Friday, July 29, 2011

Happiness lies where?

I was standing at the book store looking at a magazine rack and was overcome with a sense of panic. Different publications telling me how to live my "happy life" and textually screaming at me how to "be healthy now!". It seems that being healthy is a full time job and I already have a couple of those. But then I remembered that I already live a fairly healthy life. I do what I can, and feel good most of the time. It's taken me awhile to get to this point but after some small changes in my life living well has become just like breathing.

So...what does a healthy life look like? That depends on what source you're looking at as a reference. Cosmo will tell you it's flat abs and good sex. Lucky will tell you the key to happiness is in a pair of great fitting jeans. I, however, am a firm believer that a healthy life has many, less materialistic, attributions. It's not just what you eat, where you shop and how you exercise. It goes much deeper than that. I think of my own healthiness in categorical terms. If you know me at all you know that I'm constantly trying to compartmentalize and organize into boxes anything and everything I can.

My healthy life is this...

Establishing yourself in a community and becoming active with it's participants. Whether it's your kids' school, a sports team or the fellow Twinkie eaters of America. Find something that you love and become involved in the community of people that makes it up. Yes it is as simple as going and saying hello to your neighbors. They ARE your community, even if they don't take their trash cans in right away or they make their own fireworks on the fourth of July. You'll feel that you are a part of something bigger and this feels awesome.

We can't all make a living at doing what we love. I doubt my IT friends love sitting in their cubicle 8-10 hours a day looking at code and answering questions like why someone's wireless mouse isn't connected to the computer. Find a way to tolerate. Have an active life outside of work. If you absolutely hate your job...quit. Shannon Kaiser says it better than I could in her essay at Tiny Buddha.

{Love} friends, family, lovers
Love a lot. Love ruthlessly. Love everything. Find a way to love what you do. Sometimes this means shifting your perspective but it's worth it. Love your community, they might become extended family if you're not careful ;)
Lead a life full of love. Give love and you will get love. Bring a friend flowers the next time you see them. Send a letter to someone in your family. Tell your lover how awesome they are. When you do this without expectation you will feel full of love and a smile might even creep up on that face of yours unexpectedly. Be open to love and if you are not or think you could (and probably should) do better then practice being open to love everyday...openness comes.

{Movement} exercise-ish
Move your body. Walk down the street, strike a pose, climb a tree, swim, dance to that song on the radio or jump up and down. Get your body moving for the sheer purpose of moving it everyday even if it's just for 5 minutes. If this is something that you haven't done for awhile it might suck and not feel good...until later...when you look back and smile because you hadn't done anything like that for a long time. Your body was made to bend so move those bones!

I could go on and on about the effects of food on our bodies and mind but it really is this simple: Bad stuff in, bad stuff out. Now, I'm not saying that a piece of cake is bad and if you eat it you will be a bad person that bad things happen to. But if you eat nothing but bad food you won't feel good about yourself, your body will feel gross, your brain won't work as well as it could, and you'll be tired all of the time. Eat food that is good for you and eat food that isn't with moderation. Have a drink! Eat ice cream! But eat some veggies and fruit and whole grains in there too. Your body will thank you in so many ways.

God, Jesus, Mother Nature, Allah, Yoga, Elvis...whatever works for you. We all have questions that no one will be able to answer. This is why we pray, vision quest, make pilgrimage, and meditate. We all search for something greater than ourselves, something to find solace in and hold faith to. Some of us walk into a forest and see God everywhere, some of us see our own selves. We practice spirituality to become more familiar with our inner selves. Spirituality is the idea of a path to self-discovery and of learning not only who you are, but who you want to be. It's cultivating a deeper connection and understanding of what surrounds us. And yes, if you haven't already figured it's complicated.

And above all...embody a sense of ADVENTURE. This doesn't mean you have to go bungee jumping or deep sea diving. Next time you're in Warrior II sink a little deeper into that lunge, explore a street in your neighborhood you've never been down, eat a fruit you've never tried before.

Yes, while I have made these little categories I know that there are more. I am always striving to live my life in a way that respects my body and my surroundings. Sometimes I forget but I always ask myself if what I am about to do, say, eat, etc...will make me truly happy.

Where do the successes to leading a healthy life lay for you? Comment with your two cents either here or on facebook. I'll choose one at random next Wednesday and the winner will get a special gift.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back in the side saddle...

shine shine shine

Ahhh home. Smoked salmon, yoga classes that I get to go to daily, farmer's markets, chai tea...ahhh the good stuff. Culture shock? Only if you consider my surprise at the abundance of skinny hipsters on bikes in Portland. I'm slowly acclimating to my old but new life. Hibernating a bit in the warm confines of local yoga studios working on those hammies and hips. I treated myself to a wonderful weekend workshop with the ever lovely Kathryn Budig where I got to reconnect with some old friends, favorite teachers and met some new friendlies.
The theme of the workshop was "all is full of love" and provided me a great space in which to think about what it means to be back in my "regular" life, how I want that life to be different, what I want to be the same and where I want to see this life going. Day one was a great flow including Kathryn's signature Aim True sequence. Day two was all inversions and arm balances. I thought my arms would fall off by hour two but powered through and felt great. Day three, however, was backbends and heart opening and this is where our story takes us.

An entire day of backbends?! Seriously, I know I signed up for this and at the time I think it sounded like a good idea but I really dislike backbends. I love the idea of heart opening but my upper back isn't that flexible and I always feel claustrophobic or like I'm about to have a panic attack when I'm in backbends. Yes I know, this means that I should practice them even more and, more importantly, this means that I could use some serious heart opening but for 3 hours straight in one day?! It's like deciding to go to therapy and start dealing with all that gross stuff you've been carrying around with you. Just breathe. This is what I told myself over and over yesterday. See, backbends are so much more than just a physical practice. In a backbend we put ourselves out there, exposing everything. We purposefully open our hearts and surrender to life.

Think about what you do when you're feeling vulnerable, stressed out, sad, self-conscious. We physically collapse inward. Our shoulders turn inward, we cross our arms, and shield our hearts. In a backbend we take all of these things and present them to the world, exposing our center, the very essence of where we came from to the elements, the things that surround us including the scariest thing of all...ourselves. Backbends are this incredibly powerful tool to explore and potentially conquer your own fears physically and emotionally. We learn to love what we are, all that we have and put it out there. We embrace what is in our hearts and let it shine upward and outward.

Shit comes up when you're present in your backbends and yesterday was no exception. I'd say it was a level 5 shit storm. I've been in a place of transition since before I left Mexico. My priorities are shifting and many seeds of change have been planted. I know where I'm at and have a general sense of where it is I'm going but this is a general sense. How am I supposed to expose myself when I don't even know what that self is right now? Savasana, a few tears and a great conversation later I was gently reminded that sometimes not knowing is a perfectly acceptable answer and I remembered that this is why we practice yoga. On our mat we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable so that we might see what it is that really makes us up and what it is that we want or need to work on. Through our practice we constantly discover little nuggets of awesomeness about ourselves. We find things that might make us frustrated or cry but then we find the things that make us smile and shine.

I'm working on a setup to start doing short videos for you and a little heart opening backbend sequence is at the top of the list. For now you can check out Yogaglo, they have some free classes with awesome teachers over there.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Holstee on...

Sometimes it really can be all that simple.

Holstee makes ass kicking, sustainable products that you should buy. This is their manifesto and I'm adopting it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A different kind of independence day...

I can't begin to relate how special my time here in Tulum has been. As I sit here I watch different lives unfold. The table of women enjoying their morning brunch, in front of a beautiful ocean after a 2 hour yoga class. The smiles on their faces, the joy in their hearts. For these women stepping away from their crazy lives in whatever city they've come from and focusing on themselves for a week is a huge deal. To be a part of that, to be considered as a facilitator to that is joyfully overwhelming.

I watch these women, most of whom never knew each other before 3 days ago, form friendships that many of us long to find. When we allow ourselves to step back from all the day to day ruckus, allow ourselves to withdraw from all the bullshit and be open...these bonds flourish. We let ourselves be ourselves. We get sweaty together, see each other without makeup, hear the stories and drama and still the person sitting across from you sees your beauty unwaveringly. It's honest and sincere.

As I go home I hope to take this with me. Being honest to myself, being my true self so that I can deliver that to those who surround me. I wouldn't want to give anything but my true self to those that I love, it's what they deserve and it's what I deserve. It's liberating, freeing and provides a kind of independence that nothing else can give you.

I've got all kinds of goodness coming once I get back to the states that I can't wait to share with you! Keep shining beauties and stay true to you. Always.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

everything in its right place...

Traveling was great and I'll catch up on stories when I get back state side. For now I'm mending from what is going on to be 2 weeks of illness. Food poisoning had me down for the count for a good 4 days and I haven't been right since. Now that the belly is beginning to feel slightly better and able to tolerate more than bananas and papayas I seem to have gotten a pretty rotten cold. Damn weakened immune system. This is when mama's soup comes in handy. So so soon!!!

New music! Sorry it took me awhile. I've been using this new playlist, with some old favorites, for the past month and a half or so and people seem to love it. I promised a few I'd post it so enjoy!!!