Monday, September 9, 2013

A year has passed...

I think that I may have just written another poem.  I dedicate this post to all who have seen me through this past year.  To those of you who have been part of my village, I say thank you.

A year has passed since what I thought was the worse day happened.  
A year has passed and that day was a day of freedom.

A year has passed and there were times when I thought there was no hope left.

A year has passed and I was so very hopeful.

A year has passed and there were days when I thought I would not recover.

A year has passed and recovery was a slow process that certainly happened.

A year has passed and I did not believe that everything would work out.

A year has passed and life certainly worked out better than I could have ever imagined.

A year has passed and at the beginning all I could say was "I just don't know"
A year has passed and I realized that not knowing led to incredible experiences.

A year has passed and life as I knew it had ended. 
A year has passed and life as I knew it had ended and that was a really good thing.

A year has passed and I thought I lost everything.
A year has passed and I realized I had everything I needed.

A year has passed and I felt very lost.
A year has passed and I found myself.

A year has passed and I hated myself.
A year has passed and I loved myself, cared for myself and nurtured myself.

A year has passed and I was frustrated, angry and very sad.
A year has passed and I was humbled, grateful, loved and supported.

A year has passed and I am happy.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Breathing is supported here

So I have not written a post in three weeks though I have started a couple of times.  My delay in writing is not because things are bad but maybe even because things are good.  I have paused before submitting a post, deleted entire posts because I was rambling about how things are really good.  Why do I feel like only the sad and ugly or the times that I was triumphant are what is significant not the moments of life as good, life as what makes sense.  That is what life is now, life is good, life does make sense right now.  My friend Jenny wrote about it similarly on her blog here:

What I have been pondering a lot lately in this positive life I feel like I am immersed in right now is that I am fortunate to be in a position (in life and at work) where I have balance and balance is supported, where I can breathe and breathing is supported.

I have realized that if the job that I am in now is going to be as good as I think it will be it will allow for me to maintain the balanced life that I so very much value.  In the past work was my life, my life revolved around work and for many years that worked for me until it did not.  Until I was in job that was very unpleasant, dare I say even toxic. I left that job and started to breathe again.  I started this new job and breathing is actually supported.  I have made a decision that work will not be my life that it will be part of my life, that it will support my life life, but my whole world will not revolve around the work that I do but instead the life that I want.

Now that being said, student staff arrived this evening, these are the students that I will be supervising this year, one of the main reasons why I wanted to return to this important work, and we will be training for the next two will be my life.  I know that these times will exist in the work that I am choosing to do. I also know that I am able to make time in the midst of the chaos (because it certainly is) to practice yoga and breathe...because that is supported.

How do you do the work you love, how do you live the life you want to live and sustain a balanced existence  I am not sure I can fully answer that yet, but hope to examine this on a daily basis and make it a priority...because it is supported.

"Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky.  Conscious breathing is my anchor." 
~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

Monday, July 29, 2013

Necessary Compliments

You look great!

There's just something different about you.

You seemed to be glowing.

I can see a difference.

These are a few things that have been said to me in one way or another the past few weeks.  If you are like me it is sometimes hard to hear compliments.  But I have been humbled by this time and that people can see a marked difference in me.   Those who have commented most are my fellow yogis who I had seen on a fairly regular basis this past year.  One fellow yogi remarked that I never seemed depressed throughout my 10 month transition it is just that I seem so much happier now.  And I never was depressed.  I did have moments of hopelessness and who doesn't, but my hopeful attitude outweighed that.  I have started to write this post a couple of times and each time I think no I don't know that I want to share this in this way.  Do people really care that I received compliments?  What sort of lesson is in this.  Then this past weekend I received another said compliment and thought that I should share the positive and I do think there is something to learn from this.  It feels good to accept these compliments and kind words, it feels nice and it is the truth.  I don't know even how to explain it, but I do feel different. I know that I am the same person but I feel lighter.  A huge weight that I was carrying around was lifted.  Though I had become stronger and figured out ways to carry the weight, to shed myself of it has made a marked difference.

I am really good about noticing when people are having a hard time or something is off.  I make a point to reach out to those people, check in and provide support. Because sometimes it is hard for people to reach out and ask for that support.  Do I notice when people are having a good day? Do I take time to point out the positive? I'd like to think that I do and now that I really understand what that feels like, I will certainly be very mindful of these interactions.  I will point out the good, give compliments and point out the positive changes in people's lives.  It feels really good to have people notice when life is good, have others recognize what is working and to validate positive changes.  We could all use a little more of this in our lives.

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~ Leo Buscaglia

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Finding Joy in the Uncomfortable

Some things that bring me joy and cause to celebrate are live music, good friends, comfortable summer days and awesome sunsets.  I got to experience all of these things this past weekend at the Green River Festival in Greenfield, MA.  A nice sized festival for this part of the state that usually has a couple of larger acts (Brandi Carlile was my big draw), some lesser known acts and a good number of local acts.  It is really a lovely festival and the most unique part is that there are hot air balloons launched both days, which even by itself is quite remarkable to see.

Yesterday in yoga my teacher spoke of this time of year, summer, being that time to find joy and moments of celebration and then she proceeded to tell us that we would focusing part of our practice on the pose Vasisthasana and I did not feel like celebrating that or felt any sense of joy as it relates to that particular pose.  I do not like this pose, I am uncomfortable and it feels like everything hurts.  It is a pose that I can not fully do and that is not the part that bothers me, it is just that I am really uncomfortable in it.  There are other poses (like handstand) that I can not do and it frustrates me because I want to but this particular pose I really have no strong desire to do.  
I know it does not really look that difficult, but for me it is!

Damn it, there is a lesson to learn here of course.  Sometimes in life things are uncomfortable, sometimes we do not want to do them, and sometimes we do not need to to do them. But pushing through the uncomfortable allows us to emerge changed and often times for the better. I pushed through in class, never compromising my safety but definitely pushing past my comfort zone and I did get deeper into this pose then I have before.  This same teacher is teaching a more advanced class later this week which I am considering going to with the full knowledge that this pose will again be a strong focus of the class.  I am not a glutton for punishment but a believer that if we can find moments of joy and celebration in the times that are uncomfortable in our life we will be all the better.  There are things in life that we may not look forward to; a long car ride in traffic, a meeting that can not be avoided, a visit with relatives, a new workout routine. How do we prepare ourselves for these uncomfortable and seemingly unpleasant moments? How do we celebrate them, find joy in them and then even start to look forward to them?

If I can find joy in Vashisthasana then I can pretty much find joy in anything! So here's to finding joy in the uncomfortable!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Yes I Will

Today at work one of my new colleagues said that one of the things she appreciated about me when I interviewed was that I really seemed to be low drama.  I thought this was kind of awesome and the fact that this came through in a fairly stressful situation (an interview) really does speak to the work that I have done on myself these last 10+ months.  What I put out there has certainly come back to me.

wrote about Redefining Jinx a little bit ago and the thought that what you put out into the world will comes back to you so instead of thinking that you may cause something to not happen by talking about it instead that only helps to manifest it into reality.

I heard this song recently by Michael Franti and it reminded me of this thought that I had and that I am so glad that I stuck to my guns, kept positive and will continue to put good energy out into the world.
"I believe that what you sing to the clouds,
Will rain upon you when your sun has gone away,
And I believe that what you dream to the moon, 
Will manifest before you rest another day.
So stay strong, and sleep long, and when you need to,
Let the morning take you out on to today.
And when you find you're at the end of the road,
Just lift your head up, spread your wings and fly away" 
"Yes I Will," by Michael Franti and Spearhead

Sunday, July 7, 2013

In memory

There are things in our life that are constants, things that exist even when life is swirling around and everything seems out of control.  That thing that you know you can depend on to be there for you even when everything else around seems to be failing you.  I know, and have talked about it on this blog, that we are always in some sort of state of transition.  This constant thing is that which is present during these transitions.  It could be a person, a physical activity like running, a pet to come home to, a spiritual practice or maybe any combination of the above.   

I was at a 4th of July party talking to a new friend and we we were talking about life and how her job was starting to get a little bit boring (she had been in the same job for some time) and as we continued talking she realized and noted how actually the job she was in had really been the only constant in her life.  And the more we talked the more she realized that having that constant stable thing in her life was not a bad thing at all.  So for her that constant good, albeit boring at times, thing for her was her job.  It made me think about what has been a constant in my life over the years.

This afternoon I was having lunch with a good friend and her very intellectual, 12 year old daughter and the three of us were talking about this and the 12 year old chimed in and said, "Like dance, dance has been a constant thing in my life."  She got it and understood the need for it.  I then somberly shared with them what I thought about when I thought about my constant, what had gotten me through move after move, job after job, transition after transition.  A year ago this week I had to say goodbye to my constant, my stability, what I came home to for 10 years.  A year ago this week I had to make the most difficult decision thus far of my life and choose to say goodbye to my friend, my companion, my little man, my roommate, my four legged friend, my Shane.  He had been the stable thing in my life at times when things seemed turned upside down.
A year ago this week started the beginning of what could have turned out to be a really bad year.  A year ago this week marked the removal of my constant.  A year ago this week I had no idea what was in store for me.  A year ago this week I never would have believed what I would be capable of.

Though this constant was no more I was still thrust head first into a year of major transition in my life.  As I look back now on the past year I can see that I had some other very meaningful constants in my life that came in the form of good friends, my yoga practice and my community.  We need constants, the things we know we can depend on to be there when all else fails. Most of the time these constants are things that just exist.  Until we take the time to think about them we may not have ever realized that they have helped us through the rough times until it is too late.  What is the constant in your life? What will you miss if it was no longer there?

In memory of my beloved Shane, April 1(ish), 1999 - July 7, 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The journey has just begun

Today marks the end of a nearly 10 month journey; tomorrow I start my new job.  I was fortunate to participate in an amazing yoga workshop today, led by a very dear yoga teacher, Amy Reed,  that truly served to mark the end of this journey.  It also helped that she opened the workshop talking about her very own 10 month journey which then of course made me think about my 10 month journey. And though this journey is coming to an end I am looking forward to the one that will begin tomorrow.

I really do enjoy a good journey, I love to travel and I love taking on a new adventure.  I have journeyed around the world twice (read about that here: Around the World Via Ship).  I have driven back and forth across the U.S. to move and roadtripped many times.  On those physical journeys I have always surrounded myself with people who were supportive, fun and all around good company to accompany the journey I was on.  Those journeys are not unlike the one I was on recently.  Though the purpose of this particular journey was not to reach a physical location, it certainly was about traveling, seeking and reaching a destination.  There were many twists and turns in this journey, many hilly roads and obstacles to overcome but I did indeed reach my destination.  I did this with the help, guidance and support of the good company that I chose to keep.  Like many journeys you take often you  head out in one direction thinking you will end up in one place and instead you venture elsewhere, veering off course not where you thought you would be but exactly where you are supposed to  be.  I was lost in September, very, very lost, and it took dedication and patience to arrive where I am right now, exactly where I am supposed to be.

It is 10pm at night right now and I just finished hanging things on my walls in my new apartment, the finishing touches I feel necessary to make it feel like home and ready for what new journey lies ahead of me. The amazing journey I have just taken deep inside of myself has allowed me to emerge more ready than I could have imagined to start this next journey.  We are always traveling somewhere, we are always on a journey and  sometimes we are just not aware of it until something grand occurs.  Revel in life's journey, be present to it, learn from it and you will emerge better from it.  I certainly did!

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." ~Lao Tzu

Monday, June 24, 2013

Endings lead to new beginnings

I spent last week moving into a new apartment, because like I shared in my last post one of the many amazing things about my new job is that it provides me with housing.  I sit here now in this new space still needing to unpack some boxes but I am really happy, I am extremely content.  

Throughout my time this past almost 10 months now I have filled my time with some different things that have supported me in different ways and now that I will be starting a full time job my time will be filled differently.

Working in retail for the first time in my life was one of these things.  When I first started in October I had mixed feelings about this work (I wrote about that here).  What I came to realize is that I was working with colleagues (they laugh when I call them colleagues) who appreciated me, the managers supported me and my needs and I was valued for who I was and the work that I did.  I know that retail is not the career for me and I admire those who commit themselves to this field. There are a lot of people out there who are not very nice and when you work under the guise of the customer is always (or almost always) right it certainly tries your patience.  And the ability to have educational moments with people even when you know you should can not usually happen (and boy do I like educational moments). Tomorrow I will work my last day in this job, with the exception of an occasional weekend or holiday shift, and I feel grateful for this opportunity.  Did I make a lot of money in this role? No.  Did I connect with people in a way that was meaningful? Absolutely.  I feel like though I was not hired to be in a helping role, the ability to connect how I know how to connect allowed me to build some deep relationships in a job that could have been void of such things.  I have not worked for 2 weeks but went into the store this afternoon and was greeted with hugs and people truly excited to see me.  This right there affirmed this job as an essential piece to my journey. 

I am getting to stay in my community, the community that I love being a part of.  Because I am not going anywhere the relationships that I created and nurtured in this retail gig can sustain and continue to flourish.   These colleagues probably do not even realize what an essential part of my village they have been.  

In the grand scheme of life 10 months really is not that long of a time.  I know that in life we have some moments that seem significant but this time has certainly reinforced that every moment is significant and more importantly every relationship is significant. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Packing ramblings (part 1 of many)

Life has been stressful this past year to say the least, however, I certainly managed it well and all in all I remained fairly grounded throughout.  One thing that has always stressed me out has been having to pack and move.  This time it is a great thing having to move since I get an apartment as part of my new position so moving right now is something that I get to do.  I get to start a new job and get a new apartment as well.

Packing up is still stressful even under these circumstances, but I am using this time to really try to purge some things that I do not need and those things I have not looked at or used in the past 5 years.  

To pack up in this way is different then when I have moved in the past.  I have blindly moved boxes from one place to the other that are labeled memories or photo albums and this time I am going through every box.  I am holding on to things like music boxes that hold sentimental, family significance.  I am tossing lots of doubles of photos, negatives and pictures of people I can not even name.  I have moved boxes of candles, picture frames and other knick knack things that I have not used to decorate in years these go in the pile for a tag sale I will have.

I have a few appointments this week, but I am not working yet. This week is dedicated to the packing process, to the purging process and to the wow that was a good memory and I do not need that anymore process.

I have two boxes that I just do not know what to do with.  One is all of my VHS tapes, some of which I have replaced with DVDs and the others I have not.  I have a DVD/VCR combo, yet I have had the videos in storage for five years.  I am pretty sure these will not move with me (except for a few gems like my original copy of Annie the Movie).  And then there is the box of CDs.  All of these have been put into my itunes library yet they are really difficult to part with.  Part of that difficulty is that I can remember spending hours reading over and memorizing lyrics from liner notes.  An itunes 'album' and a physical record, cassette or CD are quite different.  I like the feeling of having the physical CD, however they have been stored for the past 5 years.  So I think I will hold on to some of my favorite artists and some that hold significant value and then sell the rest.  But for now those boxes will be put to the side.  

OK so really the above paragraph was more about me processing what I will do and less about sharing anything of interest to anyone who may be reading this.

I have just gone through a box of "memories."  This box contains college acceptance letters, copies of recommendation letters, old report cards, awards won, sorority memorabilia, playbills, a book of poetry I wrote circa 1988, and a variety of other things.  The most significant thing that I found was letters written by exchange students that my family had hosted when I was younger most of these were from 1992-1993.  It was really nice to be able to read these and remember such great times.  My only regret is that I have not stayed connected to some of these childhood friends.  I tried to search the internet but do you know how many Santiago Garcia's exist in Spain!  I do think I have located one of these friends on Linked In and sent a message hoping it was the same young man that I knew 20 years ago.  I think I am going to keep these letters they brought back some great memories and allowed me to reconnect.  Maybe the next time I move I will get rid of them but for now they will stay.

I feel like my stress level associated with packing and moving revolves around transition and change.  The way that I am approaching this task now, taking time to sit with my memories allows me to really get excited about what new memories and life I will be creating.  Here's hoping this attitude keeps up as my week progresses!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

And now the moment you have all been waiting for...

Ok, so maybe it is not the moment that you have been waiting for but it is certainly the moment that I have been waiting for.  I accepted a job as an Area Coordinator at Smith College, starting on July 1. Many of you know this as supported by the nearly 200 likes on my facebook announcement (that is amazing by the way).  And though knowing where I am going to working does not mean I have it all figured out or even 100% assurance that I will be happy,  it does lift a huge weight off of my shoulders and allows me to breathe in deep and more importantly exhale very deeply.  One of the biggest stressors these past almost 10 months has been whether or not I would be able to sustain myself financially in the near future.  Because I have figured out how to sustain myself in so many other ways, but that was the missing piece, the financial assurance.  That piece of the puzzle has now been filled and now I know that I will have a regular income.  Since that piece has been taken care of, what I can now be excited about is that I get that security in a job I cannot wait to start, at a College I am honored to be working at, in a department where I know and respect my new colleagues.

I have written about how I am ready to be transitioned yet I also know that this is a huge transition.  I have been living a very interesting life the past almost 10 months and the acceptance of this job further affirms my commitment to my community and my commitment to myself.  Someone asked if I will continue this blog once I found a full time job and the answer to that is ABSOLUTELY!!!  The tagline of this blog is "Follow my journey of support and freedom in a time of unknown possibilities.  Stories, quotes and music that motivate and inspire."  There will always be unknown possibilities and I will continue to have stories to share and lessons that I learn.  

There is a reason I chose to call this blog "It Takes a Village to Raise a Stacey."  If it was not for this village I would not have been able to get through this time.  I have also said that I believe that what I put out into the universe will come back to me.  And here is what I know.  I know that those of you  in my village have put out some really good energy on my behalf.   I know that I got this job on my own merits, and I know I worked really hard to get to where I am right now.  I also know that the love and support I have received from all of you has made this all possible, I know that I could not have done this on my own.  I know one more thing, I know that it is time for me to celebrate...and you should too!!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Just a little patience...yeah yeah

Patience is a virtue.

Time heals all wounds.

A watched pot never boils.

Good things come to those who wait.

All of these are cliches that we know and are repeated as we wait in anticipation of something.  But how really do we cultivate patience.  I know for myself just repeating a mantra like "Be patient, don't fret" has been working lately.  But really being patient is quite difficult and each passing day makes it more and more challenging.  If good things come to those who wait them I have certainly been earning some good things points with all of the waiting I have been doing.

Google defines patience as: The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset.  I think that is really interesting and to pull it apart it is really like knowing there will be some outcome, some resolution, something you are waiting for and being able to wait without getting angry or upset.  So then google how should one be feeling?  I would say that I have that fairly under control.  I am not feeling angry or upset I have however been feeling anxious and through this anxiousness both positive and negative emotions arise.  

As you may have noticed I like to share quotes that have relevance to what I am writing.  I have come across a number that I am drawn to about patience (better than the above cliches) and really instead of writing more on this subject I will share some of these quotes:

“Why is patience so important?"
"Because it makes us pay attention.” 

~Paulo Coelho

“Patience is power.
Patience is not an absence of action;
rather it is "timing"
it waits on the right time to act,
for the right principles
and in the right way.” 

~ Fulton J. Sheen

“A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.” 
~Henri J.M. Nouwen

What all of these quotes emphasize and what I have been saying a lot lately is that everything has a way of working itself out and that does not just meaning sitting back and doing nothing, but being an active participant in the waiting (paying attention, acting and living life to the fullest).

Monday, May 27, 2013

Remembering my greatness

A number of the yoga classes I attended this week focused on one of the stories of Hanuman (the Hindu monkey God).  The essence of the story was that Hanuman had been gifted tremendous powers but had also been cursed to forget these powers.  Hanuman in service to Rama very quickly needed to get from India to Sri Lanka to rescue Rama's wife Sita.  Hanuman was reminded of the powers he possessed to become very large and very small and to leap great distances.  Hanuman was then able to leap across to Sri Lanka and rescue Sita.  It took a moment of crisis and a good friend to remind him of these powers and once they were reminded the possibilities became endless.

This theme certainly resonated with me (I know I say that a lot)!  How often do we forget our strengths and greatness and it takes others to remind us.  I  know that I am often reminded of my capabilities in yoga.  The physical pose that represents Hanuman is Hanumanasana and it is essentially a full split, representing Hanuman's leap.  
Now I can not necessarily do this pose fully, nor can many human beings for that matter.  However with each attempt I did get deeper into the pose and remembered my capabilities and also my greatness.  The fact that I am putting myself out there in this way on a regular basis and attempting to do things with my body that I never imagined to be physically possible is kind of awesome.  Most people do not and can not do a split and I came pretty freakin' close!  Now that shows possibility, courage and greatness.  And when I say this I do not mean the actual achievement of the pose but the persistence, patience and desire to get there.

I just celebrated three years of yoga practice and one of the first things out of my mouth was, 'but I still can't do a handstand'.  This was an unfair response to a pretty big accomplishment in my life.  I know that at this point I am physically capable of doing a handstand and I also know that most people do not and can not do handstands, I just have some roadblocks (mostly mental) to getting there.  Just like most people do not and can not run marathons, but those who do are pretty amazing and I hold a certain level of awe for them.  I think that wanting to achieve something and the persistence in pursuit of it is as great as the achievement of it.

On the mat and off of the mat it is always good to be reminded of your own capabilities.  Yoga has certainly shown me things that I am capable of that I never could have imagined to be possible.  Yoga has taught me that things that I thought were out of my reach certainly were within my reach.  Yoga has also reminded me that things do not necessarily happen without working hard to achieve them and that is not a bad thing.  Yoga has boosted my confidence and allowed me to see and own my greatness.

"Surround yourself with the dreamers and doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don't see it yourself."  
~Edmund Lee

How do you remember your greatness? How will you remember your greatness?  Who do you need in your life to remind you?

Sunday, May 19, 2013


So an academic year has flown by and I did not work in academia.  This is the first year of my life that I have not measured time by semesters, though I am quite aware that two have just passed me by.

The word commencement not only means the ceremony that happens where one receives their degree it also means the beginning.  College graduates across the country this month will be receiving their degrees but also beginning the next stages of their life.  It is very odd for me to not be part of the pomp and circumstance (pun intended) that surrounds this time of year.  The reflections, preparation for transition and celebration that is a part of the end of an academic year is a time that I always greet with mixed feelings.   To work in Higher Education is to know that life becomes quite cyclical and you can expect certain things and emotions at certain times of the year, however it is never the same, because we are  talking about people.

I have not been a part of creating the reflection space, transition conversations or celebration for college students this year but I have done those things for myself.  I have reflected a lot, through this blog, conversations with friends and former colleagues and in meditation and yoga.  I have thought about what transition should and could look like for me, what I want to do next and how to best get there.  I have also celebrated; celebrated this gift of time that I have been given and certainly took advantage of the time in a really positive way. So really this is the first year that I can recall in recent history that has been focused on taking care of me.  I have seen the results of this already in deepened relationships with friends and my community.  And I know this time will serve to make me a better professional, one who not just understands but lives 'I am no good to others if I do not take care of myself'.

I am ready to commence, to begin whatever the next step in life holds for me.  I am no longer freaking out (See Six Months Have Passed) and really do believe that life will unfold as it should.  I believe that things happen when and how they are supposed to.  I also believe that this does not mean you can just sit back and wait for this to happen, you must be an active participant in creating your life.  I have been an active participant in creating my life and I am ready for the next stage to commence.

A commencement is a time of joy.  It is also a time of melancholy.  But then again, so is life. ~Paul Tsongas

Monday, May 13, 2013

Standing on my Foundation

This past week in yoga a good majority of the classes that I attended seemed to focus on foundation.  We looked at our physical foundation in poses and I pondered foundation on a deeper level.  The timing of this happened to be perfect.  The following poem by Danna Foulds was read in one of those classes and it certainly resonated with me.

Foundations Stones 
 by Danna Foulds
Here is my past--

what I've been proud of,
and what I've pushed away.
Today I see how each piece
was needed, not a single
step wasted on the way.

Like a stone wall,
every rock resting
on what came before-
no stone can be
suspended in mid-air.

Foundation laid by every
act and omission,
each decision, even
those the mind would
label "big mistake".

These things I thought
were sins, these are as
necessary as successes,
each one resting on the
surface of the last, stone
upon stone, the fit
particular, complete,
the rough, uneven
face of these rocks
makes surprising,
satisfying patterns
in the sunlight.

Everything that I have experienced in life so far has laid the foundation for what will come next.  This means that I need to take the good with the bad and stand tall on top of it all.  It has all been necessary to get me to where I am at this very moment in time and will continue to prepare me for the great things to come.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

My Spiritual Sanctuary

I don't go to church or temple, and if you asked me if I practiced a religion I would say I am spiritual and not religious. Some days I would say I was Jew-ish, emphasis on the ish; where I still feel connected to the culture and traditions from my youth but not necessarily the religious aspects.  Then comes the question, well do you believe in G-d (typed like that out of respect for my upbringing)? And my response is that what I do believe in is that there is something out there greater than myself but I may define that as Grace, Nature, Love or the Universe depending on the day or the way I am feeling.

Recently more and more I understand why some people regardless of how devoted they may be to their particular religion have found a true need to connect to a religious (spiritual) community.  This past Friday we had a community yoga class at Yoga Sanctuary, where I practice yoga and have been spending a significant amount of time these last few months.  At this class all of the teachers taught between 5- 10 minutes but their teaching flowed wonderfully from one to the next.  Following the practice we potlucked (yes it is a verb now) and connected over food.  As I sat in that space I realized that the physical space had actually become a Sanctuary to me.  At one point as I looked around I became overwhelmed with emotion.  I knew most people that were there, some close friends, some true confidants and some just casual acquaintances but regardless of the relationship we all shared something.  This community that I have become part of is one that has become something very significant to me, something that is an integral part of me.  On any given day that I walk around town I can almost be guaranteed to see someone from this community and just having that presence is so grounding to me.

I believe that the relationship  that I have to and with my yoga community is not unlike that of others and their relationship to their religious community.  Maybe this is my way of defining and connecting to spirituality. This Sanctuary of mine has allowed me to breathe deeper than ever before, reflect on life and what it means to me and find acceptance and profound connections.  I have done this through yoga, meditation and just simply by holding a space in this Sanctuary.

"Well I'm done searching now
I found what this life is worth
Not in the books did I find
But by searching my mind
I don't condemn, I don't convert
This is the calling have you heard?
Bring all the lovers to the fold
No one is gonna lose their soul
Love is my religion
Love is my religion
Love is my religion
Love is my religion
You can take it or leave it
And you don't have to believe it"
 ~Lyrics from "Love is my Religion," by Ziggy Marley

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Redefining Jinx

Oh no I can't talk about that because I don't want to jinx it.  Do you ever find yourself saying that?  I certainly have in the past.  I would think it was bad luck to share potential good news, that if I shared that the potential would not turn into a reality

I have recently taken a contrary approach.  I have some things brewing out on the horizon that as I go about my day to day I have been sharing with others more then I would have typically in the past (I am not going to share here in any detail because it is still very much a potential and this is very much a public space).  I share and more importantly I share that I am excited.  In the past it would be as if this excitement would 'jinx' the potential opportunity, that somehow by sharing this with other people I would be tempting fate and then the outcome would not be in my favor.

I do know that part of why I would not let myself get too excited and almost minimize the potential opportunity's importance has to do with self preservation.  So if I don't get asked out on that date, win the big award or get the dream job I get to say I did not really want it anyway.  But if I truly believe that what you put out into the universe comes back to you then why should I not show and share my excitement.  This makes the potential opportunity more of a reality and my approach to it more authentic.  Imagine the difference a job interview could be if you truly presented your authentic self to those who are interviewing you? I can certainly recall having to fake enthusiasm for jobs I have interviewed for before but if it is something that I am really excited for why not let that come through. Wouldn't you want to hire someone who was really excited about the job you were offering?  Could that person even be, experience aside, a more ideal candidate.

I once was told after I was hired for a job that one of the reasons I was chosen was because they wanted to get to know the person that my references spoke about and that when I interviewed they did not see all that they had heard about.  I did not bring my full authentic self to that process, I needed a job and had a lot on the line, so held back because I didn't want to be "too much of me", too enthusiastic.  I knew I could be overwhelming at times, though with age I have learned to reign that in a lot.  Apparently in that situation it would have certainly served me better to be true to myself.  Though I am eternally grateful to my references for being able to bring out what I suppressed, I learned a lot from this process which occurred almost 9 years ago.   Yet through the years I have still held back.  These days I am trying something different, life has been different and I am different. 

So maybe now instead of thinking that I will jinx 'it' by talking about 'it' maybe not talking about 'it' is the real jinx.  I'll let you know how that turns out!

"What you think is what you become" ~ Buddha

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Living My Values

Today in yoga class we were asked to think about if how we lived our lives was consistent with our values.  This is something that I think of often and is usually at the forefront of my mind. Today for some reason I was really struck by this question.

This week was a roller coaster of a week for me and many across this country and in particular on the other side of this great state that I live in.  With tragedy in both Boston and West, TX I have almost been ashamed to say that I have had a relatively great week.  Things are slowly starting to unfold for me professionally (nothing major yet, but I am starting to see a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel) and in the matter of 48 hours I have planned a trip out to CA (for next week) to do some work for a friend and reconnect with some other good friends.  I call it my work-cation!  So yes it has been a really good week and one that has also been filled with fear and sorrow, one that has shown me the support I knew was there in my community and one that has tested my ability to be flexible and think on my feet.

So when I think about my values and if I live my life consistent with them I get to think about the week that I just had, the week that in the face of tragedy and unknown in the world I was able to find some sense of balance and calm.  I made decisions based on what I value and made plans in a way that also honored these values.  I believe I have a pretty strong work ethic and stand behind commitments that I make and because of this I almost did not take the opportunity I was offered in CA, I did not want to shirk my responsibilities.  But, I was both supported and encouraged to pursue this opportunity.

When I think about living my values I think about why I left my job in September.  Amongst a number of reasons was that I was not able to be true to my values, I was not given the freedom to be true to myself.  I was unhappy and I was able to mask this most days but it took both a physical and emotional toll.   It is not always easy to live in sync with my values, there are days that certainly test that even now.   I value compassion and patience, both of these things get tested in my retail job on almost a daily basis, but I usually recognize this when it is happening and adjust my reaction accordingly.  Also, most days it is not always in my best financial interest (as I am trying to save as much as I can) to live completely in sync with my values.  For example I would like to leave as little an impact as possible on the earth,  but depending on the day or week affording local, organic vegetables may be out of the question and I will opt for what is cheaper than supporting what I believe in, but I try.

In order for me to live up to the fullest version of me and to be fully aligned with my values I must surround myself with people whose values are similar to mine.  Through a number of different circumstances this week I have found people to be kind and generous, compassionate and understanding, loving and humorous...all things that I value in my life.  I will continue to surround myself with people who share my values and I will continue to seek work that allows me to stand tall and be the person I have worked so hard to become.

What do you value? Do you surround yourself with people and circumstances that make it easy for you to live consistent with your values? If not what can you do to align yourself differently.

"Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace" ~ Dalai Lama

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ubuntu - the Essence of Being Human

I have spoken some about my connection with my community and how it is essential to my existence. This is fairly evident just by the title of this blog and it is more clear everyday that I need my community to survive and even more so to thrive.  I believe that for people to be successful they need other people supporting and lifting them up.  This is where my community has come into place.

South Africans believe in a concept called Ubuntu, that focuses on people's relationships and allegiances to one another.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu explains Ubuntu as follows:
"One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity."
In this video he explains it further to a group of students on the Spring 2007 Semester at Sea voyage:

Isn't that such a great concept, wouldn't the world be a better place, a more peaceful place if everyone connected with this philosophy.   What if we always approached any new person we meet with eyes open to this concept.   I believe that I possess Ubuntu and have chosen to surround myself with others who also possess this amazing quality.  I know that I can not exist in isolation, I know that I am interconnected to all human beings.  The quote says that when you do well, it spreads out.  I believe the contrary to be true as well; when we do harm that also spreads out.  To me that means that our actions can always affect those around us and like ripples in water affect beyond to all living things.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Comfort and Fear

I have started to become really comfortable with life right now.  Some would say that is good, isn't it? But I think I have become too comfortable.  Do not get me wrong, weekly I am applying for jobs in higher education that I am qualified for both near and far.  And there are actually a handful that I am interested in.  So I am moving towards that goal I have of gaining full time employment.  But I have figured out a way to make my current situation work for me, to find joy, contentment, and comfort at a time when I would not have imagined this to be possible.  My days are full, I am full.  So if I am too comfortable will I stop pushing myself to move out of this 'comfort zone' I am in now?

For me I know that certain truths exist right now:

I have said before that though this time was unanticipated I have been given a gift and I do believe I have been taking full advantage of this gift. 

Truth #1:
I have been practicing a lot of yoga and if I did not have this time I would not have that opportunity.  Life would be a lot different right now if I had not found yoga.  (See The Times They Are a Changing)

Truth #2:
I have had the ability to connect with friends and people in my community; unrushed and with intentionality.

Truth #3:
I have refound the value of contributing to my community.  I try to volunteer once a week at the Northampton Survival Center and by serving others I have in turn served myself.

This place of comfort also brings feeling of fear.  Fear of the future, fear of not finding that next job or worse finding that next job and either not being successful or losing this sense of comfort. When fear rears its ugly head, this next truth, the truth that throbs in my head, the truth that brings me back to reality, the truth that makes me question my current state of comfort. This very practical truth the one that pulls me out of my heart and back into my head.

Truth #4:
At some point (soon) I will not be able to sustain myself financially.  I know that for financial reasons I must find a full time job by the end of the summer. (And I would like for this to be in higher education or in a role where I am making a similar impact.) 

It is this last truth and the fear I feel that will force me out of my comfort zone but hopefully I will retain most of what I have gained from spending some time there. 

And I am still so very hopeful....
"You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own."
~ Michelle Obama

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Being Present, Being Mindful

One of the things that this time has given me is time.  One of the things that yoga has given me is the ability to be present, to be mindful.  And what a beautiful combination time, presence and mindfulness are.

Jon Kabat-Zinn writes about Mindfulness in Wherever You Go There You Are:
"The key to this path which lies in the root of Buddhism  Taoism and yoga, and which we also find in the works of people like Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman and in Native American wisdom, is an appreciation for the present moment and the cultivation of an intimate relationship with it through continual attending to it with care and discernment.  It is the direct opposite of taking life for granted."
I know about and have taught students about active listening, the importance of being present to who you are engaging with, to being present in that moment.  With the rushing by of life, being constantly pulled in a number of different directions at any given moment it becomes really challenging to be present for everyone who needs you to be.  I have recently learned what it means to not take life for granted.  I have learned, well relearned and newly implemented,  that if I am able to take care of myself, treat myself with the love and kindness that I deserve then I can fully be present for and mindful in all of my daily interactions.  
I say to people all of the time, "You are no good to others if you are not taking care of yourself."  In the work I have done with students I try to be a role model in this area, though my last position made that very difficult for me at times.  I have spent a lot of time since September taking care of myself, figuring out what I need and want and this has all allowed me to be so much more present and engaged with other people in my life.  I believe that this time has truly served me in this way.  My yoga practice has certainly supported this.  This taking care of me, this being much more introspective, this has truly served me. The extrovert that I am, this person who can multi-task because my head can be in a dozen different places at once has learned to quiet my mind.  I have also learned to be more present as I walk down the street, to take in what surrounds me and to value each interaction I have in my community. With presence comes mindfulness.  This mindfulness shows up daily in many different ways even when I am eating or drinking as well as the interactions I have in my community.  With this mindfulness comes deeper relationships with people I have known for years as well as people I have known for weeks.  Being mindful, being present and filling my time with this positive way of being has all contributed to me becoming a better version of me.

"Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  I drink at it; but while I drink, I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is.  Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.  I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars." 
~ Thoreau, Walden

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I am your ally

I am your ally.  I will walk beside you, stand alongside you until you have the same rights that I do.  These things that are rights…not privileges.

I am not married, I have not met Mr. Right, or Mr. Good Enough for Now, or even Mr. Let’s Get Drunk and Married in Vegas.  But if tomorrow I do, if tomorrow I meet any of those men I could without question marry any of them, love aside, values aside.  I can travel to any part of this country and marry that man. 

I have a lot of people in my life who identify as LGBTQ, I have seen what love means and what happy, healthy families looks like.  I have watched the children of my friends understand what it means to be loved, taught to be open-minded and compassionate.  A lesson that we could certainly all use to learn at a young age.  I have learned a lot recently and understand that while we say Marriage Equality is what the Supreme Court is deciding it is so much more then marriage.  If I were to marry Mr. Vegas he could then be on my health insurance or I on his, we could visit each other in the hospital no questions asked if the time came, and receive a number of other federal benefits because we were recognized by the federal government as married.  I am fortunate to live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but I know that this  is not enough, that until the Supreme Court finds the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, until same-sex marriage is recognized nationally rights are still being denied.  Until we can just say marriage.

What is on the line are basic human rights, things that I have taken for granted, things that I, as a straight woman, do not have to give a second thought about.  But I do, I think about these things on a daily basis, and until the people I love (and people I have yet to meet) have the same rights as I do I will continue to raise awareness and support you.

To me this is a no brainer when it comes to constitutional rights.  People can stand behind their religion or their God as a scapegoat for hate and discrimination.  But I stand on the side of love, on the side of freedom and on the side of equal rights for all.

"I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear." ~Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Springing into Happiness

All week in yoga I was reminded that we are heading into Spring, that the weather is transitioning (or should be soon anyway) and that we too can look at this time to transition.  There is that word again that has become all too familiar to me: TRANSITION!  I have said that I am ready to be transitioned, but was I really?  Or as we move out of the darkness of winter and into the light of spring, maybe now is the time.  The winter is a time to go within, a time to plant the seeds that will bloom in the springtime.  I entered the darkness, I went deep into the dark and am slowly emerging into the light.  My transition is in sync with that of nature.  I have planted the seeds, both personally and professionally, and am slowly seeing these seeds that I have nurtured slowly emerging into something beautiful.  I can share the physical representation of this with pictures of an Amaryllis I planted in early January (the depths of winter) and here we are a few months later and it is starting to bloom nicely and if I had to make a guess I would say I will have a flower by the first day of summer.
I call him Bert

This week was also the First ever International Day of Happiness as declared by the UN.
Both the Spring Equinox and this Day happened to be March 20.  I signed a pledge on that day to "Try to create more happiness in the world around me." And I shared with anyone I could what this day was about.  I would also think that it is appropriate that this Day of Happiness fell on the Spring Equinox.  I would say that happiness and light, joy and growth represent both of these "events".   On this same day, Wednesday March 20, at the workshop I have been participating in about Finding your purpose and calling, we focused on strengths and 'innate gifts.'  In one activity "Bringing Joy" emerged as one of my strengths and when I went to rank it on the bottom of my list I was encouraged to make it one of my top 5 by someone I have only known for just a few weeks.  In just our brief interactions she saw something in me that I had a hard time seeing myself.  Something that I do naturally yet apparently have a hard time acknowledging that it is something I can do well.

So here I was on the Spring Equinox, the threshold to light and joy, and the International Day of Happiness and I was being affirmed in my innate gift of bringing joy.  It feels almost cocky boasting that here, however, if I am going to be able to fully transition to what is right, to what I want and need, I must own and affirm my own strengths.  Also, if I am going to be successful in any sort of interview process I must be comfortable speaking about the thing that are my strengths, what I do well and the places where I can be most successful.  And I guess bringing joy to others is not a bad thing to be boasting about!

"Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!"  ~Sitting Bull