Evolving Voice and Viewpoint

It’s amazing where this heart-centered life continues to lead me. These are the last sentences written in “A Little Background” when I launched this blog site on August 7, 2015:

This blog is about me building my brave while navigating into this next phase of my life. A life aimed at broadening beyond a growing dissatisfaction with my job. One where I get to create a beautiful home while discovering my mission in order to live from it! A journey home to my authentic self, living from my heart which I believe will lead me to a bigger, more open life. I hope you come along for the ride.

Back then I had just started attending classes as a student at Bright Yoga and this blog was a platform for my emerging voice as a writer and viewpoint as a woman. I was still working to complete a Mission statement for my work and my life.evolve-618237__180

Today I am training and studying to be a yoga teacher at Bright Yoga. And while I haven’t regularly posted blogs from Build Your Own Brave since YTT started in July, my voice as a writer and viewpoint as a woman is no longer emerging. It has evolved. The completed Mission statement for my work and my life is to communicate, facilitate and inspire healthy meaningful connections with or through spirituality.

I don’t believe this is new to anyone who has followed my blog here, but lately, my heart has been drawn to and caught up with the many and varied social injustices happening in the world. To be sure, they are not new injustices, but the frequency and severity of their occurrence are alarming. Social Media has given us an unprecedented amount of information with the ability to provide relentless attention and scrutiny. The marginalization of women’s issues such as rape/sexual assault prevention and persecution, racial injustices such as police brutality/outright murders and systemic institutionalized racism, reneging on sacred treaties with Native Americans for the profit of Oil & Gas conglomerates and the imbalance of power within our Democracy and Political Processes in the form of corporation interest vs. the people & societal interest.

The election and rule of our first African-American Presidency for the past eight years and the reality of the next eight years ushering in our first female Presidency has spewed forth a veritable shit-storm of blatant, unapologetic racism and misogyny! It would be fascinating if it wasn’t so terrifying and demoralizing. We have elected officials publicly calling for our President to be lynched, a political office seeker calling him a gorilla and being asked by The GOP to drop out of the race because of it. We’ve had the Republican Presidential nominee (whose name I refuse to type in my blog) twice call for the NRA to “do something” about Hillary Clinton trying to take away their 2nd Amendment rights. As I said earlier, racism and misogyny are not new nor is it getting worse. It’s now getting filmed and uncovered. The veil of status quo hasn’t just been lifted, it’s been ripped off like a band-aid and we weren’t ready.

What does all of that have to do with my evolving voice and viewpoint or my yogic teaching path or my Mission for work and life?

The yoga path that my heart is leading me along is one of Karma Yoga, The Yoga of Action. It is the path of selfless devotion, right motive, duty towards God/Higher Power, Self or Inner Teacher who teaches through all the specific circumstances of my life. It is doing my best and detaching from the results of my actions.namaste-717079__180

This means I speak up and act on injustices within my abilities to do so but detach from any result. I’ll write about it from time to time here. I’ll pass along articles, memes, and calls to action on my Facebook page. I will engage with anyone who wishes to have a respectful, honest dialogue in the interest of understanding each other better and coming together whatever our beliefs may be. I’ve had quite a few encounters on Facebook and in real life with mixed results. What those experiences have taught me is that the result is not up to me, the act of engaging in an honest, respectful way is.

As for my Mission for work and life, right now I am facilitating and inspiring healthy meaningful connection with myself with the spirituality of yoga and my 12-step program. Eventually, I want to work with using yoga therapy for trauma victims. First responders, military personnel who are treating their PTSD, domestic violence, sexual assault and childhood trauma survivors are those I hope to help communicate, facilitate and inspire healthy meaningful connections with themselves through spirituality.cooperation-1301790__180

As I evolve I continue to answer His call and stay willing to follow His path which remains ever inward towards my heart and my gifts.

This entry was posted on October 2, 2016. 3 Comments

Coming Through: The Halfway Point of 200Hour YTT

storm-177856__180Remember how I was prepared to dig deep in my last blog? It turns out digging deep meant encountering things I didn’t expect. Such as discovering the reality of working a full-time job and being a student-teacher trainee of a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training program was stressful, overwhelming and tiring as fuck. Or uncovering a crippling and utterly demoralizing sense of inadequacy after I was assigned to guide our yoga trainee class in a particular asana (pose) called Warrior III. I can’t begin to help you understand how deeply upset I was to be given this asana two weeks into our training. The task was to intelligently explain what muscle groups it benefited and must be engaged while demonstrating how to get into the pose, hold it and come out of it. I did not do well, despite my teachers and fellow students assuring me otherwise because I just didn’t remember much of their feedback after the assignment. It triggered something deep within me and I was pretty much lost to my dark inner landscape. My land of Shadows can and is a daunting, disheartening place. I didn’t just lose confidence in myself, I felt I’d lost the sanctuary of my yoga studio. It was now a Yoga School where I found myself extremely lacking, put into fearfully uncomfortable situations and where I was expected to learn/study all kinds of information.

EVERYONE kept asking about yoga training but I couldn’t make the select few friends I confided in understand how upset I was or just how bad things were. My therapist understood, though. She was visibly upset I was experiencing a serious setback and it worried her. She told me it felt like I had lost a year’s worth of therapy. I was questioning myself and whether I was capable of being a yoga teacher. I was retreating from my fellow yoga teacher trainees and my yoga teachers! This thing called yoga that had become an important part of my self-care was failing me. I couldn’t practice at home and I didn’t want to attend any classes at the studio as a  regular student because part of the practicum in 200Hour YTT is to attend 40 classes and write up a sheet on things like theme, asanas, warm-ups, etc. So I couldn’t just relax and lose myself in a yoga class as a student since I had to pay attention and interpret it as a teacher trainee. Work was going through changes that stressed everyone the fuck out again. At one point, I felt like I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make it to 20 years of sobriety this year because I wanted to drink. I was questioning my whole Path and Mission.cloud-705729__180

Oddly enough, at no time did I consider quitting or skipping any of the yoga training. Work, fuck yes, but not YTT. I kept seeing my kick-ass therapist and each session we’d examine more and more pieces of what was happening to me. She kept suggesting courses of action that I was unwilling to take. I continued showing up, though, to YTT, to my therapy appointments, to my weekly calls with my spiritual advisor. Despite the doubts I had about myself and yoga, I kept fulfilling my homework assignments and participating in the training. I was learning and improving in spite of how I felt. I was becoming interested in a lot of the things I was learning as well. Then we had a two-week break! The last weekend of August and Labor Day Weekend were both free. However, we were expected to start scheduling one-on-one mentoring hours with our teachers and signing up to observe yoga classes (also part of the 200Hour practicum of YTT).

The week before Labor Day Weekend I had two mentoring sessions with one of my yoga teachers, observed a yoga class and attended a class. I was honest in my mentoring sessions about how bad I’d been doing, which really wasn’t a secret to anyone with eyes and a heart. I got a lot of great feedback, empathy, and direction on a few things I needed clarification or help with. I could enumerate many of the things and events that helped me turn the corner, but this post is already too long. I will tell you it came down to Willingness. Willingness to keep moving forward despite how I felt, willingness to walk through the sense of inadequacy, the discomforting, the unfamiliar and learn. It was the willingness to finally be brave enough and get honest with those I needed to talk to.forest-984413__180

Each time I came through those situations I felt a little better and then a lot better. I started understanding a lot more about yoga, yogic principles and myself. I started giving myself a break, then I started giving myself a little credit. Last Saturday I sat quietly observing a Power Vinyasa class as a trainee and wrote what I observed. It was a new perspective to observe and not participate as a student or as a teacher trainee. I was in awe of the process of my teacher leading a class and of the students flowing in and out of their asanas (poses). I felt completely at home, comfortable and at peace with myself in a new way. The realization hit me that my yoga studio had become a sanctuary for me as a yoga teacher trainee and I was overcome with emotion and tears of relief and quiet joy. I never once thought about what could be on the other side of what I was going through! I figured on plugging along until I got to the end. Instead, I CAME THROUGH.

This entry was posted on September 10, 2016. 2 Comments

Back To Earth, Preparing To Dig Deep

After flying high from being able to save and fundraise $2000.00 to put as a down payment for Yoga school and experiencing the first intensive weekend of YTT, I’ve been brought back to Earth with a bit of a crash. At the end of my last blog, Back To School: On & Off The Mat, I mentioned my journey from the decision to become a yoga teacher to now the start of training. What I was talking about was the evolution of myself as a woman, a spiritual being, and child of God. I hadn’t given a lot of thought, if any, to how much I’d grown from then to now. Nor had I given much thought to what would be required of me. blade-1267262__180

Getting back to the “crash”, that happened Sunday afternoon on the fourth and final day of our week 1, which was a Thursday through Sunday weekend intensive with the schedule being 8:00 am to 4:00 pm for two of the four days and half days for the remaining two days. It was truly intense with a lot of information presented, yoga classes attended and analyzed from a trainee’s perspective and instruction/demonstrations on asanas (poses). My first real disappointment (in myself) that Sunday afternoon was the crushing realization that I’d been incorrectly going in and out of a certain asana (pose) called a Chaturanga or Low Plank. When the teacher broke down the alignment of the body and demonstrated how to properly get into and out of the asana, I was not able to copy her. I don’t have the upper body strength. Another asana, Vasisthasana or Side Plank, revealed the same issue for me. A third asana, Warrior III, required a lot of core strength and balance. Two more things I lacked which will clearly be needed. It took the wind right out of my sails and I think the “intensive” portion of the weekend finally caught up to me. I retreated into myself by the end of class and left the studio fighting tears, without much interaction with my fellow students or my amazing teachers.

photo by Tracy Aleksic

‘Class in Warrior III’  photo by Tracy Aleksic

Monday morning I woke up exhausted mentally and physically. I was thinking of calling out sick to work when I went to the bathroom and discovered I had diarrhea. Did I forget to mention I am either menopausal or perimenopausal because I’ve been on my cycle for over two weeks? That sealed it, I did call out and spent the day alternately sleeping, going to the bathroom and reading my Yoga Anatomy book. Tuesday morning I woke up still exhausted but also weak, which was new but I forced myself to shower and go to work. I made it through the workday and forced myself to go to my regular Tuesday night Moon Yin Yoga Class. In the past when I was tired and stressed from work, my yoga classes energized and revived me. Not this time. I mistook feeling weak for being tired but that was not the case. I was physically incapable of holding certain asanas because of it. At the beginning of Moon Yin class, my teacher explained about the full moon in Capricorn. This could make people emotional. It was a time to reflect on how we stand in our own ways, especially if we’ve allowed or ignored certain behaviors, conditions or patterns that impede our growth. She spoke about learning to accept and explore our “shadows” as well as our “light”, for it is our darkness and our light that has created who we are. That struck a chord. tree-569586__180

Thus here I am on the precipice of another leg of my journey. There are a number of medical issues I’ve ignored that need to be dealt with, like possibly being menopausal and the fact that I have a couple of chronic medical conditions that I need to make allowances for. A major adjustment in all phases of self-care is in order! There is the balance, upper body, and core strength to develop. The truth is it wasn’t a crash I experienced, that is an old way of thinking that ego wants me to believe but I refuse. I simply reached a point in my journey where more is required of me. More than what was required to get me to this point. Because that is what it will take to continue evolving. Now that I am back to Earth, I can use this time to ground myself and dig deep. Isn’t that always the way? What we’ve learned and experienced prepares us for what is to come?


This entry was posted on July 21, 2016. 4 Comments

Back To School: On & Off The Mat

back-to-school-913075__180It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been in school. In fact, my academic career wasn’t exactly stellar. I graduated from high school with average grades, then went on to bounce around California’s junior college system in Northen California and Southern California without earning enough credits for an Associate’s degree or transferring to a four-year college. At some point, I gave up on my education and got busy raising children as a single working parent in recovery from drugs and alcohol. That was about 20 years ago. The truth is I’d never felt I was a good student in school or of life. It’s a good thing feelings are not facts. Or I suppose a more accurate perspective is my life unfolded the way it was meant to unfold based on my choices.

Late last year I made the decision to become a certified yoga teacher as part of my mission for work and life. At the time it felt like a natural extension of where I was headed with my heart-centered living and of the research I’d done on what type of life coaching I wanted to focus on. I’d only been practicing yoga for about five months and I wasn’t entirely confident in my yoga practice or abilities. But I had faith in my teachers and I had faith that this was something I was being called to.business-idea-680787__180 Most of you have been on this journey from the idea/statement of becoming a yoga teacher through the uncertainties about where to train when timelines were changed and then doubts about whether to follow through with the actual training. Once I committed to training with Bright Yoga, you were there to help me deal with the financial reality of fundraising for it. Thanks to my savings and all of your help I was able to pay for over two-thirds of the program as a down payment!

Thursday morning at 8:00 am I started the Bright Yoga 200Hour Teacher Training Program! There is no doubt in my mind or any fiber of my being that I am on the right path. A path I was called and led to by God & the Universe. I am so excited, grateful and confident about this certification training developed and put together by my teachers. There are eight women in the program, which is an awesome student:teacher ratio. It’s taking place inside my home studio, which is already a kind, safe, fostering environment with two master teachers whom I’ve already established relationships based on trust, respect and loveyoga-698114__180

There were many lessons along the way and I know there are much more to come. I couldn’t imagine the journey from the decision to become a yoga teacher to the first day of yoga school so I expect the journey through training to be even more unimaginable. These first two days have already revealed so much about yoga and myself! To give you an inkling, Yoga has eight limbs (branches) and the asanas (poses) is just one of the limbs! What I am learning about myself is I’ve become a much better student. I can still be reserved and reluctant to dig deep and share but I’ve also become better at overcoming myself. Most importantly studying with seven other like-minded and spiritual individuals, guided by knowledgeable, kind, empathetic teachers is the absolute best educational environment I’ve ever encountered!



This entry was posted on July 16, 2016. 1 Comment

Slippin’ Into Darkness

ladder-1497436__180Last week was rough for our country and me in particular. On the one hand, these are dark and disturbing times. On the other hand, these are times of great awakening and enlightenment. Rather than mutually exclusive, they seem to be an intensely interdependent duality of the world’s collective psyche. It’s frightening to think of where we as a society are headed. I know I was so emotionally and spiritually wrenched that I lost my way for a little bit. I slipped right into the darkness of helpless fear and despair for my beautiful adult African-American children, all three of whom were out in the world somewhere. Somewhere I wasn’t. Places where I can’t protect them and really, would I be able to protect them if I were present when they were in the same situations as Alton Sterling or Philando Castile?

An open heart leaves fewer places for me to hide. In all honesty, I’ve shielded myself from feeling and reacting too strongly to wrongful deaths of African-Americans since George Zimmerman was acquitted of Trayvon Martin’s murder. That hit me so hard. I was devastated at the time which was well before this latest renaissance phase of my spiritual growth and awakening. Before my conscious commitment to live a heart-centered life that has led to incredible gifts of discovery like my newfound love of yoga and rediscovery of creative expression through writing. Heart-centered living that has brought me healthy, deeper connections with myself and people in my life. And last week, heart-centered living that cracked my heart wide open with the pain and anguish of identification, the despair of fear and helplessness connected to this dark and disturbing aspect of my country, my home. I was wracked with emotions, alternately crying and trying to calm myself down. At one point in the middle of the night on Wednesday, I thought about drinking. I wanted a drink. Then a friend sent a text, minutes after those thoughts started swimming in my head. She asked if I needed to talk.

Thank God for her and so many other friends. Friends who came and found me in the dark. Friends who sat in the dark, listened to me, empathized when they couldn’t relate, and commiserated when we found common ground. Friends who just sent me love, hugs, and support. Friends who pulled me back into the light of hope. Thank you for helping me through the night. The rest of the week got better, despite the horrific tragedy of the slain Dallas Police officers Brent Thompson, Lorne Ahrens, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael J. Smith, and Michael Krol. Even with the media and people I know, somehow insinuating that heinous act was the work of the Black Lives Matter Movement.bridge-19513__180

In addition to pulling me from the darkness, my friends helped me move on to the business of living my life. I had my second garage sale this past weekend in another part of the county. I spent the night before the yard sale at a girlfriend’s house, who has a jacuzzi and loves old school Hip Hop music. That was very relaxing and fun. The next morning I had friends show up for the yard sale, including my amazing spiritual advisor and my best friend, Dawny. I have to tell you that when Doris, my advisor hugged me that morning, it was a long, loving hug. She whispered that she wanted to say something to me, her voice was thick with emotion. You see, she has thirty years of phenomenal sobriety, she also happens to be White. I knew what she wanted to say, but I wouldn’t let her. As I held her tightly, my own voice overcomes with emotion I told her, “You do not owe me an apology. You don’t.” I whispered this fiercely and with love. It was not her job to apologize and I meant it. This is the love that pulls me into the light of hope.

Before I wrap up this blog I want to go back to my earlier statement about being frightened of where we are headed as a society. It’s not the first time I’ve expressed this sentiment in one form or another, but these are dark and disturbing times. These are also times of great awakening and enlightenment. I don’t know where we are headed, but I know my path and where I am headed. That’s all I really can control and focus on. I can also have faith that I don’t have to know the answer to that sentiment. I just know I have hope and faith for us all.quotes-1449691__180

P.S. For those who were curious, I raised $235.00 at the 2nd-yard sale! A total of $859.00 from both yard sales in two weeks! I also received an additional check in the mail from a childhood friend back East and an anonymous donation sent directly to my home studio, Bright Yoga! I’ve raised $2035.00 so thank you from the bottom of my big open heart!!!

This entry was posted on July 11, 2016. 3 Comments