Sunday, December 30, 2012

“Why are we should-ing all over ourselves?”

Yesterday a midst a Sex and the City marathon one of the episodes referenced "The S word"; or the shoulds in our life.  I should be married with kids, I should own a home and be settled down, I should grow up, I should make the "right" decisions.  Heck I should probably even stop wearing concert T-shirts and flip flops.  These shoulds come from the media, from peer pressure, from family, from the world around us and often times from deep inside ourselves.
"I wondered if should was another disease plaquing women.  Did we want babies and perfect honeymoons, or did we think we should have babies and perfect honeymoons? How do we seperate what we could do with what we should do? And here is an alarming thought.  It's not just peer pressure, it seems to be coming from within.  Why are we should-ing all over ourselves?
~ Ah, the wise words of Carrie Bradshaw.  (Season 6, Episode 15, "Catch 38")
Interesting that I watched that show in the afternoon, thought about some of my own shoulds and then had to confront one of them when I headed to work at my retail gig.  After hearing that this older gentleman that I was helping was from NYC I told him that I was from NY and asked him where in NYC.  When he said the Village I got really excited and told him I went to NYU for grad school.  He then proceeded to say something along the lines of how did you end up working here with a Master's degree from NYU.  I told him that I was on pause from my career and taking some time to explore different options and I was fine.  He walked away and I was pissed.  How dare he make me justify the use (or lack thereof) of my degree?  How dare he make me question my place, when I question it enough without anyone having to do it for me?  How dare he make me for even one second feel less then?  But, when I told him that I was fine for the first time in a while I did not have to convince myself that this was true.  I know I wrote about being “good enough for now” and sometimes it is hard for me to accept that but when I said last night that I was fine I actually felt like I was speaking the truth.  It took me saying those words out loud to a stranger for me to believe them.

So I am not sure what he thought I “should” be doing with my degree but I know I have gotten my money’s worth.  We have choices, I have choices.  I choose right now to work a part-time retail job, I could have chosen a different path to be on right now but this is what I have chosen.  It is what I SHOULD be doing right now because it is what I have chosen to do.  So I say to that man who looked at me with both disapproval and disappointment, "Thanks for your concern, but I really am fine!" 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Family and letting others in


As we are immersed in the holiday season, I look at Thanksgiving and New Year's book ending a very hectic and busy yet sweet and loving time of year.  I think a lot about my family; I have lived away from the family that I was born in to for many years and have found myself fortunate to establish a network of family for myself wherever I have landed.  I love where I live right now and the family I have created for myself and for this reason I am determined to stay put.  I just got off of the phone with my mother after having described in detail some of the traditions that have become part of my holiday season (the delivery of pajamas from the pajama elves on Christmas Eve and Side Dish Christmas on Christmas day) and she said to me with much conviction that she finally understood why it was so important for me to stay in this community.  I am grateful for the family I was born into and grateful that they understand the importance of the family I have chosen.  I am grateful for the family I have chosen and who have chosen me.

I wrote the following during the first month of my unemployment and feel it is quite relevant to post at this time:
I am a single woman who has lived most of her adult life on her own.  I have supported myself financially since college and have been fine living pretty much pay check to pay check.  My money has gone to travel, concerts, food and not really to physical possessions.  My apartment consists of mostly hand me down furniture and most days I am OK with this.  Not working has made me reevaluate how I will stretch the money that I have and what I am really able to live on. 
As I have shared with close friends about my current situation it became very clear very quickly that if need be it I would not need to worry about housing and food.  Left and right I was getting affirmations of love and support from friends near and far.  As meaningful as this was it was also quite overwhelming, it is difficult for me to accept help from others in this grand way.  After all I have been on my own for so many years and only me taking care of me.  I have been trying really hard to let others in, reach out when I need it and accept the hands that have been reaching out to me.
But I have been, I have been letting others help me and give to me and in small ways I try to repay.  Overwhelming again to realize what I mean to those who are reaching out to me.  I lead my life in a positive manner, I get to know the people who I encounter casually and form relationships fairly easily.  I believe that people are essentially good and some just do not know how to manifest that yet.  The graciousness that I have been granted correlates with the time and care that I have taken to get to know people.  I, like many people, am willing to help but have a difficult time accepting help from others.  But if we are going to truly be part of the world we must accept the help from others because it is this acceptance that allows us to give so freely when we have the ability to do so.   We are not in this alone.  There are reasons why we live in communities, why we build relationships and why we let people in.
 Happy Holiday to you and your family  (however you choose to define them)!!


"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life.  Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof."
~ Richard Bach, Illusions

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I will be.


So I have committed to writing a new blog post every Sunday.  I have made this commitment to no one other then myself.  Occasionally I will post during the week, like I did this week (my published poem!!!) For my Sunday posts I want to write original pieces, one that reflects on what I did, lessons I have learned and what I have seen in the week that has passed.   Sometimes these are things that I have started writing early in the week other times I sit down and just type.  Very easily I have found inspiration.

With the tragedy that we saw this week, many innocent lives being lost in such a senseless act, and so many unanswered questions I have been at a loss for words the past few days.  I also do not think that anything that I could write about what has happened would give due justice to the situation.  When I think about my week in hindsight, when I think about my life and how it has transpired over the last few weeks, months and years, I know that things are not so bad for me (they are actually pretty good).  I have a roof over my head in a community that I love, an abundance of food, I have had a formal education, I have had the opportunity to travel the world and I have people who I love and love me in all corners of this country. 

I will spend my days appreciating what I have.  I will not let time pass without recognizing those who have made a difference in my world. I will hug those I love a little bit tighter.  I will smile more at strangers. I will go out of my way to make someone’s day.  I will let go of the little things that bother me (or at least try).  I will try.  I will appreciate nature more.  I will bring a level of mindfulness and presence to all interactions that I have. I will use my empathy to try to understand your story. I will listen more.  I will take risks.  I will let myself be vulnerable. I will forgive.  I will not regret.  I will love.  I will be hopeful.  I will have an open mind and heart.  I will still be sad and angry and frustrated and I will allow myself to be all of those things.  I will be.

What will you do?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I wrote a poem and it was published!!

Just less then two years ago and only about 6 months into my yoga practice I saw somewhere out in cyperspace a call for poetry about yoga. I sat down in front of my computer, composed a poem, made a few edits and submitted it.  I think the last time I wrote a poem may had been in a High School English class.  I would have not called myself a poet, but something happened, a force took over, I felt inspired and I composed my first poem and submitted it.  I found out a few months later that my poem would be included in the second volume of the Poetry of Yoga which is officially released today. I was as surprised as I was honored to be chosen to be a part of such an amazing project.  
"A ground-breaking project, The Poetry of Yoga has expanded the literary tradition of yoga to include the cultural perspective of the 21st century. A modern day collection compiled and edited by artist, poet, and yogi HAWAH, the two volumes are distilled from over 2,000 pages of poetry that was submitted online from 19 countries.
 Hawah’s vision was to help kick-start a modern day renaissance of age-old, and now deceased, master poets such as Hafiz, Mirabai, and Rumi; hence reclaiming the mystical expression that defines so many yoga practitioners around the world today.  The only book of its kind, The Poetry of Yoga has harnessed and created an important platform for a new body of work that reflects on how yoga continues to shift the landscape of human civilization. The other part of the mission is to raise money for the non-profit organization One Common Unity, which teaches non-violence and conflict resolution through the arts to inner-city youth.  Fifty percent of book sales are donated to benefit their pioneering programs and initiatives."  (From the official press release)
Here is my poem:
My practice

breathe
stretch
move
breathe
breathe
thoughts
thoughts
I am in my head
whats going on
what do I need to do tomorrow
whats for dinner
breathe
breathe
focus
must focus
am I doing this right
my body does not move like theirs
breathe
breathe
breathe
that’s not comfortable
my body does not move like that
this hurts
but I want to do it like they are doing it
adjust
adjust
relax
breathe
it will be ok
it is ok
i can move how i need to move
relax
breathe
breathe
if I do this now I will be relaxed for tomorrow
stop thinking about relaxing
breathe in and out, out and in
it is ok
my body moves how it is supposed to move
breathe
open heart
release the days stress
breathe
breathe
breathe
grace
appreciate the practice where I am at
breathe
breathe
breathe
breathe
gratitude
grace
love
grace
light
shine
heart
grace
wisdom
open
open
open
breathe

You can order your copy of this remarkable collection of poetry that I am honored to be a part of here: www.ThePoetryOfYoga.com





Sunday, December 9, 2012

Contemplating Time


For my entire life I have measured time by semesters.  Starting at Elementary school through High School, then, moving on to College straight through to Graduate school.  Then I worked in a profession that continued this, I worked for over 10 years and continued to measure my time by this.  Things like ‘winter break’, ‘finals,’ ‘end of semester/year closure’ were part of my everyday vernacular. 


Now here I am for the first time in my life and a semester holds a whole different meaning for me, or really holds no meaning at all.  A semester is coming to a close (3 months since I left my job) and I am not helping students prepare for finals, prepping for the next semester or pulling together ways for students to reflect on their semester.  I mentioned this odd place I feel like I have found myself in to one of my new retail colleagues and she said you must feel so free.  I had not thought of it as freeing, honestly I had thought of it as feeling lost.  But when she said that it made me think that yes this is actually another freeing moment in my journey.  This entire ‘unemployment’ (I put that in quotes because I guess technically I am working) thing has definitely at times felt quite freeing, though every now and then moments of hopelessness does rear its ugly head.  When I let myself, I do feel free, like the possibilities are endless, that this is a time to reinvent myself.  The problem is I am not sure I want to reinvent myself or to even know where to start when it is comes to looking at different careers.  Personally the freedom is amazing and I have done some great work on me and really am less stressed then I have felt in years.  Though sometimes I think about not feeling stressed and that makes me a little bit stressed!

So back to time; in the grand scheme of life only 3 months have passed.   Three years ago I spent 3 months traveling around the world (yes literally around the world).  So much can happen in three months yet it is such a small amount of time. Who knows what the next three months will hold for me.  Sometimes I wish I had a time machine that would let me know when things will unfold (because I know they will) and when I will know what my next steps will be.   What I do know is that if I focus too much on thinking of what is next I will lose touch with what is happening right now and there is a lot of good going on right now and really life is good.

“When time is reduced to linear progress, it is emptied of presence.”
~ John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom 


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Falling Apart with Grace

Life brings many ups and downs, twists and turns.  I have fallen and I have risen.  Each time I fall I feel that I prepare myself for the next time it will happen.  I am working through a lot these days and I do believe I have done a lot of good work on myself.  I also know with every dozen steps I take forward lead to a handful of steps backwards.  I have become stronger with each fall and know that in life these moments are where our greatest lessons are learned.  

“The more you fall apart the more capable you are of falling apart” 
~Douglas Brooks

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Untitled Post*

I spent most of my weekend at Yoga Sanctuaryattending a philosophy workshop; Heroines:  Stories of Healing, Hurting, and Awakening the Heart taught by Douglas Brooks.  I went into this weekend figuring that by the time the weekend was over I would have lots of fodder to write about.  I took copious amounts of notes, understood maybe two thirds of what was said and had my mind blown at least a half a dozen times, however to synthesis what I took in at this point is quite challenging to say the least.  I will say that as I absorbed a lot of information I realized how relevant so many of the stories that I listened to and the information I absorbed rung true to my life right now, how I have existed and how I want to be.

One of the things that I took away and that I can process right now was the concept that heroines use their advantage to their advantage.  We should take the gifts that we have been given and use them to our benefit.  There was a lot said about this and if you are a fan like I am of the lore, philosophy and stories that are behind yoga then I would say if you have the opportunity to hear Douglas Brooks speak you should jump on it.  You will also find that he takes many tangents but eventually comes back to the point he is making so this one take away was a very small piece of a much larger story.

I believe that we all have the ability to live as heroines since we like them are human beings.  So as difficult, uncomfortable or challenging as it may be to think about ‘using our advantages to our advantage’ I think it makes absolute sense and I have seen it play out in a positive way in my own life.  I see it as utilizing your strengths, being secure with what you have and using that to gain some sort of value.  We also learned that heroines would not be seeking success but value added.  What sort of value can be gained?

When I first became unemployed I really did not think I would survive, I was overwhelmed with the unknown and very quickly turned into survival mode.  Once I got to the other side of that I reached out to a number of different people who I knew that in one way or another would provide me with support or potentially open doors for me.  I see my ability to connect with people, listen to their stories, build relationships and then sustain these relationships to be a strength that I possess.  (Isn't it interesting how sometimes it feels easier to talk about our deficits instead of ways we excel.  Even typing that sounded too braggy, but I know this to be true.)  For a time that has had such extreme ups and downs I have added value to my days by reaching out to the people I had previously spent time cultivating relationships with.  I have used these relationships to my advantage; to help me to survive, to nourish and sustain me and to explore new possibilities.  I do hope that those who have been so supportive to me have felt that I have reciprocated.  I will say with some extra time on my hands I have had the ability to have some fully engaging conversations with some amazing people; where stories, laughter and tears have all been shared.

I have been using what I know to be my strengths (advantages) to improve my situation, sustain my relationships and keep me on a positive path.  What advantages do you have that you can use towards your advantage?

*The reason this is untitled is because I originally titled it "There is a Little Bit of Heroine in Me". After reading this title a few times it just did not sit right with me and then I could not think of anything better. I kept reading it as Heroin and not Heroine and that is so not right!*



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Keep Breathing

In moments of stress, times of unknown and when I am feeling down I have learned through yoga to return to my breath.  Before I even connected with yoga I connected with this song and in moments of stress, times of unknown and when I am feeling down I listen to this song on repeat (sometimes it just repeats in my head).



Sunday, November 25, 2012

I was angry


Things that I have felt in the past week: anger, sadness, disappointment.  One thing that yoga has taught me is to honor all that presents itself.  While doing the asana (physical practice) I have really learned to do this.  In most classes there is at least one instance where I feel sore, push myself to my limit or doubt my ability.  A lot comes up both physically and emotionally and I choose to honor all of it.  By working on this in a safe space that has been created allows me to take lessons learned off of the mat.

When anger, sadness and disappointment arose in me this week I reflected on why and what was coming up and breathed a lot and that helped me to get through each instance really quickly.  One of the ways in which this manifested itself this week was when I was angry about “having” (this is a choice I have made and do not have to be doing this) to work this retail job I have found myself in, angry because I was scheduled to work a Friday and Saturday night.  I quickly realized I needed to get over myself, own my anger, process why and then not let it effect the job I was doing and the interactions I was having with others.  Also, guess what Stacey you are working retail and you just may need to work a couple of weekend nights. Things were not horrible; I was bringing in some income, and being treated quite well.  I spoke to my Manager and shared some of my stressors with having to work a Friday evening; I start my Fridays at 5:30am when I head out to hang out (remember I do not babysit) with these two little girls and then drive them to school and I have filled my Fridays with a number of other tasks.  The next day I came in and she had actually changed my schedule (for one week anyway).  I shared this story about being angry, owning it and moving through it quickly with someone who I have been getting support from and she made me pause for a second and clued me in to the fact that I had a supervisor who for the first time in a while heard my needs and made some changes to support me.

So not only am I ├╝ber aware of my emotions and how to honor them when they all come up, I have learned how to breathe in those moments, breathe in a way that is so deep, so cleansing and so helpful and as icing on the cake I am getting support from a source that I have not had much support from in quite some time.

I am grateful for all that I feel and I know with each emotion and situation I am in and react to comes another lesson that I am learning.  So I say to you like Rumi; "invite them in."
  
The Guest House  ~Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a time when many reflect on gratitude and give thanks.  I try not to wait until this time of year to appreciate all that is precious in my life and in these past two months gratitude is nothing that I have been short of.  I hope that all who have supported and been there for me know how grateful I am for them.  I have had lots of time these days and reflect often on all of the things in my life that I am grateful for.  The love that I have been shown, the ability to experience grace each day and the gratitude that I feel on a daily basis has brought much happiness into my life.  This quote says it all to me:


"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned , earned, worn or consumed.  Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude." 
~Dennis Waitley

Wishing all a Thanksgiving with tables overflowing with love, grace and gratitude.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Re-raveling

A yoga teacher of mine equated the process of soul searching to unraveling and re-raveling.  This made me think of a time when my dog Shane had gotten in to my knitting and pulled apart a large ball of yarn leaving it in a big unraveled, knotted mess on the floor.  I had to then decide if I was going to scoop up the yarn and throw it in the trash or if I was going to take the time to un-knot, re-ravel and re-purpose it into something even more beautiful then I had intended before.  As I have recently laid on the floor as a big unraveled mess I have needed to make the decision to pick myself up and start the re-raveling process.

I do feel like I have been unraveled, unraveled fully, stripped down bare, hit rock bottom all necessary in order to re-ravel myself.  This unraveling process happened so quickly, quicker then I could have even imagined possible. Much like that ball of yarn once unraveled, you never can re-ravel it the same way. Have you ever tried to re-ravel a knotted up pile of yarn.  Well that is kind of how I felt at the beginning of this journey; a big ball of knots (and that is not even talking about the physical tension in my body).  All of the threads are there and I am bundling up the yarn and recreating, re-imagining what my story will look like.  The yarn is the same but the way it is put together is slightly different.  I am the same, but I am putting myself back together differently. 

I have mentioned that I had been doing some things lately that would not have been part of my daily routine just a few months ago.  Well, this week I have another thing to add to that list.  I went to DC to assist my friend and work a large scale event.  There were some moments of extreme chaos and the stress level of most of the planning team was through the roof.  At one point as I was assisting with the seating chart I turned to the woman who was in charge of this process and I suggested she paused and breathed.  She looked at me like I had four heads and I realized quickly she was having none of that (at that particular moment anyway).  The next day as things calmed a little and things were winding down this same woman turned to me and told me that she appreciated the prior days interaction and she knew she could certainly use more of that, she also told me that she appreciated my calmness throughout the chaos.  We talked a bit about putting things into perspective and how I remain calm in times of high stress and chaos.  A bit I equate to my yoga practice and a bit also has to do with working in some stressful situations in the past including helping students in crisis (this is where the perspective taking comes into play).

I share this as well as the unraveling because regardless of how the pieces go back together or how the yarn re-ravels back, the yarn is still the same.  I am continuing to be true to my integrity and to who is inherently me regardless of the situations I have been finding myself in.  Be it being the calmness to an otherwise chaotic situation or lending an ear to one of my young coworkers at my retail job I continue to seek out these opportunities to let my true self shine.  I continue to utilize the strengths that I possess to better myself and those around me.

We all have times in our life that when we think things will never be the same, life has changed and there is no turning back.  As long as we are true to ourselves, live with our integrity, the path with unfold and the yarn will re-ravel just as it should even if it takes shape very differently.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Good enough for now

How are you? Good enough. How are things? Good enough for now. This is the answer that I have recently been giving to those questions that come in as just a passing hello. And not in a way that is bitter, angry or even said with sadness, but rather hoping to come across as being content with where I am right now.   I have always been someone that when I ask how you are I care and will make sure I have time to hear the true answer.  I am also someone who will be as honest as I can when responding. 

Is good enough for now good enough?  I have been contemplating contentment versus happiness.  And is ‘just being content’ OK.  Because really good enough in my book equals being content.

When I went to India some years back with a good friend we found a moment of silence and calm amidst a very hectic and chaotic trip.  We were having a meal at an eco-village and my friend turned to me and asked what I was thinking or how I was feeling and I said I had an overwhelming feeling of contentment.  She asked, just contentment?  I think of this conversation often and really contentment is a great place to be.  On some days this includes extreme moments of happiness and on other days the contrary may be true.  But all in all base line contentment really is all that is necessary and I believe we have the power to define that as we choose.  If you take your mouse and right click on the word contentment right now the second synonym that appears is happiness.  And if you right click the word happiness the first synonym is contentment.  To me contentment is a state of feeling comfortable, safe and joyous (see I did not need to use the word happy).  All of these things I have felt these past two months, almost more so then I had felt in the year prior (particularly once I figured out that I would be OK financially).

Yoga has helped me to just be in this state of contentment.  Allowed me to honor what comes up in the moment and breathe through those difficult times.  Yoga, both the physical practice and the practice I take off of the mat, has helped me to achieve this contentment at a time in my life when I would have thought that contentment would be unachievable. 

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” 

Lao Tzu


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Well-Behaved Women...

What an election year this has been and I am so happy with the direction that things have gone.  Many victories for this country and especially for women.  Here is to all the women in my life near and far!


“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” 

― Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Earning My Keep


A few weeks ago I spent a Saturday afternoon washing blankets at the laundromat for my yoga studio.  I have made an arrangement to do ‘work trade' at the studio; I will clean weekly and in return I can continue my practice.  Not a bad deal at all!  I had been feeling like I was taking advantage of the arrangement that was given to me, and had been inquiring about other ways to help out so I agreed to wash the yoga blankets at the laundromat.  I had a partner in crime and once he helped me unload everything he headed back to the studio to work on cleaning the mats.  I thought this would be a great time for me to read, knit and grab a cup of coffee.  Not so much, I spent most of the time playing the timing game, switching machines, loading and unloading and trying not to piss off too many people with my 60 plus blankets consuming much of the space.

I also did a whole lot of reflecting.  I am not a huge fan of going to the laundromat, I have often said that if you gave me a mattress and washer and dryer, you can call it an apartment and I would be set.  I do not know if my issue with the laundromat stems from when we sold my childhood house, moved into an apartment and it was the first time I had spent time at a laundromat.  Regardless of why I have a dislike for the laundromat  I really was fine spending my Saturday afternoon on this task.  I feel like I have been given the gift of yoga and if it means that 4 hours are spent to make the studio a better place then so be it.  I am proud of that space and put care and concern in the weekly cleaning I am doing and did the same in this weekend project.

A really fascinating part of my journey has been choosing to do things that in the past I may had avoided.  I have been cleaning the studio weekly and very thoroughly I may add.  Now I would not say that my apartment is dirty, but it is certainly not neat and really I clean on an as needed basis, usually if someone is coming to visit.  I am not a babysitter, but I will hang out (not babysit) with my friends’ kids sometimes and have recently been driving  two little girls to school once a week.  And kids; not always my thing particularly when I have to wake up before the sun!

I have been volunteering (which I have loved) at the Northampton Survival Center (a local food pantry) and I help people bring groceries to their cars and a couple of times in the pouring rain.  I like the rain from the comfort of my home but being out in it and doing chores not so much.  I was not affected by it during these times.  It was not something that I even took a second thought about (until I am writing this now).  I was grateful to be there helping and hearing people’s stories and knowing that the work being done at this center was such good work and that I had the opportunity to contribute.

These experiences have also made me think back to a day I spent volunteering at a Disabled Children’s Home in India, where conditions were not ideal and in prior circumstances I would have been complaining.  That day I would not have wanted to be anywhere else.  You can read about this experience here: Chennai, India- Friday, March 12, 2010

All of these experiences have one thing in common.  They have allowed me to feel like I am earning my keep.  Not just thinking about the financial pieces but also my place.  My place in community, in society, and supporting my community that is supporting me, sustaining my yoga practice and nourishing my soul.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Street Sweeper

I have been thinking about this quote a lot lately as I have started a part-time seasonal job in retail: 

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

I am working with some great people, some who, like me, are in it for the mean time, while others have dedicated their career to being great at retail and doing their jobs quite well.  This is a momentary blip for me, something that I am ashamed to say I am struggling being embarrassed about.  But when I see the passion, pride and fun that come into play daily in this unfamiliar work environment I am humbled more and more.  I have said that it is not as important what I am doing but who I am surrounded by and this serves to prove that point.  And though I do not think that I have been called to be a career retail employee for the mean time I will enjoy this positive environment that I have found myself in.

PS Never thought I would be able to say I folded a Honey Boo Boo t-shirt!  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Good Work

I just started reading the book "Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity," by David Whyte that was lent to me by a friend who knows all that I am going through right now.  She was certainly correct to think that this would be a book that interests me at this time.  As I mentioned in my first post I am grieving from the loss of a piece of my identity related to my work.  I am only about 50 pages in and already have a few takeaways from this book.

"At its simplest, good work is work that makes sense, and that grants sense and meaning to the one who is doing it and to those affected by it."

Yes, I would say that I am trying to find good work.




Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ah, to be 25 again

Last weekend I was visited by a former student, her husband and couple of her friends.  She and her two friends work in higher education (my chosen field) and they made me remember why I chose to do the work I do in the first place.  We had some wonderful conversations; some about their work and some about mine, but all of these conversations delved deep in to why I do this work.  I helped them process some of their experiences a little bit, asked them the whys to what they were doing and got to share some stories about my Semester at Sea adventures.  The young energy that they brought to my weekend left me feeling rejuvenated, nourished and excited to see what is next.  The gratitude they had for my hospitality was something special.  Just talking about the work that I have done and to see it manifested in a new professional makes a very intangible job quite tangible.  While I am not sure if the field of higher education is my career destiny I do know that there will be a helping component in whatever I do.  

It also did not hurt that the apple picking adventure we set out on turned in to discovering a winery 5 miles from my home that was hosting a fall festival.


I am in a position now that if I let myself I can just sit back and let things unfold.  I am doing some of that but I am also ensuring that I am an active participant in this unfolding.  I am deciding to not curl up on the couch and watch TV all day (thought there are days when that is tempting) and to still connect with the people in "my village" no matter how near or far they may be.  I am surrounding myself with positive, enriching people and seeking out opportunities that will allow me to figure out my next course of action.  Some of these opportunities may seem unconventional; driving 2 little girls to school once a week, cleaning the yoga studio, volunteering at a local food pantry and working a seasonal retail job.   I am learning incredible lessons from all of these things and will be sharing more about these in posts to come.  Who do you connect with that affirms something in your life, your worth or the work that you choose to do? Seek those people out and surround yourself with that positivity.

"The most subversive invitation you could ever accept is the invitation to awaken to who you are and where you have landed." ~ John O'Donohue

Friday, October 26, 2012

What Can I Say

This post is in honor of last night's Brandi Carlile concert that I went to at the Calvin theater in Northampton, MA.  As I mentioned live music is very special to me, I would even call it a spiritual experience.  When she sang this last night fully unplugged, including no microphones, I was certainly a little emotional.  Though most of my days are positive, I am relatively happy and I am keeping an upbeat demeanor I would say that I connect to this song on the days or moments when the contrary is true.  I am learning to accept all that comes up including the times that are not positive, a little sad or that even make me angry.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Do It Anyway

I am not normally a Ben Folds fan but I was driving this morning and this song came on the radio and the lyrics really rang true.  I think the best place to really HEAR a song (besides live of course) is in the car.  Also, this video has Fraggle Rock in it and how can they not put a smile on your face!



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hey Hey Hey

I derive a lot of inspiration and motivation from music.  I am a huge fan of good lyrics and if a song can elicit emotions that to me is a good thing.  I went to my first Micheal Franti concert November of 2008 thanks to a good friend and have been hooked ever since.  His lyrics are so powerful and to see him perform live is definitely some sort of spiritual experience.


Don't let nobody ever tell you that it couldn't be done
Don't let nobody ever tell you that we couldn't be one
Don't let nobody ever tell you that it shouldn't be sung
Don't let nobody ever tell you you're the only one


Monday, October 22, 2012

Words that resonate

So as this whole blog thing is newish I am going to try to post something daily and those things may be an article, poem, quote or song and I will at least once weekly post something that I have written.  I did blog when I was on Semester at Sea but I was on a different sort of journey!!

The following poem was shared by one of my yoga teachers in class and has certainly resonated with me:

"Maybe Not" by Danna Faulds

Begin somewhere.
Take one deep breath and dive.
Plunge into the core of your most persistent fear, or your greatest joy.
Grow comfortable with the act of exploration.
Well, maybe not comfortable, but confident of your ability to be sure footed on slick rocks,
steady while the winds gust.
Well, maybe not entirely confident,
but willing to set out despite persistent doubts,
breathing your way
into whatever you are facing.
Well, maybe not even all that willing,
but you take it anyway,
that first step into the unknown.
Courage is starting where there is no secure outcome,
no sure result.
The secret is you can begin at any time.
Take one deep breath, and dive.

Though not entirely comfortable, confident or even always willing I am stepping out into the unknown and certainly breathing along the way.  I am learning that it is fine to not have a clear plan.  I have had to let go of an idea of some sort of long term plan a little bit ago.  Can I make plans for a summer vacation right now...Nope!!  Can I schedule a time to help out a friend with some work in DC in a few weeks...absolutely. I am taking little steps at a time and to me that is the best plan right now.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A month has passed...

More then a month has passed and after suggestions from a number of very important people in my life I have decided to blog about my experiences.  Over a month ago I became unemployed, though the circumstances surrounding that are inconsequential to this blog.  It is the time that has transpired and the love and support that I have felt since that I will be writing about.  I know that others have suffered loss and for me that loss is a piece of my identity which in our culture is synonymous with your career.  I hope that the lessons I am learning (because there are many) could provide some support for others who may find themselves in similar situations. I am doing lots of soul searching and yoga to figure out what my next life and career steps will be.  I have been doing a lot of reflecting and some writing and plan to share that through this venue.  This journey has been a humbling and freeing one and I will share the stories of people who are helping me through, quotes and music that are inspiring to me and articles that I have found helpful. I welcome comments and questions and offer to you my friendship and support.The reason I chose the title of this blog is because I truly believe that the support I am receiving from the members of "my village" is what is helping to lift me up and sustain me.
For those who may be worrying about me and need the more pragmatic information, I am currently job searching locally for a job in higher education, applying to part time and temporary positions as well and plan to do a national job search in 6 months if things do not pan out locally. I really do love where I live and believe the communities I have become part of are what is keeping me so grounded and positive.  Though this ‘plan’ will I am sure change as life is ever changing.  This blog will not necessarily focus on the details of my job search though I will certainly talk about what I am learning through this process.

"This moving away from comfort and security, this stepping out into what is unknown, uncharted and shaky - that's called liberation." ~Pema Chodron