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Falling Up

It’s been ages since I’ve sat here to blog on any kind of basis much less a regular one. There are many reasons why which I’ll dive into in a moment. Reasons I’ve discussed with my kick-ass therapist and my spiritual advisor. They, of course, provided excellent feedback and suggestions. However, the truth of why and what I need to do about it are inside me. They always are, aren’t they? I needed to be still long enough to allow some truths and solutions to catch up with my conscious mind.

Truth #1, starting with New Year’s last year, my life lacked prolonged, purposeful moments of stillness. I began with a yoga manifestation retreat in Ojai, came home and fell into a 31-day yoga challenge with my home studio, Bright Yoga. I facilitated an online A-Z Mindful Living group on Facebook for the month of February. I began fundraising in earnest for Yoga Teacher Training shortly thereafter. That included a whirlwind of cooking chili with cornbread dinners, organizing garage sales (two), working overtime at my job and a little baking here and there. Yoga teacher training started in mid-July and went until the very end of October. Add to that, my community commitments to be a secretary of a weekly Sunday morning 12-step meeting in a local park, being a Board Member and Events Coordinator for another community organization that involved monthly board meetings and planned activities for the organization every other month. Then there was the Big Island Writers Workshops in Los Angeles every six to eight weeks and monthly trips to Pasadena to see my grandkids and family up there. Plus my twice weekly personal 12-step meeting attendance and appointments with my kick-ass therapist every other week. All the while writing THREE blog posts a week. Oh, and lest we forget, my best friend, Dawny and I also cleaned houses on the side for extra money!

Shit, that brings us to Truth#2. It’s no wonder my body started reacting to all the activity, stress and emotion. Boy did it ever! My menstrual cycle, which was already prolonged and heavy went full rogue, lasting up to three weeks at a time. Near the end of the Presidential Election cycle and my Yoga Teacher Training in late October, I started to break out in rashes all over my body. This was definitely something unpleasant, unfamiliar and extremely disruptive. The rashes were itchy, inflamed and painful to the touch. I broke out badly on two separate occasions from my ears, my face, neck, arms, upper torso, lower back, to my lower legs. Nothing I tried worked. For the first time since I was diagnosed with Diabetes and Lupus six years earlier, I was seeing multiple doctors, undergoing tests and multiple procedures. I had appointments with my Primary Physician, an Ob/Gyn, a Dermatologist and my regular Rheumatologist who oversees my Lupus. I submitted to blood work and other lab tests, I had a sonogram, a hystero-sonogram, an endometrial biopsy and finally an outpatient surgical procedure. The Dermatologist was extremely unhelpful after having to wait six weeks for an appointment. By then the rashes were almost gone. He couldn’t tell me what the rashes were but prescribed an ointment with a strong antihistamine that thins out my skin after prolonged use. A little tidbit I found out from the pharmacist, who tried to hide her surprise and mild alarm that the Dermatologist had not informed me of that side effect, nor had he told me when to stop using it. Needless to say, I never used the ointment. Finally, somewhere in there I damaged my sciatic nerve, severely. In a way, I’d never done before because this was more than just some pain that shot down my leg from the back of my ass. This was being unable to sit comfortably or walk comfortably without excruciating pain. Especially when I drove over bumps or potholes in cars or just riding in my work elevator when it came to a stop on each floor.

I was truly a walking misery by this point and work started making more changes that piled on the stress. My boss informed me in early November that my absences, the unplanned ones were too high and suggested I get intermittent FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) approval from my doctor to protect my job. So there was all of that bureaucracy to deal with. For the first time in my long work history, I had to do this. There was Human Resources, Cigna Leave Solutions and my Rheumatologist to coordinate to accomplish this. But I accomplish it I did!

The solutions to my medical problems were self-evident. The solutions to everything else came eventually with the start of one question from my spiritual advisor almost two months ago. “I wonder where your spirituality is in all of this”? Solution#1, getting back to regular prayer, meditation and daily 12-step readings in the morning. It did start to help almost immediately, just enough to take the edge off at work. So much so that Solution#2 flowed right from the easing of the edge. I applied for my old job in a different department at my company. I had to talk to some managers and supervisors, then jump through some hoops, but I got the job! It’s a position that carries less stress and less multi-tasking. It will give me breathing room and free up the much-needed energy to focus on slowly building up my eventual yoga business. Which brought me to Solution#3, giving myself permission to take a fucking break! Seriously, I was stressed out about still not completing all my practicum and financial requirements for my yoga teacher certification. I was stressed out because I wasn’t writing my blog again now that I’d completed the training portion of YTT. I was stressed out because part of my original “master plan” was to be fully certified and teaching yoga enough to leave my current job.

That third and final solution, final for my current situation anyway, was huge and the biggest key. Giving myself permission to take a well-earned and deserved break allowed me to really get still and reevaluate where I was and reconcile where I was headed. It seems that my pesky little EGO didn’t feel I was entitled to that. There were several other things I had planned for myself that I shifted around and postponed. I am now in a stronger, more fluid, and accepting mental, physical, emotional and spiritual state. Looking back and forward, I’m truly fortunate to come through all of this without falling apart or falling down. I’ll take it and keep moving, ever inward as He Calls. It seems I’ve stumbled into falling up.

 

This entry was posted on January 28, 2017. 3 Comments

Sucking It Up With Grace & Gratitude

For a little context and in case you didn’t catch my blog post last week, I started this piece over two weeks ago. Back then the title was about the intense resentment and disappointment I felt with myself for graduating from yoga teacher training while remaining an uncertified Yoga Alliance registered teacher. That’s because I still have certification requirements to complete and a $725.00 tuition balance to pay off. I was trying to work my way through a pissy and negative state of mind about THAT when the election happened. Suddenly, sucking it up with grace and gratitude took on a whole new meaning and became what felt like an impossible fucking task.sol-1381860__340

I was devastated, livid, sick, and incredulous. I was profoundly hurt and disappointed in my country, in those who didn’t bother to vote and in particular with those who voted for a third party candidate. Something that still sticks in my craw because no matter how anyone tries to justify, explain or validate that action, the result and consequence of said action handed our country over to a reality star and questionable business man-child. Now we will have a Goddamned Cheeto-in-Chief in the White House. In the days following the election, I watched the uptick in racially motivated violence with despair. I read in horror about the stories of young girls and women being assaulted by young white males who now think it’s ok to grab a female’s pussy because our future Cheeto-in-Chief bragged about it and no one seemed to care. This country and many, many people who are part of my life said with their vote that racism, misogyny, xenophobia and bullying is what they prefer. That shit ain’t Politics folks, that’s personal. And now it’s become THE national agenda against people of color, immigrants, Muslims, LBGTQ, and women.sad-505857__340

Election night I was crying in bed, furious at so many people in my life and at this country.   I was miserably contemplating how the hell I was going to deal with people who had deeply disappointed me. Then a funny thing happened. A brand new Hillary-supportive Facebook friend sent me a private message to thank me for accepting her friend request. She’d seen a post of mine in a private Facebook group and she had just moved to my area with her wife. We commiserated over the election results and I told her I had a lot of friends who are avid supporters of the Cheeto. I joked I was grateful California legalized marijuana because I thought 19-1/2 years of sobriety was enough since I’d need some mary jane to deal with a Cheeto Presidency. (for the record, I wasn’t sure I was kidding) That’s when she typed that it was funny I mentioned AA because she was really active in Alanon! I didn’t think it was possible but I actually laughed out loud as my head ached from crying. You see, this is how my Higher Power works in my life. When I’m thinking about using drugs and jettisoning friends, God places an Alanon person in my life to show me: 1) I don’t need to use or drink over this and 2) even if I lose some people from my life, there will be new people to add to it. It turns out my new friend likes yoga and hiking so we have tentative future plans to one day grab some tea/coffee and go hiking!

It was rough for several days, then I developed a disturbing new symptom along with existing symptoms that showed up more frequently which caused me to miss two days of work and to go see my Rheumatologist, who oversees my Lupus treatment and diagnosis. Let’s review then, I graduated from the yoga teacher training program but still have attendance requirements and a financial balance to pay off before becoming a certified registered yoga teacher, my country elected a reality television star President, I have a number of medical and health issues that currently has me treating with three different types of doctors, OH… I somehow developed a severe case of sciatica in the past week that is truly excruciating and I was expected to celebrate 20 years of sobriety this week. All the while showing up to my full-time, cluster-fuck of a multi-tasking job, my yoga attendance requirements, and my 12 step meetings.

halm-1633744__340Let’s get to the grace and gratitude aspect of sucking it up, shall we? I may not be a certified, registered yoga teacher yet, BUT, my ass made it through the training program without missing any classes or assignments while working full-time. I am qualified to teach community classes for free through my yoga studio until I am certified, at which time I will be paid for teaching. My amazing best friend, Dawny, came up with a fabulous fundraiser that brought me $521.10, so my yoga school balance is down to a manageable $200 and I am chipping away at certification requirements. Yes, my Lupus and other medical issues are cropping up. For now, I am employed with good health insurance to help me treat and resolve what ails me. I showed up to a meeting and celebrated 20 years of sobriety last night.

As for the election and the call to “unite” and “come together” as a nation, sucking it up with grace and gratitude may not look like you think because I’m not uniting with hate, racism, misogyny, xenophobia or coming together with a Cheeto-in-Chief. I aim to speak up, protest, march and donate time, energy and money to organizations and causes that will help us deal with what is to come. I aim to misbehave. This is me with time to breathe, reflect and process some of this. I’ve made peace with people’s choices and I haven’t lost any real friends so far.

 

This entry was posted on November 19, 2016. 2 Comments

A Little Creative Writing Share

journal-1414116__180I thought I’d share one of my creative writing pieces from the Big Island Writers Workshop I attended last month since I’m not ready to write about what’s on my mind or in my heart at the present moment. I’m still marinating, processing and healing. Shit, I’m still just too raw. However, I was getting ready to type this particular piece in a word document because I read it to my kick-ass therapist and she asked me for a copy, which surprised me. I actually surprised myself when I wrote it. The general format for the workshop is we are given a series of prompts, usually 20+ phrases, words, and sentences from which we choose to write. We are given a set amount of time to go off somewhere on the premises to see what “stories” develop from the writing on our chosen prompts. Oh, and it is always handwritten. We come together afterward and read them out loud to the circle.  This piece was the last writing of the day and I was trying something a little out of my comfort zone.

Prompts are in bold and were given by Beth Bornstein Dunnington. The inspiration to try this particular style of writing from the chosen prompts is from Joanna Lipari. The courage and willingness to write come from God and the sacred circles of The Big Island Writers Workshops. Love and blessings to my fellow attendees.model-1428081__180

STEPPING STRAIGHT INTO MY POWER

Stepping straight into my power, hopefully, I light the way for others to find a path to their own power

Stepping straight into my power, I lie to Ego, Fear, and Complacency. Assuring them they’ll be fine, we’ll be fine- but we won’t. Being in your power can be scary, uncomfortable and different. We’re gonna get ta steppin’ anyway!

Stepping straight into my power, I love how alive and connected I feel to myself and everything.

Stepping straight into my power, I lament that my comfort zone keeps shrinking, that my path gets clearer, that the road gets narrower and leaves me less places to hide.

Stepping straight into my power, I lose people, places and things that once gave me comfort, caring, and safety because they no longer serve who I am today and who I am becoming.

Stepping straight into my power, I lower expectations of myself and others, allowing the gift of acceptance and compassion to replace disappointment and frustration.

Stepping straight into my power, I loosen my sphincter, open my heart, become willing in my mind & body to experience new things, to embrace expanding paradigms so I will live a larger life.

Stepping straight into my power, I lick the lipstick from my teeth and smile bright & pretty for the camera as there once was a time when I refused to take pictures, not wanting anyone to see me.

Stepping straight into my power, I leave behind the callous, selfish, ignorant aspects of my personality because they’ve been replaced with caring, empathy, and open-minded tolerance.

And finally, I linger occasionally to take stock, acknowledge how far I’ve come and to renew my faith and trust in the process of Stepping Straight Into My Power.

I’ve been re-reading a few of my old blogs and my writings from workshops past. It’s been a good exercise for me as it reminds me of who I was, who I am and who I am becoming. I’ve been reluctant to start writing and posting regular blog posts, even though I graduated from yoga teacher training two weeks ago (Yay and mini happy dance!). Part of the reason is because I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing so much. Another part is that I have no desire to set myself up for posting three times a week again because that was straight madness at times. The other part, the biggest part is that I’m a little afraid. Ok, a lot afraid because I’ve changed and I’m not sure a lot of you will like what I write from my heart… Only time will tell because I’ve committed to finishing my previously unfinished blog titled “Sucking It Up With Grace and Gratitude”. Believe it or not, THAT title was chosen before the election results and was about graduating from YTT. Now it has a whole new meaning that I have to reconcile with before I can finish it so stay tuned…

This entry was posted on November 12, 2016. 2 Comments

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