Stories of Vulnerability

Adam Dudley was kind enough to invite me to speak at one of his awesome Mindful Meetups in Orlando, FL. I had the pleasure of sort of telling my ‘story’.

This was recorded mid-July 2016. The sound quality isn’t great (I sound a bit froggy!), but hopefully you’ll get something special from the content. Also, that ‘clanging’ you hear over and over again are my bangles. Lesson learned! 🙂

A Reminder for Terrible Days

You can have a really bad day while still acknowledging that you have a mostly wonderful life. You can even have a long string of really bad days and still know that you have a blessed life.

But when you’re having a terrible day, the last thing you want to do is remember the way you feel when you’re not having a terrible day.

You are allowed to feel miserable. You are allowed to feel like everything is going wrong. And you don’t need to be saved from those feelings. You don’t need anyone telling you that you shouldn’t feel that way. All you really need is the time and space to feel them, and then to know that there’s a chance you won’t feel that way the next day.
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That’s all anyone needs.

Adventures in Yoga: A Spiritualist Perspective

A Complicated Marriage Between Spirituality and Fitness

I’ve grown up with an awareness of yoga over the course of my whole life. Attributed to my Indian heritage, yoga has always presented itself in a strongly spiritual sense, and while the physicality of it is quite obvious, it was not the main feature of the practice in my mind. As fitness trends in the United States have continued to evolve, I’ve watched this practice popularize into what I can only describe as derivative.

Any interest I ever had of practicing Yoga in this country became very paralyzing because I felt indecisive about it. I wanted to be a yogini. I really did. But something about the modern practice felt cheap. The instructors teaching these courses weren’t spiritually enlightened enough for me to find any credibility in their words. I’d turn to those people next to me who were really in the depths of it and found that I felt like a crazy person. “How do they not see it?” I’d ask myself. Something felt really inauthentic about the instruction, and I struggled with wanting to fit in with this community of people while also feeling completely enraged with the falsehood of spirituality that they were selling to people. Spirituality must be earned, not bought. It must be respected, not sold. Was this cultural misappropriation? Was this what spirituality looked like for my generation? Fold your hands together and pronounce ‘Namaste’ incorrectly, buy some cool t-shirts with Indian art and tell people you’re really into Yoga. And then live a totally selfish lifestyle, and try to sleep with your students in class. That’s the vibe I was getting in these classes.

Was I being a purist? Was I unreasonable in my desire for being taught by someone who both understood and lived the truth of what they were actually teaching? I began to really understood how connected I was to my own spirituality. It was a light bulb moment for me to see for the first time that I could be my own spiritual teacher.

Relief washed over me as I continued to flesh out this concept. I recognized that the source of my discomfort stemmed from a habit I have of putting my teachers on pedestals. They would fall off of those pedestals, and I’d feel disappointed. After deconstructing the whole process, I ultimately came to the conclusion that I don’t have to buy into the lifestyle they are selling, but I can spend my money to learn how to better affect my body and ready it for change. I am responsible for my own spirituality. I am responsible for my own divinity. And I can be my own teacher.

And thus, the world opened up to me a bit wider.

A Graceful Relationship Between My Body and My Mind

Earlier this week, I was invited to attend a Warm Yoga class with two friends – one of whom happens to be a yoga instructor whom I both respect and admire. If Felicia tells me something is ‘awesome’, I believe her.

Full disclosure: I’ve always had some preconceived notions on what a Warm Yoga class would be like, most of which centered around it being on the gimmicky, aggressive side with minimal benefit. I’m not especially fond of aggressive physical practices in general because they tend to be competitive in nature, and the last thing I want is to be in a room with a bunch of people trying to prove how much better they are than the person next to them.

I’m very happy to say that I was wrong.

Yoga has a lot of hype around it and from the perspective of an outsider; it can be really annoying to listen to if you haven’t practiced it that much. Given some of my physical ailments, I knew that it would really accelerate the healing that I’ve been inviting for my body and that is the main reason I opted to try it.

The Set Up

The room was heated somewhere between 88° F and 100° F. On the second floor of the yoga studio between mirrors on all walls were students settling into their spaces. It’s an understatement to say that space was limited – apparently this is the most popular yoga class.

One of the things I’ve grown to appreciate about myself is that it’s important for me to stay grounded. So often in life, we believe that in order to feel strong, we must be stoic – and my body has suffered because of all of that stoic energy. There is real strength in vulnerability, too. I positioned myself between my two friends, Felicia and Sarah, so as to ensure that no matter which direction I was facing, there was someone who was energetically supportive and encouraging to me. It’s nice to be able to ‘energetically’ commiserate with someone when you’re in a challenging pose. Plus, they were both very experienced so I could model myself after them without any of fear of judgment if I ‘messed up’.

I used a beach towel over my yoga mat at Felicia’s suggestion, and that really helped to both absorb the sweat and stabilize me in different poses. The room was very warm, and I wore tight fitting spandex workout pants and a tank top that wouldn’t chaff once I began to sweat. I had a bottle of water and Felicia brought over two blocks I could rely on for stability if I needed them. I pulled my hair back in a loose but secure bun, and wore a rubber headband to keep my hair out of my face. The lights were moderately dim. I overheard someone mention the length of the class: seventy-five minutes. Men and women were flexing their bodies and touching their toes. I could feel my anxiety burrow in.

I can’t touch my toes. Crap.

Transitioning Between Comfort and Discomfort

As I was moving in and out of different poses, particularly those poses that I was not comfortable doing, I noticed there were moments when I felt like a failure. The ‘Who am I kidding’ feeling actually found a home in me on the drive over to the studio.

With every segment of a few minutes, I found myself feeling differently about what I was doing.

Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe I shouldn’t have come.
Wow, I’m doing this! I’m really doing this!
God. Is it over yet?
Whoa, I didn’t realize I could do this better on one side of my body than the other. I wonder what that means…
Yep, this is how I die. I’m going to die.
This feels incredible.

Over the course of seventy-five minutes, I had to sit with these feelings of anxiety and find a way to bring them with me as I shifted to a place of belonging.

I don’t have to be as a good as everyone else here.
I can allow myself to take a break!
I can allow myself to do something that’s aggressive for me if I want to.

I was the one setting the tone, and deciding when to take a rest. I was in control. It’s a practice in which you really do have total control over what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. And even why you’re doing it. I considered how I was relinquishing the obligations of my life and giving way to such a freeing level of intensity. How often do I let that happen? This was special.

When the sweat first started to escape my body so early on, I began to panic a bit.

How much worse is this going to get?

But after a while, it felt cathartic. It felt like release. Whenever I felt a little sick, or dizzy, I paused, and took a break, or I modified the pose. There was a lot of give and take.

I am a trooper.

I start off holding close the fear that I can’t handle things, but the truth is that I can handle them. And somehow, I’m always surprised when I handle them. So if I just continue to hold on to this truth not just through yoga poses but also through my own life – how much more grace would I have?

An Awakening Mind

Over these seventy-five minutes, as I moved in an out of each pose, transitioning through the different phases of progress and struggle, I felt an overwhelming sense that what I was doing with my body was actually a mirror of the way events transpire in my own life. In those particular moments, you are going through this process where you are actively communicating with yourself in order to determine what you’re going to do next. To look around you, you’d see the different people with different skill levels. There’s a part in each of us measuring ourselves up against those people around us.

We either spend that time trying to match ourselves up to what everyone else is doing even when it feels uncomfortable and painful because we may not be ready and it may not be meant for our bodies – OR – we stay present in the moment, and we recognize that we were given this body for a specific reason, and there’s something that this body – our body – is going to share with us and show us and walk us through that we couldn’t experience if we had anyone else’s body, anyone else’s flexibility, anyone else’s strength. You have your own level of flexibility, strength, and grace. And it’s in using those three elements together, where it’s completely based on you and what you’re bringing, that unlocks the process. It becomes a full body and mind practice.

Evolution of Thinking

I’m not at the level of flexibility I’d like to be, I’m not at the level of strength I’d like to be, nor am I the shape I’d like to be. I don’t have the modern commercialized Yoga Body but what I’m learning is that every body is a yoga body.

Yoga is not so much about looking good in spandex. It is about changing the filter through which you perceive the world. So it’s not so much about how YOU look as it is about how everything else looks to you. So really, you’re not just exercising your body, you’re exercising your perspective on the world; on your world, your environment, your relationships, your triggers, and your grief.

It’s not necessarily about you if can touch your toes, or arch your back so that your feet are comfortably behind your head. It’s about the process that takes place as you’re allowing yourself to feel both discomfort and comfort in the same moment – which is very much what being alive is like. It’s a practice of being alive.

As the remover of obstacles, Lord Ganesha has proven to me and many others on numerous occasions that He listens. While in those poses designed to stretch more than just our physical bodies, I was in prayer, asking for a particular path to clear for me. How blessed we felt to be greeted by this beautiful image afterwards.
As the remover of obstacles, Lord Ganesha has proven to me and many others on numerous occasions that He listens. While in those poses designed to stretch more than just our physical bodies, I was in prayer, asking for a particular path to clear for me. How blessed we felt to be greeted by this beautiful image afterwards.

 

 

The Stretch

Overall, it was challenging, yes. Physically speaking, it was challenging for me because I am working on developing my health practices and I’m not yet where I want to be. But I found that the heat really helped to create some added flexibility and I generally enjoy warmer temperatures because I’m usually cold. I had no idea I could sweat so much! And believe me, you do sweat. It really was an enlightening experience and I will be doing it again. I walked out feeling different than I had when I walked in, and in a very good way.

There is real benefit to this practice, and like most rewarding things in life, it can be challenging. Those rewards, however, don’t just find you once you’re finished and walking out the door. It takes place as you’re practicing, rewarding you as you’re doing it. The rewards find you when you are meeting your own resistance head on, and recognizing that, poetically, you are your own resistance. You’re basically having a dialogue with yourself through the whole process. And how often in a day do we really have good, meaningful dialogue with ourselves? This is a practice that if you were trying to get to know your wants, your needs, your desires, your wishes, your fears, your hopes, your dreams; you are provided with an opportunity to really connect with yourself.

Does it sound a bit hokey? Maybe. But it’s bigger than that. If you come to this practice open, interested, curious, and even just the slightest bit enthusiastic, you will get something out of it.

And this is coming from someone who can’t touch her toes yet. Yet.

Divine Timing, Prayer and Worry

This morning I happened to turn on the radio just as The Steve Harvey Morning Show was starting. He was talking about divine timing. This is something that those of us in the metaphysical field both make fun of, but also deeply believe in.

The idea is that all things happen with divine timing no matter when you want it to happen. Surrendering to that truth is what brings about peace and harmony in the day to day because there’s an undercurrent of total trust. It’s tough. It’s really tough to maintain, but that’s why it’s important to practice it whenever you can remember, and that’s also why it’s so valuable. It’s one of those beautiful sentiments that can completely envelope you in a feeling of total security at all times.

I’m paraphrasing, but he said something like “You can either pray on it, or you can worry about it. If you pray on it, don’t waste your time worrying about it. If you worry about it, don’t bother praying about it.” I just thought that was so beautifully articulated.

crystallize

So many of us carry crystals with us and keep them in our pockets or among our belongings. We even wear them. This is one of those sentiments I’m going to crystallize and bury into my spirit. I hope you can too. <3

Surfacing Through Depression: A Personal Story

Today I’m going to tell you a short personal story about how I turn something not so great into something good for myself. I’m inviting you inside my head to sort of see a process I go through in the hopes that maybe you might be inspired and excited about examining your own process.

I consider myself to be a well-adjusted person. I have some wonderful periods of time when I feel incredibly connected to my sense of purpose in life, the people I love and an overall perspective of contentment. Life can be especially challenging in the valley of those peaks. There have been long and tiring periods of great despair and depression. I’ve learned the hard way that grief isn’t just about death, and that even after you feel like you’ve dealt with it, it can still show up uninvited at your heart’s doorstep. After weeks of letting it sleep on my welcome mat, I finally let it in. And, I confess, it sucked.

This powerful emotion spent some time sledgehammering through what I thought and hoped were previously healed towers of pain, leaving a very dangerous mess. It’s dangerous because, for me, this mess turns to quicksand, and I step into it, and I drown. When I drown on the inside, I sloth on the outside. For the record, slothing can be pretty amazing when done in a balanced way. There’s calmness to doing less, and shutting off your brain. As I allowed myself to go through what I call a ‘contractionary period’, most days, it felt like a huge accomplishment to even get up and go to work. Eventually, a few days turned into a few weeks, and then a few months. Weight Gain. Exhaustion. Sadness. Binge eating. Isolation. Anger. Frustration.

When you choose to follow a path of growth and connectedness, the challenges you face along the way often threaten to shrink your spirit and disconnect you from everything and everyone that strengthens you. This week, I spent much of my free time contemplating why this happens, and why it will continue to happen. I’m reminded of something a personal trainer once explained to me about how our bodies build muscle. In order to get stronger, the muscles have to go through some level of breakdown and then there is momentum gained from the body overcompensating during the rebuilding process.

It’s like sinking down to the bottom of a pool and then using your sinking body to push against the floor to jump out of the water. Let’s say that it is your soul’s goal to reach a particular point of ascension.  In order for that to happen, you might keep going through this process of rising and falling. And you might feel so frustrated with yourself, and your progress, and the distance between you and your soul’s goal that you fail to notice how the floor of the pool has elevated slightly. The cycle continues again and again, and every time you rise back up, to jump out, you’ve reached a new height of growth. And the next time you fall, you’re still higher than you ever were before. That’s the secret. That’s the piece no one ever tells you. I’m telling you right now.

Part of the frustration I felt with myself also came from an expectation I placed on myself that I should be ‘better’ than I am. If I should be better, does that mean that I’m not good enough right now? Am I really just saying that I’m not good enough when I’m overweight, or lethargic, or depressed? Am I unlovable in this state? Am I repulsive when I’m sad, or grieving? These are all really important variables to consider because they can feel like bricks, weighing me down in the bottom of this pool when I try to jump out.

So here is what I did.

I cried. I ate. I slept. I hibernated. I went shopping. I watched a lot of television. And then I considered how nice it was that I was giving myself permission to all of these things without any expectation of stopping at some point. There came a point where I finally felt tired of feeling tired. I went for a walk and paid really close attention to how my mood had shifted afterwards. I watched a documentary about juicing and thought it might be fun to try. I got back into the kitchen and started to cook for myself and remembered how much I love to create. I sang at the top of my lungs in the car. I savored simple moments with my dogs. I took a few deep breaths whenever I was alone to remind myself that I’m alive. As the momentum upwards continued, I found myself wanting to clean the house, and reach out to people to hang out. I started making healthier choices for myself again. And none of this happened overnight. It was little by little.

It’s so important to know what activities and thoughts anchor you to the bottom of that pool, and what actions and feelings help you to jump out. I knew that cooking and music were really big helpers for me. I knew that fresh air and light exercise also helped. There were so many little things I figured out as I went searching for ways to jump out. But the biggest of all of these was compassion. Compassion is the most important gift we can give ourselves when we are going through pain. It’s the key that helps us unlock the door to allow grief to leave our bodies.

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I invite you to consider your own process for growth, how you tether yourself to your pain, and how you can show yourself compassion as you push up to the surface.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, Cookies = Self Care

I bruise pretty easily.

There’s usually a moment after I accidentally walk into something where I think to myself, ‘Yep, that’s going to bruise later’. After some time passes, you can feel the soreness set in, and not too much later, the colors start to show. Black and Blue. Or in my case, Purple.

Many of us do a good job of acknowledging that there’s pain because we can quickly locate it because of that bruise. We can identify the source of that pain, and sometimes we can even remember exactly how we acquired it. But what about the pain you can’t see? What about those bruises?

Though I didn’t realize it at first, my weekend was all about self-care. As a sensitive person, I go through a lot of highs and lows depending on whatever is going on in my life and sometimes the best remedy is to do absolutely nothing. Friday’s lousy mood moved right into Saturday morning, so after taking care of my pets and eating some leftovers for breakfast, I crawled right back into bed and slept. I woke up a bit later in early afternoon hours, took care of the pets again, prepared a snack of falafel chips and pretzel chips (it’s all I could find in the pantry), crawled under my couch blanket and watched a movie. I really didn’t get up from the couch very much, so once evening had settled in, I had to make a choice: Do I get off the couch, shower, and go spend some social time with friends? Or do I commit to whatever it was I was doing here? After canceling plans with my friends, I continued to marinate in my sloth like state, interrupting myself only to bake cookies, and then eat several of them.

Chewy-Soft-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies

 

I admit that when I went to sleep very late that evening, I felt like I had wasted the day.

It wasn’t until I woke up Sunday morning that I realized how valuable my Saturday of hibernation really was for me. Though my energy level didn’t start out particularly high, I did notice that the more accepting I was that I needed Saturday, the easier it was for me to find a path to productivity on Sunday.

I recognized that there was a bruise. Although there were parts of me that felt very ‘self-hatred’ and ‘self-judgment’ oriented, I didn’t shut those parts down. I gave myself some time to feel it and acknowledge it, and then I made room for the other parts that felt ready to invite a different kind of self-care.

A wave of inspiration came over me and I packed a small bag and walked over to the community pool. Despite experiencing some significant body-consciousness, I chose to allow myself to take up space however I needed to, and took my first steps into the pool. After a few laps, I settled into my lounge chair and read for a few hours. On my walk back home I realized that I hadn’t done something like that in a very, very long time. Soon, I felt the urge to do some much-needed laundry, and some mild house cleaning. But none of this felt like a chore! It actually felt like self-care. I took pride in all of it, and by the time evening rolled around, I was ready to leave the house and spend time with loved ones.

This, of course, is a very simplistic example of how self-care can factor into everyday life. Acknowledging the bruise, and feeling the pain is so important, even if there’s no one else who can acknowledge it with you. I tend to isolate myself when I’m in pain because it’s easier for me not to have to consider others. Sometimes that means I have to cancel plans. Sometimes that means I have to sit at home and do absolutely nothing, or eat cookies, or watch Netflix for hours upon hours. But giving yourself permission to take care of your own needs no matter how messy that might look is a first step to finding a path back to a better state of being.

Too often we ignore our needs and push onwards; we ignore the bruise.

So instead I say why not let that bruise be seen, even if it’s just by you? After all, if you let yourself feel it consciously then at least you’ll have some control over how you care for it. The unconscious alternative of letting it handle you isn’t really a recipe for success and it just leads to more unhealed bruises.

Try it! It can’t hurt. 😉

Glowing in the Dark

Have you ever noticed that if you try to block the Sun with your hands that your hands glow?

We’re transparent. Kind of.

The stuff that we’re made up of is designed to actually let the light through, but we try to solidify ourselves to the point of complete inflexibility.

Why do we do this? Why do we try to block out the light?

Thursday morning was spent in total darkness for me. I didn’t get more than three hours of sleep and it definitely helped to set me up for failure. I felt like my entire body was marinating in anxiety over a to-do list that continued to grow. Nearly ever interaction I had with the people around me resulted in twinges of abandonment. It happens sometimes; we feel feelings that just don’t really make sense to us in the moment. We walk around trying to hide that parts of our hearts are bruised, and tender. We carry shame for not being callous enough not to feel our discomfort. I know I definitely do. It’s inconvenient to feel sometimes.

It happened that I just wasn’t feeling so great, so I did something I so seldom do: I left where I was (where I thought I needed to be) and went home to take care of myself. What happened next surprised even me.

At a restaurant, I ordered my meal with friends, and the server made a mistake and gave me an extra appetizer – something I really enjoyed. Earlier, I was asked if I wanted this appetizer and I had declined because I was trying to stay within my budget. And now here it was!

A business meeting went better than I had expected – I was so worried that I wasn’t measuring up but as it turned out, I was further ahead of where I needed to be. Hearing the feedback from someone else gave me a great sense of comfort and relief.

Later that evening, at Happy Hour with a good friend, I ordered some food and again was given more than I had anticipated of something very delicious. And then, my friend made a kind, and unexpected gesture to pay for our meal.

While walking to the movie theater after dinner, the tickets for a special screening of a documentary my friend and I were going to watch was no longer available to be purchased from the theater; I’d have to buy them online at a different website now. I was racing through my phone trying to purchase the ticket in time for the movie to start. I had finally made it to the website when a stranger approached me and asked me if I needed a ticket. Someone in their party wasn’t going to make it to the theatre so they didn’t want the ticket to go to waste. The ticket was mine, and I paid for it with a hug. I just hugged a total stranger! And… she hugged me back!

Dramatically, the day had changed. I was filled with a feeling of gratitude for the way Thursday had taken my hand and walked me back into the light. That’s when I remembered that I’m not solid. I’m not callous.  I just hadn’t been paying attention to all the ways that this light was in me.

I was waiting for the Sun to shine on me, forgetting that I had light inside that I could shine out. Letting yourself be seen means that people can find you, and they can lead you out of shadows if you don’t want to be there.

Glowing

 

What shines on you also shines through you. And like the stickers I used to have on my ceiling when I was a kid, when you allow the light to find you, if it ever gets dark again, you’ll glow.

The Lillian McDermott Radio Show

In January of this year, I was given a tremendous opportunity to share some of my gifts in a very special public forum at The Vikasa Expo. Being that it was my first real professional venture in a public setting, I had no idea what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself amongst incredibly talented and like-minded individuals.

I also had the opportunity to read for Lillian McDermott which resulted in an invitation to be on The Lillian McDermott Radio Show!

On March 8th, I sat with Lilly in her studio at WMEL 1300 in beautiful Cocoa Beach for two hours and together we got to explore how intuition can help others and I got to share my experiences as a reader and a palmist.

I invite you to listen to this special two-hour show. Each hour of the show is a separate link, so listen to both to get the full feel for what I do, and what we as a community of healers and compassionate people can do together. Big thanks to Lilly and Rosemary Fox for co-creating such a fun space to work within!

Follow Lilly at her Facebook page, and subscribe to her blog for more updates on upcoming shows. Who knows? There could be more radio shows for me in the future!

Part One

Part Two

No birds. No planes. Just a tea caddy.

Let the record reflect that I too am often a victim of clutter. I know, I know… I should know better.

In the spirit of today’s new moon, I wanted to harness the energy of ‘newness’ so I scoured my home for areas that could stand some energy improvement. I remembered a conversation I had with a friend earlier in the week about her tea caddy. I’ve wanted to buy a fancy-schmancy tea caddy for a while, along with an electric teakettle, so naturally, I’ve been lusting over her tea caddy since the second I saw it. At the same time, I’m trying **so hard** not to buy any new stuff until I’ve purged my home of all of the old, unloved stuff I don’t use anymore.

I wondered for a while if there was anything else in my home that I was overlooking. Could there be something else that could serve the purpose of storing tea bags while being aesthetically pleasing to me? YES!

 

Feng Shui - Tea 2   Feng Shui - Tea

How have I never thought of this before?!

And there you have it.

😀

Happy New Moon!