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I’ll Take Progress Over Perfection Any Day

Today I could have been finishing up preparation for a workshop I was asked to help facilitate in part with my yoga and writing. Some of you might have seen the beautiful flyer advertising it. However, due to low attendance/interest, it has been canceled, for now. The woman leading the workshop has a wonderful agenda worked out with good people on board and helpful, healing tools to pass along when it comes to fruition. She’s worked very hard to put this all together and I’ve worked on my part. We will regroup because we already have some idea on how to proceed with a future workshop.

By now I hope most of you have seen and liked my new Facebook page Ever Inward. It has my professional designations and pricing as a yoga teacher and writer with inspirational, uplifting posts as well as some concerning social justice. It was one of the three assignments given to me by my cousin and new accountability partner. The other two were a professional resume specifically for my yoga and writing skills, and to contact WordPress about getting administrative access to my blog. You see when this blog was set up by a great friend with double BS degrees in Computer Science but not much experience with blog site implementation. Bless him, he was a trooper and stuck with it until he had the basics in place for me. My computer has an automatic sign-in to the blog site where I can write, edit and post a blog. But I don’t know much else about administrating it and I don’t have an administrator. I’d like to change that, in fact, I’ve been wanting to do that for a while now. As for the resume? I have a few bios with my picture floating around on Bright Yoga’s website and on the 5 Senses workshop flyer. I’m still working on the last two because the Facebook page took a lot of energy and effort to set up and maintain. There are two more opportunities coming up. One is an online writing workshop I signed up for with a talented, published author and editor which starts in less than two weeks. The other is a possible speaking engagement about either trauma-sensitive yoga or writing at an educational conference next month. That one is definitely up in the air and I haven’t been able to meet with my contact about it yet. So that opportunity may not actually happen. At least not next month, we’ll see.

The point of all of these opportunities and assignments? They moved me along and progressed me beyond where I previously was. Those opportunities found me because I kept showing up for my life and the paths that opened up or revealed themselves to me. And of course, I posted about it on Facebook because its one of the ways I show up in the world and for my life. When I first got a Facebook page in 2009, my sister, Michelle, set it up for me and I almost never went on it for the first three years. About five years ago, I started showing up and I worked hard, on and off Facebook, to make my life what it is today. An authentic life of progress and motion.

So tomorrow I won’t be helping with a workshop as scheduled. The amazing thing is someone tapped me to be a part of it and every step of the way, I showed up and did my part. This made me see and become ready for the possibilities of my gifts. My page Ever Inward and this blog, Build Your Own Brave will evolve, as I have and continue to do. I plan to contact WordPress and GoDaddy after I edit and post this. If evolve isn’t another word or form of progress, then what is? Whatever it is, I’ll take it, just like the title says.

Woman On The Verge or On A Ledge?

I came back from The Big Island Writers Retreat in Hawai’i feeling more confident and solid than ever in my journey and purpose. I got to do two things I’ve come to love and which fuel my soul. I taught yoga and I wrote a lot, both in the retreat setting and on Facebook documenting my experience! It was all very well received and flowed quite naturally after a rocky start. However, in the months leading up to the retreat, I did not feel confident or solid. I was frightened and insecure about the retreat and an upcoming workshop 2 weeks after that. I hadn’t taught a yoga class outside of my studio since I became certified in February of this year and then I’d only taught 12-step friends or students at the studio. I desperately did not want to disappoint or fail the retreat facilitator Beth Bornstein-Dunnington. She had such faith in me, without having been in a class taught by me! And the fear of living up to quality writing in a retreat setting, a 3-day retreat was just too huge to acknowledge.

In fact, in the months leading up to the retreat, I spent a great deal of time and energy avoiding that fear by shutting down. What does that look like for me? Well, it involves feeding my feelings with a lot of junk food, lots of zoning out watching television, lots of not showing up for yoga classes except the one I taught on Sunday mornings, and missing a lot of 12-step meetings. Before long, I started gaining weight from all the eating and inactivity, and I started feeling like shit, physically and spiritually. On a deeper level, I knew what I was doing. The truth is I’d gotten good at shutting down without most of my inner circle picking up on it because they are busy with their own lives. Of course, I was still seeing my kick-ass therapist and I’d talk about what was going on with me in pieces. Our sessions are every other week so I was willing to look at the things I was doing one by one. Talking with my therapist coupled with the urge to get my shit together fueled a willingness to pull my head out of my ass. What does that look like for me? Pretty much the opposite of shutting down. I started going back to the yoga classes I attended before, 2 at my studio and 1 at my job that they offer on Thursdays during lunch. I’m back to attending at least two 12-step meetings a week and of course, talking to my sponsor/spiritual advisor every week that we are both in town. As for feeding my feelings, I lost the urge to constantly eat junk. I attended a Big Island Writer’s workshop in Los Angeles the first weekend of August and rediscovered the love of writing my stories.

So the retreat in Hawai’i was both a huge boost and a deep grounding in all the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of myself. I carried home the chill vibe of Hawai’i along with the courage of my convictions as a yoga teacher and writer intact. I wrote a blog the night I returned from the retreat and committed to posting a new blog once a week. Shortly after that, as God would have it, a cousin of mine who is a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur launched a consulting business. She is willing to consult or partner with small businesses, budding entrepreneurs or even people who were still in the development stages of their ideas. She sent me a Facebook invite to like her page and a day or two later the page launched a soft advertisement that included a survey, which I filled out because I do want to start to build my yoga and writing business over the next five years. She responded a couple of days later with a phone appointment for Saturday afternoon. The phone call was amazing! She was proud of me and so excited about my ideas, goals, and accomplishments. She is so perceptive and smart about the mental and emotional aspects of getting started. She gave me three assignments geared towards putting myself out there, like now!

Of course, these assignments and latest developments have pushed me to a new level of excitement, vulnerability, and expansion. I’m not kidding. I am stretching beyond my capabilities and experience… The truth is it’s all necessary and required in order to grow into who God is calling me to be. As for the blog title, who’s to say there is much of a difference between being on the verge or on a ledge?

This entry was posted on September 27, 2017. 4 Comments

Laugh, Cry, Feast: The Alchemy & Evolution of Writing in the Rain Forest

What’s the biggest thing I took away from my time in the Hawaiian rainforest of Volcano? It’s the question I’ve been asked the most, in one form or another, since I returned. Many who follow me on Facebook got a taste of the experience as I tried to take you along with me as much as possible. I’m not sure there are enough words to truly convey what the trip was like but let’s look at the definitions of alchemy and evolution first.

al·che·my: a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.
This entry was posted on September 20, 2017. 10 Comments

Soaring In Place

This will be a short little “check-in” on the morning of my trip to Hawaii for the Big Island Writer’s Retreat since it’s almost 1 am. I finished packing a short while ago and I’ve been sitting here on my laptop re-reading some of my older blog posts. In fact, my Facebook Memories on September 10th showed TWO separate posts of old blog posts from 9/10/15 http://buildyourownbrave.com/2015/09/10/dealing-because-life-goes-on-ya-know/  and 9/10/16 http://buildyourownbrave.com/2016/09/10/coming-through-the-halfway-point-of-200hour-ytt/  Reading them was a revelation on how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown! First of all, it was the first time that a link for previous blog posts from two different years popped up. Secondly, it made me want to start writing here in this space more regularly, a thing I’ve been saying since yoga teacher training ended in late October of last year but somehow have yet to accomplish. I believe I set a goal of once a week but have not lived up to it. Perhaps I should commit? Anyway, I digress from what I want to really write about. A concept that came to me the other day when I was thinking about my life (probably on September 10th). The concept of soaring in place.

You see, in being reminded of how far I’ve come, it started me thinking about where I am in my life today. While I still work for the same company, I’m in a better position for myself. While I still attend the same yoga studio, I’m also a teacher there now. I still talk to my spiritual advisor every week, see my kick-ass therapist every other week and attend the Big Island writer’s workshops every six to eight weeks. I started thinking how even though I am in a lot of the same places, I’m also soaring. Today I soar away from all that anchors me to my life here to the island of Hawaii to write from my heart, my gut, my soul and wherever else it decides to come from for the next four days.

I’ve also been approached about providing some of my trauma-sensitive yoga and journaling in a workshop setting next month and yet a different opportunity to speak at a conference in November. All the while new writing venues have opened up for me that I am excited about. Somehow I didn’t know I was capable of soaring in place like this. Working and living from an anchor or base, all the while soaring or exploring with my new skills and abilities. Each of these opportunities has come to me quite organically without my having to actively seek them and that feels right to me. I said I wanted to work at my job for the next five years and slowing build my yoga and writing business, not having a clue what that would look like or how to accomplish it. Yet, I believe putting intentions out into the Universe, living from my heart and from God’s Will creates an energy and attraction of its own. Thank you for sticking with me on my journey so far. Stay tuned.

This entry was posted on September 14, 2017. 3 Comments

As Within, So Without

Saturday morning I had to be at a day retreat sponsored by my home studio before 10 am. I was tired from my Friday afternoon & evening excursions so the last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed to make coffee, shower and pack a bag for the day. Especially since I only allotted myself an hour to accomplish those things. The venue was a 50-minute drive away to a place called Keys Creek Lavender Farm in Valley Center, CA https://www.kclfarm.com/. On the day’s agenda: an outdoor yoga class, a sound bath, an organic, vegan, gluten-free lunch, a wander about the property where that was a lavender maze, a serenity garden, and a rose quartz pool! There was also a professional photographer attending because we were being gifted a five-minute mini photo session. I ended up being mostly on time. The outdoor yin yoga class had more vinyasa than I wanted to deal with and it was followed by another Sound bath! This one using crystal bowls. My second one in as many days. I have to stop to let you in on the fabulous “monkey mind” that jumped off at this point. The outdoor space had ants crawling all over the mats, which hindered many of the asanas that required laying on the mat, including savasana and the entire sound bath. I kept imagining ants crawling on me, of which half the time they were. Not to mention that I was the heaviest person in the yoga class, which made me self-conscious and also made some of the vinyasa flow asanas difficult for me. It also made me definitely not want to be photographed professionally as I’d put on some weight lately. Add a growing hunger along with the heat from the rising sun to that monkey mind madness and you might come close to some idea of my resistance. But yoga did what it always does for me, shifts my energy. The sound bath furthered that energy shifting process along and at the end of both I was feeling a little more like my sociable, outgoing self. Just a little, because I was still hungry and it was hot.

Next, we wandered down to a shaded outdoor lunch area. Trust me when I say the pictures don’t do the actual experience justice. The organic, vegan, gluten-free dish was a seriously yummy Chipotle bowl. There was all-you-can-drink lavender lemonade which was truly delicious! If you check out the center photo below you will see there were bunches of dried lavender hanging from the ceiling. It was like existing in a cool, shaded lavender-scented shabby chic paradise! I sat with three of my fellow yoga sisters that I went through training with and I was so glad I showed up because the urge to not show up for my life is a very real thing that persists.

After being fortified with lunch and lemonade, most of us trekked down to the Keys Creek Lavender Farm Gift Shop. It was a quaint tiny, air-conditioned one room cottage with all manner of organic lavender products! Here is a picture of my swag, which was pretty affordable. I bought a lavender scented tin candle, lavender lemonade, and pumpkin spice party bites mix. The vanilla lavender shortbread cookie was free and quite delicious as I currently munch on it. While on the porch of the gift shop, one of my fellow yogis mentioned that she’d been to the lavender maze and pointed out where it was. There were two paths to it. One involved a long circuitous route in the hot sun. The other involved a long trip back up many steps in the hillside to walk through the shaded outdoor lavender scented patio. You know, where the all-you-can-drink lavender lemonade was? Guess which path I took? I told folks I was headed to the maze and took the steps in the sun to reach the lavender scented Shangrila. I stopped for some yummy lemonade and went in search of the lavender maze. Which is really the whole reason behind and point of writing this blog.

 

First off, it wasn’t a lavender maze, it was a Living Labyrinth. What’s the difference you say? I had no clue except I was expecting (<–key word) some type of shaded, lavender bushes to form a maze. Instead, there was a circular dirt/sand labyrinth lined by large rocks and crystals with a large selenite crystal on a pedestal in the center. There was very little shade. I walked over to the sign near the entrance and took a picture of it because it had the word and definition of a labyrinth. I didn’t bother to read it. It was hot. I took a deep sigh and realized I was supposed to navigate the labyrinth as a walking meditation. Well, I’d done those before so I paused to take a few photos of the beautiful flower covered arbor at the entrance. I began with deep meditative breath and walked slowly, mindfully and deliberately. I looked at the center of the labyrinth and wondered how the hell I was going get to it and how long it would take in the sun. I noticed the dirt and sand were loose and getting onto my toes and feet since I was wearing flip-flops. But I let those thoughts go and continued to breathe deeply and walk mindfully forward along the ever circling path. I let go of the how or how long and the dirt on my toes. I started to notice that there were parts of the labyrinth that were shaded and brought moments of relief, especially since an occasional breeze had kicked up. As I circled back near the flower covered archway I saw a butterfly appear and I caught my breath on a sense of wonder. The butterfly landed on the arch so I stopped and squatted to take a close-up photo of it. While I was squatting, I looked down and saw a lovely tile with the word “believe” on it, so I snapped a photo of that. I stood up and continued with a deep breath and mindful forward motion. As I navigated about halfway through I saw clearly how I would get to the center by doubling back along the outer circular path, which seemed contradictory, but by this time I was deep in my meditative state. I just trusted the labyrinth would lead me to its center. As I followed the path circling ever inward to the center I was overcome with emotion as I started to relate this experience to myself and my life. How many times have expectations lead to disappointment and unexpected frustrations? How many times have I learned to let them go or adjust to the reality of any given situation or my life? How many times have I been genuinely afraid or puzzled as to how I was going to accomplish a task, reach a goal or arrive at the desired destination? How many times have I learned to let go, breathe and trust the process? How many times have I had faith in the process, moving ever forward without knowing there was an assured outcome? How many stories have I told myself about being too tired, too fat, too broke or financially strapped, too old, too unattractive, too insecure, too disappointing, too unlovable over the years, only to push past those stories or uncover the truth of those self-deceptions? How many times have I circled back around to issues, healed traumas and resolved situations only to face them again in order to explore and uncover more? Here I was finally in the center of the Living Labyrinth, in the center of myself in that given moment. I was so fucking glad I got out of bed this morning, got to this day retreat and pushed through all the ways I create resistance within myself to reach the heart of my truth. Willingness to show up and move forward, Letting go of expectations, old stories, self-deceptions, Trusting the process, the journey, the Universe, God, Appreciation for the people who love you and encourage you through your resistance, who see you and don’t condemn you for it like you condemn yourself, that Breath and Movement are transformative. The experience was that powerful for me. After completing the labyrinth I went back to the shaded porch for water this time. The creative director walked through the patio and I shared my labyrinth experience with him. It turns out, he was the one who designed and built it. His name is Evan and he told me the entire area has magnetic forces that converge on their property and there are actual crystal shards underneath where the labyrinth was built. He moved on and I sat peacefully allowing my experience to resonate with me. I opened up my phone and started to organize the pictures into a Facebook post. It was only after I’d posted the photograph of the Labyrinth sign that I tapped it and read what it said.

What is a Labyrinth?

A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. It represents a journey into our center and back out again into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools. A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. Walking the labyrinth can be considered an initiation in which one awakens the knowledge encoded within their DNA.

Well that says it all doesn’t it?

This entry was posted on August 20, 2017. 3 Comments