red dot little duck

Mosquitos

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am. I forget that pain does not have to be the center of my attention. That the life I’m living is one abundant with JOY and BLISS. That when I trust, really trust, magical things happen. Impossible things. That I choose to live the way I do and I actually enjoy it. I forget the amount of love, support, inspiration and freedom that is gifted me everyday. Everyday. In immeasurable ways.

I forget that I can choose to discontinue unnecessary suffering, guilt and shame. Enough suffering. That I have the power to embrace the beauty of this life I’ve created. Beauty. The life in which I continue to investigate, nourish, be inspired by, and above all… enjoy.

All So Ridiculous

Heartbreakingly in love with the experience of this life. Through thoughts of love and those of pain, how intricately woven together… so heavenly heartbreaking. Blessed to be cursed by romanticism — a suspension of mind and body in the clutches of vast emotion and emotionlessness.

How clarifying the experience of death could be, leave the world behind to writhe in it’s own beautiful illnesses. I would die to relieve these pains of existence from the world. Our world. My world. Relieve the pain and guilt derived from desire and craving. Change perspective.

Fear of enjoyment, of participation, of self-discovery, of discovery of Self, of being discovered. Fear of loss, fear of gain. The intricately woven aspects of love and pain, joy and sorrow.

It’s all so ridiculous. It’s all so ridiculous.

Anniversary

A year’s gone by since the trajectory of what I like to call “my plans”, changed dramatically. A busted ankle/leg/muscular damage was enough to instill some serious limitations, such as the ability to walk. Believing everything I had worked for was no longer within my grasp and spinning out under the weight of unattended and unattainable responsibilities, I made the choice to seek shelter and began the process of healing.

After three months of diligently modifying my daily practice, regularly preforming prescribed physical therapy exercises, and working through some fairly major emotional upheaval, I was shocked to realize it wasn’t over. Not even close. Even now, at a year, residual effects continue to make their presence known. The need to remind myself of the progress I’ve made in recovery while cultivating compassion towards limitations is still alive. I mean really, it could have been so much worse, yet for me and my world it was pretty bad and I could have decided to quit, but I didn’t.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
— Confucius

Things will not be the same. This is not a negative but rather a positive. It serves as a reminder… the time for assessing and clarifying a plan of action is imperative. Identifying what fears are blocking a chance at progress and taking the right kind of risks toward that desired progression have become a game of self-understanding or rather a will to understand the Self. My Self.

Am I trying to be someone I’m not? Or am I not trying hard enough to be the person I’m meant to be?

Creating a place for myself within the world of teaching ashtanga yoga and supporting that devotional passion through work as a freelance graphic designer is no easy task. Each require their own level of focus and dedication. Each, easily full-time explorations as individual prospects, bring not only a means of survival but a level of personal fulfillment in their own unique and beautiful ways.

I’m fortunate enough to spend my mornings practicing, studying and teaching those interested in developing inspiration through devotion in ashtanga yoga, hatha yoga; afternoons designing, creating and cultivating relationships with clients and rockin’ creative individuals who understand what it means to have something to be devoted to. My vision is to be able to do this in places that both inspire me to grow and instill a sense of contentment. Does this happen in one location? In multiple locations? In either case, this is what I believe to be the means by which an enjoyment of, contribution to and involvement with the development of a conscious society can become a reality. Blam.

In the midst of these revolutions within myself I pack a few things and begin the long journey to India. The third pilgrimage. An investigation of presence and cultivation of timeless space. Feeling blessed to be studying with my teacher, immersed in an incredible culture and further developing ideas about my place in the world.

OM!

A Glimpse of Light

IMG_2684Is it desire that clouds the clarity of heart or the heart that clouds the clarity of truest sight? To see through to the truest Self? Purpose. Integrity.

What message is intended through this? Through pain, through darkness?

A glimpse of light.

A nasty trick. To be lead along and onward into a deceivingly welcome sitting room only to find there is no fire indeed.

Despair ignites a longing for the knowledge that sits inside to disappear, to end the need to attest to the truth of it.

The ease of ignorance. Nothing more than a lie and less comforting than sitting in a cold, dark room with no heart at all.

Travel on and into your own house. Stoke your own fire. Follow your desire for desirelessness, your truth and knowledge to the edge of all that is dark. For the light will grow stronger still.

An unbreakable force.

Rainbow Connection

July:

Last four weeks at The Yoga Fitness Center in Missoula, MT, teaching people ashtanga. Hatha. Watching people grow. Grace. Cultivate space in their lives for their own practice. Patience and persistence. I surrounded myself with nature. Swam in the Flathead, Kootenai, and Blackfoot rivers. Drove through parts of MT I had never been. Mountains. Nothing like the smell of those pines. Family. Coffee on the back porch. Practice. Self-study. Quiet.

August:

See you later. Say goodbye to Missoula, family, friends. See you later. Say goodbye to Spokane, family, friends. Travel back to Durham, NC. Hello, Durham family, friends. Practice, teach, sleep, plan. Dream of MT. Dream of India. Give up dairy. Thank God I gave up dairy. Nutrition studies. Self-study. Not as quiet. Pranayama. Cuddles with Skeet and Littles.

September:

Fly to Florida. Cousin Rachel gets married, dream wedding. Beautiful. Family. Ocean love. Fly back and immediately drive to Outerbanks, NC for DG 2014. Yoga, asana, pranayama, practice, study. Intense. Beach time/rain time/coffee time with friends. Back to Durham. Mini workshops. Am I going to be a workshop teacher? Littleman calendar shoot. Photos, yoga and community. Clean house. More cuddles with Skeet and Littles.

October:

Turned 35. My nephew died. My brother Jake’s life turned upside down. Fly to New Mexico. Hold my family. Hold myself together. Grace. Support and light. Heartbroken, our family moves through a horrific and tragic loss. My nephew loses his brother and my brother and his wife lose their son. Self-study. Practice. Pranayama. Let the connection of breath and movement hold and support me. The month disappears. Empty. Confusion around the state of this world, my existence, the business of being alive… multiplies. Nothing is promised. Time to face that part of myself. Again. How do I feel about all this? Unidentifiable. Back to Durham. It hits me. Reality can be so overwhelming. Drive to Philly for Primary intensive with David at Ashtanga Yoga School Philadelphia. That hits me. What is happening here? How do I fit in all this? What’s real, what’s not? The scheme of things. So. Fucked. Up. … Simplify. Morning light. Keep warm, stay connected. Breath finding rhythm, rhythm supporting awareness, awareness developing consciousness. Cuddle with Skeeter.

November:

At the start of it now and beginning to pull it back together. Have tickets for India, tickets for Christmas visit to Albuquerque, a new pair of winter boots. Will see Atlanta, GA for the first time. Get to assist my teacher in DC. Thankful to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with Suzanne and Nikos and the AYCD community of yogis. Cuddle with Skeeter and Littleman.

The Rainbow Connection:

One of Harrison’s favorite songs was “The Rainbow Connection” as sung by Kermit the Frog. Here is an excerpt of the lyrics that was shared with friends, family and community who came to support each other through this tragic time.

“… Who said that every wish
would be heard and answered
when wished on the morningstar?
Somebody thought of that
and someone believed it.

Look what it’s done so far.
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing and
what do we think we might see?

Someday we’ll find it,
the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me. …”

The Rainbow Connection, Kermit the Frog 

The hard stuff.

IMG_2370The other morning an interesting question came up, about giving more focus to the things that work well than those that don’t in an asana practice. My answer, “well, that depends.”

If a person was to mainly focus on the aspects of their practice that already work well, those things will continue to stay the same, or perhaps get stronger. If the aspects that are more difficult to work with, lets say… ummm…. chaturanga, never receive the same level of focus, they will likely get more difficult as time goes on and potentially start to cause problems. It also introduces the idea of the “artful dodger”, as David says.

Something like Uddiyana and Mula bandhas, the center of your body, the “core” OR – the use of the legs is vital. It’s so underestimated, that use! The lower abdominal muscles and the legs… they do so much work and rarely get the focus and diligence they need to stay strong and vigilant. So the shoulders and lower back tend to take the brunt of it.

There are smart ways to work on things and not so smart ways to work on things. If you’re not creating an action because you have an injury, well, that’s probably smart but do it in a purposeful way. This practice has the capacity to inspire some serious critical thinking. Harness that, and use it to your advantage. “What can I do that will help me rehabilitate my body?” And, leave me at the other end of it with a greater knowledge of how to move with awareness and dynamism.

And hopefully, it will truly be inspiring!

The hard stuff will pay off in the end. It’s true. Maybe just a little but none-the-less enough to initiate a sense of gratification. It’s so simple and applicable to so many aspects of existence, and at the same time can prove to be difficult. No one really wants to work on the hard stuff. But if you don’t, it never gets easier and you lose the opportunity of tapping into your true potential.

Rehabilitation of a damaged part of the body is a serious challenge. Both mentally and physically. The trick for me, was to remain aware of all parts working together to create stability. To look at the aspects I was unable to work with in the usual way and developing new ways to achieve a similar result. By diligently approaching practice like this, I have come to better know my body, my limits, strengths and received inspiration in surpassing limitations. Relearning how to engage my foot with the earth, rediscovering the muscles in a severely atrophied limb, finding the ability to walk… challenging. Now, it’s all coming back alive.

IMG_2750

 

Goin’ to Montana

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“I talk to my inner lover, and I say, why such rush? 
We sense that there is some sort of spirit that loves 
birds and animals and the ants– 
perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you 
in your mother’s womb. 
Is it logical you would be walking around entirely orphaned now? 
The truth is you turned away yourself, 
and decided to go into the dark alone. 
Now you are tangled up in others, and have forgotten 
what you once knew, 
and that’s why everything you do has some weird sense of failure in it.” 
― Kabir

Practicing Ashtanga has helped me find the strength to heal myself from injury. More than once. It also GAVE me strength to dig deep and find some level of understanding as to what direction I’ve traveled that created the necessity for healing in the first place. Physically and mentally. Not to mention, the realization that there is more healing yet to happen. This is an interesting and fairly difficult time for me and my development along this trajectory. It wasn’t just mobility or physical ability that I lost when I fell off those rocks in NY. Though I think some of those losses were already in progress. It’s possible that many people would have given up. I don’t want to give up. I’m not giving up.

The past two years have been quite possibly the most physically and mentally challenging of my entire life. The relationships that have come into and out of my life during my stay here will continue to teach me things about my relationship to the world for many years to come. Losses and gains. Experiences with trust, doubt, love, hate, disappointment, joy… packed into a condensed time frame and jammed inside my entire being; jostling loose INTENSE emotion and drive to discover my Self and sense of worth.

Once again mobile, all my “things” moved out of Philadelphia and safely stashed in Durham, its time to hop a plane for the west side of the states. Montana. I will be teaching at the Yoga Fitness Center in Downtown Missoula so if you find yourself there, come and practice!

One more thing… Suzanne Faulkner and Nikos Chremos (Littleman and Skeeter too), thank you for the incredible amount of love and support you have shown me. I don’t even have the words to describe my gratitude. I love you all so much! Please send pictures of Skeeter often. See you soon – xoxo

A distant familiarity.

A strange sense of familiarity swept over me. Like finger tips swept through a layer of dust on an old mantle. A distant familiarity. I lived here once. Like many places. Many sensations. Hope, excitement, trust, fear, loss.

This body has been searching for healing. For quite some time. Call it a country girl curse, this tendency towards accidental injury. With certainty it is more than this. I see it. However it comes, I’ve grown tired of pain. Physically and mentally tired. Draining and disheartening it steals from me. IT is a thief.

Coincidentally, this pain provides the training grounds for self-development and the discovery of compassion and empathy. What luck.

thinkingMonster

And where shall this start? Within one’s Self. Myself. Yourself. The pain is there already. My pain. Giving it strength and fuel through self-punishment is asinine. The levels have to go deeper. More focus becomes a requirement. More breath. More silence. More steadiness. Most importantly… light. How else can one reveal what lies in the shadows without LIGHT? Discovery is key.

1. The source of choice; a reasonable place to look for answers.
2. Recognition of limits and boundaries. Recognition and respect for.

The double-edged sword of discovery will never cease to grace us with it’s lessons, heartaches and triumphs. No matter what stage of it. It would be a mistake to believe otherwise.

 

April 1, 2014

Two years ago today I left the great Northwest in my packed up, little red car and drove across the country. Had never been to the east coast, didn’t really know anyone and it didn’t really matter. Full of inspiration, to the brim with intention, absolutely no idea how things would pan out, only wanting to practice as hard as I could and learn as much as possible.

Certainly, I’ve become aquatinted with my limits, been blessed with an incredible amount of knowledge and by some kind of grace, so far survived. Here’s to the next round.

IMG_7389 as Smart Object-1

“You can have the other words-chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I’ll take grace. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ll take it.”   ~ Mary Oliver

Modified. Primary, prim.

The injury, creating an intense rift in physical ability, gave me plenty of things to work around. Limitations included no weight bearing, little to no range of mobility, and a general state of fatigue/physical weakness. However, as famously stated by Guruji, “anyone can take practice”, no matter the circumstance.

At the beginning, all I could really do was breathe. And, for whatever reason, even that proved to be difficult; in, out. Keeping at it everyday, adding physical movement even as minimally as inhale reach up, exhale fold. Inhale reach up, exhale fold. For the first two weeks this and some of the pranayama exercises outlined in Vayu Siddhi got me through to a place where I could get to the floor.

Then I started modifying/creating versions of the Surya Namaskara’s, thinking of ways to get a well rounded system of movement while remaining within my limits.

Slowly adding on poses everyday, using props, sometimes a lot of props to help accommodate my limitations and discover possibilities to move forward with. Some efforts where quite informative while others just didn’t work out. 

Couple times a day, everyday and everyday developing a new plan for the next day.  As I got stronger, more was added, planned and modified. However, even though movement was there and practice was happening I was experiencing loss of muscle control with visible atrophy.

Physical therapy has helped with that some. Once a week receiving exercises designed to help with range of motion, strength and balance. Some of the most simple things prove to be the hardest. However, by applying the foundational principles of ashtanga yoga, I was able to grasp the essential aspects of reanimating movement with an informed mind.

Progressively, less props are needed though many limitations still exist. Standing postures recreated as well as possible while seated, trying to activate the body the same way as it would be while standing. Tricky. Working with backbends; mostly accessed through Ustrasana and Kapotasana with blankets under the left foot. This was a great way to work with the back bending principles in place of Urdhva Dhanurasana but not ideal in the way of using and accessing the shins to aide in the foundational work. Slowly this is changing.

At just over seven weeks I have a fully modified primary practice and the ability to modify over half of second series. The modifications and alignment principles I worked with were inspired by what I have learned from David Garrigues, not to mention the depth of understanding of what it means for my personal and spiritual development to practice. I highly recommend anyone who doesn’t study with him to do so. I also used this video for ideas and greatly appreciate the fact that it was out there. Today Suzanne Faulkner and I made our own version, Ashtanga Yoga Club Durham style.

In all accounts, Ashtanga has taught me, and continues to teach me, many things and in the face of giving up, I don’t.

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