More big magic

Reading Big Magic with a group means that we have journal prompts for different sections.

Reflect on an idea that ran away from you. Why did you dismiss it?  I don’t know that I dismiss ideas as much as I start them and then get stalled. For example:

  1. Last year I wanted to make homemade knitted items for all of my daughters. They’re about 90% done (sorry girls!) and still sitting. And I’ve started another knitting project since then.
  2. I bought a lot of painting supplies after going to a few painting group events. I don’t think I’ve gotten them out since then.
  3. You don’t even want to know how many journals I own that have some writing in them but that are not complete.

So I don’t know that any ideas run away from me.  I think I run away from them.  Or meander away from them. Running sounds like there is intention involved and if anything, this is from lack of intention and lack of focus.

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It’s time to make amends. Moving forward, how can you honor your inspiration and bring your ideas to life? For starters, I can stop and think before I bring another one into the world. I can ask myself if I have the time and desire to nurture it or if this is an idea that can just as easily belong to someone else. Is this something that will absolutely make my heart sing or is it simply a nice idea? Something that may work well in general but not necessarily needed in my life? And when I do bring an idea into the world, I need to commit to spend time with it regularly — maybe daily — maybe weekly — but regularly. I value creativity and purpose and intention and want my life to reflect those ideals.

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Facing fear

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I would be lying if I said I lived without fear. Brave and courageous are two words I would never use to describe myself. Many times, my internal dialog sounds something like this: what will “they” think? what if i fail? what if i fall? what if my body gets hurt or won’t do the right thing or looks weird? what if everyone thinks i’m too fat or too old or too conservative or too liberal or too poor or too smart or not smart enough? what if they think i’m too granola? 

There were many fearful voices in my childhood and I internalized a lot of them.  Don’t hurt yourself. Protect your back. Don’t eat that; it will make you fat. What will _____ think? 

I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and her earliest chapters are about the relationship between fear and creativity. By the way, she uses the word creativity to mean living a full life; a life with purpose. For some people, this means artistic creativity; for others, it could be entrepreneurship or — oh, I don’t know — becoming a counselor and yoga teacher at 50.

I’m sharing this picture because it has significance for me. Several years ago — almost 20 — my family full of little children went to spend a day at a park. There was a playground that had a balance beam on it. I spent my childhood walking on balance beams at recess and this one called my name. Surely, I could still do that, right? I wanted to be the mom who did things with her children and who showed them what was possible, so on the balance beam I went.

I got about 3/4 the way across and then I fell.  My right leg landed soundly on the beam. For several days, I couldn’t bend my knee and I had a huge bruise up and down my lower leg.

I thought about that day last week as we were hiking through the trails of Pickwick Landing State Park, our location for Thanksgiving 2017. In more than one location, a fallen log lay on the ground, pretending to be a balance beam. I wondered if the results would be the same. While I didn’t find one to walk the length of, I did stop and do tree on a tree. It took focus (I can see it on my face — can you?), and I had to stop and start over a couple of times before I found my focus point, but then I did it.

Tree.  On a tree.

And then I posted the picture even though my first thought was “I look fat. And my I love Jesus and naps shirt might offend somebody.”  I posted it. And now I’m posting it again and I’m sharing my victory even though my current thought is, don’t brag on yourself. they make think you’re bragging.  pride goes before destruction and haughty spirit before downfall.

I don’t know if this is Big Magic or not, but it’s facing fears.

And that has its own very special kind of magic.

Post Yoga Thoughts

This past Saturday and Sunday, I attended my first yoga teacher training sessions. I am part of a group of 12 people who will journey through this together. We will meet monthly through April and at the end of it, we will be Registered  Yoga Teachers with 200 hours of education and practice.  In yoga world, that’s known as R-YT 200.

I didn’t know what to expect before I drove to Little Rock on Saturday.  Would we spend the whole time in yoga practice, perfecting physical technique? Would it be like a classroom with lectures and handouts and quizzes?  I had no idea.

It’s hard to explain exactly what it was.  We shared our yoga stories.  Why this mattered.  We learned about the history of its development and how it came to the West and has been modified over the years. Yes, there were handouts, in fact there’s a HUGE binder FULL of resources and reading material and forms to help plan classes and there is homework to complete each month between our meetings. And yes, there was yoga practice. We will have a guest teacher each month and we will also teach each other.

And it was amazing.

Have you ever been in a situation that you knew would push your limits but you also knew was exactly where you needed to be? I don’t know how to explain it; I’m not sure I’ve ever had this experience before. I love school and school has always worked well for me, but it’s something I do. This spoke to me at the level of who I am, not of what I do.

Throughout my life, I’ve been a pretty open book. I may have even been accused of oversharing a time or two. 🙂 What many don’t know is that when something is deeply important to me, I keep it close to my heart and I don’t talk about it a lot. Yoga teacher training feels that way to me. I’m not sure how to talk about it. I’m not sure that I want to talk about it. I think I just want to experience it.

I kind of feel that way about life in general these days, too. I love my life.  Each day has beauty and joy. I still see the problems in the world and I still ache for those who are hurting. I still see my own shortcomings, yet I am no longer willing to allow those to define me.

So I don’t know if this blog will see more use or not. Possibly. But I can’t promise. I can promise, however, that I will be living life fully, soaking up the things that happen to me and cherishing each moment that I can. big_thumb

Yoga

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This weekend, I start yoga teacher training.

This is surreal to me. I am thrilled. Scared. Excited. Terrified.

I am all of those things, yet also certain. Certain this is the path that I am to walk right now. Certain that this is part of my story for this time in my life. Certain that it will be a ministry and an avenue for peace in my life and the life of others.

I don’t know how to explain the experience of yoga. Of course people can go to classes and learn the postures (or asanas) or yoga, but there is more to its effect than the stretching of muscles.

Yoga teacher training has reading and writing assignments and I will be sharing some of those here in case you’re interested in my journey.  Our first reading assignment was a short book about the ethics of yoga and we were to write a one paragraph response to the ethical practice that appealed to us the most.

After reading The Yamas and Niyamas, I am drawn to the idea of Nonviolence or Ahimsa. I have always considered myself a pacifist; I want there to be peace in the world.  I want people to learn how to respect and communicate with one another rather than resorting to violence. I grew up in a home that was full of yelling and hitting and did not want to repeat that in my own parenting. As an adult, I have learned that lack of violence was one thing, but promoting a peaceful home was much more than that. It also meant acknowledging the internal critic that drove so much of my decision-making. I was plagued by repeating the same hateful words to myself that I heard from my mom while I was growing up. In order to address my own internal critic, I had to make peace with my body and mind.  Yoga helped me do that. It was fascinating to read that one of the bedrocks of yoga is the idea of Ahimsa, or nonviolence, to both self and others, and that it begins with ourselves. We can only be as kind to others as we are to ourselves. That is my challenge: to do no harm to myself in thought, word, or deed and to extend that same nonviolence to others. Yoga is a powerful practice in learning to be kind and respectful to ourselves first and then to others.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the chapter on Ahimsa:

Our ability to be nonviolent to others is directly related to our ability to be nonviolent within ourselves. 

One of the biggest challenges to maintaining balance is feeling powerless. Nonviolence invites us to question the feeling of powerlessness rather than accept it.

I have come to believe that any sense of powerlessness we are feeling can be traced back to the story we are telling ourselves in the moment about the situation. 

I cannot say  this enough times: Our inability to love and accept all the pieces of ourselves creates ripples — tiny acts of violence — that have huge and lasting impacts on others. 

 Thinking we know what is better for others becomes a subtle way we do violence. When we take it upon ourselves to “help” the other we whittle away at their autonomy. Nonviolence asks us to trust the others’ ability to find the answer they are seeking. 

When love became the Lord of my life, I became fearless.

Nonviolence is woven with love, and love of other is woven with love of self; these cannot be separated. 

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