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!