Tuesday, December 15, 2020

two years as a teacher, what brought me here

Two years ago today I taught my first public yoga class. It was terrifying and thrilling all at once. And the last two years have been full of every spectrum of emotion, all the battles, all the victories, all the uncomfortable growth, and unforeseen struggles.

Becoming a yoga teacher was something that had been on my mind for a few years really. Yoga had done so much for me that it seemed the natural next step to share that goodness with others.

It was overwhelming and daunting when I thought about how I could possibly make it happen. To become a registered yoga teacher requires 200 hours of training. The nearest trainings to me required that I drive to Seattle every weekend for a year or some other schedule that was unfeasible to my life at the time. There are immersive trainings of 30 days in a specific locale (I was eyeballing Mexico and Hawaii) but they are pretty expensive. So I just sat on my dream, waiting till the timing was right.

Three years ago I was practicing regularly in my favorite small yoga studio and I asked my teacher if she would mind meeting with me so I could talk over some stuff with her. In that meeting I told her my desire to be a yoga teacher and did she have any advice or avenues or warnings for me.  She was blunt and honest with me from the get go. She asked my motives, asked what I hoped it would look like and told me her experience as a teacher. And she gave me encouragement, also suggesting a teacher friend of hers that was leading a training in Indonesia that summer. 

I poured over the brochure for the training, including a retreat to Bali afterward. I researched travel to Indonesia, noted how much it would cost to fly there on top of the cost for the training and just didn't see that I could make it happen. So I sat on my dream again, waiting till the timing was right.

Ten months after our meeting I learned that the very same teacher that had offered the training in Indonesia was holding a training at the studio that I practiced in! A training in my town! In the evenings! Over the course of three months! I'd never met this teacher but she came recommended and it didn't take long to decide that this was the time, this was my opportunity. And I had to jump because every fiber of my being said DO IT. So I did.

Exactly one year after that initial meeting I began yoga teacher training, a journey that catapulted me into a season of intense growth and change. Not to sound too corny but it was really the dawn of a new day. It gifted me the courage to make some necessary changes in my life and to rediscover my own potential.

Through training I met people outside of my normal circle that expanded my view of the world and life in general. I still consider my fellow trainees family. And my teacher...words just
cannot explain. Since that first day of training when I met her for the first time, she has inspired me, challenged me, and empowered me. I'm grateful to have had her in my corner as I traversed this thrilling journey.

My life is changed. Because yoga. Because courage. Because teacher training. Because freedom to be.

I spent a long time surrounded by people that needed me to be a certain way to maintain balance of a belief system. They made me believe that relationships were earned by submission. They enforced the idea that I was flawed and broken. And I was. I was broken and wary of myself and the whole world. Being brought low ensured my subjection to that broken system, a flawed culture.

Yoga didn't change my mind about all of that. My teachers didn't change my mind. No, it was the fire that was already inside me, the courage welling up in my very soul, the desire to once again be free. But as I made small changes, little by little unearthing my own strength and discovering that flame within, it snowballed into a full on run for freedom and liberation.

I graduated the training, taught my first public class and two weeks later started teaching regularly at that same studio where I was a student. Within a month I had a teaching job at a gym as well. That next summer I traveled to Indonesia with my teacher and helped in a teacher training, followed by a week in Bali. The timing was finally right.

That first year of teaching was magical. I built my teaching schedule up to nine classes per week. I helped in yet another teacher training. I completed some continuing education. I battled my own doubts and reveled in achievements.

The second year of teaching has not been super magical. The world shut down and trying to navigate through this new landscape has been a struggle. But still, the carrying on is the superhuman strength.

So, if you made it this far, thank you. For whatever way you may have had a part in this journey thank you. If you've been a student, know that it is for you that I persevere. If you've been my teacher, know that you've been instrumental in changing my life. If you've been a doubter, questioning my decisions, thank you for fueling my fire to change. If you're a silent supporter, thank you.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


When my journey to freedom began I wrote in my journal, words from a broken heart, words that held hope and purpose.  When I read these words I can feel the determination, the moment where I felt the power in my hands to release, to simply let go, and move forward.

I have the freedom to live in my skin, to live fully and beautifully.  I am not a mistake, an accident, a mess, a flaw, a disaster, a pile of filthy rags.  I am wonderfully planned and put together.  I am a beam of warm light.  I am a friend, a strength, a vulnerable human.  I am here now and I won't live ashamed anymore.  There is power in my veins and purpose in my heartbeat.  I won't waste another breath on vanity.  Accept what is, embrace it, and release what is not.  Release fake.  Release lies. Release opinions.  Release negativity.  Here I am.  Whole.  Love. Light.
But I reflect back on the environment that caused me to believe those things, that I was anything less than an incredible creation and I grieve.  I was repeatedly told that we as a whole are dirty and rotten and there is nothing good in us.  I was told that I couldn't ever trust my emotions, that they lie and are evil.  I was told that I needed to separate myself from anyone outside the circle, guarded, wary, suspicious even.  And I believed it.

What I know now is that we as a whole are human, we fall, we learn, we grow, we create, we love.  I know now that emotions are built in tools that the body uses to survive, to adapt, to communicate and it would do us well to notice them and interpret what they are trying to tell us.  I know now that I am one of billions of people and most every human I have the opportunity to meet has something I can connect with, can grow from, or I have something to offer them, if nothing but simple kindness.

This is only my story.  This is my journey.  I can't speak for others because we are all unique and must walk our unique paths.  I refrain from details/locations/names/specifics because I'm not out to tear anyone or anything down.  Just understand that freedom is within your reach, no matter what you are being held captive by.  It takes an immense amount of bravery to realize your cage and find your way to the open sky but it can be done.  Let go and be free.

Friday, September 13, 2019

in love with living

Life.  I'm just so wildly in love with living.  With my beating heart and breathing lungs.  With experience and growth.  With loving and being loved.

Living hurts.  I won't deny that fact.  There are parts of this life that can just suck.  There are the doubts we wrestle with in our own minds that weigh us down.  There are harsh words or crappy people.  There are the moments where change happens and even though the change is good, you know life will never be the same from then on.  Growth can be painful.  And sometimes, just sometimes, unfair things, the things you didn't ask for, the things you can't explain, those things just happen.

Life is utterly beautiful.  When we can live our lives from a point of gratitude, noticing the little gifts, the precious little moments, then the beauty just unfolds in front of us.  Beauty isn't always colorful and neat and perfectly aligned. It could be the beauty within tears as your heart spills emotion that proves you love and are loved.

I am grateful for my life, the very act of being alive, the aliveness that comes from outside of my power, that is sustained by grace.  But I'm also grateful for the life that is mine as a product of my own courage.

I'm grateful for the life that is mine as a product of my own courage.

There was a time I just existed, content with status quo, believing that what I could see of the world must be all there was, sure that I had all things sorted.  But something inside me stirred, a little spark of something more, a seed of longing.  I stifled it, stuffed it down inside with fear.  I was afraid of change, uncertain how to even navigate through.  I was afraid of causing a stir amongst people, of being judged, of becoming someone people talk about with a shake of the head and a look of contempt.

As time passed I only grew more uneasy, sick to my stomach as I tried to keep on keeping on, holding up the lifestyle I was repeatedly told was the only way.  It was at this time that I took on a job.  A real job, in an office with business attire, a 9 to 5.  It wasn't long till I began to feel the toxicity of the environment.  I was charged with a large task within that job that became mundane and tedious and the toxicity continued.  I spiraled into a depression as I tried to uphold what was quickly caving in over my head.

I clawed for a way out, desperate for some sliver of hope that this wasn't all life held.  Every day I went through the motions.  Just surviving.  Just looking for a way out.  I poured my heart out in my journal.  Words from a broken heart.  Words begging for change but not knowing or understanding where that change would come from.

What I didn't know then was that the change would come from within me.

The change would come from within me.

There was a moment where I knew that for anything to happen, I was going to have go after it.  I made a list on little yellow notepad of all the things I was passionate about, the things that made me happy, the things I was good at and wanted to pursue more of.  Bit by bit, I sought ways to build those things into my life.

Then I started to let go.  Each step forward, each act of courage, I let go, just a little, of toxicity.  I let go, just a little, of expectation.  I let go, just a little, of pride.  I let go, just a little, of fear.  And that change, that change that boiled up from the deepest part of me began to manifest.

Where I am at this very moment has a great deal to do with my own courage.  Because I had the courage to step forward into the unknown, to release what I had held onto for so long, I slowly uncovered freedom.  I didn't create the freedom, but I stepped into what had been there from the beginning, what was always meant for me.

I stepped into what had been there from the beginning, what was always meant for me.

We are meant for freedom, not to be held down by self made rules and traditions, not to be held back by fear, not to be stunted in life by thinking we have some enlightened intelligence and can discern and judge the world and life itself.  We are meant to soar and thrive and grow and flourish and live and feel and love and BE FREE.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

swim with the tide

reading...  sort of reading Where'd You Go Bernadette

watching...  a documentary show about wildlife in Australia and also  "Outlander"

trying...  to get organized.  I've been purging my closet, organizing the pantry, sorting through paperwork.  It seems that once I get some headway in one thing, 5 more tasks pop up.  But I'm really motivated so hopefully I gain some ground.

baking...  I made the best pear/zucchini bread.  I tweaked the recipe by substituting some of the oil with a banana and also using a 1:3 ratio of coconut flour and white flour.  It came together perfectly.

eating...  tonight we are having baked chicken and wild rice and some sort of vegetable.  We are at the point in life where I have to be careful the amount of food I make because sometimes it is just the 2 of us.

drinking...  all the tea, hot and usually unsweetened unless I'm feeling froggy

doing...  today I taught a yoga class of 1 student, ran errands all over town, grocery shopped, and took my Charlie pup to the park and the beach (he is currently comatose in his bed)

going...  tomorrow I'm going to my favorite woods.  It's supposed to rain so it ought to be awesome!

loving...  being HOME.   Spending a month in a foreign country made me realize without a doubt that I love my life here at home.  I love driving my truck around with the music up too loud and the windows down and my dog in my lap, usually heading to the woods or the beach.  I love my little house and my little family and my 3 old hens that aren't laying eggs currently

dreading...  in one month my youngest son is packing up to head to college.  Ugh.  That's a kick in the gut.

enjoying...  painting my nails.  As a longtime nail-biter I rarely have nice nails but I've let them grow for three months and they look pretty dang good.  Today's polish is called "ravishing gown"...it's an iridescent purple.  

thinking...  yesterday I came across some of my private journal entries from 2 years ago.  I was in such a stuck place and it made me sad for that time where I felt helpless, unable or afraid to change. And I'm thankful for the transformational journey I've had since then and the freedom I've found.

feeling...  hopeful for autumn, a new season that will bring some sure changes but also great opportunities

hoping for...  my mom to have a successful surgery on her broken wrist.  Success and quick recovery.

listening to...  at this very moment Calvin Arsenia is singing "Back To You"

smelling...  lavender, lemon, and ylang ylang

thankful...  I'm thankful that I'll be adding a couple more yoga classes to my weekly schedule next month

considering...  the release of expectation.  Placing expectations on anything is a way we try to hold control, control we were never meant to have.  Release expectations and allow things to be as they are.  Save your strength to swim with the tide rather than fight against the current.

thoughts on Indonesia

Did you like Indonesia? 

I've heard this question many times in the two weeks since returning and I'm never sure exactly how to answer it.  Truth be told, I liked aspects of it, such as: the people (they are kind and funny and welcoming and gracious), the impeccable service, the lack of road rage during insane traffic, the diversity, and the coffee so good that I am forever ruined.

Things I did not like: pollution (worst in the world), the language barrier, Dengue fever, heat, traffic

My world was expanded with this trip as I was immersed in another culture for a solid month, where before I possessed some narrow-mindedness concerning other groups of people with lifestyles and mindsets different than my own.  Gosh, I've lived so small for so long in so many areas of my life.

Being a citizen of the US, born and raised on this soil without setting foot outside it's borders, I could never understand that the world outside of this country is capable and educated and strong and loving.  Without realizing it, I had a very conceited world view, that being that the US is the greatest country in the world and that means we are the best in every thing we do and no other country or people could ever be equal to or better than us.  Sheesh, so arrogant!  I didn't know I was living with that mindset until I visited southeast Asia and had those beliefs knocked right out of my head.

What I learned is that human beings are human beings the world over.  No matter the location or the style of clothing, the language, the social idiosyncrasies, the food culture, or the traditions.  We all want to live a happy life full of love and family, to eat good food and do something with our time that is fulfilling.  This is a world truth.  The US does not have the monopoly on happiness, no matter what I always believed.

Back to those things I liked about Indonesia...

The people.  I met some really great human beings and was so sad to leave them.  They made me feel welcome in a place so foreign.

The impeccable service.  Customer service is top notch in this country.  Friendliness, helpfulness, attention, respect.  I find that in the US I often feel as if I'm a nuisance to service industry staff but that was never the case in Indonesia.

The lack of road rage.  Imagine chaos.  Imagine movement everywhere.  Imagine congestion.  Imagine very loose road rules.  Then plop a car in the middle and get from point A to point B without getting angry or impatient or rude.  I witnessed this calm in the storm every single day as we had drivers everywhere we went.

The diversity.  I mentioned this already but it bears repeating.  The world is a big, beautiful, colorful canvas and I'm so thankful I got to witness it with a fresh perspective.

The coffee.  Every coffee I had in Indonesia was smooth and strong.  Crafted slowly and carefully.  Presented with pride.  Since I've been back home I've switched to tea.  My taste buds are true coffee snobs now.

And a few words about the things I did not like about Indonesia...

The pollution.  Ranked worst in the world, Jakarta rarely glimpses a blue sky.  The air is constantly hazy and thick with unhealthy particulates.  Add to that a serious litter and trash problem in most parts of the city.  I was surprised that Bali, an island retreat and vacation destination also had a terrible trash issue.

The language barrier.  I didn't realize this would be as big of an issue as it was.  I often felt very alienated in groups of people or in public places.  I was at a complete loss to communicate.  Thankfully there are many Indonesians that do speak English and would sometimes take pity on me and translate mid conversation.

Dengue fever.  This wasn't even on my radar but 12 days into my trip I began presenting symptoms of this disease that is spread through the bite of infectious mosquitoes.  There is no medicine for it, no immunizations, no cure.  I ended up in the hospital where I received IV fluids and blood tests to monitor my platelets.  Dengue fever knocked me completely down for a full week and a few days more of weakness.  But my victory song is that 2 weeks after my first symptoms I was climbing up the side of a volcano to view the sunset.

Heat.  Jakarta was hot and sticky.  Bali was not so bad.  But it sure made me miss my mild PNW weather.

Traffic.  Again, experiencing traffic in Asia made me long for my sleepy little island in Washington.  We spent a lot of time just getting from here to there.  So much car sitting.  So many times I just closed my eyes and mindfully relaxed my tensed up muscles.

Forever I will hold this trip close to my heart.  It was nothing like I'd expected, not like I'd planned but I firmly believe things happen on purpose to grow us or to expand us or to change us in some way.  I'm thankful for all of it.  The positive and the negative.  Not the Dengue though.  I'm really not thankful for that.

Monday, July 1, 2019

necessary and unnecessary

T minus 4 days.

The big adventure begins.

I'm using this week to wrap up packing and doing all the necessary and probably unnecessary things before being gone for a month.  Plus working at the restaurant all the days.

Necessary things a person does before leaving the country:
  • locate passport
  • pack reading material for the flight
  • begin probiotics
  • get the monthly bills paid
Unnecessary things I do before leaving the country:
  • wash my truck
  • order a case of toilet paper from Amazon
  • order an air conditioner
  • fill all the bird feeders
It's a big shift.  It's a new experience.  And I have every emotion about the whole thing.  I'll miss my faithful little dog.  I'll miss watching my chickens be their quirky chicken selves.  I'll miss seeing the wildflowers take over my garden.  I'll miss my hiking trails and my trees.  I'll miss my guys.

But when I get sad or anxious about the leaving, I think about all the new things I'm going to experience.  All the cool people I'm going to meet.  This new country I've never seen.

Until then, I'm going to hike a couple more times, soaking in my happy place.  I'm going to work three more shifts at the restaurant. I'm going to do more unnecessary things and I'm going to finish packing.  And then we'll celebrate the birthday of this beautiful country.

Stay tuned for updates from Indonesia.  I'll be posting on my Instagram and probably Facebook.  And maybe I'll even write a little here.

Until next time!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

big adventure

It's hot where I'm headed.  Daily temperatures in the mid 90's with the nights only cooling to the upper 70's.  Humidity is high.

Jakarta, Indonesia is a city of 9.5 million people.  9.5 million.  !!

This small town girl who has never been outside of the U.S is in for some culture shock.

I'm leaving behind my sleepy island in the upper left corner of America and flying across the ocean to Indonesia.  I'm taking my camera and a million pairs of yoga pants.  This will be my life while I'm there.  Yoga and photography.

The purpose of the trip is to mentor in yoga teacher training.  The same training that I went through over a period of 10 weeks last fall will be taught in 3 weeks.  Long days.  Long weeks.  Lots of yoga.  I look forward to what I will learn being exposed to the training for a second time but also sharing it and assisting others in their learning.

How will I grow and change as I am immersed in a new culture?  I lived for 39 years with a very small view of the world.  In my 40th year I was opened and expanded, growth beyond measure as I discovered a life of freedom.  And now, entering my 41st year I get to experience something I would have thought was out of reach as I spend a month in Indonesia.

Yoga and photography.  This was my dream.  And in just 23 days I'll be on a plane across the ocean to my biggest adventure yet.

Stay tuned!