In for a treat

coppery-headed-emerald-hummingbird_83584_990x742Today was my last day on staff at the Teen Action & Support Center. For the past two years I’ve been working with this organization helping teens to volunteer in the community. It’s been a rollercoaster at times, and I’m so grateful for the journey. My time here has been a constant education in compassion, patience, faith, and perseverance. It’s not that the work was ever really that hard, but working with people (parents and teens alike) in the midst of challenging and/or transitional times, with sometimes very different perspectives and approaches to life, is a great test of the aforementioned qualities. Working with a defiant fifteen-year old can seem quite futile until one day they magically grow up and are suddenly a hard-working leader and fun to relate with. A lesson in patience and faith, obviously, and perhaps mostly a lesson in perseverance and understanding that we are  always evolving. Working with neglectful, troubled, misguided, or overbearing parents offers many of the same lessons, most significantly, compassion. We are all doing the best we can to be happy and to thrive. It’s easy to lose sight of that when interacting with someone who seems to have their head screwed on backwards. There has been much grace in my life affording me the luxury of a useful belt of tools in which to navigate this human experience; not everyone has been so fortunate. Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that it’s my responsibility to share my tools and use them to help and guide as others have done for me.

As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed today I came across the above photo. I really can’t get enough of how much beauty was captured in this frame. Hummingbirds are fascinating little creatures. Many cultures have unique stories and symbolism inspired by the bird. One of my favorite hummingbird parables is that of it’s tireless and assured search for the nectar, usually found just past the bitter external of a flower. It is, again, a lesson in perseverance and faith. The hummingbird never doubts that the nectar will be provided; it confidently performs it’s mission, never questioning the abundance of it’s efforts. It is not discouraged by the bitterness it encounters, and understands that the sweetest nectar is within.

For the last half-year or so, I’ve been considering the next chapter of my life. I’ve applied for jobs and heard nothing. I’ve stressed over money. I’ve considered moving somewhere new. I’ve criticized myself for not being great at anything and for not studying anything profitable in depth or pursuing a real career. I’ve examined many options, none of which have manifested. The only door that consistently opens for me is teaching yoga. For a long while now I’ve had a desire to help people; to teach them how to thrive in their bodies so they can really live their life. Every teacher I’ve ever had has provided me with opportunity and encouraged my pursuit of yoga. Each time I teach, my experience with my students fortifies the significance of the work and my desire to do it. The door that has opened is a humbling one. I’m finally starting to trust that I’ve found what yogis call their dharma, or roughly translated one way as one’s duty in this life. The Bhagavad Gita has much to say about dharma which can maybe be understood most easily as cosmic will. It is important to understand that one’s dharma is not exactly their life’s purpose, but is instead the path one must pursue to aid in comprehending the eternal part of themselves, or soul, and their relationship to supreme consciousness. The Gita says that it is dangerous to attempt to fulfill a dharma which is not your own. Chapter 3.35 says “It is better to do your own duty badly than to perfectly do another’s; you are safe from harm when you do what you should be doing.” I interpret this to mean that surrendering to your life’s path equates to freedom and security, though not always in the most expected ways, while attempting to take a path which is not meant for you (for reasons such as money, novelty, convenience, etc.) will undoubtedly lead to struggle and frustration.

Perhaps as evolved, sentient, conscious creatures, things like thoughts, feelings, expectations, and judgements have clouded our intuition and thus our ability to easily realize our dharma. The hummingbird is never confused. Despite, and perhaps because of, it’s (possible) lack of sentience, it fulfills it’s dharma with no fears of failure or expectations of success, instead fully intuiting that whatever it needs is available. The photo above exudes an immense amount of power and beauty, and the bird is simply doing it’s thing. How much beauty are we missing in the world because people are forcing themselves to do things they are not best suited to do?

Next week I step into teaching yoga and helping to manage Yoga Deza as my full-time work, my dharma; exciting and anxiety inducing all the same, but I’ve faith like the hummingbird that the nectar is abundant and the sweetest within.

 

 

**Fully aware that I sound like a damn crazy loon.

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things i’m not good at

I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things I’m not good at this week. The list fluctuates depending on my mood and perspective, and this week it’s erring on the extensive side. For one, I’m a bit extra hormonal this week so that affects the mood and perspective part in a way that considerably suppresses my normal happy. With it being the beginning of summer and the change of season, I’ve also been hyperaware of all the happy relationships (new and old), weight-losses, job promotions, and general surplus of things to celebrate, of which none are mine.

Then this.

I applied for a job a month ago. The job seemed a perfect fit and would have allowed a bit more flexibility to teach and practice more yoga. Long story short, I got my hopes WAY up, and didn’t even get considered. I spoke with the hiring person who very nicely told me that I didn’t have anywhere near the level of experience they were looking for, and while my youthful enthusiasm and perspective could be an asset, and my tremendous reference letter was telling of my character and potential, they were looking for something more. When I applied for this position I was careful to make my resume, cover letter, and references perfect. I put everything I had on the table, and took on the perspective that if I didn’t get the position, it meant someone was better suited, had more experience, and deserved to be hired over me. And I’d be okay with that; a pretty story I was pretty sure I believed until I didn’t get considered.

Not being hired was hugely disappointing. It stirred up feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty in me. I thought it was my big break; I was going to step into this perfect situation: my bills would be paid and I’d be doing what I loved. I interpreted the rejection like this: You don’t have the right experience, you’ll never have enough experience, you’ll always be inferior, you need to grow up and get a Master’s degree or go to school for something that matters and stop playing pretend thinking that this funadventurousfreeplay lifestyle you’re living is going to get you anywhere , your broad experience is just that-too broad, the work you are doing or have done does not warrant recognition, blah blah blah. (Our minds are funny things.)

Let me just add here that I am surrounded by amazing, successful (financially and otherwise), adventurous, fulfilled people, many of which make a considerable amount of money more than me. They all worked their asses off for what they have. I’m seriously impressed with all these people and am blessed abundantly not only by their presence in my life but also by their generosity. With that being said, I often find myself envious of them. Or more specifically: their stability. This pre-existent envy lays foundation for the eruption of insecurity that resulted from the job rejection.

I too have worked my ass off at certain things in life. I’m trying to figure out what the difference is between me and the people of my envy. Sometimes I wonder if I never actually worked as hard as them. In some cases this is absolutely true, but I don’t believe it’s the fundamental difference. One thing I know to be true is that doing does not always equal getting; which is not at all to discredit the value of hard work. Effort alone does not reap reward. The recipe usually includes some combination of discipline, awareness, patience, perspective, perseverance, etc. I think I’m proficient with all those things. So that must not be it. I also don’t truly believe I’m unique in feeling insecure and inferior—I know there are a lot of folks who probably have these exact thoughts. Maybe even the persons of my envy! With all that being said, I know the answer is very subjective.

But what does it come down to? Maybe the difference is that I have never known what to chase. Growing up, we never had much, but always had enough so I was never motivated to chase money (degrees or paths that led to high paying jobs). No one in my family followed a traditional path to success, so I never learned what that looked like or the steps I was “supposed” to take. There was never just one thing I was passionate about or extraordinarily good at, so I never had that thing I was meant to do. No one ever told me what they thought I should do, and I was left up to my own exploration to figure it out. None of these things are wrong. In fact, each are things I highly value and attribute to my overall experience of the world. This notion of having something to chase informs that people who know what they want to chase will probably get there faster, wherever “there” is. I think I’m figuring out what I want to chase and I’m realizing the journey is long and wide and there isn’t a stable staircase to get to where I’m going but more like a rocky hike with a lot of switchbacks, fallen trees, and a couple of bears along the way. It’s the path I’d rather be on, and sometimes I can’t help daydreaming about the staircase. For some, the staircase is where it’s at. There’s obviously no right or wrong path here, only an understanding that all the paths are teachers. Not getting that job was one of those switchbacks… It appeared to be the top of the mountain or at least a level plateau, but the trail continues. I can sit down and pity myself for a moment, but moving on is inevitable and the only way to the top. I’m curious what’s going to be there.

happy 2014

Happy 2014! I’m a couple days late but not really because there are still like 362 days left in 2014 so I have plenty of time.

Twenty-fourteen has treated me well so far. I rang it in with a special yoga class consisting of asana, meditation, and singing. Afterward, we all convened at Coco’s Lebanese restaurant to drink champagne, eat hor d’oeuvres, dance, and take cellphone selfies. It sounds fancy because it was. We even made twelve wishes as we ate twelve grapes from a kabob at the stroke of midnight, which is a thing, apparently. On New Year’s Day I had big plans to sit down with Whitney to create an elaborate budget and set goals for the new year, but when it came down to do it, we were more inspired to watch JT on Ellen and Beyonce on Netflix as we napped on the couch under the afghan my momma crocheted (which is heavy and warm and makes me feel like I’m getting a hug from my momma when I use it). I think it was an appropriate way to spend the day. I made a fancy dinner of chicken thighs with red wine vinegar, smashed red potatoes, and a side of cabbage with goat’s cheese and garlic butter (for good luck, and also because I had some cabbage to get rid of and was craving goat cheese). April contributed some tasty rolls and we drank the remainder of a bottle of red, despite the fact that one of our resolutions for January was to be no alcohol (can’t let an open bottle go to waste). We finished New Year’s Day watching Youtube “true facts” and cat videos. All in all, an eventful and satisfying way to bring in another year.

In all seriousness, though, I’ve been considering goals and the future a bit lately (as we do when a new beginning comes around), and it overwhelms me if I let myself do it too much. I think there is great value in goal setting and vision planning, but for me, there needs to be a balance. Some personalities really thrive on making plans, but I don’t. I get too obsessive and that leads to dissatisfaction with the current moment or my perceived abilities. I start thinking about all these things I could be doing or ways I should be and forget about how f*cking awesome my life is or how great I am right nowFor me, it’s difficult to imagine what I want to be like in 10 or 20 years. It’s difficult to imagine myself ONE year from now. I fear that by visualizing what I think I might want (which I’m clueless about int the first place), I’m limiting myself. I’m twenty-six right now and if you would have asked me to describe what I wanted at twenty-six when I was sixteen, I doubt I would have described anywhere close to the life I’m currently living or the person I currently am. It’s impossible to know what I’ll find important or desire in a decade. There are so many variables and possibilities. I do find it valuable to consider the type of person I’d like to be in ten years, though. I can’t tell you if I’ll have or want kids, be married, live in America, make X amount of money, work X career….all of those desires could change/have changed several times over. What I do know is that I’d like to be my happiest, truest, healthiest self, have invaluable memories and experiences, and love, learn, and create lots. There’s nothing real tangible about those as goals. I struggle with thinking that I’m viewed as unmotivated or immature because I’m not earnestly, intentionally working toward something conventional (career/family/etc). That worry never lasts too long, but it is there. What I take away from all of it is to do everything I can right now to be happy, true, and healthy, to make memories and have experiences, and to love, learn, and create a lot. I wrote in my journal this morning that if I make an effort to do those things every day, my future will take care of itself–it always has and will continue to do so! For now this is enough for me and feels pretty liberating. I could say that I AM earnestly, intentionally working toward being my best self and living my most fulfilling life, and perhaps a year from now my life will take a more concrete direction and I’ll be able to set those more tangible goals… I’m certainly open to whatever comes about on my journey!

Enough about all that. Let’s talk about other stuff.

I’m reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed (which doesn’t help with my aching wanderlust). It’s a really great read. I love reading a good story, and this one is about her trekking the Pacific Crest Trail as a way to heal herself from a pretty shitty hand in life. I definitely recommend it. She writes in a way that makes you feel like you’re on the journey yourself.

I’ve also been a little bit obsessed with the new Beyonce album this week. I picked it up impulsively at Starbucks (because I had a gift card) and was super impressed by it. Each song is unique, and I’m just really interested in the creative process that she goes through. Many might argue that she’s just another prefabricated, superficial, pop star, and that’s fine, but I’d disagree. There’s a depth to her music and her performing that is missing in most mainstream music (and have you seen her dance?!). You might not like the type of music she creates (and this particular album is very sexually charged, so it might be even less your taste,) but I think it would be hard to argue the talent of Queen B. Anyway, I’ve woken up with the same song stuck in my head the last three mornings so that means she did something right I suppose.

SoNA starts soon…I’m excited to start singing again. We’re doing Brahm’s Requiem this year.

We’re opening a new Yoga Deza location in Bentonville! More classes, more community… I’m excited to be a part of it.

I’m going to a Sweat Lodge Ceremony at the Shala this weekend… I’ve never done anything like it, and I’m really looking forward to the experience.

Contemplating joining a painting class a student of mine teaches…. do you all think I have the time? ;)

 

It’s about noon now which means I should probably shower, so I’ll end this thing with my New Year’s top-ten to-do list:

10. Start using capital letters.

9. Blog weekly.

8. Practice moderation (spending, eating, exercising, etc).

7. One drink limit if driving (this should go without saying).

6. No social media before noon (and moderately thereafter).

5. New camera and website for photography work.

4. Advance my teacher training at Circle Yoga Shala.

3. Read more books (and National Geographics and other good magazines).

2. Meditate and journal daily.

1. Do whatever makes me my happiest, truest, healthiest self in each moment, daily.

“Like writing your name in water”

The title is inspired by a quote from John Keats’s gravestone: ‘Here Lies One Whose Name Was Writ in Water’

It really resonated with me during a conversation yesterday about physical impermanence and immortal consciousness. I just really liked it.

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Ever feel like there is just not enough time in this life to do everything you want to? I do beautiful, wonderful things every day, but there is always more! I want to study and master yoga, ayurveda, mandolin, anatomy, biology; I want to read every book on my shelf and on my lists of books to read; I want to be a part of book clubs and discussion groups, to take painting classes, to grow a garden, write regularly, spend quality time with all the people I love, keep a clean house, travel the world, photograph animals, see plays, and take dancing classes. I want to learn marital arts, philosophy, religion, history, astronomy, how to can, how to make jewelry, and master the use of essential oils. This list grows every day! So many cool things to do and see and experience in this life…

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Yesterday I went to Circle Yoga Shala with my friends Marriah and Pilot to visit with Holly and Matt, two humans I find incredibly magnetic. They’ve built a beautiful space in the Ozark mountains and the little bit of time I’ve spent out there has been invaluable. Both times I’ve visited have been sprinkled with amazing conversation (mostly listening on my part) and delicious food. These two folks are intelligent and seasoned with incredible amounts of experience from which they speak of with love, humility, and passion-qualities I find highly desirable in people. We pet the horses, ate carrot soup and cornbread, had the aforementioned talk about eternal consciousness and mortal incarnation and love and holding on and letting go and transience and impermanence. We sat on the porch as the rain battled the sun and then drank the warmest, spiciest chai as we chatted about Amma and agreed to take a trip to see her on her next tour through the US. Pilot and I walked barefoot around the garden (it’s November!) and picked up pretty leaves. The drive out was beautiful in and of itself, and made even better by the company of M and P, two ladies I love very much. I’m considering continuing my advanced yoga studies out at the Shala this spring. It’s another large investment of both time and money, but as I said earlier, time with the Krepps has proven invaluable so far.

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Last night April hosted a chili competition at her house. We had 13 chilis to taste and vote on. I entered two because I really like to cook and couldn’t decide on a recipe. And I’m really competitive. Ironically, my zeal to win resulted in me *winning* last place on one of the chilis which is actually pretty awesome and hilarious. I made an Oktoberfest chili with bratwurst and sauerkraut (which I personally loved) and a Smoky Bacon Chocolate Chili. The chocolate was overwhelming in the latter after sitting for 24 hours. When I first made it, it had a really awesome smoky bacon taste to it, but apparently I overshot on the chocolate and got myself the most votes for the “Pity Pot.” Really though, I won pepper pug salt and pepper shakers, so I win.

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This week was really wonderful. I got to spend quality time with many dear friends, having long fruitful conversations (some challenging, some light). It’s an interesting season in life as far as (platonic) relationships go.

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Last Sunday my friend Natalie gave me a bracelet with an animal bone bead on it. Curiously enough, I’ve had multiple situations and conversations which evoked animal reverence this week. It’s actually very interesting as each situation has been unique and unrelated to the others, yet they are all pointing me in the same direction. Essentially they’ve all served as reminders of how I fit into the big picture and the cycle of embodied life, and humbled me to my existence. Food decisions are always pretty personal and, for some reason, threatening to others, so I’ll end with saying that I’ve simply become aware of the importance of having reverence for my food, regardless of the source. I’ve also been reminded how intimately linked we are to our primal, animal nature, and how much of it is repressed by modern culture. It’s all just really interesting and insightful.

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I love my new home with Whitney and all the dogs. It’s really great having a roommate for several reasons: built in company, accountability for cleanliness, someone to eat my cooking and split a bottle of wine with. Whit loves basketball, and that’s something we’re working on. I just set a bunch of animal shows to record on our DVR and Whit has all the basketball shows recording. We compliment each other, yeah?………….

A few other tidbits:

Just saw a commercial for a show called “Too Cute! Puppies” so brb, need to go set that to record.

I get to see my family and snuggle my nieces and hug my bestie and see my high school girlfriends in a couple of weeks in KC. So excited.

I have a tattoo scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend! One I’ve wanted for a while.

I just saw a commercial for chocolate fountains at Golden Corral. Ew.

I was in the audience of Price is Right on Monday.

I bought Justin Timberlake tickets this week.

………….

Today I’m basically going to sit on my couch or my back porch all day long. It’s a day off with no real obligations and only a couple of tasks I need to get done. I haven’t spent an entire day at home in months. Today is that day. Not leaving. Don’t ask me to do anything. I might have to have someone deliver me beer so I can have a brew while I watch the Chiefs game tonite. That’s how seriously committed to staying home I am. I need to send a few emails, make a flyer for a community yoga class, and edit the Wistrom family photos-all of which I can do without brushing my hair or wearing real clothes (ie-anything but sweats). Also, is this November? 70+ degrees? I mean, I’ll take it. I like it. I’d be okay with it being this temperature always.

Happy Sunday!

happy brag

I just want to take a few minutes to brag on how happy I am and how much my life rocks. Really. The last couple of months have been the total shift I needed. A big shout out to AJM for inviting me to do 40 days, something I didn’t know that I desperately needed. For a long time I wasn’t sure if moving here was the right decision, but now I am. I love everything about my life here. Every day for the past few weeks, one of my first thoughts of the day is how happy I am and how much I love my life. How cool is that?

I am so fortunate to be doing work that I love: I work with teens, at a very cool office with a laid back atmosphere. I serve craft beers at a fun brewery. I take people’s photos. I assist a commercial photographer. I will be teaching yoga soon. Seriously.

I adore everything about it here. I practice and teach at the coolest yoga spot in town, and sing for fun in a very talented choir with the symphony. Every day is full of play and people and new opportunities. I have met so many wonderful folks here and make new connections every day. I love that it’s such a small and intimate community here.

Example #1: Last weekend I got up early Saturday, went to Little Bread Co., a cute cafe here, and had coffee/studied some yoga books. Sarah, a friend from the brewery met me, we ate breakfast, and then joined all my Deza friends for a yoga flash mob at the opening of the farmer’s market. We played around on our mats, walked the market, watched a cool local band play, ate fresh fruit popsicles, bought some flowers, ran into my neighbor, and just enjoyed the sun. Later I bought my new bike, rode it home on the trails, and took a walk and chatted with Whitney. I worked a few hours in the evening and then went with Whit to her brother’s birthday party before ending the day at a small house party with some friends.

Notable points about this example: I have friends. MULTIPLE. :) I ran into my neighbor (love the small town-ness). Bike trails. Farmer’s market. Yoga family.

Example #2: Last night I decided to host a band from a couchsurfing request. I stopped by the brewery on my way home to pick up a few growlers, and met up with a group of friends at my favorite little bar here where the band was playing. Met the band and chatted with them for a while. Danced my booty off. Stayed up way too late chatting with the drummer and drinking pints. Today I worked my usual quiet Friday in my office. Tonite I will take a yoga class at the studio, celebrate Becca’s birthday with a group of folks, and enjoy another evening out. Tomorrow I get to hang out with amazing yogis all day for a teacher training, will go on a bike ride with some folks in the evening, and wake up for more yoga Sunday as well as choir rehearsal and a pot luck!

So much goodness in that example too. Random adventures with cool people (Somebody’s Darling is the name of the band-awesome music). Hanging out with several different groups of friends. Biking. Yoga. Dancing….

Another things that is making me so happy lately is knowing that I am a source of inspiration for some people. I’ve had a couple people in the last 2 days message me to ask for encouragement or to tell me that I motivate them regarding health and fitness stuff. I love being able to give to people.

I’m finally learning to let go and enjoy the ride. Do the things I love and everything else falls into place. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Feeling so happy and inspired. happy happy happy!

Happiness

I was getting ready to post a facebook status about happiness, but I decided it was better suited for a blog. And, besides, I have other things to blabber about.

First of all, I’m a little tired of this DOMA debate. I still haven’t heard a good argument as to why gay marriage shouldn’t be legal. I’ve heard lots of silly opinions, but nothing with much reasonable social, cultural, or legal validity. I have actually seen a few really awesome posts by Christians, the primary adversaries to the movement. Here’s a segment from one post I appreciated that a friend shared on facebook by a Christian man (note, these are not my words):

“The people we call “Christians” tend to go to 2 different extremes on this issue. They either A) Stand on a street corner and scream loudly while holding a sign, or B) Shrink back into our sheep-pens with the rest of the sheep and say nothing out of confusion or fear. I have found no in-between. And I’m guessing that this in-between, this tension, is where Jesus hung out daily. Do we really believe that Jesus would have stood on a street corner holding a sign that says “God Hates Fags?” Do we believe that Jesus would have simply hid in his church while an “equality” rally was going on outside? Shame on us.

Apparently, if you’re FOR gay marriage, you’re going to hell, and if you’re AGAINST gay marriage, you’re ignorant, old, and outdated. Do we really listen to how we sound sometimes? Shame on us.

There is another way. To my Christian brothers and sisters: stop being stagnant about this. I know you don’t agree with homosexuality. I personally plan to marry one woman and love her for the rest of eternity, and cannot see another way of life intended for us than that. But newsflash: God never gave us the command to “agree” or “disagree” with things of this world. God doesn’t care what our stand is on homosexuality, or abortion, or the legalization of marijuana, or who we voted for. God gave us the command to love each other. That’s it. THAT’S. IT. That’s our job.”

Anyway, I think that is the most reasonable thing I’ve read on the issue thus far. I don’t care to get into a debate on this. It’s a negative use of my energy, and that is all I have to say about the issue. :)

Now, you should watch this video because it will make you laugh and fill you with joy.

And that is the real topic of this post: happiness and joy. I had a little revelation this morning: happiness and joy are things you choose. You won’t always FEEL happy even when you are choosing it. Similar to love; you choose to love people in your life, but I’m sure you will agree that you don’t always feel love for those people. As with anything in life, dedication and consistent practice yield results. You can’t just decide to run a marathon and go out and run a marathon. You can’t just decide to buy a guitar and magically be able to play the guitar. You can’t decide to be happy and suddenly see rainbows and sparkles and Joseph Gordon Levitt, shirtless, feeding you chocolate covered strawberries

I mean…

Not your idea of happiness? Mine either, I just thought…

Ok, so I hope you are getting the idea here. Happiness takes work. You must choose it daily. Choose to smile at people, choose to be grateful, choose to do things that you love- things that fulfill you, choose people who build you up, and choose to be non-reactive to the inevitable challenges of your day. Stop choosing anger, frustration, reaction, and impatience. Recognize your negativity and redirect that energy into something positive. Consistently practice this. You will fail at it over and over, but persevere. Eventually it will become a more effortless way of life and you will start to feel happy. This may be the most important revelation I’ve had over the last 39 days. When they say to choose happiness and you will be happy, they don’t mean immediate results will ensue. It’s not magic, people. It’s just like anything else in this life: you must work for/toward it and have patience.

Go out there and choose happiness for yourself. I am happy.

This week, week five of 40 Days, was about centering. I failed week five. I know part of this process is to avoid dwelling on my failures and to meet myself where I am without judgement, but EFF that is SO difficult. I don’t know what caused me to derail so badly this week, but this train definitely crashed and burned and hard.

I practiced, maybe, once or twice this week. I got on my mat more than that, but I just couldn’t do it for some reason. I would start and then just…quit. I meditated, maybe, 4 or 5 times, which is a decent amount since I am doing 25 minute meditations, but this week called for 2 of those a day. I didn’t get anywhere close to that, and I feel like I’ve failed. I judged my body all week long-for it’s performance (or lack thereof), for it’s appearance, for everything. On top of not being dedicated to my practice, I ate like SHIT. Like, a whole-pizza-in-a-day and a keg of beer and McDonald’s kind of SHIT. So naturally eating like shit makes you feel like shit and that doesn’t help when you’re already kind of down on yourself for failing the week.

So as I’m typing this all out, I realize that all I’m really doing is making light of how silly my perspective is right now. I’m recognizing the fact that my mood is “below the line” currently, and by acknowledging it, I’m going to pull myself above. It was a good week, and I have plenty to be thankful for, as usual. I had a good time drinking and eating that pizza, I had a good week at work, though it wore me out, I have a pot roast in the crock pot, Iron and Wine playing, and lots of possibility. I’m going to finish up my laundry, put my yoga mat on the floor, and practice. I might take a bubble bath later and drink a hot cup of coffee and read a book. I’m going to set my intentions for this week and I am going to kick it’s ass. I do believe this week’s theme is triumph, so let’s go.

dating

So I’m going to follow up that incredibly insightful and deep like the ocean post with a more light-hearted essay about dating. (Should there be hyphens in “deep like the ocean”? Should there be hyphens in “light-hearted”? Eh, who cares.)

So, dating.

Here’s one area in my life where I consistently struggle with that whole balance and patience thing. It’s not that I’m dying to get into a relationship or anything, but it’s fun to have someone to be able to hang with regularly. I’ve recently jumped back into the world of online dating, and just like before, it’s proving to be a lot more wasted effort than success. I’m learning all the time that I am too damn picky. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not even entertaining the idea of changing that particular quality about myself, but seriously. I will rule your profile out based on your photos or your spelling or the fact that you’ve never read a book. The problem with this is that I’d probably give you about 74% more of a chance if we met first in real life, because I probably wouldn’t know those things about you, but doing it online pretty much begs particularity. It’s not that I feel like I’m too good for everyone or anything like that. I just have no desire to put the energy into people that I don’t totally dig from the start, and unfortunately my analytical inclination leads to more no’s than yes’s.

Online dating allows you to sort of refine the field and allows you to sort of choose who you want to talk with and meet. I said sort of. Problem is, people have the freedom to talk themselves up and also alternatively, unintentionally undershoot themselves when creating a profile. A really great guy might be overlooked because of awful pictures (and lets face it, how many guys actually have good photos of themselves?) A really shitty guy might be sought after because he is interested in cool stuff like wakeboarding and cooking, but is hiding the fact that he’s full of himself and unable to commit. You just never know. The difficult part is determining who to give a chance. I get a lot of messages (because let’s face it, I’m awesome, and really, why am I single?) and if I gave each person that messages me a chance, I’d never have time to do anything but date and keep up with people. (Helloooooo stuck up, conceited Jessica!!) But really, I’m not at all interested in giving it that much effort.

I’ve gone on a handful of dates now, all of which have left me wanting. The person is always too this or too that. Too country or too hipster or not talkative enough or emotionally unavailable. I’m a pretty balanced gal, and is it too damn much to ask for a guy who has a little bit of everything going on? I know these men exist. I have friends that are them.Someone who likes to play outside and get his hands dirty and can fix my car if I need him to, but can clean up and look sharp in dress clothes for a night out and maybe a cool show? Someone who doesn’t wear affliction t-shirts or gel their hair? Someone who doesn’t have stupid tattoos they regret from when they were 18? Someone who is successful and established doing something they love but not big-headed because of it? Someone who likes to travel, but can be content where they are at in the in-betweens? Someone who is physically active and fit and attractive? Someone who enjoys trying all kinds of foods and doesn’t order chicken strips on the first date and use a 20% off coupon? (I’m all about coupons, but the first date…please don’t even take me to a restaurant that accepts coupons on a first date…). Someone who isn’t going to be turned off by my CrossFit calloused hands or my muscles or the fact that I don’t wash my hair and style it every day? Someone who can appreciate a good beer? Someone who knows good music but doesn’t mind when I wanna crank up Justin Timberlake? Someone who has a car and a home he prides himself in? Someone attractive who takes care to be hygienic but isn’t prissy and is still a man? A man? Someone who understands my dry sarcasm and my awkward clumsiness? Someone who can make me laugh? Someone who gives good back rubs and kisses well and knows how to make a woman feel good? Maybe someone who can cook right alongside me, keep up with me (or kick my ass) at the gym, spontaneously suggests roadtrips, appreciates how insanely cool I am, and makes an effort to make me feel important on a regular basis? Yeah, I know that’s a lot to ask for, but I’m not gonna settle for anything less.

Sometimes I think I should just stop putting in the effort to do this and just let prince charming magically fall in my lap, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the solution. I think the solution is to keep an open mind and to be patient and not have expectations. Dating is a good learning experience, and I may never find the man I described above, but as long as I’m not constantly setting myself up for disappointment with all of my expectations and just appreciating people for who they are…..and patiently awaiting the day when it clicks, I think this journey will be fruitful. And hell, I’m sure I’ll have fun stories from it if nothing else…like last night when I rubbed jalapenos in my eye cooking for someone I had just met. ;)

And since this post needs a photo, here is one of my newest drink of choice:

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And now, I’m off to meet yet another and drink a green beer. Happy St. Pats.

balance and patience

So it’s midway through week 4 of my 40 days yoga practice, and I’ve been thinking quite a bit about a couple of my biggest personal flaws challenges in my life throughout the last month. Balance and Patience. Most people struggle with these principles, at least to some extent. We live in a world of gratuitous instant gratification. We get what we want, when we want it, and as much of it as we want. If we want something, we make it (sometimes by force) happen. It’s abnormal to sit back and let our path unfold in front of us. It’s lazy. It’s unambitious. We decide the path our life is going to take or what we are going to do right now, and we pursue it fervently until we attain it. We often suffer and struggle in the process, forcing it (whatever IT is) to happen the way we envision. Now, don’t interpret this as a acceptance of lazy passivity. I’m not saying we should just crack a beer and sit on our couch waiting for the dreams and the visions we have for our life to manifest. (Though I do love beer, and I do love sitting on my couch.)

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I believe we must find a balance between the two, passivity and action, in order to reach our full potential in this life. We must learn how to balance and to be patient.

Let me first express that I am not a huge fan of the word “passivity” because I feel that “passiveness” has a negative connotation to it, but for clarity’s sake, passivity is defined as: “accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.”

So in other words, balancing passivity and [re]activity means receiving what happens in this life with grace; meeting resistance and adversity with an equanimous perspective, an open mind, and an adaptable spirit. This is an invaluable skill, and is only attainable through practice.

I’m beginning to learn that this skill of balance manifests only when you actively practice patience. If we practice waiting patiently, letting our grasp loosen a little, practice relaxing, practice taking a step backward, we get out of our own way, and the energy and path of our life are allowed to flow as the universe or the God (or whatever you believe) intends it to.

We all have a purpose in this life. When we try to design our life and lay our own path, we sometimes lose touch with ourselves and never realize our purpose. We get wrapped up in the ideals of our culture and societal expectations, and stop listening to our hearts. We think the only way to be happy and successful in this life is to follow the route to some high paying job or to dive into a marriage or to live a flashy life. For some people, this may indeed be their purpose. I think the only way to truly know, though, is to put aside all of these ideas of what our life should look like, and instead diligently pursue the things we love with patience for the outcome.

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I said diligently, with patience. Actively invest yourself into the things you are passionate about, but don’t become so wholly consumed that you lose sight of the big picture, of the balance. We are multi-dimensional creatures. We will never be entirely fulfilled by one thing (be it a relationship, a hobby, a career, a goal, etc.) When we walk toward the things we truly love or passionately desire (instead of the things we think we are supposed to love and desire), the universe has a way of manifesting the optimum path in front of us. Walking (not running or dragging or pushing) is diligent patience. It is a dynamic and adaptable action; determined but receptive and flexible, allowing time and space for balance and adaptation.

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I’m learning these concepts daily on my mat, during my yoga practice. In yoga, in any given asana, you must first be patient with yourself, accepting wherever your body is at that particular moment in your practice. If you force yourself too deeply into a pose, you will not be able to find balance and peace. Some days you are able to go deeper and some days you revert. Just like in life, we must be adaptable to taking steps backwards at times. If you can resolve to be patient, to challenge yourself without taking it too far, balance will naturally occur, eventually resulting in growth in your practice. The cycle then continues.

You can apply these principles to anything in life. I personally struggle with patience and balance in most avenues in my life. I am a forcer. I’m impatient. I’m obsessive. I’ve seen these qualities manifest particularly in my fitness pursuit (CrossFit, running, yoga) and in my romantic relationships, but if I am not careful, I am sure to deal with it elsewhere. I get an idea in my head of where I want to be or what I want to do, and I become obsessive about it to the point that it consumes me and eventually burns out. This results in a total loss sometimes, whereas if I would just relax my hold and enjoy the ride, I might not experience so much frustration and failure. We can not force things to happen a certain way, especially if we want to maintain our passion for them along the way. We have to be open to alternative outcomes. Just like I cannot force my body to go deeper into a yoga pose without potentially injuring myself, I also cannot rush the path of a successful career or force someone to love me or hasten the journey of becoming an elite athlete or immediately possess the perfect body. If it is something that I love or truly want, and I patiently allow the journey to unfold in front of me, it will. We can have ideas of what we would like our future to look like (goals), but if we are not actively engaged in being present and patient with the road we are on today, we will probably trip over all the roadblocks and detours along the way, and worse yet-may never reach our destination.

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my bucket list

In no particular order, and always being added to:

1. See a whale. See a whale breach. Touch a whale. Maybe give a whale  kisses. (you can do this-i’ve seen videos)

2. Become a certified yoga teacher. Teach yoga.

3. Try surfing.

4. Skydive.

5. Bungee jump.

6. Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro.

7. Hike Yosemite Half Dome.

8. Road trip across the US.

9. Spend a week (at least) on every continent.

10. See the Aurora Borealis.

11. Spend time backpacking in Patagonia.

12. Kentucky Derby. Big hat, pretty dress.

……..