Archive | May 2016

Bravery Through Vulnerability

spring-967866__180Facebook Memories reminded me of a prime example of stepping outside my comfort zone yesterday! I’d committed to doing a Facebook challenge last year called #HowBigIsYourBrave and #LoveYourSelfie where I posted a selfie of myself every day for 20 days using those hashtags. That started May 22, 2015, and I managed to recruit three other good friends to do it with me. I was genuinely touched and surprised by all of the love and encouragement I received in just the four days we’d been posting selfies. I had also been following the fabulous Jen Pastiloff‘s Facebook page for about a month. Part of how Jen Pastiloff spreads her magic is through honest, courageous videos about being enough, being yourself and a host of other empowering messages. She had just posted a video in her sports bra and showed her belly, which was a very vulnerable thing for her at the time. She then issued a video challenge on May 25, 2015, asking her followers to make a 3-minute video talking about what we loved about our bodies and to upload it to her page. She said she might post our videos publicly for others to see.

I was feeling pretty brave and a little confident after 4 days of the love your selfie challenge. I decided to do the video despite never having done anything like that before. I shut myself in my bedroom before I could lose my nerve and I did it! It was less than 3 minutes, I was very emotional and I said “uh” a million times while I recording, but I did it. Then I quickly figured out how to upload it to Jen’s page before I changed my mind. The link to the video and what I wrote when I posted it is below: Ok this was waaaay harder than I thought, it’s not three minutes, and I’m not as articulate about loving my body, but I’m apparently busting out of my comfort zone today… who knew? Jennifer Pastiloff, what are you doing to me??? <3

At the time, Jen had over 73K followers and I honestly didn’t think my video would make the cut, much less get posted publicly. But that is exactly what Jen did! Mine was the first one she posted. She also sent me a friend request for her personal Facebook page, which I accepted immediately. My video got 3300 views and many comments. What blew me away the most was that every single comment was one of encouragement, love and support. Every single one. A lot of my personal friends saw the video and commented too!

The second blog posted on this site is called “How Does Your Brave Show Up”. In it, I wrote how my brave shows up three ways: baby steps, the cha-cha slide or bold leaps. Making and posting that video a year ago was a bold leap of the highest order. But it was preceded by lots and lots of baby steps with a couple of cha-cha slides (back and forth). Watching myself in that video made me wonder how bravery and vulnerability often go hand in hand. How much is vulnerability a part of building your brave? In the year since I made the video, I went on to move out of a place I’d lived in for 14 years, to start a blog, to begin practicing yoga, to writing and submitting an essay for scholarship consideration. An extremely personal essay. I’ve attended a yoga manifestation retreat and a few writers workshops too. Finally understanding that building my brave is as much about expressing my vulnerability as it is about walking through my fear. animal-341140__180


Power, Strength and Safety in Numbers

"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them"- Matthew 18:20 KJV

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them”- Matthew 18:20 KJV

My life today is quite busy, active and full. It’s a direct result of sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly but always consistently moving beyond my comfort zone. What is my comfort zone you may ask? It’s changed over the years. At one time, when I was young and foolish, it was the bathroom. I know that sounds like a strange place, but that’s where I used to lock the door, turn on the fan, stand on the toilet seat (with the lid closed, of course) and smoke weed, blowing the exhale into the fan. Before that, I think my comfort zone may have been any book I had my nose in because I read LOTS of books from a very early age. Or any television show, because I watched a lot of those from an early age too. Is anybody noticing a theme? Like say, maybe a solitary theme? As in all of those activities were done alone. Even as a teen with friends or a boyfriend, and then as a young adult with a husband and children, I would hide in the bathroom. Sometimes smoking weed and a cigarette or two with a book. As an adult in recovery, it was in my house on the couch reading a book or watching tv.tree-738816__180

I didn’t spend my entire childhood, teen years and young adult life by myself but I had trouble feeling loved and connected with others. I’ve touched on this quite a bit, but I was so lonely inside and almost clueless about the depth of that loneliness given my tendency to either get high, drunk or latch on to people. Of course, since I was so needy, manipulative and possessive I often drove people away. Which made me feel rejected and not trust people to be there for me. Lordy, I was such a hot, contradictory mess of bravado, introvert, and insecurity. I hid behind so many masks and roles to either lose myself in or to attempt to find myself. None of them worked.

It wasn’t until I was required to attend 12 step meetings as a condition of outpatient treatment that I discovered what true connection was. That first meeting where I experienced true unconditional love, acceptance, kindness and inclusion. That was nearly 20 years ago and it was one of the singular life-changing moments for me. Yet and still, it took me years and years to TRUST what I experienced. The more I learned to trust my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, the more I was able to trust myself and others. The more I learned and knew of my God, the more I learned and knew of myself and the less I was afraid of letting others know me. The more I became willing to

My life is busy, active and full because I am so connected to family, friends, co-workers and my communities. I feel the power in numbers when I’m at my highest or lowest because people are there for me, which in turn teaches me how to be there for them. I feel the strength in numbers when I am at my weakest or at my strongest when someone in my life is at their weakest. I feel safety in numbers when I am frightened or in need. My heart-centered life is really a God-centered life. One of purpose and service. For me, I’ve come to trust there is life in numbers.

This entry was posted on May 24, 2016. 2 Comments

Healing Sounds And Energies: A Long Overdue Review

Fawntice Finesse Sound Therapist in her home studio You and The Mat

Fawntice Finesse Sound Therapist in her home studio You and The Mat

A wonderful part of the magic at Jen Pastiloff’s New Year’s Manifestation Retreat was a sound bath with Fawntice Finesse, Sound Therapist. Here is what I wrote about my first time experiencing it:

She played from metal bowls from the 17th and 18th centuries forged by monks in Tibet and the Himalayas, a gong and a flute. There are healing properties to sound baths and I can personally attest to just how wonderful the experience was. We laid on our backs with our heads facing her bowls and instruments with a cloth placed over our eyes and just let the tones of the bowls and rhythmic gong verberations wash over us. This is one of those times when words just aren’t adequate to describe the endlessly rising and falling tones from the bowls and reverb from the gong. She played for over 30 minutes I’m sure. When she finished with the bowls and gong, she picked up her flute to play the sweetest, lightest version of Auld Lang Syne I’d ever heard. The magic is real.

That occurred December 31, 2015, in Ojai, Ca. Part of what she warned about before beginning was the sounds could possibly activate or trigger pain, which is a different kind of energy stored in the body. She urged to breathe through the pain and encouraged us to visualize moving the pain down our body through our feet and offering it back to the earth. She said it might take some time but to keep breathing and visualizing. She couldn’t have know that since I’d started yoga last summer at the end of every class during Savasana (corpse pose, lying on my back) I’d experience a slow steady painful tightening of a muscle in my mid back. As I laid there on New Year’s Eve listening and feeling the waves of sound wash over me, I started feeling the tightening in my mid back. I did as she suggested. I breathed deeply into that region of my back and visualized moving the pain down my torso. Son of a bitch if the pain didn’t move down into my hips, but then it stayed there for a while. A good while, but I kept breathing and visualizing it moving down to my thighs, my legs, out from my feet and offering it back to the earth. It actually worked and I haven’t had a problem with my mid back in Savasana or any other supine pose or asana since.13239985_10154178352948948_280645891926258916_n

I’ve traveled to Orange County three more times for her workshops with tonight, Friday being my most recent experience with Fawntice’s Healing With Sounds . I found a friend from work, Jocelynn, who was willing to try it after I raved about my New Year’s experience with sound bath. We are both hooked on sound bathing and it has everything to do with the talent, skill and healing energy of Fawntice. She is a certified Sound & Yoga Therapist, a trained musician, an artist and a healer. She plays Tibetan singing bowls, ritual bells, gongs and the flute. Each workshop has been a little bit different and every time literally shifts and renews my energy. It does the same for Jocelynn. My spiritual advisor often tells me that everything is energy and I believe she is right. The gentle, healing, soothing energy that Fawntice personally emits is only magnified by the sound and music she creates with her bowls, bells, gongs, and instruments. Tonight I learned through her speech before the workshop that part of what she does is respond to the energy that the people in the workshop put into the room while she plays her sounds and that is why each healing workshop is different. I just know the first time in December I was transformed and she helped heal a pain I wasn’t sure how to resolve. The second time I fell asleep and snored (GOD!) it was that soothing, peaceful and restorative. The third time, as the picture of us below shows, refreshed and renewed us. That glow is the real deal. The fourth time, tonight, I was able to stay awake and present in a deeply meditative state that completely shifted every last bit of my negative, stressed out energy from leaving work to go directly there. I highly recommend you check out her website or her Facebook page Fawntice Finesse Sound Therapist. If you’re local to SoCal, maybe you can join Joss and me sometime! You will not regret it.13096117_10209575420924625_8960122984964166719_n

This entry was posted on May 21, 2016. 2 Comments

Free To Be More and More Me

ocean-wave-1149174__180I believe that life and energy come in waves. Waves can ebb and flow, sometimes gently, sometimes violently. There are times when it seems as if life, energy or waves are still. But even in the stillness, there is movement below the surface of things. I feel like I’m experiencing a strong wave of energy right now. I’m not sure if I can describe exactly what and how it feels but this is what I can tell you about it. Things are coming together within me, around me, and for me. I am more and more comfortable and accepting of myself, in my many manifestations. As a writer/blogger, as a yoga student/future teacher trainee, as a woman no longer on the verge but one who is emerging, I am free to be more and more me.

There are lots of intentions I have in mind for my self-improvement and growth. One of them is to get back to healthier eating and more physical activity to prepare my body and me for upcoming yoga teacher training. Lo and behold, I received a phone call today right before my lunch break at work from a lovely, dear ex-co-worker and friend. I got to reconnect with her for a few minutes. Our call was like a ray of sunshine bursting through a cloudy work day. Her name is Lesley and I’ve always affectionately called her Les-A-Ley (with loving, succinct emphasis on all three syllables!) She thought of me because she had a bunch of delicious, clean-eating recipes. She wanted to know if I wanted them if so she’ll send them to me via Facebook. I was touched and so happy she thought of me! When she worked at our company  five years ago, we were in a Weight Watchers group at work. She had some great recipes back then that I still have and use occasionally today. BOOM, the universe reconnects me with a great friend and a trusted source for healthy eating!meditation-1384758__180

My home yoga studio, Bright Yoga is hosting another 30 Day Yoga Challenge for the month of June! I truly appreciated the last challenge in January, which was 31 days of yoga. It deepened my practice at home and in the studio. It increased my strength and flexibility, not to mention I even lost a few pounds. I am really looking forward to this one as well. BOOM, the universe provides me with an opportunity for more physical activity. It was also announced today that Bright Yoga is officially a Yoga Alliance certified school! I believe the training will start in July.

I feel like the best part of this “wave” of my life is how I am choosing to approach it. Instead of beating myself up for not eating right or not being as active, I am focusing on how I intend to improve those things! It’s coming from a place of awareness and acceptance. I got a lot of really beautiful feedback about my last blog post, especially in an unexpected place that truly touched my heart. All of this because I am more and more free to be me. What a gift, one I intend to appreciate.

Hope Shines Through

During my weekly call with my spiritual advisor, we were discussing the “assignment” she gave last week of awareness and discovering who I am. I told her I couldn’t give her a complete or definitive answer about who I was but I felt like I realized an important part of who I was. We talked about my last blog regarding choices, hope, and capacity for love. The lady asks tough questions with soul-provoking answers. What part of me loves? How do I quantify the capacity for love? What is hope?

broken-heart-1207383__180I believe my heart loves. I believe everyone loves from the heart, we just have different capacities for how the love is expressed. Some of us are limited in how we love. I know I was for a long time and maybe I will continue to be. I don’t know if I can quantify my capacity for love. I just know it changes and grows with lessons. Some lessons involve cracking my heart wide open to make room for pain, understanding, forgiveness, freedom and more love. An experience which does NOT feel so great when it transpires but in the end is worth it. Some lessons are shown and illustrated by others who’ve learned how to successfully love in relationships. The love and capacity for love discussion went well, she understood what I was explaining.

Hope: 1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. 2. (archaic) a feeling of trust.

We struggled with hope because she had the first definition of hope in mind and kept asking me what was I hoping for. I had the second definition in mind, without even knowing it. I told her that my choices reflecting hope aren’t always about hoping for a specific outcome or answer. It’s being open to possibility, to allowing from a place of optimism as opposed to certainty, rigidity or pessimism. She had some trouble understanding my perspective so she asked me to give an example of how would I respond to a specific “uncomfortable” situation based on hope. I told her I’ve learned to breathe and if at all possible find humor or understanding in the situation. Many times I’m often able to find both, which eases the need to force or fix the “uncomfortable” situation. The choice/response to the situation is more about trusting my path and the process that brought me to this place. Sometimes I do try to force or fix it, but I almost always pull back now, before much, if any damage is done. That’s hope for me and I wasn’t sure if I was getting it across to her but she got it when I put it like that.hands-751067__180

This is foremost in my heart and mind because I have someone in my life who is struggling right now. He is in a dark, despairing place that scares me because I know that place. It sucks to be where it feels as if there is no air, no light, no hope and it won’t ever end. I’ve reached out to tell him what has helped me to move out of that space in the past, but the truth is that may not work for him. We each have to find our way through that darkness, that seemingly endless night. No matter who loves us and reaches out to us, we have to take responsibility for reaching back. That is not an easy thing to do when in that

I told him if he can make it through the night there’s a brighter day. It’s a line from Tupac Shakur’s Dear Mama that hits me in the feels every time I listen to that song and hear him rap that specific phrase. I’ve made it through many, many times and I know it to be true. When we make it through the darkness, there is always light. Every time, we just have to trust.

This entry was posted on May 17, 2016. 3 Comments