffee). This isn’t my photo…but I thought it was pretty, so I’m adding it. I have no idea who took it. Right now my favorite fruit combo for water is dragonfruit, lime and pineapple chunks.

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And finally, in reference to my earlier post, I’m loving my new arms (minus the horrible bat wings I used to have). Thanks to my hot trainer that lives a few doors down (and hours and hours sweating and swearing), those bags of dead mice that used to flop around when I waved my arms are gone. He just started teaching me to box. He thinks yoga and the gym are all great and doing me a lot of good…but he thinks I need to punch things…which will relieve stress and give me some impressive guns, eventually. I hated my arms a couple of months ago…now I’m kind of proud of them. Those arms have been working for me for a lot of decades…they deserve to be strong.

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That’s it for now. Those are just a few of the things that are making me happy today (and nearly every day, actually). I find that focusing on what you’re doing RIGHT at the current moment really helps you get over all the dumb things you did wrong in the past.

Gratitude for the small things is a really big thing.

Peace.

 

Everyday Musings

When Healing Hurts.

This spring I decided to begin a new, enormously daunting project. I decided to become stronger – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually – than I was a decade ago.

That’s a tall order, considering the shape I was in at the time I made the decision.

It’s actually a project I started in mid 2009, about eight years ago. I had just come out of a bad relationship and decided to put myself on a sabbatical from dating to figure out why I kept picking guys that seemed so great in the beginning, but turned out to be not so great in the end. I had a knack for choosing emotionally unavailable alcoholics (they’re very cunning, I found, and I apparently had ‘codependent’ tattooed somewhere on my forehead), and I wanted to put a stop to whatever it was that seemed to draw me to that type of man. I especially wanted to put a stop to whatever it was that KEPT me in awful relationships with emotionally unavailable alcoholic guys long after I realized who they were.

My original goal was six months..no dating. I thought it would KILL me not to have a guy around (I’m not kidding…I hadn’t been alone for more than a couple months at a time since my first boyfriend at age 14). Six months went by and I was feeling so good about it I decided to go another six months. Then in winter of 2010 I lost both my parents, and I sure didn’t feel like dating after that.

Despite the loss of my parents, I had become a much stronger, much more together person during that sabbatical. Taking the time out to find out who I was and to become content to fly solo led me to believe I would never make another bad choice. My project was complete. I was single, happy, evolved and healing.

But just when we think we’ve got a handle on things, the universe will come along and test us. About 9 months after I lost my parents I found myself in another toxic and emotionally damaging relationship that lasted (off and on) for about five years. The first nine months had seemed perfect (well, except for the red flags I was ignoring)…until we moved in together. It was only after living under the same roof did I realize that ’emotionally unavailable alcoholic guy’ was back…in spades. Although I ended the relationship in early 2016, it took me more than a year later to realize what a mess I was, and how far back into the abyss I had gone over that period of time.

My body was a stranger to me. Whose extra 30 pounds of fat was I carrying around? I was battling anxiety, insomnia, low self-esteem…a laundry list of the very things I had worked so hard to exorcise. The thought of starting over at square one was a dismal one. It was so disheartening to realize I couldn’t trust my judgement or my instincts after all. It seemed that instead of improving myself and becoming stronger I had merely jumped right out of the frying pan into…hell.

And how do you find the strength to climb out of the fire and take another shot at it?

So here’s the point of this post: I’ve come to the realization how painful healing and rebuilding is, and why a lot of people quit before they reach their goal(s). It doesn’t matter if the healing is emotional, mental or physical…the bottom line is, it HURTS.

This quote describes what I’m trying to convey…perfectly.

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Ask anyone going through physical therapy after a terrible injury and they’ll tell you how painful healing can be. Repairing the broken parts of you can be excruciating.

Look at what people go through when they’re trying to break an addiction…uncontrollable trembling, sickness and mind numbing pain.

So…a couple of months ago I decided to fix myself…again. I made a conscious decision to turn my ship back around and set sail to the port I left so long ago, when I felt strong, healthy and confident.

First I changed my diet. I started eating good, healthy, organic food. Then I decided to get my ass back to yoga class. I downloaded meditation apps. Yoga and meditation were things I couldn’t live without when I was healthy and happy, but were tossed to the wayside after meeting EUAG (emotionally unavailable alcoholic guy). Go figure.

I dusted off a few of the inspirational books I had purchased in the summer of 2014 after I was unceremoniously dumped (very unexpectedly via an email – a method which actually makes me laugh now) by EUAG. I had just been diagnosed with cancer less than two weeks earlier, so yah…THAT was a double whammy that had me reeling. I was scared to death and heartbroken, but at least I was lucky. The cancer was detected before it had a chance to spread to other organs or my lymphatic system, and a total hysterectomy solved the problem.  

So, once I was healed physically I immersed myself in a hectic social life of drinking and dating new guys…(because why not pour gasoline on the fire and go balls-out; ignoring what I really needed?). Granted, I was seeing a counselor, but I didn’t REALLY want to hear what he had to say. He was telling me to move on, that the break up was actually a gift. Me? I wanted to wallow in my poor choices. Healing takes work…and I felt too sorry for myself to make the effort.

Seven months later I took EUAG back for another year of crazy before I decided how ridiculous it was to try a do-over of something that failed miserably the first time. We attempted to stay friends for another year after that, (like I said, I’m stubborn), but the same things that were toxic in the relationship remained toxic in the friendship. By the time the whole ordeal ended a few months ago, I thought I was fine. I had finally walked away, and I felt good about it. It was something I knew I should have done a lot sooner. Plus, I was starting a business…and I had moved to a new city and had new friends. I even met a really great guy. All good, right?

Then about a month before opening Luna Joon in Tulsa, while I was having a phone conversation with my son, somewhere in the middle of me telling him how ‘great’ things were, he interrupted me mid-sentence and said “Sorry, mom…but bullshit.” After a moment of stunned silence he said, “Mom…you’re not ok”.

Shit.

Then he said, “Remember when you used to work at the newspaper? That’s the proudest I’ve ever been of you. You were really happy when you had that job and when you were on your own. You were strong. You were fearless. You’ve changed so much since then. You seem so fragile now. Maybe you should try doing what you were doing back when you actually WERE ok.”

After we finished talking I hung up the phone and I cried. I cried so hard my throat tightened up and ached. My son was right; I was broken as fuck. The weird part about it is this: I didn’t even realize how broken I was. I had to think back a half dozen years ago to the person I was when I “used to work at the newspaper” (I was a writer there from 2008-2011).

I was a completely different woman. Where six years ago I felt at peace most of the time, despite any circumstance (even losing my parents) now I was always worried about something.

Then, where I had been strong enough to endure huge losses and still pick myself up and keep going, I was now someone who crumbled at the slightest bump in the road. Where I was optimistic and positive and always seeing the best in people, I was now jaded…and untrusting of nearly everyone. Insomnia. Anxiety. Worry. Over-thinking and over-analyzing everything to death. Beating every dead horse I could find.

All the things I had vanquished during my 20 months of soul-searching and hard work were back…only this time around I was overweight, too.

The woman I had become over the last half dozen years didn’t remotely resemble the woman I was.

Let me be clear about something. This was no one’s fault but my own. I chose to stay with EUAG. That was on ME. Even when everyone I knew and loved (including our mutual friends) told me I’d be better off steering clear, I chose beat the dead horse. I chose to stop healthy, mindful practices. I chose to eat too much and stop doing things that brought me joy. I chose to wallow for years on end. My choices…my consequences. Period.

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And here’s the thing. You can’t clean up your shit until you own it. AND THAT’S HARD TO DO. It’s painful. Nobody likes to take a long, hard look at the clusterfucks they create for themselves. Flaws and mistakes? Who wants to look at those?

But flaws and mistakes are ok. Everyone has them…everyone makes them. They’re only a problem if they’re fixable and you’re not interested in fixing them. And sometimes people don’t want to fix those flaws and mistakes because fixing them isn’t nearly as much fun as getting used to them and having them over for dinner on a regular basis.

Fixing hurts.

Emotionally, staring down your fears and insecurities when you want to run is painful. Mentally, you have to practice (constantly) rewiring your brain, and that’s pretty damn difficult, too. Physically, you have to have the discipline NOT to eat whatever makes you feel better when you’re feeling like crap…or feeling sorry for yourself…or bored with your life because you’re not living to your full potential. You have to work your body and your muscles (including your heart) if you want to be strong and healthy and get back into your skinny jeans… and your muscles will not be happy about that in the beginning. I’m starting to sport a pretty decent set of guns, but even after a lot of of every-other-day upper arm workouts, they still hurt. 

Totally worth it, though.

Here’s something I did to help me start fixing. In the beginning, I put a rubber band around my wrist and every time my head started to go into a negative place (self blame, blaming others, feeling angry for no reason, feeling afraid for no reason) I’d SNAP that little sonuvabitch HARD. Pretty soon I got sick of the sting so I PURPOSEFULLY and MINDFULLY began to think more positively. The rubber band on the wrist is an old trick, and it sure worked for me.

When I first got back into meditating, my brain wanted to go ANYWHERE but to a peaceful place. It wanted to make long lists of things I needed to be doing (besides sitting cross-legged in the middle of my living room floor). It wanted to replay episodes from every series I binge watch on Netflix. It wanted to go over the last fight I had with my ex, and it promised to let me win if I’d just go there and play it out. It wanted to ponder politics, religion, sex, my budget, my haircut, my neighbor’s haircut…ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to avoid NOT THINKING ABOUT ANYTHING.

It was like training a stubborn dog. My mind did not want to roll over, fetch, shake hands or play dead. I got headaches trying to put a leash on my thoughts. The first few weeks of getting back into meditation were frustrating and difficult.

Again, however, totally worth it. Now I can meditate a full fifteen minutes before my brain starts to dig holes and pee on the carpet. I’m aiming for a half hour, but 15 minutes will do for now. After meditation, there is no place for fear and anxiety. No place for self-doubt or worry.

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And here’s another thing. Believe it or not, you get to a point where you stop avoiding the pain…and you actually welcome it. Numb isn’t good. Numb is when you stop feeling pain because spiritual gangrene has set in. Feeling pain when you’re doing self-work means you’re doing it right. Also, the pain becomes more manageable. It hurts less and less the further you go in your healing process. Sometimes you need to stop and have a good cry…and that’s good. Tears are meant to help things along.

But…there’s a bonus. I’m a whole lot better now than I was when I had that conversation with my son a couple of months ago. Last night we talked and when I said I was doing good he didn’t call ‘bullshit’. A couple of months from now I’ll be even better. I don’t know how long EXACTLY it will take me to reach my goal of being mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually better than I was ten years ago…but I know now it doesn’t seem so daunting a task.

I’ll let you know when I arrive.

 

Everyday Musings

Silent Inspiration

Some days are just too nice to spend too much time looking at a computer screen.

Today is one of those days. The temperature is a perfect 80 degrees. All my work is done and I’m just sitting at the shop, visiting with people as they come and go.

This morning, while Scotch (my dog) and I were in the little enclosed dog park outside my apartment building, I noticed a tiny little mushroom…then a few yards away, another one. Then another. The grass hadn’t been mowed in about a week, and these intrepid little fungi were holding hands (as mushrooms do, connecting with other plants underground via their mycelium), determined to make a go of living in the middle of downtown Tulsa.

These tiny pioneers looked more like delicate little daisies than mushrooms, and while my dog did his morning business, I bent down to study them.

And from that moment forward, it’s been a good day. Sometimes just a little bit of nature in the middle of a concrete jungle will reconnect you to the divine battery charger I know as The Universe.

The Universe also has a kind of mycelium, always reaching out to connect with us…if we’re aware and ready to grab ‘hold.

Life is good. Love is good.

So instead of writing a typical blog post about business or books or making magic, I’m just going to post this photo (credit unknown) and some words from Henry Miller:

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“The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”