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The Understory

We all have wise bears for certain things. I have one for words , and she gifted me the word understory. It was years ago but I knew it was my word immediately, and my wise bear did too. When a tree or a part of a tree dies and falls to the forest floor, it begins to create a new story. With the right damp conditions and perfect ingredients, green shoots of growth and hope accumulate underneath the old parts. This new story is called the understory, and it’s what springs out of the old and the dead. I met this wise bear just two months after Benjamin fell in the forest, and she gave me the definition over cold chardonnay and hot french fries. I felt a heavy swoon when she first described it, like when you meet someone you’ll hope to know on porches and over coffee for the rest of your stories. I put the word in my pocket for later, and it was years until I tacked into a firm project. But meanwhile, I began to build my life on the philosophy of the understory, because there were so many little deaths that had come and were coming still. It’s a philosophy that builds hope, even in the hardest of things. Now in my forties, I have started to look at my forest floor and take stock of the falls, the green, and the potential of the in between. My wise bears are gathered too, watching from the backs of trees and helping trim, water, and discard. I can count on dappled sunlight, and I can also count on the deep dark, both necessary for forest sustenance and clear […]

Rain, Courage and my dad

The sound and smell of rain is wrapped around my sense of home and waist harness, and my dad loved the rain more than most things.  I remember him sitting out on the porch on Fieldbrook Court during a rainstorm when I was small.  These storms in Alabama were the kind that shook the rafters and struck thunder so loud it popped from deep underneath.  He would open all the windows and doors in anticipation of the weather coming, and lean back on a wooden chair to talk to the storm.  I would watch him while he watched the rain roll in.  I was afraid of it, and he was made more alive by it.  He would lean back in the chair and lift his arms up, long hair sliding back.  Mama always thought he looked like Michael Landon when he was young.  I loved him dearly and I wanted to love all the things he loved.  One day I decided to practice cutting a brave, new pattern.  I put on my boots and tiny rain jacket at 5 years old, and mounted my bicycle.  I left dad on the creaky porch and I entered the sheets of rain and pedaled into the dead end circle in front of our house.  He watched and I rode.  Around and around and around, until I was bone soaked and less afraid.  I practiced the fear right out of my little body, and I cupped the trophy in my hands and recognized the weight of it.  I survived the rainstorm by surrendering to it, and even began to like it a little.  Today, sitting on the porch during a rare Denver rainstorm is one of my favorite […]

Moving Gifts

New Year Intentions:
I am reading a great book called “The Gift” and it’s calling me to rethink how I offer myself to the world.  It talks about the idea that gifts (whether physical or otherwise) should keep moving and become a channel for growth and conversation.  When the gift stops, it stagnates and dams up the river.  If the gift is not allowed to move on, “it loses it gift properties.”

I think this pertains to actual things in terms of recycling, using and decluttering.  But it also seems relevant in terms of talent, blessings we bestow upon others, and remembering that what we have must be given away to take shape and life.  The words of a writer must be given away to take hold, or the writer becomes regretful and stuck.  The same theory encircles a dancer, painter, or any other artist.

My interest this year, in part, lies in moving the gift.  I want to move words to paper and page, movement ideas into the medicine of yoga to help people feel better, food into blessing for my body and my family’s bodies, and my teaching talents into preparing other teachers to offer their best.  I want to do this without scarcity thoughts and without feelings of worry or judgement, which are elements that dam the river and stop the flow.

So while I have lots of little plans, rituals and small intentions for this new calendar year in place~ this is the big one.

I want to join my wisdom, self care, discipline and practice with your larger one.  I want to take what I am learning and be in service to the whole. I want to trust that I can hold more loosely […]

By |January 7th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

What would Vivi do?

Last year, my mom moved from Alabama to Denver to be close to our family after she retired from a prestigious career in education at Montgomery Academy.   I couldn’t be happier that she lives minutes away from me now.  Mom, or as she hopes Otis will be able to call her soon, Vivi, is diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer that has moved into her lungs.  A scary diagnosis indeed.   But her will to live, thrive and spread joy daily is a remarkable thing to watch, and I wanted to compile some of her daily medicine and ways she moves through the world.  These are teachings she has stood by all along, but they are absolutely helping to keep this cancer at bay.  And I believe they are universal teachings for us all.

What would Vivi do?

 

Put your lipstick on.

 Growing up as a southern girl, this was a cultural thing.  She actually meant for me to go put some lipstick on.  But she also means to go brighten myself in whatever capacity I can to be of service.  That’s the ask: To be of service to the room, to my child, to my yoga students, and to my family~ or to whatever is in front of me.   It’s like a good long handstand or a heavy, overdue cry.  It cleans out the gunk and offers a  fresh face forward to breathe into the present moment.  She applies lipstick several times a day, both literally and metaphorically.  I love that about her.  And, it works every time.

Eat/Enjoy/Indulge in Moderation. 

Mom is very polite as she navigates all the gluten-free/sugar-free/dairy-free/plant-based/paleo/anti-inflammatory shenanigans that my husband, myself and my friends put her through in Denver.  She laughs as she […]

By |October 25th, 2017|Blog|9 Comments

Off script

Most likely, you are a goal setter and have a timeline in mind for your personal and professional goals, and you probably subscribe to societal ideals about where your life should be at this point and what kind of boxes should be checked at this age.  You might come across as easy going but you really have a plan written in black sharpie of where you are headed in your five year plan, and if you don’t then you might have a cobweb of guilt stuck to your insides because you haven’t gotten around to it.  Most of us want what we want, and the timing and urgency of life is in the very  fabric of our society and local communities.

I am writing a book, and one of the great pleasures that is part of that journey is the glance back into time of my past land-marks and life-marks.  I am writing some from personal biography, and this weekend I looked at the big marks on my timeline that were formative and made me who I am.  Almost every one of those gilded marks I had wanted sooner or differently than what they ended up as, but looking back they each were perfectly phrased and nestled in the score of my life just as they should be.

This reminded me, more than anything, to make space for magic.  When we are able to let go of our small, hardened agenda for long enough to make space for possibility~ something frees up.  It’s really a practice of focusing on the blessings in your hand instead of driving your timed goals so hard you can’t see the bigger beauty all around you.  I think, in order to […]

By |August 7th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments

What’s your bounce?

What’s Your Bounce?

Lights on lights off. Lights on lights off. Scroll, scroll, scroll, clickbait. 1234. 1234. 1234. 1234.
Keep moving so you don’t feel and think. Keep filling and filling and adding and buying and layering.
Most of us have a hunger that we are trying to fill with noise, movement, food, sex, drinks, people, chatter, social media, shopping or fill in the blank with your poison.
The things you are afraid are sealed away underneath the layers of filler, but they are still there and building power.  Can you put down your poison for a few days? You can become still and awake as you feel and take some deep breaths?
When I was tiny I bounced. Heavy, rhythmic bouncing that shook my whole little body and soothed me somehow. Usually I chose a couch, but the back seat of the car also supported my habit. The bi-product of the heavy bounce was the vocal hum and release. It was cathartic in ways I couldn’t know to talk about so young.  I would bounce for hours sometimes, wearing down that early anxiety with snaps back, over and over again. I was stripped of my dignity one Thursday afternoon. I was bouncing at a rainy red light with only Mom in the car, and I made the mistake of looking sideways at the car packed with teenagers next to us. My entire family had wrapped me in courage and safety around my bouncing habit, and somehow they knew not to discuss it aloud. But these boys began to bounce too, and I flushed that familiar hot shame. I was delivered from soothe to shame in a swift breath, and I still remember the embarrassment of it.  In retrospect, […]

The year of the pineapple. Stay awake and on the road.

do not choose the lesser life
do you hear me.
do you hear me.
choose the life that is yours.
the life that is seducing your lungs.
that is dripping down your chin.
~Nayyirah Waheed
 

Each year I pick a theme to guide my practice and be my lighthouse.  Usually I find imagery, poems, prose and art to help install my theme into my heart, brain and body for the months to come.  I keep it close to my chest and check on it often, noticing how it comes alive in my practice.  More often than not it comes to me by way of insight from a friend, but sometimes I just trip over it. Several things collided to congeal into a theme for 2017.

Presence.  I want to taste the year.

Here’s why:

I gave my baby boy Otis his first taste of pineapple a few weeks ago.  I dearly love pineapple, and I craved it often while pregnant with him.  Almost as soon as I leaned down and offered him the sweet fruit, I looked away and checked my Facebook feed.  Probably 30 seconds went by, and I looked back at him and his eyes were glowing and sweet juice was running down his chin.  He was elated!  And I almost missed his first pineapple.  It was in the moments following that my theme emerged.  I want this year to have 100% presence, to taste my way through the year, and I don’t want to miss a thing.

Actually, a dear friend gave me this theme a few years back, but I was sifting through a heartbreak and it seemed like the equivalent of buying a diamond ring while homeless and cold.  This is a year of feeling the details instead of inventing […]

By |January 5th, 2017|Blog|4 Comments

A specific call to action and art

In these uncertain times I feel snapped awake.
 These are some things my family has gathered together this past week to discuss and then pour into action.

Social Media Diet ~ While I do believe some important conversations are happening on social media, when I ingest my FB newsfeed I feel toxic, sluggish, and disconnected.  Matt and I are limiting our time on these platforms and replacing this empty scrolling with direct connection and quality time.  I feel refreshed as a result.  I feel wider awake.
Make Art~ What is your specialty? This is a time that our planet needs more art and beauty and human connection.   I am committed to writing more and teaching more, because I know that makes a difference in the quality of the world  I live in.  My husband writes and plays music which has direct impact on his happiness and those who choose to listen.  I am blessed to know amazing cooks, dancers, painters, nurses, doctors, engineers, and architects who make the world more beautiful by their contributions. Art is medicinal.  Movement is medicinal. Are you doing all you can?
Educate Yourself.  Read more and show up more with specific questions and ways to provide change and leadership.  Stop posting articles that you have only read the headline for and truly become the change you want to see in the world.  It begins with your home and hearth and moves out in concentric circles from there.  I vow to show up locally where I can and take responsibility where I haven’t.
Listen More. I hear a lot of talking and peacocking lately.  There is less listening because people are not willing to live in the grey areas at […]

By |November 13th, 2016|Blog|6 Comments

The night Ben died.

My mom was visiting me in Illinois the night my brother died.  I still remember everything about those first moments.  I was jolted awake by my phone ringing and I blinked into the screen to see “Dad”.  He asked to speak to mom and I padded into the guest room to find her.  She was already sitting up reaching for the phone as if she knew.  I started screaming and melting to my knees before I knew how to inhale, and I heard her say, “Jimmy, I have to go.  I need to take care of Buffy.”  I was 27 years old and her son had just died.  She knelt where I had melted and something unforgettable happened.

I looked up at her and said, “What are we going to do?”  She said, without hesitation,

“Go make your bed.”

I did.

I came back to her like an unplugged robot whose insides had frozen.

“What do I do now?”

“Go take a shower.”

These step by step directions assembled our early morning and we cleaned my apartment as we waited to fly home.  So many things strung together that day and days to follow to make a horrific story of loss.  Many years have passed and there has been hills and healing but I can still hear him laugh.  That lesson she taught me on his morning has remained as clear as a smooth, cold stone in my hand all this time.

Some time later I found out that as soon as my dad learned what happened, he shaved.  In the middle of the night, he shaved.  Then, he waited until the mall opened at 10 the next morning and went and bought a suit.  We all must do something. It’s primal, […]

By |August 18th, 2016|Blog|26 Comments

Are you tired of worrying? read this.

 
For as long as I can remember I have been paralyzed by the fear of talking in front of people~ especially when I am speaking my heart.  As a yoga teacher I do this daily, and it is a fear that has not gone away since the dawn of my teaching. Strangely, I am very good at it.  But that doesn’t stop my mindset from going into a dark and unproductive place.  It can paralyze me at times, but my commitment to these teachings keeps me coming back to have tea with my dragons.
For most of us, the same old worries have been hanging on the walls for years.  It is time to redecorate.
A common theme I have worked with in my own journey and in my teaching is to clear old patterns/reactions of fear and replace them with brave and positive patterns.  We all know this is good and helpful and a way to set yourself up for a life of great happiness.  But it is not enough just to know this and claim this and curate a newsfeed of cursive quotes about it.

My latest interest is to create strategy for real change so the negative patterns are not the default.  It cannot take hold in our everyday unless we move the goal into a strategy of action and get a plan.
GOAL~
remove the old and fearful patterns that cause doubt/fear/lack/smallness
replace with: positive responses that elevate and help facilitate ease and happiness
STRATEGIES~
1. Curiosity.
 Get hungry and interested and curious instead of residing in your cemented ideas of how things need to be because they have always been.  Start practicing starting your sentences with:
 “I wonder what would happen if..”  and “Let me try this…”
Texturally- curiosity is soft […]

By |July 26th, 2016|Blog|2 Comments