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

A Little Creative Writing Share II

This past weekend I got a chance to refresh, renew and journey {back} home to my authentic self. You know, because I’ve gotten a little bit off track. Or maybe I’m still having trouble reconciling what it feels like to take it easy and to accept myself & my life just as it is. For instance, I tend to overeat to avoid or ignore fear and anxiety about new things. Things like providing yoga classes for an upcoming writer’s retreat in Hawaii next month and providing a trauma-sensitive yoga class with journaling/sharing for a different trauma workshop in North Hollywood in October. Both of those opportunities came about rather organically, one I volunteered for while the other came out of the blue. So I’ve put on some extra weight (protection?) with the overeating of all things yummy and unhealthy coupled with lots of couch and tv time. I’ve also slacked off on my home yoga practice with little physical activity to counterbalance that. But since this year is about loving and accepting myself and my life as it is, then this is where I am. Howevah, as I wrote at the beginning, this weekend gave me so much more than I expected! I took Friday off from work and headed up to Pasadena to hang with the fam up there. That means GRANDBABY MEDICINE, which is a magic elixir for what ever ails or worries the soul. There’s also quality time with my daughter-in-love, Mary and her mother, Marie, both of whom are really supportive friends and sounding boards. I had lots of play with the kiddos and delicious, healthy food cooked by Mama Mary.

Saturday morning I left them to attend another Big Island Writer’s Workshop, which I know I’ve mentioned here before. It’s a full day of indescribable writing, sharing, camaraderie, and connection with truly phenomenal women facilitated by Beth Bornstein-Dunnington. Connecting to myself, my writing and these women was everything! This tribe of writers: Mary Artino, Juliette B. Reiss, Joanna Lipari, Harriet Robinson, Patti Linski, Deb Kobylt, Robin Plaskoff Horton, and Nancy Moonves, who opened up her stately yet warm home to us all, gave me Life. And so I want to share a little something created there that day, just before we took a break for lunch.  As I’ve explained before, we are given 24 writing prompts to choose from, sent off to handwrite our stories, then return to the circle to share. 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.

At the end of my life I want to be able to say that, I masquerade no more because I learned my true face was enough for whatever situation came up.

At the end of my life I want to be able to say that, I maneuvered authentically where I needed or wanted to be after learning from the consequences of dishonest manipulation.

At the end of my life want to be able to say that, I missed nothing of consequence because I learned to trust faith over fear.

At the end of my life I want to be able to say that, I marveled at where my willingness to serve and follow God’s Will has lead me.

At the end of my life I want to be able to say that, I measured how I lived the width as well as the length of it.

At the end of my life I want to be able to say, I can laugh with abandon at all of the crap I misplaced that I thought was so damn essential at the time.

At the end of my life I want to be able to say that, I mobilized when it was important to speak out, stand up or fight for injustice & evil.

At the end of my life I want to be able to say that, anything I molded with my hands, heart or spirit were guided by God.

At the end of my life I want to be able to say that, I mattered to the people who were important to me.

And ultimately at the end of my life I want to be able to say that I manifested like a Motherfucker!

LOL, that last line might have had a sprinkle of Jen Pastiloff inspiration to it. But what this weekend did for me was remind me, how important my writing has become over the last two years to be exact, because today is the two-year anniversary of launching my first blog post into the world! And while it’s perfectly necessary to NOT write three blog posts a week, I seem to have gone to the other extreme and pretty much stopped writing altogether. Thus the journey back to my authentic self. She of the heart-centered living and expanded life. I’m still here, taking it easy, living and accepting my life as it is-which is pretty god damn good with the promise of getting better with time. Once again, taking heed to His Call ever inward.

This entry was posted on August 8, 2017. 1 Comment

The Three of Me

The first weekend in March I went to a yoga class at my home studio for the first time as a certified yoga teacher. It was the same Saturday Yin class I used to attend regularly before the training started. I’d been going to it on and off as part of my practicum attendance, but it was hard to enjoy the class when I had to pay attention and analyze it as a trainee. But this particular morning I was finally able to relax and immerse myself fully into the Yin experience. It felt incredible. There was such a steady, strong influx of energy and grounding. Afterward, I had a chance to speak with both of my mentors to tell them how much their training and mentorship has meant to me. I was flying high when I left the studio and went home. I checked my mailbox and found a handwritten letter addressed to me. I didn’t recognize the handwriting and there was no return address. I walked into my apartment, opened the letter and was shocked to discover it was from ME!

12/31/2015

Dear Tammi 2016,

I can’t wait for you to read this as you smile, laugh and probably cry. First I want to thank you for all the manifestations of us that moved us forward. I hope you surprise yourself as much as we did in 2015. I hope your inner circle widens. I hope we were able to live, love and grow from new and more truthful stories. 

I hope you/we are simultaneously bring your/our own brave and we continue to build more of it. Please know, feel and understand that wherever you end up is where you are supposed to be. There is no true failure, if there has been sincere, concerted effort. Celebrate progress. Celebrate your big beautiful amazing heart and the bigger life it’s wrought.

Love,

Tammi 2015

 

As you can see from the date, this letter was written at the tail end of 2015. I was at Jen Pastiloff’s New Year’s Ojai Manifestation Retreat. http://buildyourownbrave.com/2016/01/02/of-magic-music-manifesting/ One of the things I didn’t write of and had completely forgotten about was that Jen had us all write a letter to our future 2016 self. The plan was to come back to her retreat the following year and she would hand the letter to us. If we didn’t make it back for her retreat, she would drop it in the mail to us. It was such an emotional experience to read my own words to myself. And of course, I was smiling, laughing, and crying as I read it. So there I sat and here I sit, reflecting back on the three of me: 2015 Tammi, 2016 Tammi and 2017 Tammi.

In 2015 I had just started blogging regularly but had not yet begun to find the stories waiting to come out in Writers Workshops. I’d finally finished creating a Mission Statement for my life and my work but still wasn’t sure exactly how to manifest what it would look like. I showed a willingness to tentatively move forward as the next indicated thing presented itself, with no idea where it would lead. I was moving so far away from who I’d been, yet paradoxically, I was drawn inward towards the true heart of myself. A Tammi who had done new and different things to create a new and different life.

2015 Tammi

Then came 2016 Tammi, a creature of seemingly perpetual motion of daily, weekly and monthly commitments to herself, her job, this blog, and her community. There were monthly challenges of daily yoga in January and daily mindfulness exercises in February of 2016, then the whirlwind of fundraising to prepare for upcoming Yoga Teacher Training. There were Writer’s Workshops every 6-8 weeks, trips to Pasadena every month to see the grandkids. There was the actual yoga teacher training itself from July through the end of October and all the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional effort, experience and accomplishment that entailed. Looking back on 2016, she/I had a TON of help from so many friends, but I still don’t know how I did it. Then ultimately the last two months of 2016 felt like my country ripped open my chest to deliver a sucker punch to the heart and my stressed out Lupus riddled body started attacking itself. That kept me busy seeing various doctors, undergoing tests and labs for the rest of the year.

2016 Tammi

Finally, here I am now in 2017. My body healed as much as my Lupus will allow while my heart is stronger, wiser, and expanded from the heartbreak. I committed in this new year to celebrate, embrace, and enjoy myself AS I AM. I’m on the cusp of my 50th birthday and on balance, I’ve never felt better about myself and my life. I say on balance because I’m growing into this confidence, or a better word is assurance of myself. As with anything having to do with growth, there are stages and it is not yet constant. Maybe it will never be constant, but I know I’m going places, even when it may feel like I’m still in the same place. I know that I have surrounded myself with people who love me good and lift me up. I know that as long as I stay open and willing, God will show me the way.

2017 Me!

This entry was posted on June 5, 2017. 1 Comment

Who Am I? A Continued Journey Of Renewed Beginnings

Lately, my life is filled with much of the familiar people, places, and things, with the exception of myself. I, myself, am the unfamiliar element. Does that make sense? It’s made me reluctant to write and post my blog. Shit, it’s made me turn away from this new manifestation of myself in old, familiar ways. Ways such as couch surfing after work as I zone out on television or slowly, but surely dropping the spiritual practices that feed me. Practices like consistent 12 step meeting attendance, a regular personal yoga practice, or regular writing in my blog. Particularly this blog space, where for a time I was writing so openly and consistently about my journey towards my goal of a heart-centered life, my journey home to my true self. This blog space where I was able to pour out what was in my heart, head, and soul in any given moment or situation. Space where I’d consistently been able to work through much of my journey, proving that our answers truly are within ourselves when we are willing to connect with ourselves and our Higher Power. Therein lay the rub. I was unwilling to connect with myself as I continue to “level-up”. I am reminded of a quote:

“… no one who learns to know himself remains just what he was before.” — Thomas Mann

I’ve been here before where I “check-out” of my Self, or at least that is what it feels like. However, my kick-ass therapist has been helping me to reframe how I look at and live my life. The real truth is that shortly before Christmas of last year in the throes of grief about my country (which was a very real, very ugly experience for me) I’d decided to take it easy and give myself a break. 2016 was an extremely active, busy, stressful year filled with many accomplishments and goals I worked hard at. I had something going on nearly EVERY weekend so I made a conscious choice to take it easy, stop pushing and gave myself permission to breathe in 2017. While I’d made up my mind to do that, I never took into account what that looks and feels like. Or how much taking it easy feels like when I used to “check-out” of my Life.

In the time since I decided to do that, I have slowly but surely made changes in my life to free up energy and time. I’ve kept my activity level down to one big “event” per month this year, instead of nearly every weekend and it’s worked out well because I’ve stuck to it for the most part. I’ve been in my new/old job with my new/old boss at work for three months now and the decrease in my level of stress is tangible and visible to anyone who sees me! I’ve been able to finish all my practicum requirements and became a Yoga Alliance certified 200Hour registered yoga teacher! That happened almost three months ago too. I followed through on my commitment to secure additional training and certification for Trauma-Informed Yoga. Once again, while I’d made up my mind to accomplish all of these things, I never took into account what that looks and feels like.

Which brings me back to the title of this blog post and the quote in the middle of it. Who is this woman which inhabits my heart, my body, and my soul now? Who is this woman who fears so much but moves steadily through it to the other side into accomplishment, experience, and growth yet still is caught between what she was and what she will be? A woman who has been afraid to face herself and discover the answers in her usual areas of blogging, 12-step meetings, and yoga. Somehow this doesn’t feel like my normal blog post where I eventually land on the answers or solution at the end and maybe that is fitting. As I am beginning to get to know my Self again, I just may need to let go of the expectation of the same old results. In any case, I’ve opened up the lines of communication again so I’ll take that as progress. It also could be my upcoming 50th birthday next month, I did mention that didn’t I?

This entry was posted on May 22, 2017. 2 Comments