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My High School reunion is RIGHT around the corner (August 12-14 to be precise). There is stigma from High School– how your awkward manifested, relationships, the past, our hormonal education and growth journey, and how that experience shaped you to become who you are in this moment. Maybe you were type casted, had an awesome experience, you were someone who could not wait to get the hell out of dodge, or it inspired you to do different and become who you are.

In our teens, our hormones are raging, we are learning how to not only mentally grow, but also emotionally handle these hormonal impulses, the feelings, the social norms and miniature social pressures placed on us, especially all under the influence of our relationships. High School relationships: friends, family, peers, significant others, sexual encounters, and yes, the clubs and clicks of the social or the work environment. The journey of our inner power and the relationship of where this places us on the High School “food chain” is an interesting determinant of the series of events that unfold in the next 10 years and the journey thereafter: What will limit you and what will set you free.

I have a friend who graduated the same year from Rockbridge. We have been close since youth group. Adamantly, she is firm that she will not be going to her reunion, whereas I am genuinely not only enthusiastic to see others, but truly just happy to put on my adult attire and have an enjoyable night out in a hot dress with high heels (may I add all you can drink and eat). I probed her for reasons around why she does not want to go, and like many I presume, there is pain centered on what “was” in High School, or the relationship journeys that occurred “after”. When I say pain, it was the kind of pain like rumors, adolescent cruelty, being a cast out, letting yourself react to others reactions about you, not fitting in, and all that awkward bull shit that causes you to be trapped, or grow the hell up, developing behaviors we hold as our justification patterns as adults. “The people I am close with I see, why do I need to see the people at the reunion?” A valid point, but one I feel is true and false in a sense.

Exploring this phenomenon in movies from our culture, I share my top 3 movies I relate to for what WAS, IS, and can come to PASS:

#1: Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997): Not a great movie, but it’s impossible not to enjoy the performances of Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino, playing two remarkably unsuccessful friends who decide to outrageously lie to former classmates at their high-school reunion. “Uh, I invented Post-Its.”

I relate to the friendship that Romy and Michelle have and the desire to see everyone from high school, showing the journey they have come through. My favorite character was always Lisa, the representative from Vogue that gives Romy and Michelle their big break. Total laugh out loud movie.

#2: Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008): Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks play long-time platonic friends who become depressed about their lives after attending a high-school reunion. The solution to their money woes? Make a XXX-rated movie. Director Kevin Smith performs his usual magic of mixing crudeness and sweetness.

Though I do not live with a friend from high school, and have not made any film debuts such as Zach and Miri, I laugh out loud to this movie, as the 10 year reunion is exactly where I am headed. They are at the end of the road, last resorts, and they have to come up with an idea to turn it around. The reunion scene alone when she discovers her crush was not what she thought all along is what always leaves my jaw on the ground.

#3: Peggy Sue Got Married (1986): Kathleen Turner gives a strong performance as a woman who passes out at her 25-year high-school reunion and actually wakes up back in high school. Francis Ford Coppola directed this amusing look at the unexpected, disturbing and rewarding paths our lives take.

What do you think about Nick Cage? Did you check out his hair?!? Wowsers! Though I am not in my 25 years post High School, I do know class mates who are getting divorced, and it is weird to look at this movie as an evolution, “what would you do different piece”. Just so we are clear: I would do it all the same again, every little bit.

People evolve or remain the same as the process of the journey unfolds. Some of our class mates are parents, have amazing careers, have had dreams realized and are on to the next biggest thing, or are still trying to figure it all out, making sense from what was/is/will be, have lost and learned, have passed away, have traveled far away, and are for the most part not the “same” as they were in High School attributed to looking, feeling, behaving, thinking, or being different.

My father went to Hickman, and has some of his closest relationships with people from his class reunions. Some of these friends are life long, high school to current, where as the majority are friends that when he was in school he did not know – Hickman was huge in the 70’s; it was even bigger when I graduated. I have great role models that are close with my father who have married High School sweethearts, married those from the reunions, divorced those from the reunions, continue to grow in relationships with those from the reunion through trips, dinners, and support one another for better or for worse, usually with a side of drama. These reunion friends of my fathers are like a second family to me, an extension of parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, sisters and brothers that in a crunch, I know have my back. I look forward to growing in this reunion journey of my own out of my own class now, no expectations, just excited to be going.

PS…if you graduated with me and you are reading…buy your tickets here.

If my post has struck a nerve with you – fears of High School past, reunion taboo, or why you would or would not go to your High School reunion, please share in the comment box below!

Returning from Chicago (the second time), I see a need to add the primary series in the schedule.

Yes, the 1.5-2 hour Primary Series practice can FEEL daunting…but the cikitsa is truly a great modality for prevention of pain + suffering and other blah blah blah (aka your story).

When I was in Ashtanga training, Manju mentioned that the Ashtanga method is really ALL the yoga one will ever need. EVER. You have to understand for an individual who likes to test limits, set my own, color inside (and outside) the lines, this was hard to imagine. But no Pigeon? No Standing Dancer? No Lizard?! There will be many “never mores”, this is, within the parameters of what is the Ashtanga method.

I have not decided full on to move FULL throttle and do ONLY Ashtanga personally or instructing, but a growing need is showing up in studio (and around me) for greater confidence, strength, courage, aptitude, and less chatter. I guess you could say “a little less talk and a whole lot more action”.

I suffer from wanting to tell the crazy boss in my mind to “Shut it”. Sometimes there is a lot of chittra/chatter and not enough stillness or the opposite of too much theory of what I would “like to do” “know I need to do” and not enough doing. The Ashtanga method gives freedom for the Spirit to BE as the Sanskrit speaks to the heart of your soul, the breathing carries you deeper into consciousness, and the movement wrings you out physically and emotionally.

I love it all, as the classical American that Manju so lovely described as we are like children who like to experience everything and when we are ready, make our mind up.

“We” as a collective have been working through the cikitsa for the past year. I feel that when you approach the remainder of the series (or the Primary), you look at how much awkward you can physically “BE” with. The great news is is that each pose is held for approximately 5 or so breaths, so we quickly experience, squeeze, and pause, then jump back into the flow – ahem…letting it go.

As a student of exercise and the study of self, I love yoga. I am passionate about sharing it with others and continue to search for new ways to reach existing or new students that brings the best and worst to surface. I enjoy just about everything and like to blend methods and modalities to cultivate what I am authentic with in every moment. The part that draws me to Ashtanga though is that it is the fundamentals, mathematics, and geometry that prepares you for more. NOTE: there are many ways to get the “job” done, at this time, I have decided that this is the BEST for me.

The next big question I have been sitting with for a while is WHEN. We are maintaining ~4-6+ individuals weekly in all of the power classes and dabbling in asanas and pranayama in the Primary and Secondary Series. The “when” will happen when it is right. When dedication meets opportunity!

Please share with me if this gets you going to be more active with less chatter, in studio or out of studio by leaving a comment below.

Over Father’s Day dinner my Grandmother turns to me in shock that I went to Chicago for yet ANOTHER yoga certification training – “what possibly do you still need to know?”

Yoga is a process and a journey, free of destination. We grow, and then our yoga grows. We change, then our yoga changes. We are continually refining the process, attracting just what we need in the moment. When you gather with individuals who are groovy and dig the vibes you dig, it just gets that much more amazing. Breath, blood, sweat, and tears!

2011 Chicago Yoga Center Manju Jois Ashtanga Teacher Intensive/Workshop & Training

The windy city was amazing last week. I grew in relationships with others as we sweat our way in self-discovery in very fast paced primary and secondary series. After or before training, I would sneak away to practice-Hot Yoga at a proximal studio, Om On the Range (a Baptiste inspired studio).

I had some huge kinks that were being stirred to the surface from our interludes in “Carefully hurting each other” in our hands on practice of the adjustments, to my salty sweaty practices at Om On the Range. Terry said it best – “You can take as much as you like, as long as you can breathe with it.” That statement was so profound, I had to leave the room to choke it back with some water.

In life, in our culture, everything is an all you can eat buffet – information, styles, methods, personalities, thoughts, food, etc. As Americans, we like to try everything, shop for the best deal, and quickly jump to conclusion when we are certain we know the facts because we learned it from a source that agreed with us. We expect others to give us a break, show us compassion for our shortcomings, but heedlessly point out our own flaws when they happen to manifest in lesser degrees in those who show us kindness – sort of like the dog that bites the hand that feeds it.

As I sat with this statement at the water cooler, a fellow light noticed my abrupt departure and wanted to be sure that I wasn’t having heat stroke, or a negative reaction as I was pink to the touch and my curls were a blazin’. This was an understatement.

I feel that when you are learning to get back to your authentic roots, speaking truthfully, from the heart, that in these moments the necessity to act as a warrior of the heart is mandatory. We want the art of vulnerability to accompany us into our experience as strength, not as an invitation for others to come at us and approach us as prey or something weak to be taken advantage of – hold to your boundaries that are in place because they lift your spirit and help your soul to soar!

I returned to my mat to methodically feel out what I had been breathing with for over 96 hours. I came to the conclusion there in that moment that what Jim always tells me is it is not what people say, but why they say it. In this moment of clarity, I compassionately felt for the unfortunates whom had fallen prey to beguile and falseness with misinformation and the twisting of words. I empathized with them, as it is sad when you let something small ruin an experience because ego gets in the way. Integrity is something that is the same behind closed doors or in front of an audience. In this moment, I felt better – as I know myself, my experiences that I elect to have by choice and do not let fear run or ruin my life. Each day of my week away, I found my journey attracting the powerful relationships and experiences that real foundations are built upon.

As for what I was breathing with, it was clothing itself in the cloaks of resistance. It did not care if I paid attention or went about my business. It was seeking though to take me from my path, my path of growth of self, growth of passion, growth for purpose, and the growth I was choosing by design. This is my little echo into the Universe to say – thank you for the challenge – we all need reminders why we have the good life and why we chose to see it that way.

Rise to your own potential

Studio practice is an investment in YOU, and you are the best asset you have at the end of the day.

It is estimated that thousands of dollars are spent on unnecessary health care visits and programs due to the lack of focus on high quality nutrition and exercise.

Give yourself the time it takes to grow; doing this you will boost your energy…spark your intuition…open your mind to new horizons… renew your spirit for life…and guide you to your very highest potential in body, soul and in everything you do.

You’ll discover new ways to improve and deepen your yoga practice, keep you freshly inspired, authentically motivated, and at the edge of your growth and on-going transformation. You’ll find greater balance in your life.

Yes, you “could” stay at home and do yoga…with a DVD…with yourself…with a magazine…but how is this working for you?
Yes, you “could” do yoga in a gym…it may smell like a diaper hamper or be devoid of many things, but does this help you reach your highest enlightening point?

For the “magic” on the mat to happen, it is blending aspects of mind, body, and spirit in an environment AND a community that lifts you – the rising tide lifts ALL waves.

Do something to improve your life: you have everything inside of you to feel if something is right for you or not. Nothing can tell you the truth like your own body! Have the satisfaction of feeling good for you!

The mind is subtle, shape-able, and capable of transcending the STUCK to get to a more authentic and liberated place.

Resistance is merely a barometer for how important something is to us. Pain is merely a manifestation of something that has been prolonged through resistance and the abstinence to move through. Stopping short of what is painful is NOT playing your edge. Pain, breaking through pain, and breaking something are each different. The art of the action is balance.

Living, Blooming, Growing

I am a huge Orchid fanatic! My living room has turned into a botanical garden with different varieties of orchids. I enjoy watching the flowers develop in the unique blends of colors, shapes, and organic patterns.

I have successfully kept my black orchid alive and it is now shooting a new bloom!!! 3 of my other plants are also beginning to sprout new leads! Sadly though, I have had some lose leaves, turn yellow, and saddest, one has a lead but all other areas of the plant have shriveled.

Watching orchids thrive and develop is a metaphor now for a lot of turgid growth I am undertaking. How far are my roots? Deep in the mulch, or lurching out to find new places to connect to? Do I want the grandeur and sparkle of many “flowers” of fruition, or something collective and simple?

If my orchids could talk, what do you think they would tell me about the journey of where they came from, how the growth and process is going, and if they plan to continue to prosper in my dwelling space or if the curtain is about to call?

My orchids instill hope in me every day. I pray I do not over or under attend them, and that our growing relationship of plant and caregiver maintains balance.

Airing Dirty Laundry

Part 1

I have been taught that idle gossip is bad. I remember being a little girl in my Mother’s mothers’ home and hearing the church hens come over after early morning service and dish about all that went on in the one stop sign town. After, I was cautioned that gossip was bad, obey Jesus…so forth. I was conflicted.

Even though I love great dish, as I lust after celebrity information, juicy and sordid stories, I have to stop myself often and remind myself that dish is another term for gossip. Motivation alone gives character to the actions of men (Jean de la Bruyere). When you filter your language and thoughts, so much can fall on the side of the broom for gossip.

Gossip comes from a person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts. Rumors are unverified information that originate in a game form of telephone, a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on (Churchill). Blake explains that a truth that is told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent. So true.

Gossip is talk (rumored/fact based) that is shared in an intimate fashion, quietly, in a personal matter. It is sensed between two people that there is a need for something buzz worthy. At what point does a discussion turn into gossip?

When you put yourself out there, people are naturally intrigued. When problems arise or the metaphorical “shit hitting the fan” happens, everyone wants a reaction – the experience comes from the reaction you deliver. Furthermore, when one appears to “have it together” people are looking under the microscope for the imperfections – why? My theory is to make themselves feel better about what they feel is ordinary about themselves or the pain that they choose to be in.

There are aspects of my life I choose not to discuss in an intimate matter with those who are not in my Trust Tree – Trust Tree is a close knit circle that is different for each individual and may contain as few people that you can count on one hand; up to 5 – this is not limited to my relationships, views, and secret knowledge that I am privy to.

I have the esteemed advantage of working closely with people providing opportunities as partners, colleagues, and dear friends. Even though these individuals are independent contractors, they work with me, under an establishment which I am responsible for. Everything from health, marital, legal, financial, motivation (good and bad), and life and death situations were covered in my first year.

The question I want to ask everyone is when someone chooses to leave (near death experience, “personal reason”, “break”, “sabbatical”, “vacation”) for whatever passive, passive/aggressive, or aggressive reason, because I am friendly, what would make you think that I will candidly share the WHY? Sometimes I do not get a straight WHY.

On another note, I treat my independent contractors like family. This is a loaded statement that has really made me re-evaluate many things from the past with my family. In a German-Catholic/Methodist infusion of the British-stick up-the-butt and the French ooh-la-la…dys-functional is a term that would have many bullet points in the definition. There is love, no matter what tone of voice it holds. Aside, I love everyone I work with. There is no hate in my heart, even when I realize that acting was not foreseen when the initial journey began and that this person has sold me a version of themselves to love far from the truth. Maybe I am gullible?

Family. When someone is my family, I discuss them only with specific family members. Clients are like family too – dear extended family who we would like to come in and join our family. But one thing I will not do is publicly stone my family, hurt them by telling their business (because really – a WHY is THEIR business), or give my opinion because it is gossip and far from love.

Miguel Angel Ruiz puts it best:

“Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”

As much as I enjoy dirty laundry, the last thing I seek is to hurt my family, their character, or create further injury to their pain. Isn’t gossip (the fact or fiction) we speak of others just a louder statement about how we really feel about ourselves?

Put best by Jenna from Sports Nutrition – shut your face. Gossip is likened to bad breath, we see it and smell it from others, not ourselves. Take a deep breath. In the place of the gossip, let love and light pour into this space and take of the verbal diarrhea that was preparing to launch a stinky situation and say something that displays your character and lifts the evolution of all.

Each time we step onto “the mat” our capacity is challenged. Rather we have an instructor, or it is our individual practice we are creating, overcoming, enduring for transformation, and living the love and ahimsa (nonviolence) in our practice – on and off our mat.

I love the phrase in practice that has been shared with me and that I borrow often of “hurt so good”.  Shaktifying and freeing what is awkward to pause with us in a place of abundant humility, accepting the boundary and raising the ante to get a little deeper, a little closer breath by breath, and a lot nearer to the physical manifestation of that which is stuck is constantly evolving. Problems possibly upgraded, or new lessons yet to be learned. The behavioral patterns that inevitably brought “us” to this place and mucked up the path to the essential self so that we may feel our way authentically allows the Shakti to ignite. If you remove the stick long enough – this is true ecstasy.

I love a great class where you have a fantastic tour guide who can speak your language and deliver you to this place effortlessly – it is the easy button truly. When I travel though to the beach- my happy place – I like silence, no guide, just happening by ease in pure existence. I love to find my own inner compass in Prana to this oasis of essential in or out of class. The breath is my navigator – it is wise beyond comprehension. Shallow at first, soft, quiet, and then once in process bellows, scruffy, significant, it is what unveils the path.

Feeling authentically is not always Candy Land. There is negativity in my inner Molasses Swamp amidst small victories deep in release. Harry S. Truman refers to “intense feeling too often obscures the truth.” As we come into these intense feelings, this is the ultimate test to uncover your roots and be present. I fork in my feelings by asking the internal “and then what else”…”good, great, and then how else do you feel” becoming my own coach or psychoanalyst. As much as I like to say “thank you Monkey Mind” and go on, my monkey has feelings that deserve to be un-caged and released. Sweat is great, dirty, and cathartic.

I digress. Friday was amazing. I shaktified. It was simple yet complex. The look my liver made when I came into the gravity of myself spoke a novel. We may forgive but we never forget. As the fire in my face and heart dictate, I am present in my transformation. Confucius says: When we see persons of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see persons of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves; this I did.

Later that day, I created. My heart was connected. The evening was completed with an amazing date night. The Universe heard my call for Shakespeare’s…mmm. There is nothing like extra sauce, watching vampire lore with one’s loved one.

Saturday was powerful. A lesson in peacocking. We got down; we eased in and colored outside the lines. I feel that flying is best when you see like-minded friends jumping out of the nest in the “V” or in our case rumps in the air and feathers on display!

The afternoon was a whirlwind of great friends, company, retail therapy, and a double date night. This weekend I hit the jackpot! True character comes out when one is drunk – according to Charlie Chaplin a man who barely spoke! We were in amazing company and the evening just kept getting better: friends, sushi, comedy, and dueling pianos ending with hockey puck 7:3 and pokey sticks food comas.

Sundays are sacred. 100% of Bhakti to the higher power. January was the beginning of my pilgrimage where I go to numerous institutions, religious houses, and mi amigos yoga studios to embark in the continuum of IN-SPIRITation. In service this morning so much came together in an intriguing sermon regarding the danger of urban legends “God helps those who help themselves” Aesop Fables circa 6BC. Genesis 16, development of girls to womanhood, and super-bowl mishaps were woven together under the theme of waiting. The question boils down to whose’ voice are you listening to? Drawing upon what, why and how in achieving a promise or deep hearts desire we are met with the truth that God will never let you down, be forever faithful. We need our why to be the lesson of learning humility not in the power to fix our self-trust or self-dependence, but to be disciplined, take action, and have patient trust to be in the world but not of it. Amen=truth.