Even Wonder Woman Needed Saving

WonderWomanWonder woman had put down her cape. The rain poured. Life had knocked the wind out of her. Drenched, her eyes filled with tears. Focused on saving others she forgot to save herself. She threw her hands in the air. Who knew that even she needed a bit of saving herself?! “I don’t know how to do that,” she thinks as she stands looking at her war torn cape

Up to her knees in disappointment. Wonder Woman realized that even though she may not know how to save herself. She can try again. She can scrub out the dirt. Throw it in the wash. Toss it in the drier. She can grab a needle and thread. Stitch strength and courage back into her cape. She can ask for help. Even though her cape isn’t brand new it doesn’t matter.

She isn’t the super-hero the world told her she should be. She totally messed up and life socked in the stomach. Yet she is a brave woman who wakes up the next morning and tries again. That, ladies n’ gents sounds like Wonder Woman to me. She can still be proud of the cape in her hands. The stitches tell stories of pain and hurt, of winning some and losing some. The real story is about the woman underneath the cape and that makes her a super hero.

She is stronger now. Sliding the red cape proudly around her shoulders she stands tall. Her fingers carefully tie the string around her neck. Her cape is bright red from being washed in the rain. Complete with stains and stitches. This cape tells her story of resilience.

Standing in her house. She walks to the front door and throws it open. Her feet planted firmly into the ground, shoulders back and heart up. Experience laden red cape around her neck. She’s ready to face the world again. To save those willing to be saved and yes, perhaps even save herself.

 

Love

 

Image

Love says, I love you by trying again. Love walks along side you, fingers intertwined in a zipper of prayer. The bumps will come. You will be up to your knees in disappointment and you will fall. When you’re dirty, crying and mascara has glued your eyes shut from crying. Love cleans you up, holds you and helps clean up your face. When you open your eyes again the ones who truly love you will be there. Love will hand you another box of tissues and listen. Love will help you find the pieces of yourself that have been missing. Each piece that is found is held with gentleness and compassion. Slowly Love helps you put yours pieces back together again. Love creates beautiful things from messes. Love creates healing magic with a cup of coffee, conversation or a hug the mending begins. 

Love listens. Love breaths life into your dreams and turns them into plans. Love comforts you when you cannot breathe. Love has known pain, disappointment, fears, tears and loss. Love has been where you’ve been. Love stands tall so that you can stand up. Love knows joy, hugs that heal, silence that mends and dances that feel like heaven. Love knows that laying in the middle of the street looking at the stars builds a sense of wonder into that moments.

Love knows that when you look at the stars all problems fade away. Love knows that a little love goes a long way. Love shows up and cheers you on your journey.  Love helps you do the simplest things. Love knows your favorite drink, food, places and bring those into your life. Money cannot buy love. You cannot buy soul piercing eye contact, a warm heart or even handwritten sweet notes for every day of the week. 

Love listens, to what’s being said and not said. To the sighs and moments of silence between words. Love notices nail color, earrings and new clothes. Love embraces and truly wants to know about the other. Love listens to understand, not just waiting for their turn to talk. Love shares snacks. Love stock around when everyone else has gone. Love doesn’t judge your sad or happiness. Love is excited for what excites you. Love will be on your team no matter the game. Love will love you no matter what you say, how corny you are, or even if you have morning breath. Love loves you when you’re not easy to love and unlovely looking. Love also loves you when you’re easy to love and are lovely looking. 

Love loves you back. You don’t have to ask for love, it’s freely given. Daily and every moment love cannot be anything other than love. Know that in this journey of being human you’ll be imperfect. You are going to royally mess up. You’ll make choices that when you admit it your face red. This life will hit you hard. Rain on your parade. You will feel profoundly ugly and perhaps even stupid at times. Do not let those past choices and ugly feeling moments define you. That isn’t who you are. You are love. Love is strong, courageous, kind beyond measure, helps you tie your shoes, wipes your tears, makes you coffee even when love is tired, listens to the same story again, love stays awake, dances when loves feet hurt and most importantly love shows up again and again. You are love and you are lovely, just remember that. 

Yoga – A Date with Destiny

Image

To rise before the sun comes up. To awaken to a city that is still asleep. To breathe deeply into the stillness of dawn is bliss. Follow your bliss.

This dream of dreams. The one between waking and sleeping. The one of freedom, openness and joy. Follow your bliss.

This dream is the cool morning air softly touching my cheeks. The hush over the city unwilling to break its sleepiness. The traveler, travels on no matter the cities hush. Follow your bliss.

This first breathe in yoga reveals stiffness. The next fluid movement. The next openness and soon powerful expansion explodes over the mat. Follow your bliss.

This morning is perfect. The sleeping city. The fog and the traveler. Follow your bliss.

This quiet morning we were destined to meet you and I, we and us. To transform stiff into fluid. To shift closed into open. To expand and express. To flow, breathe and bend. To let go of the past. To breathe in fresh and new.

This morning a date with destiny. My destiny. Follow your bliss. Follow your bliss.

3 Benefits of Yoga for Florida Autistic High Schoolers

yoga_high_schoolers

Autism affects many lives. It greatly impacted mine. I had the opportunity to teach six yoga, breathing and anger management workshops for autistic teens at Nathan B. Forrest and First Coast High Schools in Jacksonville FL. These 60 Florida autistic high schoolers and I experienced how effectively yoga works. In 45 minutes we noticed marked significant change in mood, behavior and cognitive abilities. Incredible!

3 Benefits of Yoga were easily observable. Each one was instant, tangible and experienced based.

1. Change in Mood – Increased Happiness. We laughed a lot! Celebrated our successes. It’s awe inspiring to see how celebration like clapping hands and high fives make a difference. Celebrating produced increased willingness and ability for the teens to learn faster while having fun. Together we invented the “high thumb” it’s like a high five except you give each other a thumbs up and push your thumb into theirs. As the yoga practice progressed we observed collective and instant innovation taking place among the students. Finishing a pose they were proud they’d lean forward give me a thumbs up and press their thumb into mine and smile. The smiles just melted my heart.

2. Change in Behavior – Calmer. Yoga helps you to calm you down. At one point we had a heighten sense of nervous energy in the room. One teen demonstrated his nerves by hopping around the room without noticing people or the desks in the room. I began to teach them to breath through their nose. He stop jumping, listened to the other teens breathing and he quietly sat down. His nerves were calmed by hearing the breath and soon he was joined the crew in breathing. Amazing! In fact they were all quiet. Soon they also were able to communicate clearly and help each other to follow along. The standing and balancing poses created a sense of calmness. You could feel it in the room. We all focused on one thing, balanced on one leg and took deep nostril breaths. Which for those of you who have and/or work with autistic high schoolers is a monumental task in and of itself. This is from only 45 minutes with a group! The longer we practiced their behavior became increasingly calmer with gentler body movements and softer voices. Some of these kids had severe range of motion limitations and were so calm they were able to focus enough to practice with us. If you think you cannot practice yoga because you’re not flexible enough. Think again!

3. Change in Cognitive Abilities –  Easily Able to Demonstrate. They learned to use yoga and breathing to help them feel better while in school. Some were able to tell me what they could do if they were having a bad day at school. One guy sat up tall when asked how to handle a bad day and said, “Take three breaths.” Touched his nose, closed his eyes and on his own demonstrated nostril breath. Remember this is new information. I’d only been working with them for 30 minutes at this point.  The kids were thrilled to show or tell me how their body felt after taking just three breaths in child’s pose. Their retention of new experienced based  information was groundbreaking. They remembered names of poses and easily demonstrated them. On their own they began to teach each other to breath through their nose!

In essence yoga works! In 45 minutes these kids now have a chance at being able to calm themselves down. We saw significant change in mood, behavior and cognitive abilities. These teens are smart! They each have their own way of seeing the world. Their own challenges to live with that are unique to them. Yet in the midst of all their living with, they smile. Willing to try new exercises like yoga. We worked together as a unit and cheered each other on. These kids are shining examples of pure spirited human beings. They are now empowered to create their own happiness, calm and shift their thinking. May we ever strive to smile no matter what. Give high thumbs. Try something new and take deep breaths.

kids_meditation

Be Here Now – Lessons in Being Present

ImageIt’s easy to be hard as a rock. It’s take guts to be vulnerable. To share your heart even if you get rejected again and again. It’s easy to create the most beautiful outfit and hair. It takes courage to create a beautiful soul. It’s easy to tell stories (believe me I’ve told many and so have you). It takes courage to tell the truth. There’s only a couple things in life worth laying it all out on the line for. I can count them all on one hand.

No, it’s not your cell phone. Quit treating it like your lover. Go kiss your lover! Hold him or her dearly, press them close to your heart. Let her feel you! No, it isn’t your flat screen t.v. Be mesmerized by the people you love. Look for their beauty, their smiles and laughs. No, it isn’t your iPod or radio. Listen to the music, the music is their voice. Hear the deep tones, the high pitches and breaths between words. Hear the silent pauses and hesitations. Their heart is in their words, whether the heart is warm and open or cold and closed.

Not everyone is looking for advice when they call you. Sometimes they just need to know their not alone. They called because they want you to listen or invite you to share space.

Think about this…when was the last time you listened instead of just waiting for your turn to talk?

Listening – What it Means to Really Listen.

Image

Listen, really listen. To all that’s being said. To all that’s not being said. To the breaths between the words. To holding your breath. Listen to the silence. To the loud sigh of exhaustion or of release. Listen to how the hugs feel in your body. Do they comfort your soul? Listen to the smile. Listen to your heart. Hear what your soul has to say. What does it need and desire?

I’m here and I’m listening. Sometimes my heart and soul are so full that I don’t cannot hear what you’re saying. Today I will clear my head while I’m with you. You’re important to me. I will listen with my ears, heart and soul. To you and all that you are, you gorgeous thing. I hear you.

I see the pain behind your eyes that your courage tries to hide. I hear the laughter that fills the space when the tears are too much to take. I’m here and listening. Speak your truth. Become your truth. Share your heart with me, I’ll hold it in mine.

Alice – The Extraordinary Woman Who Loved

silver_haired_woman

Fall is here! I’m excited to be outside! I was walking in a park thinking to myself, “Aren’t I lucky to be here, feeling the sun and breeze on my face.” I passed a woman sitting on a park bench who looked sad. I made a few more circles in the park and each time I passed her I noticed more about her. She had amazing bright white hair, sitting on the park bench knees pulled into her chest and blank look of pain on her face. As I kept passing her by my heart strings were tugged a little more each time. Finally my last circle she was still sitting there and I had to stop.

Stepping close to her I said, “Are you alright?” Not even lifting her eyes off the pavement she said, “No, I’m tired.” Crying like I’d just poked a fountain that was ready to burst, she said, “I’m tired. I don’t want to do this anymore.” What happened over the next hour truly threw me for a loop. I know that it’s the worlds game to seem cool and not surprised by anything, however her story surprised me. I’d like to introduce to Alice, we’ll call her Alice.

Alice was at the park as a part of her bucket list wishes before she jumped into the St. John’s River ending her life. Today was THE day. My heart ripped from my chest and went out to her’s. She told me why she was tired of living. Pain body, heartache, loss of loved ones and a sense of intense pain from soul to heart and into her body. I knew why I was meant to stop and share this afternoon with her. She was beautiful! Her heart and soul shone brightly when she spoke of the good times. She threw her head back and laughed as she recounted funny times and people she loved. Tears streamed down her face as she said, “… and now I am invisible.” To me she was anything but invisible. I could see how beautiful she was, her white hair glowing in the sunshine and moving with the breeze. She had a big heart. She’d spent years bravely sharing it with others. She’d had her heart broken and stomped on one to many times. Now she was telling me how tired she was of giving it to the world. The world had paid her back with pain. I saw compassion and love in her eyes. I saw the value of who she was. She couldn’t see it. Her eyes only saw and felt pain. She just wanted it to end. Pain so great that even the strongest meds didn’t help for more than an hour or two each day.

I shared with her what I saw in her, she blushed like a like a school girl. Even though now she’s 50 something, for a moment she looked like she was 10. For a split second the long haired girl of the 60’s was back and a smile spread from ear to ear. She dropped her eyes and whispered, “Thank you. I haven’t heard a compliment in a long time.” It was beautiful to hear her speak. Moving between pain, love, laughter and tears like an passionate dance packed full of heart. She was lovely. When her story was just about done, I invited her to yoga as my gift to her. She accepted. We made a date. I hope she shows up. I hope that she chose life today. Digging deep within herself to find the brave parts of her that aren’t tired. The parts still willing to give life a go. I hope that we all have the courage to share our hearts. Now, not tomorrow because now is the only moment we have. To follow our intuition when it speaks to us. To love on people just because they are people. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve so I could relate with her. I know what feeling invisible feels like. Rejection, heartache and pain have visited me as well. Listening to Alice may have saved her life.

I saw her. I stopped and told her that I saw her. I hugged her pain body with mine. Gave her all the love and compassion I had. Pulling away from the hug I said, “I see you”.  Our blue eyes locked and it was magic. She felt seen. Today really see with your eyes, ears and heart the people in front of you.  All they may need to stay alive is you telling them, “I see you”. Don’t be afraid to open your heart. Yeah. It might get hurt, that much is true. If I didn’t open my heart to Alice though she may not have lived.