Monday, May 6, 2013

Opening Farewell

I've been feeling pretty nervous about writing this particular post. I mean, the minute we start talking about big shifts or changes we want to make in our lives, those changes aren't dormant anymore. I don't think it's been a secret. But while most of the staff at VEERA YOGA knows, I wanted some sort of platform to share it with the people who have impacted me more than any paid or famous teacher: the people who showed up in class. You. The flexible, the inflexible, those who wanted to be vulnerable, to do something that mattered to them.

Already I'm crying while writing this, but we can blame that on faulty tear ducts. I want to tell you that I will be leaving the studio at the end of June.

When I realized I was catapulting towards this decision I wasn't sure if I was ready to commit to it. Valid reasons piled on excuses for why I should stay and for why I should go. I've said that being a yoga teacher, really sitting in that role, means being in a permanent state of processing thoughts, feelings, experiences. I process the big stuff slowly. I feel things deeply; extracting meaning and action from those feelings can feel like marching through wet cement.

I need to leave because it's time. I love my family here more than I could express, and the opportunities and experiences at this studio continue to challenge and inspire me. But starting last October, as I made occasional trips to southern California, my heart began to feel restless, and couldn't quiet. Then in November when I started an intensive creative writing project I began remembering parts of myself that I hadn't paid attention to in years.

This is the beauty of good art when we can truly be vulnerable with ourselves: the product becomes a metaphor for where we are and where we need to go. I began to understand that I was trying to tell myself something, but I had no idea what the hell that something was. What it meant.

If your heart is restless, listen. Honor that restlessness. This has been my lesson these last months, and I am still slow to learn, slow to recognize.

There will be many transitions in the next two months; my hope is to navigate them with as much grace as possible. I am working with a wonderful woman, Tricia (she teaches the Feng Shui workshops at VEERA), to take over the yin yoga classes. Tricia has such amazing presence and sensitivity to energy, and has graciously agreed to step in. You will be left in very good hands. I will also come back to town to teach the yin teacher training at the end of July (plus any extra trips back to say hello!). 

Beyond this, I will continue teaching to the best of my ability through the end of June. Feel free to check the schedule to see when I am teaching; I've cut back a bit to allow for space to feel and plan my next step. I don't have clear plans yet, but I trust that my path is leading me down south. Sometimes we really do just have to free fall.

If you have any questions or words for me that you are comfortable posting publicly, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer. Otherwise, you are welcome to pull me aside at the studio. I want to be available and my main hope in this post was to create an open space.

I love you all very dearly, and I feel so grateful to have spent my last two and a half years here. You have been my teachers.  

With gratitude,

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Doing Creativity

I hear one sentence over and over again from people who find out I'm an artist: “I'm not creative.”

I call bullshit on this.

Painting and writing are the primary tools I use to interpret the world. And we need to, sometimes. Interpret the world. The moments we observe and allow the world to BE as it is, those moments are beautiful. But a troubling question arose in my heart in a journal entry from February: “Sometimes I'm afraid I will always hang back and watch the beauty and wildness of life through other people's eyes.”

Everyone is creative. Yes, I'm talking to you. At a very basic level, we create ourselves as we live. You know that paralyzing fear that occasionally grips us when we might, just for a second, expose ourselves to someone else? The “You're not good enough,” the “someone else does that better, why should you bother,” the “I wish I could do that.” It might not even be that obvious, that doubt can show up as our rabid consumption of thoughts and art that other people have created. We do it all the time. There's music, movies, art, yes, but it's also books (nonfiction counts), lectures, our family and culture-- we interact with ideas that are not ours daily and hourly. Some things we adopt, some things we reject, but after a while this can become a habit. We go grocery shopping for our opinions, our advice, our exercise routines, the answers to life, the answer to how to be in relationship with people. With ourselves.

Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of conflicting ideas out there?

Imagine all of that, going on inside of us. Everything we see, we hear, we experience, all that passes through us. It bounces around, and either makes a home or passes on. Beliefs, judgments, experiences, attitudes, states of mine. There is an essence inside each one of us, and we spend a lifetime trying to figure out how to express that essence and give it a voice.

That's the creative process, right there. We do it unconsciously, and you don't have to be a painter or writer to call it what it is.

Are you human?

Then you create.

That's literally what we do for a living. We were given a spark of life, and then we were tossed out into a wilderness and told: “Go on. Survive, live, and thrive. I dare you.”

Somewhere in the middle of getting my degree in art I realized that “art” wasn't the actual product I ended up with. It wasn't the painting, it wasn't the poem. There's that quote by Leonardo da Vinci that I love: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” The painting? That's just a byproduct of art. The art itself is the process, just like the yoga is the practice. The art is in the mistakes, the attempts, the questions, the breakdowns, the breakthroughs.

We see this huge, expansive world filled with millions of interpretations. Only one of those millions is ours. It's easy, it's simple, and it's convenient to adopt one from someone else and enjoy life from that perspective. But art is never finished, only abandoned. So how many times to we abandon ourselves?

The creative spark is a slow burn that drives someone to continue looking, continue searching, because they are never quite satisfied. That little hint of yearning, that little ache. Let's go towards that, and make something beautiful together.  


Monday, March 4, 2013

Pieces of our Being

“You're not who I thought you were.”

Do those words sound familiar? Or some variation on them?

Whenever I hear that phrase, especially when it's directed at me, I either feel a swell of happiness or shame. Someone sees me in a new light. Oh shit.

Then there are those times I think it/say it about someone else. “Well, I certainly didn't expect that from you.” In my own mind, they've done something unexpected, something that didn't quite fit with my image of them. This happens to us regularly, in small or large ways. A sign that someone didn't have the perfect life you thought they did. Your partner cheats on you. It varies, you know?

Sometimes our masks hide and protect us from being open and vulnerable with others, so they experience us in a limited, controlled way. But whether someone is authentic and vulnerable in a moment with you, or not, are you seeing them as a whole human being, or your assumption of their being?

When I was a young teenager, I occasionally was told I was a snob, or stuck up; once even by an adult. Not that I SEEMED like one to them. That I WAS one. In reality? I was shy. Sensitive, and shy. I loved people, even if I felt overwhelmed by them sometimes. So those words cut deep.

We are wielding a huge weapon when we make “You are” statements. They build people up, or they can cut us down if we let them. Unless scientists figure out ways to climb inside the mind and soul of another person, chances are we don't know the whole story.

The responsibility falls on both parties. If I paint the picture of what I want people to see of me, then they're probably just going to see what I allow them to unless they're really paying attention. You can often fool the world, but it's much harder to keep fooling ourselves.

We offer ourselves to others like a puzzle. Sometimes offering a mostly complete picture with a few pieces missing, or slowly handing out piece after individual piece, or other times deliberately handing out a few pieces upside down and withholding others There is nothing inherently better or worse about any of these methods, but are we aware of what we choose to hide of ourselves? And why?

On the other side, can we be mindful of where our judgments of others come from? “You're not who I thought you were” is not a statement of their character, it's a statement of mine. They didn't change. My assumptions just suddenly weren't valid anymore. What I really mean is: “I now see more of your being, and I experience you differently because of it.” For better or for worse. And that is the sacred dance of human interaction. Gradually, we expose ourselves to the world whether we intend to or not, meeting each other face to face as mirrors. How I choose to see you reflects what I am willing and not willing to see and appreciate about you, and even myself.

The more we accept all aspects of who WE are, the more vulnerable we can be with others and the more we can accept all aspects of others. It's not going to be perfect. Honestly, I don't think it's meant to be perfect. Otherwise it wouldn't be a dance. But those of us who come to our yoga mats, or engage any other self-reflective practice, are craving some deeper connection. With ourselves, with others, with Whatever.

When we DO offer someone a piece of our true puzzle, it is out of trust. What will you do with those pieces?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Holding Space

By Sunday, I was overloaded. You know that bone aching exhaustion that leads us by the scruff of the neck to a restless, wobbling sleep? So tired that you don't sleep well. I rolled and jerked all through the eleven hours I lay sprawled in bed Saturday night. Come Sunday morning, the weight behind my eye sockets had only softened to an ache, and my bones fared no better.

I speak about “holding space” and “creating space” almost obsessively, in my classes, in my life, in my own head. But while I can talk about “creating space” until I'm all colors of the rainbow in the face, until I feel it, or feel the lack of it, I don't GET it.

Holding space: The intentional acknowledgment that something is important enough to devote time or physical space to. When we create an altar, we must hold space for that. One of my ex boyfriends had an altar next to his bedside, and even the household cats knew the rule: anything that didn't belong there must not be placed there. That altar was an intentional, holy space.

Everything we intentionally choose to make time for is holy. Every. Single. Thing. Me writing this is holy, you reading this is holy. Even when we experience grief, and we acknowledge that it is important to FEEL that, to go THROUGH it. We make that grief holy.

That is why I say there is space for all things. ALL things. The good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly. What happens when we ignore something, when we don't give space to something? It either disappears or gets stuffed, constricted. Grief and pain that isn't acknowledged is still grief and pain, and it continues to fester, to boil, until the kettle sings and the universe MAKES the space for us. All that hidden feeling overflows until we fear it might consume us.

I did not hold space for rest, for quiet, for silence, for recuperation last weekend. So the universe made the space for me. I felt the electricity in my skin, the irritability in my face and in my chest. Claustrophobia is not just a physical fear, it's an energetic need. My body was physically unable to do anything but the minimum requirements until I felt rested enough to return to a normal schedule.

How we choose to hold space speaks great volumes about what we value, and there is a difference between making the time and holding the space. We usually make time to brush our teeth, and we do this on auto-pilot. We hold space when a friend needs us to listen. Usually. But even then, we must be watchful. That conversation you just had with the grocery clerk, with your best friend, with your partner? Were you really present with them?

I've lost count of the moments, the conversations, the interactions I wasn't present in. I used up time for those moments, sure, but I didn't hold space for those. Those are the moments that slip by, ignored.

The things we do not hold space for either drop away, ignored, or blow up. Does that serve us? Does that serve the ones we love?

How will you hold space for yourself?


So much LOVE for all of you! Thank you for continuing to read these stories, and welcome to anyone new! Always know if you ever have a reaction, a thought, a feeling, a question, or a story to share, this blog is not just my space. This is yours, too. Let your voice be heard!


Friday, January 4, 2013


I have been having crazy dreams lately. Seriously crazy awesome dreams. They've all been circling around the idea that I am stronger than I take myself for. In the dreams, it manifests as physical ability. I need to infiltrate the hidden castle in the rainforest? No problem. I'll just climbs trees, jump between branches, scale stone walls with the tips of my fingers digging into the smallest crevices, and sneak around the castle staff until I find the jeweled box I'm looking for.

I blame the details on the video games I play, but the patterns hit me square between the eyeballs. I brought myself through a cleanse, juicing for a couple days, master cleanse (which I just call the spicy lemonade cleanse), and one more day of juicing before transitioning back into soups and stews. Through these five plus days my only intention was to pay attention. Notice how my body felt, when I was hungry, when I wasn't, how much sustenance I actually required. Now my brain may not have been functioning at full capacity for all five days and I definitely felt a little woo-woo, especially near the end, but my body loved it.

I committed to it because I knew I could. Not believe, not “try it and see,” I knew I was capable of it. I had no other motivations, I wasn't trying to jump start losing weight, I just wanted to hold the space for my body to talk to me.

If I promise myself anything, may I promise to listen.

It can be as simple as a decision. The days to follow? We don't know what they will hold, and while I can make goals and plans I recognize that goals evolve over time and that's okay. I can't beat myself up over that. You can't beat yourself up over that. The goal is important, but it isn't what is important. Like addictions, goals are never ever about the actual substance, or the achievement.

What need are you trying to fill?

And are you coming from a place of lack or abundance?

If we come from a place of lack no substance or goal will ever satisfy that craving. The more we crave, the more we yearn, the more we believe we need more.

What if you already have everything?

What if you're stronger than you think you are?  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Being Real

Are you Real in your relationships?

We could take that question a lot of different directions, and we're meant to. It's one of those queries that we can ask every once and a while, and the answer will be always shift. On our yoga mats, what's the immediate relationship there? Yep, with ourselves. It does not matter how many other people are in the room, the moment we roll out our mats and step onto them, the moment we start listening for our breath, it's about our bodies and our breath, baby. We are Living, and whether it's “good,” “bad,” pretty, or ugly, this is the real thing. Some poses feel great, some poses we want to run away from the moment we hear the cue, and that's just a symbol for our daily life. Being Real isn't about being an optimist or a pessimist.

This is about making space for all of what we experience, and celebrating how beautiful it is.

If we don't cut our own bullshit and be honest with ourselves, what will our other relationships look like?

Now I am not advocating that we all go around being unnecessary drama llamas (people who throw their drama on others in the way a llama randomly spits). That's part of being Real, too. Maybe we need to look at not what our actions or reactions are, but where they come from, what they're fueled by. If you come out of a pose in a yoga class, are you taking care of yourself, or stopping just before the breakthrough? In my relationships, in my yoga practice, in my daily life, I've used my own drama to hide behind the truth: I. Am. Terrified.

And that's okay.

Because we all are. Are you new to your yoga practice? Are you new to your life practice? You know what I'm talking about. You are exactly where you need to be.

When you talk to yourself (we all do it), your family, your friends, strangers, are you speaking from the heart? Are you aware of your boundaries (some things don't need to be shared with everyone), and can you respect the boundaries of others? This is a practice in mindfulness and vulnerability, and we're not gonna get it perfect every time. But I know deep in my gut that my most profound moments of connection are when I foster the relationships in my life that feed my soul. What feeds my soul? The reassurance that I do not have to ignore or cover up who I am, what I feel, and what I have to offer to this world.

This video is a part of a creative project started by a man known as Ze Frank. He asked the people who watch his videos to record themselves singing a song about themselves. They weren't worried about melody, rhyming, they were just making it up as they went. The more we bare our soul, the more we find our joys and struggles aren't so different from everyone else's. You are not alone. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

what is your Path?

So, here's the deal. We can talk about chanting, meditating, life changing workshops, creating space, setting intentions, and doing the “work” until our heads feel as fluffy and enlightened as a bunny rabbit floating in a cloud. Not only is the image fantastically adorable, but hey, we might actually be doing some of that stuff, too. We make the time to show up on our yoga mats, commit to ourselves and our practice. We experience breakthroughs, breakdowns, we have revelations, and we feel better after we practice, meditate, and eat mindfully. It's the real deal.

But there is a question that keeps nagging at the back of my mind: are you, am I identifying with the image of our path, or with the actual experience of walking it?

I have trouble relating with the idea of being on the “yogic path.” Or really, “any-adjective-I-can-think-of” path. For some people, it works great, and that's awesome. Others? Maybe it makes you want to run for the hills. For me, the inner rebel wants to kick and scream at the thought of labeling or putting a tag on the brand of “life” I live. As soon as I hear “____” path, “____” philosophy, mentally I hold up my hands and say, “Hey, that's great for you, but it ain't me.”

But do we sometimes allow the language to prevent us from hearing the underlying message and intent?

What are we striving for when we decide to show up on our mats? We made a choice. We're walking the path. But whose path is it?

On either side of the coin, we can attach too much power to names and images and forget that regardless of what we identify with or don't identify with, this is real life. Whether we're running towards a particular life style and embracing it wholeheartedly or running away and keeping it at arms length, we can still miss out. At the end of the day this life isn't a matter of which path you choose; it's a matter of remembering that it's a miracle this is your life at all. That is sacred ground beneath you. Whatever names you choose, whatever images you seek to identify with, do you remember what the earth feels like underneath your toes and what the sun feels like on your face?

Our paths will inevitably always be longer and bigger than we expect them to be; do you try to diminish it so it fits, or doesn't fit a certain package?