Monthly Archives: March 2011

Until You Walk In My Shoes

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An original poem, inspired by a figurative slap in the face I received today. I made a judgment about someone… and then I learned their story.

A Walk In My Shoes

You see me as fat
I walk with the notion that one more bite will fill this emptiness inside me

You see me as an addict
I walk with years of physical abuse that can only be forgotten when I swallow this pill or take that drink

You see me as a rebellious teen
I walk with constant ridicule and rejection

You see scars
I walk with reminders of the days when no one paid attention

You see me as ‘perfect’
I walk with fear of never being good enough

You see me as a Yogi
I walk in constant refinement

You see.
I am.

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Ripples Or Waves

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*Warning:  The scene I describe in this post is extremely violent.  This post is not for everyone. *

I watched a video on the internet this week that really disturbed me.  It disturbed me so much  that when my mind quiets, images from this video come into my head and leave me feeling sick inside.  Literally, it feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach.  I thought long and hard before deciding to write this post.  Mainly for my own sake – could I stand to replay the video in my mind again?  I decided to suck it up and share my feelings with you in hopes that with enough awareness, the images I witnessed this week will never happen again.

It started while I was on facebook and saw a friend had posted a video to their wall.  I clicked on the link, watched their video and was about to leave the site.  But then, another video thumbnail in the sidebar caught my attention (I refuse to share the name of the video.  It DOES NOT deserve another view.). The video title made reference to a person being a ‘bully’.  I was curious. I clicked.  What was the ‘bully’ up to I wondered.

The scene takes place outside of a school building.  The ‘bully’ in this video is a slim, wiry elementary school student.  He appears to be teasing a boy who is much taller than he and heavier – a David and Goliath image.  It’s hard to make out what is being said, but within 30 seconds the larger boy picks up the smaller boy, turns him upside down, and smashes his head into the sidewalk.

The ‘bully,’ who is now the victim, can barely get to his feet.  When he does stand he is contorted and crooked. He’s wobbling.  He cannot walk in a straight line. As he tries to stagger away from the scene he moves closer to the camera. The entire right side of his face is destroyed.

The video goes on, but I couldn’t watch it.  I felt guilty enough for having watched this far.  I walked into the bathroom and began dry-heaving.  I have a son.  If you’re a parent you understand.

From guilt I turned to anger.  “What sort of parents do these boys have?”  “What sort of parents would set an example that teasing is ok?, that bullying is ok? that retaliating is ok? that destroying another human being is ok?!!!!!” Where were the teachers?  Why the HELL was someone videotaping this!!!!!!!!!?????????

Part of me wanted to retaliate.  Part of me wanted to find out which school this was and send a scathing letter.  Part of me wanted to post a video in response to the parents- “How the %#@! could you let this happen?”.  As my blood grew hotter and hotter I forced myself to focus on breathing.

I slowly began to come down from the drama I was creating.  Then, the real lesson came to me . This wasn’t about a brawl among two young boys. This was about a world shadowed with so much self doubt, so much lack of love for Self, that we damage our children.  We damage our children.

If you’re alive, if you’re reading this, I know you’ve gone through shit in your life.  Everyone has.  Heartbreak, neglect, abuse, worse.. .We’ve all been through our own versions of hell.  And even though we’ve been drug through the trenches and we have the scars to prove it, we allow history to repeat itself.  It may not be a mirror image, but we allow the pains, abuses, and damage of what we’ve experienced to carry into the lives of our children.  Setting up an ugly, disastrous and sometimes deadly cycle.

So how do we break the cycle?  How do we ensure future generations the chance at a rich, loving, peaceful life? It starts with you.  It starts with the person reading this post.  It starts with realizing, no BELIEVING, that you are good enough, smart enough, strong enough, pretty enough, tall enough, large enough, young or old enough.  It starts with BELIEVING in whoever YOU ARE.  Knowing that you are not here by accident.  Knowing that you are truly a miracle.  If your father’s sperm hadn’t been fast enough – you wouldn’t be here!  You had a one in a gazillion chance of being born and guess what, you won! You fucking won!!!!!!!!!!!

Please, please, please stop doubting your beauty, your abilities, your worth.  You are already everything you need to offer this world. I will say that again,YOU ARE ALREADY EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO OFFER THIS WORLD. You do not need to try harder, do more, buy more, drink more, smoke more, eat more, swear more, fight more… all you need to do is recognize your dark places, accept them as fertilizer (shit) that will help you grow, and move forward!  Move forward and know that you deserve your own happiness!

It’s amazing how responsible we all are.  Whether you’re a parent or not, we are all responsible for the words, images, actions and reactions of the children in this world.  My friend Emmett said it best in a message he sent me today, “We don’t often think of the continuing ripples our energy creates. Whether positive or negative, we are like broadcasting towers, sending our thoughts and feelings out into the world. ”  Everything we say and do makes an impact on the world around us.   Everything.  Are you creating ripples, gentle enough to ride or are you making waves large enough to destroy?

It starts with you.

That post was really heavy. Here's a kitten to lighten the mood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Happens In Boston

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I’m just beginning to come down from the yoga high that was Foundations in Action with Baron Baptiste in Boston.  For three days I  sweat, meditated, sweat, contemplated, laughed, cried, sweat and grew more in a weekend than I ever would have thought possible.  The events and lessons from this trip are still swirling around in my brain.  I’m processing so much information that I can’t seem to get it out right now.  However, if there was one ultimate lesson or ‘A-ha’ that I took from this training it would have to be the Heart to Heart connection.

Heart to Heart, to me, is recognizing that all human beings come from and contain a divine source energy.  While our appearances and circumstances often differ we are all divinely connected.  I experienced this in a very big way on day three of Foundations in Action.  At the end of an hours long asana practice, 300 sweaty bodies were all resting in savasana. Music began to play as we drifted off into bliss (or sleep).  Soon, Baron was instructing us to roll onto our right side and sit up.  We opened our eyes and sitting before us was Krishna Das.

Krishna Das performs live

I am familiar with one of Krisha Das’ songs, Baba Hanuman.  Even though I’m a KD novice, his music filled me with much emotion.  I take that back , his music awakened  emotion within me.  I looked around and saw that it was awakening emotion in most of the yogis in the ballroom at the Seaport Hotel.  Not a dry eye as far as I could see.  As much as I tried to fight the tears, they kept coming.  I wasn’t sad.  I wasn’t upset.  I was simply allowing myself to release.  I was giving up control and doing so in a safe environment. Among people who felt permission to do the same.

So what does this have to do with the Heart to Heart connection? A reaction like that which took place during KD’s performance does not happen superficially.  It happens when hearts are open and vulnerable.  When people realize they are ‘part’ of something. When one soul shares itself so purely that other souls allow their walls to come down and weep.

Often we don’t see ourselves as a whole until the world literally comes crashing down around us.  Right now, we’re seeing this in Japan and  in Lybia.  We saw it in Haiti last year and we saw it when the US was brought to it’s knees in 2001.  But what if it didn’t take tragedy to open our hearts to those around us?  What if it only took the loving words of one person to another – in a song, in a poem, in a story about their life – that allowed us to remove our walls and share our hearts?  What if we saw everyone around us as an extension of our own heart?  Recognizing that each heart beats as best as it can to keep the life it holds in an upright position.

This is just one of the miraculous events that occurred in the Seaport Hotel Ballroom last weekend.  When the words find their way to me to explain the rest I will do my best to share.  Until then I send you my love, whether I know you or not.

From my heart to yours…

300 Yogis Feeling The Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wherever You Go, There You Are

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I was taken out of my element today. I attended a luncheon with a friend who has been influential in the community development of our City. This luncheon required me to wear business attire, high heels, and shake lots of hands. As I sat around table #45 (as my name tag told me to do) I observed the room. Lawyers, bankers, politicians, professors, executives of every kind.

I ate the three courses presented to me and grew a little anxious as I wondered if someone would notice I used the wrong fork. I began eating my bread roll…I was the only one eating the bread at our table… was I not supposed to eat the bread yet?… I wanted to take a bite of my dessert…it was sitting right in front of me….why would someone leave such an enticing treat in front of me if I wasn’t supposed to eat it now!!!

*Insert deep breath here*

Then, a funny thing happened. As I pulled myself away from the anxiety I was creating I began to see familiar faces. Faces I couldn’t quite place, but that I knew very well. OMG! At almost every table, in a room of nearly 500 people, I saw my students! The familiar faces were the same sweaty faces that come to my classes week in and week out!

I had allowed myself to get caught up in facade.   Caught up in an image.  A false Self that I had created.  Everything about this luncheon was tied up in a sparkly bow and the presentation made me feel out of place. When, in fact, I was still among people I know and love! This was just new territory. Gone was the comfort of my lululemon racerback top and awear shorts, but I was still Yogi Amber. Once my students began to recognize me in something other than a tank top and capris I received smiles, waves, and introductions to their colleagues. It turns out I wasn’t so far out of place after all.

Am I alone in this? Why is it so easy to forget who we are when we are placed in a new situation? Why do facades come up and conversations get small? I’m so thankful for my experience this afternoon. Just when I thought I didn’t belong, as my small self started to question my big Self, I was reminded I was right where I needed to be.  Among the human race.   Being a human being.

Take YOU wherever you go

Co-creation

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Co – with: together: joint: jointly

Create – to bring into existence

I attended Advanced Teacher Assistant Training over the weekend with  internationally known, humbly accessible, rock star Yogi, Deborah Williamson.  It was hands-on all weekend, as we learned how to enhance  student’s asana practice through various means of assistance . In addition to all the techniques and practical application, perhaps the most important thing I took away from this training was to approach assisting a student as a means of co-creating, rather than correcting.

Co-create rather than correct.  Wow, what a profound concept!  Think about it.  How often in our daily lives do we offer our opinion, recommendation or demands in an effort to correct?  To make things the way we think they should be.  I’m guilty of this.  I’m sure you are too.  It seems to be our nature as humans, as a society.  We’re so quick to tell someone when they are ‘wrong’ and offer numerous reasons as to why we are ‘right’.  Deep down it’s all just personal preference. Unless you’re dealing with mathematics – nothing is ever really ‘right’ or ‘wrong’,  is it? Just different I suppose.  Personal. One person’s preference vs another person’s preference.

Of course, there are serious world issues like abuse, violence, hatred etc.. that I would dare say are very, very wrong.  But for purposes of this post, I think we can all recognize that these are not the issues I’m referring to.  What I’m getting at are the silly, petty, simple things with which we allow ourselves to be consumed.  From the idea that  ‘Warrior II should look like this‘ to ‘This political party should be in office‘ – it’s all just one person (or group of people) declaring why they are right and the other is wrong.

Starting today, in my personal life and in my teaching, I’m making a conscious effort to co-create.  I will do the work to be mindful of  how I interpret the way things are ‘supposed’ to be.  I will do the work to recognize that everyBODY  is different.  EveryBody is capable.  EveryBody IS.  It is highly likely that at times I will fail miserably at this work, but I will continue trying and I hope you might do the same.

Everyone has something to offer the world.  Let’s do it together.

Funky Buddhas with Deborah Williamson

The True Hero Is Flawed

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He has been everywhere lately.  Speaking his mind, gloating about his talents, tiger blood, F-18s and chain smoking. Yup, I’m talking about Charlie Sheen.  And like most of middle America I have found myself getting sucked into his interviews and talk show appearances.   As I sit, watch, listen and judge I catch myself…This man is speaking his truth, sharing his flaws and saying, “to he** with you if you can’t appreciate it.”  How liberating!  While I don’t condone or promote a lifestyle like that lived by Mr Sheen, I do find beauty in his ability to be completely open, vulnerable and true. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be so raw.

Throughout the interviews, the interviewer will inevitably refer to Sheen’s drug use.  To which Sheen will declare he is clean and that as long as he chooses to be clean he will stay that way.  The interviewer will caution of relapse and Sheen says something to the effect of, “that’s not an option.  I simply choose to stay clean.”   Ahhhh, choice.  Everything in our lives – the things we say, do , feel, expect – they are all our choices.  It’s easy to blame someone for making us angry, for ruining our lives, for making a situation difficult, but in reality it is our CHOICE to allow someone or something to affect us negatively.  Now, I know this is a bold statement and it’s certainly not something I have mastered.  I’m simply sharing with you that I appreciate Charlie’s proclamation and recognize the truth which lies in his statement.

Years ago I was a smoker.  I claimed to be addicted, but I was actually just choosing to pick up a cigarette (or two, or three,…) each day and light up.  I wanted to blame Philip-Morris, or stress, or a myriad of situations in my life for my addiction, but at the end of the day it was my mind, my fingers and my mouth doing the work.  It was my choice to smoke and my choice to quit.  As I was quitting, when the urge to smoke would come on I CHOSE to occupy my time with other things, better things, healthy things.  It’s been 3 years since I’ve had a cigarette.  That urge still rears it’s ugly head sometimes, but I choose to ignore it.  I share this because I believe it is 100% possible to rid yourself of a bad habit, bad relationship, bad mental attitude etc simply by choosing to overcome it.  And I believe Charlie when he says that’s what he will do.

OK, enough about that.  Moving on…

Here’s a theory, newly formed (yes, that one is from Fight Club):  The reason we’re all glued to the tube when Charlie is on is because we can see ourselves in him.  We begin watching with judgement, but the reason we continue to watch is because we see something we can identify with.  We observe what the media would like you to believe is a train-wreck, but if we turn our judgments inward we can quickly begin to relate, on even the smallest level, with Charlie Sheen.  We all have a skeleton or two in our closet, a mistake we wish we could take back, a former life full of regrets (or perhaps, our current life). As we watch this unfold in a public figure we get to compare,  contrast and perhaps come face to face with our own flaws.

Wow, I guess that’s what I was trying to get at – Embrace your flaws! We’ve all got them.  We all try to hide them at some point in our lives.  But, when we get to share them, we begin to let our true self free.  We begin to remove masks, layers, learned behavior, unnecessary burden etc… and just be vulnerable.  Pure. Raw. True. Our own hero, triumphing over the obstacles of our own making.

Go Team Charlie. Go Team Me.  Go Team YOU!

Be Your Own Hero

You Need to Read This!

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This blog post from Single Dad Laughing,  has been circulating on my facebook news feed all week.  I had to share it here in case you haven’t read it yet.   The ‘disease’ the author writes about is exactly the ‘disease’ I hope I can help to alleviate or ideally cure in the students’ lives I get to touch.  A lofty goal, I know, but the liberation I have been able to find through my practice needs to be shared.

The author’s words will no doubt make you cry. Think. Question.  However, by the end of this read  I hope you will feel as relieved as I did.  Thank You, Single Dad Laughing (Dan Pearce)!

The disease called “Perfection”

As a warning, the following post was written in complete desperation. I have recently learned some very sobering truths from people that I love dearly. These truths have set in motion a quest within me to do whatever I can to make a change. Today is not geared at funny. Today is geared at something greater. Read it to the very end. I promise you will be affected in a way you have always needed to be. I spent more than twelve hours writing this post because its message is that important to me.

I wonder. Am I the only one aware that there is an infectious mental disease laying siege on us right now? There is a serious pandemic of “Perfection” spreading, and it needs to stop. Hear me out because this is something for which I am passionately and constantly hurting. It’s a sickness that I’ve been trying to put into words for years without much success. It’s a sickness that I have personally struggled with. It’s a sickness that at times has left me hiding in dark corners and hating myself.

And chances are it’s hit you too.

Read the entire article:   http://www.danoah.com/2010/09/disease-called-perfection.html