Welcome!

Dear brilliant, beautiful, you: Thank you. Thank you for coming here. Thank you for following your hunch, or your heart, or accidentally clicking on the wrong link as you stumbled into this space… whatever the case may be…I’m glad you’re here.

Let me tell you why.

Because the world needs you. I need you. YOU need you.

This space is about listening to your heart, getting clear about what you want, calling back your power, and channeling your energy toward YOUR true calling. Yes, you have a purpose, a path, a true calling; it’s why you’re here. And it’s kind of a big deal because your true calling fills a void that the entire world aches for, and you are the only one who can fill it. I know that might sound sort of mysterious and magical, and maybe a little bit crazy, but it’s true. It’s true for you and it’s true for every single person on the planet.

Okay, now what? So, you’ve got this ‘true calling,’ and maybe you know exactly what it is; maybe you have a vague idea, or maybe you don’t have a clue. That’s okay. You’re here because you’re ready to find out. It’s important for you to know that your purpose isn’t something you have to go out and search for, because its already part of you—it’s just waiting to be discovered. What I’m sharing here will just help you recognize it, call it up from inside of you, and give you the courage to share it with the world.

I hope you’ll stick around; scroll down for my most recent posts, or peruse the site for ways to stay connected to yourself and the gifts you have to offer.

Your Beautiful, Messy, Crazy Life

The blog post you’re reading now, is not the first draft. Not even close. The first draft of what I’m writing now could hardly be recognizable as the same post that I started with. Usually when I write, I start with rambling. I write down anything that comes to mind until something pops up that interests me enough to direct my focus toward it. Then I start with jumbled words and sentences that squish together haphazardly to form an idea or a story, or whatever it decides it wants to be. Then I write and re-write, and hopefully out of the sculpting process, I’ll come up with something that is decent enough to share—but even then, I never know if it’s ‘complete’ because it’s always changing form.

Sometimes, on very rare occasions, an idea will pop into my head, and I’ll scramble to write it down as quickly as I can, and when I do, it is complete. It’s five minutes of magic. But like I said, that is very rare, and if it happened like that all the time, then I probably wouldn’t value the beauty and ease of it as much as I do.

Creativity usually takes time. It’s good, then bad, then hopefully good again…it’s messy and crazy and beautiful as it stops and starts and ebbs and flows, and as a conduit for creativity, all you can do is play along and enjoy the ride.

Your life is one big, ever-expanding, expression of beautiful, crazy, messy, creativity. You are creating all.the.time. You create this moment, and the next, and the next. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, but usually it’s always good again as it stops and starts, and ebbs and flows. You are a conduit for the ever-expansive expression of the Universe, so essentially, you’re playing with God. Or Buddha. Or Energy. Or Spirit. Or Goddess. Or whatever you want to call ‘IT’.

And it’s not a game of winners and losers. It’s a game of playing make-believe. A game of creating solution and dissolution. Stops and starts. Ups and downs. Twists and turns. There can’t be any winners or loser’s because there is no end to it all.

Think back to the darkest day of your life. The day you thought you couldn’t go on; in fact, perhaps you didn’t even want to go on.

What happened?

You went on.

And things got better.

And then, probably, things got bad again, and then better, then bad, and on and on it goes…

There’s no beginning or end; it’s all just creative flow.

This moment in your life is not the first draft of your masterpiece, and it’s certainly not the last. You’re somewhere in the middle of the creative process, and when it’s good, perhaps you share a little bit of that juicy goodness with others, and when it’s not so good, you keep sculpting. Or maybe you just crash and burn for a while as you catch your breath and get back on your feet.

And sometimes, on rare occasions or maybe not-so-rare occasions, you’ll be hit with a spark of insight or a shift of perspective, and you’ll experience five minutes of magic. And in that moment, you’ll remember who you really are.

And you’ll remember that you are not lost, because you’re right here,
playing a beautiful, messy, crazy game called life.

And it is perfect as is.

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Dear friends: Please join me this Saturday, February 27th from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. for a couple of hours of discussion, yoga, meditation and introspection on building a foundation for creating a life you love. Get all the details here.

Full Circle

Long story short….

Ten years ago I discovered and fell in love with yoga.

At that time, I was inspired by a professor who was infusing yoga into her University philosophy courses, and I wanted to do something similar. I thought the only way to take part in offering yoga studies as a part of higher education was to become an established professor in a related field, and then offer it up in courses that I was already teaching.

So, I saved up my pennies, studied for the GRE, and just before the application deadline, I changed plans and decided to take my time and money to further my education as a yoga teacher. (At the time, I had been teaching yoga because I was asked to teach, had dabbled enough in training and workshops to do so, but had never considered teaching yoga as a ‘career path.’)

The reason for the shift? I attended a workshop for the school of yoga that I would eventually study with, and within minutes of hearing their opening invocation, I knew it by heart. I sang along with it like I’d been singing it for years; tears streaming down my face. The decision wasn’t easy. My mind had all kinds of excuses why yoga teacher training wasn’t the best idea, but in the end, my heart won out, and so I signed up and changed my path.

As I immersed myself into teaching, my dream of bringing yoga studies into higher education faded away, and for a while, I forgot all about it. I stepped into teaching opportunities in nearly every studio and gym in my community, but I was continually drawn back to my job as a yoga course instructor at USU. (which, by the way, is totally unglamorous with it’s cold gyms, lack of props, and Zumba music leaking through the walls…) In spite of it all, I loved it, and still do.

And then one day, something clicked. I felt an almost urgent need to propose a Yoga Studies and Teacher Training program to the University. I had dabbled with the idea of teaching teachers for years, but the hope that I could offer it at the University felt like an impossible dream. Yet, I couldn’t ignore the urgency I felt in proposing the idea to my department.

So I did.

I found out later, that within the same month or so, another woman, who is now my friend and colleague would propose the exact same thing, yet from a different angle and with a slightly different approach. Her contributions and ideas meshed perfectly with mine, and together we received the permission to conceptualize, design and implement the very first Yoga Studies and Teacher Training program at Utah State University, and one of the only programs like it in the United States.

The moral of my story?

The Universe has a crazy way of ensuring that your dreams become a reality, and even if you forget about what you want, the Universe will not only remind you, but if you’re listening closely, and courageous enough to follow through on what you feel inspired to do, it will tell you exactly what to do, and when.

It’s impossible to know how it’s going to happen, because that is left up to the mysterious dance of the Universe and all of her crazy ways, and in hindsight the way we arrive is always such an incredible journey full of twists and turns. But I’ve always been curious about gaining a little more control over my part in the process, and figuring out if there are things I can do to speed things up a bit.  So here are some things I’ve discovered over the last two or three years of actively participating in creating a life I love:

• You’ve got to listen. Get quiet everyday as often as you can, because the only way you’re going to know what to do next is to tune into the present moment as much as possible. It’s like you always have a part of you tuned in, just in case inspiration hits—because you just never know when it’s going to pop up.

• You’ve got to know HOW to listen. Messages from the Universe don’t exactly pop into your head as a thought all the time…it happens, but the mind can be tricky, and easily misunderstood. So rather than trying to decode the clutter of the mind, a more effective way is to feel. Feel your own energy. Do you feel at ease or anxious when you do x,y,z? Does a decision excite you or make you feel nervous? Is it good-for-you fear or get-the-hell-away type of fear? These are things you need to know about yourself, and the only way to know is to feel, feel, feel.

• Trust. This one is HUGE. If something comes up and mentally it sounds like a crazy idea, but you know in your heart it’s the right thing to do, then trust your heart. This one is also really, really HARD. Because other people might think you’re crazy, or you might think you’re crazy, but if you trust what’s coming through you, you will be rewarded, big time. Every time.

• Trust. (Part two). Trust that everything that happens to you is part of the path that will take you where you want to be. So that means that even all of the stuff that seems like it’s taking you in the complete opposite direction? It’s not. It’s teaching you exactly what you need to know, in order to be exactly where you need to be, in order to manifest your dream into reality.

• Break down what you really want. This is about letting go of rigid ideas. Focus more on how you want to feel, rather than what you want your dream to look like. I really wanted to see a yoga studies program start up in a Higher Education setting, but what I really wanted was to introduce yoga to a larger population. So I focused on that aspect, which ultimately led me to what I wanted.

• Do the work. If the Universe comes knocking on your door with an idea or opportunity, you better jump at the chance. Roll up your sleeves, put in the time, and SHOW UP.

I hope you have a bigger-than-life dream that you’ve cast somewhere out into the Universe, and I hope that you’re anchored to the moment as that dream unfolds within each and every breath. And I also hope that you will NOT give up on it; that even if you have to set it aside for a while, you’ll hold it in your heart, and all along the way, listen for its call to you, because it searches for you just as much as you search for it.

Now go find it.
It can’t wait to meet you.

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Photo: Mystic Mamma

P.S. The Yoga Studies and Teacher Training program begins Fall Semester 2016 at Utah State University. Enrollment opens April 11, 2016. More information will be available soon…in the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at eparkperry@gmail.com

The In’s and Out’s of Setting Goals

It’s the start of a new year, and I really wanted to write a post about goal setting, because I love goal setting…and goal getting…and goal planning and…pretty much all of it. But I couldn’t write the post.

Believe me, I tried. I started. I stopped. I wrote and rewrote…but I could.not.write.the.damn.post.

And I think it’s because it’s not really resonating with me this year, because as much as I love goal setting, and as I already mentioned, I especially love goal-getting, it’s not what I’m going for this year. I’ve got so much on my plate, and so much to care for and nurture already, that all I really want to do is focus on what I’ve got going on right now. In this moment.

Because I really believe that it’s about going in; not out.

Goals are always so far out there for me. And it’s fun to go after them; to chase after the dream and maybe even catch up to one once in a while. But I wonder what’s happening right here while I’ve got my sights set on something out there? I think sometimes I might be missing out on all the good stuff happening right under my nose.

So that’s what it’s all about for me this year. It’s about sinking into the stuff I’ve got going on right in this moment. These words. And next, it might be about savoring the glass of wine that’s sitting next to me. And then it might be about bath time with my sweet baby boy. And then next, then next, then next….who knows? But I can tell you one thing: I want to be there. All the way there. Not just half-assed with my head in the clouds thinking about tomorrow’s plans or yesterday’s conversation, or all the big goals I’m lining up for the future.

My goal this year is to see how far I can sink into NOW.

I guess I could say it’s about depth not breadth; dropping in, not out; experiencing the big things and the little things and the every thing’s in between. It’s about living in the only space that’s real.

Of course, I’ll keep a little bit of the dream cast out around me, and as I hold my awareness steady right here in this moment, maybe, just maybe, that dream will rise up from inside of it. Because there’s one thing I’m sure of: the only way any goal is achieved or any dream realized, is right through the middle of NOW; so that’s where I’ll be waiting.

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A Promise To My Children

I promise I will listen. I will listen while you talk about toys, video games, ball tag, and anything that is important to you now, so that as you get older, you’ll know that I care about what you have to say, no matter what. I will cultivate strength in listening to you by listening to myself—my body, my heart and my intuition, despite any distracting dialogue that may be running through my head.

I promise to never intentionally make you feel ashamed of yourself. I will never talk down to you, embarrass you, or make you feel ashamed for anything you’ve done. In order to hold this promise, I will work on releasing shame from my own body. I will recognize shame in myself as it rises, and I will release it with tenderness and forgiveness toward myself. I will not be ashamed to share with you, my own stories and lessons learned, when the time is right.

I promise to respect you. I respect your opinions, your feelings, your desires and your needs. Even when they differ from my own, I will respect you and give you space to grow into your own understanding. I will respect you by actively learning how to respect myself—my opinions, my feelings, my desires and my needs.

I promise to be honest; not just with my words; but also with my feelings. I will honor this promise by connecting with myself—being honest with my own feelings and inner dialogue. I will recognize when I have not been present; I will be honest about my absence and honest about my return to awareness.

I promise to forgive you—for anything. I will learn to forgive you by actively forgiving myself—for each moment that I lose awareness—for each inevitable mistake that I make as I learn how to be your mother. I will forgive myself over and over again.

I promise you love. All that I have is yours—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I will recognize and honor the reality that in order to love you, I must also love myself—wholly and unconditionally. I recognize that whatever I hold back from myself, will be held back from you. I will work to release any and all barriers that inhibit unconditional love.

I promise to let you go. I know that you don’t belong to me. I know that you have been generously placed in my care, and I accept the gift of you with more gratitude than I can hold in my heart. I promise that I will let you live your life. I will allow you to make your own mistakes and move through difficulty so that you can learn who you are in your own way. I honor this promise by learning to surrender. I’ll practice surrender in every moment, every breath, every thought and every feeling. I will accept that life is in motion, and I will not cling to it as it passes. I will let it go—again and again and again.

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The Wonderful Things

A few weeks ago, I posted a follow up piece to ‘The Wonderful Things’ titled ‘The Single Most Important Thing I Do For My Kids Each Day’ (you can read it here.) This post is the original, which some of my readers have requested I re-post. This post was actually written a couple of years ago, but it is still something we do in my home every night. My kids are almost teenagers now, and they love it just as much.

I have recently started a new addition to our bedtime ritual. As I tuck each of my boys in at night, I share something wonderful that I had observed about them during the day. My boys call it ‘The Wonderful Things’. It has quickly become a much anticipated part of bedtime, and it is regularly talked about during the day as they wonder what behaviors will make it into the prestigious category of ‘The Wonderful Things’. I started it as a way for me to let them know that I appreciate their efforts. I believe that growing up is hard work and that the daily rituals that have become habitual and natural to me as an adult are still being learned and practiced at their stage in life.

What I did not expect is the enormous shift in their behavior. The moment they knew that I was paying attention, they started to pay attention. I started receiving more random hugs and offers to help. There is less resistance toward picking up dishes, brushing teeth, cleaning rooms, etc. I find it interesting to observe how the simple act of conscious awareness helps us to make the choices that reflect how we want to carry ourselves in the world.

I must admit, this new ritual takes real effort in observation, and as I am learning to be more aware of their behavior, I’m beginning to become more aware of mine. I quickly realized that I never take time to look at ‘The Wonderful Things’ about me. I’m very quick to notice the things that I do that are not wonderful, and in fact, those ‘not wonderful things’ stick with me for a very long time and shape the way I view myself.

My practice of observing the beauty and grace in my children has now evolved into seeing the beauty and grace in my husband, family, friends, nature, music, and even myself. And just like the shift that is happening in my children, I’m feeling a shift, too. The more aware I am of my own wonderful things, the more I want to express it. One of my favorite quotes is by Genpo Roshi, which states, “God, Goddess, Koan, mantra, anger, fear, hope, faith…I become that on which I’m concentrating.” I’m beginning to see how much truth there is in that quote.

I challenge my readers to take a day or a week, or a lifetime to shift your awareness. Make an effort to see only the wonderful things about yourself, your family, your friends, your children and your life. I promise you that what you will find is a different world entirely.

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The Skin You’re In

The relationship I developed with my body as a young girl was confusing and tumultuous at best; appalling and shameful at worst. It all started out well enough. I didn’t even consider gender or body image or definitions of ‘good or bad’ when it came to my own form until I was about eight years old, and then one day, I looked down at my bare thighs spread wide against the seat of the car and gasped at how…big they looked. I vowed never to allow my thighs to rest against the seat like that again; instead, I would delicately sit with my thighs elevated above the seat just enough so the flesh could hang off my bones, and maintain the slim appearance that I considered acceptable. I have no idea why I considered slim to be more acceptable. Maybe I had fallen victim to the media that surrounded me; maybe I had overheard negative remarks at school; maybe it’s because I didn’t want to take up so much space….who knows how it started. It just did.

This skin I’m living in has been through a lot, and it’s likely that the skin you’re living in has been through a lot, too.

It has likely been stretched, pulled, belittled, reprimanded, ridiculed, covered, shamed, ashamed, disregarded, used, abused…sometimes perhaps by others, sometimes perhaps by you.

And yet…it survives, thrives, rejoices, celebrates, dances, moves, holds, beholds, and most importantly, loves.

And I don’t know why we, as a society don’t talk about the beautiful parts of ourselves, as if it is shameful to even admit that you’re okay with how you look and okay with who you are, but I hope that the conversation might change—that we might not only talk about being okay with who we are as individuals, but to celebrate acceptance, innate beauty and the unique differences that make you, you.

Even as I write, I find a bit of hesitation to admit it—but I can finally say that I love the skin I’m in.

I love the bumps, lumps, lines and wrinkles.
I love the parts that change and the parts that stay the same.
I love that my hands look like my Grandmother’s and my nose looks like my Dad’s.
I love that there is an old photo of my Mother that could be me.
I love that there is herstory and history in my bones; and that I carry the stardust of my ancestors beneath my skin.

I love that I can finally look in the mirror and smile instead of scowl at what I see.

This love did not come through external influences;
There have been no dramatic changes to the shape of my body;
or outside sources declaring my worth and beauty;
I didn’t suddenly get prettier or thinner or stronger….
No, this love did not come through outside influences;

This love came from within.

It came because I was tired of wasting energy on not liking the skin I’m in.

It came through quiet moments of early meditation; sitting in the dark; squaring off with my demons; and discovering that inner truth and peace were never lost; they’ve been here all along, just waiting to be seen.

It came through hours upon hours of focused movement: updog, downdog, forward bend, repeat….movement that would peel away the layers of armor that held me from myself. This movement—sometimes slow and sweet, and sometimes difficult and strong—shook it off, bit by bit, breath by breath. It made me soft enough to feel and strong enough to grow.

It came through constant introspection; policing my own mind; noticing the cruel words; the loud voice; the demeaning demands; sorting out the truth from lies; questioning their validation, and ultimately finding the discipline to drop the things that kept me small and weak…

It came through looking in the mirror, and instead of focusing on my flaws; I declared my own beauty to myself, even when it felt awkward, strange and uncomfortable. I said it anyway; I spoke kind words until it felt real; until it felt true; until it became real and became true.

It came through miles and miles of running that helped to flush out stuck emotions; to process; to breathe deep enough to pull it from the darkest depths, and free it out to dissolve with the heat of my breath as it mingled with the crisp morning air.

It came through writing—sloppy, incoherent, rambling—a dumping ground of words and ideas that had to be released; cleaning out the wounds so they could heal.

It came through cleansing tears.
It came through clearing the air.
It came through forgiveness.
It came through trust.
It came through faith.
It came through each and every moment of my life that begged me to stop resisting and start loving.

It came.

And just because I’ve made peace with myself, doesn’t mean I can stop working at it; the work for acceptance is ongoing—up and down, in and out, with constant reminders and practice, practice, practice.

But the return for my dedication toward acceptance is that I can love and celebrate my body for the beautiful instrument that it is.

I live free.
I share.
I give.
I create.
I love.

Finally, finally,

I am no longer weighed down.
I am no longer ashamed;
I’m not ashamed of my body, and I’m not ashamed to love it, either.
I am no longer holding my thighs above the seat so that my flesh can hang from my bones to maintain a slim appearance.

Finally, finally,

I am in love with the skin I’m in.

And my hope is that you will be, too. That you’ll start with wherever you are by accepting this moment with all of its flaws and all of its imperfections and unknown mysteries and realize that all of that is perfect, too.

That you are perfect.

And that realizing the truth about yourself isn’t about searching somewhere else. It’s about releasing the barriers that hold you back from recognizing your own beautiful image in the mirror.

I hope you’ll fall in love with the skin you’re in;

as it is, right now.

Because, it’s time.

Finally, finally.

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Practice Peace

I’m never quite sure what to do with the emotion that rises after these violent attacks on innocent people. I don’t know how to help or how to grieve or how to return to normal life without feeling guilty for still having a normal life.

Another senseless act of violence. Another set of emotions. Another set of fear. Another set of grief for those affected.

Another reminder to love.

To love the people that are easy to love and also those who aren’t.

And most importantly, a reminder to love the person who’s the hardest to love.

You.

There is very little I can do to stop the violent attacks that are happening in the world, but what about the violent attacks that are happening close to home—the violent attacks that are happening in your own body, expressed through your own thoughts and your own behaviors? I’d like to think that I’m not violent toward myself, but when I look closely at the dialogue I choose or the way I react to behaviors that don’t suit me, sometimes it can look like a war-zone. I’m not sure that I can go around wishing for world peace, when there isn’t peace right here, within myself.

There isn’t much I can do to prevent violent attacks on innocent people, but there is a lot I can do to stop the violent attacks that are happening within myself.

To allow diversity. Different emotions. Different thoughts. Different moods. Different behaviors. And to accept each one as unique and special and exquisitely beautiful as it builds a colorful array of variation and rich culture within myself.

To accept. The light, the dark, the deep, the shallow. To accept these varying aspects of myself, and recognize that even the things that seem imperfect lend themselves to cast perfect shadows in order to allow the light parts to shine even brighter.

To release. Release anger, release fear, release hurt, release resentment. And not just to release it, but to transform it into something that will enrich my life. To learn from these things; to alchemize my emotions into something beautiful: from sorrow to compassion; anger to activism; envy to inspiration; and fear to love.

To love. Not just to love the parts that are easy, but to love the parts that aren’t easy. The parts that scare me, trouble me, annoy, or irritate me. There is something there, beneath them, and the only way to find the gift is to love through the shadow that engulfs it.

To learn. And if, despite my best efforts, an attack still occurs, I’ll learn from it. How did it happen? What led to it? Where was I not paying attention? When did I stop listening? How can I get in front of the assault; in front of the build up; in front of the mindless cruelty toward myself?

Practice peace. Peace isn’t a onetime deal. Self-love isn’t graduation. Acceptance doesn’t show up and then stay without being entertained. It’s ongoing. It’s practice. It’s patience. It’s trying again and again and again.

World peace starts with inner peace.

Will you try?

Maggie-Lochtenberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Maggie Lochtenberg

That’s Okay, Too

I must have been a bear in a past life, because the moment the days get shorter, the nights get longer, and the cool autumn breeze drops just a tad below comfortable, hibernation sounds pretty good to me…all I want to do is retreat, go inside, and drink hot tea until the snow melts…

I write a lot about creating on this blog—putting yourself out there, overcoming obstacles, believing in yourself—you know, manifesting.

But what if you can’t bring yourself to change out of your sweatpants, let alone change the world?

Well, that’s okay, too.

Because sometimes the very best thing you can do for yourself (and for the rest of the world, for that matter) is to retreat, go inside, and maybe just stay in bed.

Stay inside, literally and figuratively, if you can.

If you’re tired, let yourself rest.
If you’re quiet, invite silence.
If you’re feeling like you’d like to dismiss yourself from life for a little while…then do that, even if all you can spare is a few minutes to yourself.

Because when you honor yourself and the way you feel, you align yourself with the big picture—the one that’s so big, you can’t see it all with one glance.

…Maybe you need this time because something big is just around the corner, and somewhere deep inside yourself, you know you need this time to rest up for what’s to come…
…Maybe you need this time because you’re still healing from something from the past, or something beneath the surface and it takes a lot of energy to heal an old wound…
…Maybe you need this time because you’re run down, worn out, or just plain exhausted…
…Maybe you need this time for some unknown reason, and you’ll never know why you feel the way you feel…

Honor it anyway.

When you learn to listen, and then follow through, you’re developing a trusting relationship with yourself. And with that, you’ll begin to feel safe within yourself; and you’ll know that you’re being cared for and nurtured by the person who knows you the best—you. And the other thing that’s great about developing a trusting relationship with yourself is that you’ll have an easier time trusting others, and trusting life in general.

So the next time you catch yourself resisting the way you feel, practice compassion. Don’t reach for reasons or excuses, or stumble over apologies…just let yourself be the way you are. Because the way you are, is better than okay. The way you are right now, is right on time, every time, no matter what.

Now, before you give yourself permission to hunker down with Netflix for the next 3-4 months, there is one caveat to spending quality time with your solitude: Don’t let it become who you are. Don’t let it last so long that it becomes your new identity. Never forget that the shadow days are fleeting; they come and they go; so don’t forget to let them go.

You’ll know it’s time to let your shadow days go when the feeling becomes too heavy or suffocating. You’ll know it’s too much when it feels like your quiet mood has a hold on you, rather than the other way around. Remember, that ultimately, you own the way you feel, and sometimes you might need to take action to usher those feeling through. So honor the way you feel, but if the feeling isn’t serving you anymore, you need to take charge of the situation—shake it off, get outside, force yourself to do something, anything...because winter isn’t supposed to last forever, and neither are those shadow days.

But if you’re listening, feeling, honoring what’s there, but also taking action when necessary, then by all means, get quiet, brew up some tea, and stay inside…and if your winter wardrobe consists of a steady rotation of sweatpants…

Well, that’s okay, too.

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Maybe You Were Meant To Fall

“Please don’t let me fall. Please don’t let me fall. Please don’t let me fall….”

These are the words that go through my mind whenever I go rock climbing. Yes, I’m secured to a rope. Yes, I have a trustworthy belay partner who would catch me in his arms if he had to. Yes, I’ve done this. Yes, I can do this….Yet, when I’m clinging to the side of a cliff; muscles shaking, fingers aching, and tiny footholds holding the weight of my body, all I can think is…

“Dear God, Please. Don’t let me fall.’

Time after time, climb after climb, this mantra played in my head, until one day, I fell.

And guess what?

It was the very best thing that could have happened to me.

You know why?

Because then I could stop worrying (so much) about falling and focus on the climb.

Now here’s the lesson in this story:

You’re going to fall.
You’re going to fail.
You’re going to have to start all over…

Probably again and again and again.

And I think it’s important for you to know that falling, failing, and starting over is okay.

It’s better than okay.
It’s necessary.
It’s part of growth and expansion and witnessing the miracle of you expanding into YOU.
It’s about glorious evolution: Rise. Fall. Rise again. Bigger, Better, Stronger, Faster….

And here’s another scenario that’s happened to me, too many times to count:

I tune in. I do the work. I trust my heart. I trust my gut. I listen to my intuition like it’s my job. I meditate like a monk, pray like a priest, and do updogs and downdogs like my life depends on it. I step up; show up; and take action….I’m brave, goddamnit….

And you know what happens?

Sometimes, in spite of all my honest efforts, I still fall.

Do I like it?

Nope.

Do I recover?

Eventually.

Do I try again?

Usually.

Do I learn something?

Every.Single.Time.

I learn about listening. I learn about trying. I learn about falling gracefully. I learn about desire vs. want vs. need….but mostly, what I learn is that what I think I want is not always in line with what this life wants for me.

Because no matter how in touch you are; how in tune you are; or how anchored you are to the truth of who you are…sometimes you just don’t know what life has planned for you.

And sometimes you’re not meant to know.

Maybe you were meant to fall.
Maybe you were meant to fail.
Maybe you were meant start all over again and again and again…

You know why?

Because it makes you stronger.
It makes you wiser.
It carves out your courage like a motherf*cker.
It makes you more compassionate; understanding, and honest with yourself and others.
It helps you recognize what you are capable of; really capable of.

And it helps you remember that you don’t have to run the show, because you are being held and supported in the most loving way….

Every time you fall; you will be caught.
Every time you fail; you’ll be redeemed.
Every time you start over, the new beginning will be sweeter than anything you could have ever imagined at the onset.

So the next time you’re out climbing on the proverbial path of life; remember:

Sometimes you are meant to fall.

If only, to remind you,
you’ve been held all along.

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You Are Everything

One of the most unexpected benefits of being a yoga teacher is that, over the past ten years of observing my students—observing their movement as they expand, contract, close, open, stretch and strengthen—I have fallen completely in love with the human body. And not just the physical form, but everything it contains—the beauty within—the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects as they are reflected in physical form.

It doesn’t matter how it moves or how it doesn’t move; it doesn’t matter if it is young or old; graceful or awkward; strong or weak; tight or open. It doesn’t matter what it can or cannot do, or how it compares to societal standards.

It is all perfection to me.

Last summer, I had the amazing opportunity to backpack into a secluded high mountain lake and have nothing else to do for an entire afternoon, except stare at that lake.

It was absolutely mesmerizing.

As I watched, the reflection danced between perfect clarity and distorted images; the water rippled and stilled; ebbed and flowed; and the colors in the sky mingled with shadows and light that displayed an exquisite array of colors—light and dark; dull and vibrant—every color you can imagine. It was like watching a light show on the water. It never stayed the same for more than a breath.

It reminded me of the human body.

Your body, and everything within it, is mesmerizing. Sometimes it reflects back perfect clarity and understanding; sometimes it distorts the reflection. It is movement and stillness, and sometimes both at the same time. Your body passes through moments of light and dark; dull or vibrant—every color you can imagine.

You are absolutely mesmerizing.

Have you ever stared in awe at a newborn baby? The delicate features; the light on their skin; the clarity in their eyes? Would you dare to look at yourself the same way, even if only for a moment?

Could you allow yourself to slip away from the barriers of your mind and the rigid ideas contained there so you can have a love affair with yourself?

To feel your skin, young or old, smooth or rough, and adore it either way?

To appreciate the features of your face—the way they’ve been passed on to you like sacred treasure, holding the history of your family and the generations before you?

To look into your own eyes and see what’s there—the love, the hurt, the pain, the strength, and the deep, deep knowing that you are so much more than what you see?

Could you slip away with yourself, if only for one solitary afternoon, or one deep breath?

Would you give yourself the gift of you?

I hope you’ll see what I see when I look at you.
I hope you’ll see that you are magic; that your body is perfect, in spite of perceived imperfections.
I hope you’ll see that your ‘flaws’ are not flaws at all; that they are what make you unique and special.
I hope you’ll see that you are always and forever changing; that this moment now is already gone.

One brief moment of love for yourself will heal you in ways you could never imagine.
One brief moment of love for yourself will show you the truth;
…that you are more than what you see.

That you are beauty.
Grace.
Light.
Courage.
Strength.
Hope.
Faith.
and
Love.
You are so. much. more. than what you see.

You are everything.

MountainLake