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?

Lessons from My Yoga Mat – When War Waged Between My Ears

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I woke up late. I didn’t hear my alarm. Despite an array of judgemental thoughts that swarmed through my head as I looked at my clock that read 5:35am, I jumped out of bed. My alarm had been going off for an hour. I didn’t even hear it. I rushed to get ready for yoga practice. I felt horrible for being late. The judgement just kept rolling like a memorized script that was beating me over the head. I arrived in the practice room at a glorious 1 hour late. I told myself I’d go to practice and I did, no matter what. I didn’t realize that I’d learn several lessons from my yoga mat.

I rolled out my mat and began with downward facing dog. I shook my head to shake the thoughts out. At first it didn’t work, they wouldn’t leave. Amping up my practice to the tune of, challenging I began to sweat as I took myself on. The more challenging it was the less I judged myself for being late. Because when your quads are pulsing and your breathing through your nose who can think, “Oh gosh, I can’t believe I was late.” It was more like, “Breath, girl, you can drop from Flip Dog into Wheel. Ready, set, go!” Slowly I began to smile at the woman next to me from time to time. I dove into my practice like a high diver dives into the water. Soon my judgement turned into peace. The self diminishing thoughts melted into feelings of courage. Courage to show up because I gave my word. Showed up just like I was, no matter what anyone else thought. It took courage and I’m glad I did. Taking on the arm balances, felt easy. Everything seemed to flow with a sense of lightness once I stopped the mental yelling at myself. My head was finally quiet. If you don’t know yet, being in headstand requires focus and quiet. Mentally yelling at yourself while upside down just doesn’t work. The very thought of it makes me laugh! Can you imagine it, in headstand with a word cloud of negative thoughts swirling around? Oh wow!

The lessons from my yoga mat I learned before the sun came up.  I’ll carry them with me for the rest of day. I learned that commitment is an excellent bus driver. She’ll drive you straight to where you said you want to go. You also have to hop on that bus no matter what. That showing up authentically and in all your imperfect glory, works. Practicing without a fuss, works. Showing up kicks not showing up’s tail, every time! Taking on a challenge helps clear your mind. Beating yourself up for being imperfect, doesn’t work. Instant forgiveness feels amazing! Plus, I still got to go upside down and when I stood right side up, I felt like a warrior princess. Who’d won the war waged between my ears. Courage, commitment and instant forgiveness helped me win. (Ok, so that forgiveness wasn’t instant. It took about an hour, it still happened nonetheless). Tackle the wars that wage between your ears today with courage. Don’t worry if the battle rages for an hour stick with it, your head will shut up eventually.

Listening – What it Means to Really Listen.

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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

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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.

Vulnerability is Sexy; Life Lessons on Vulnerability from an Imperfect Yogi

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The most sexy way to be is vulnerable. Vulnerability is something I’ve been thinking about lately. It’s scary. Showing people who you are and your messiness is a risk. It also allows people to connect with you in a powerful and meaningful way. It’s heart. Admitting you’ve made mistakes is beautiful. Being honest is awesome. I’m inviting you and yes, even me to look at being vulnerable differently. As a beautiful chance to be honest and then move into a new fresh space. So, here it goes. Vulnerability in it’s most raw form. These are a few of my life lessons and yes, I’m an imperfect yogi.

Speak your mind with courage even if your voice shakes. Vulnerability is sexy, super sexy. I’ve tried being a brick wall, it doesn’t work. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’re willing to show your self to someone and nothing is more amazing than that. Softly and powerfully declare your truth with compassion. Compassion melts the pressure to be perfect. The appearance of having it all together is seriously overrated. Instead of trying to keep it all together, be curious, about everything. It’s way more fun than trying to be perfect. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and the world. Darling, you aren’t gonna be perfect ever. Do yourself a favor and make peace with that fact. You’ll make lots of mistakes. Even some straight up bad choices that take you to places you never imagined yourself to be in. Yeah, you will, expect it. What you can do now is learn from them. Realizing what caused you to make those choices works.

Realize that saying yes to something, means saying no to another. It’s ok if you don’t know the answer right now. It’s uncomfortable staying with the question until the answer lands with you. Totally uncomfortable, sometimes I sit there and squirm eager to be out of the question and into the answer already. Then I get an answer and say, “What? Not knowing was better. Can I go back to not knowing? Please?” Once you know you cannot unknown. That’s why speaking your truth with compassion and courage works, because then you can own your truth. Getting to your truth, means getting quiet and being honest. Be courageous my sweet friend. Be compassion, with yourself and others. Do the work of speaking your mind and heart with courage. Be sweet to yourself. Be vulnerable, it’s sexy. It’s a chance for you and others to get to know you on a whole new level. In my experience being a brick wall was exhausting. Being clear and vulnerable works. It’s the easiest way to be in the long run. I lost more than I could have ever imagined by keeping the bricks around my heart. I created connection and intimacy when I was vulnerable. It was amazing! Be vulnerable, it’s totally sexy.

What a Fast Food Server Taught Me about Being Present and 9/11

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It was 9/11/13 – I walked up to the counter to order my food. The fast food server was a young woman, her name was Kelli. She taught me about being present and 9/11.

Kelli asked for my order so fast my head spun. It’s a good thing I was paying attention to what she was saying or I wouldn’t have heard her at all. The words were spilling out of her mouth as if she was a robot repeating a script programed into her. I could tell she couldn’t see me. Physically her eyes worked just fine, however she didn’t see me. I was another number and another order to process super fast to get to the next person even though there was no one behind me. I lifted my head from searching through my wallet. I looked at her and said laughingly, “Girl it’s a good thing I can listen quickly, because I can barely understand you. You speak at lightning speed. Take a deep breath.” She admitted she was used to the questions she was required to ask. In fact so familiar that she didn’t even think about what she was saying anymore.

Her tiny moment of being present was just that, tiny. She had a momentary blip and was present for a few seconds. Then she dove back into robot mode, asking me a third time if I wanted Salsa and knew where the hot sauce bar was. She fell back asleep to what and who was in front of her and robot-ing her way through her work day. My heart filled with understanding and compassion for her. It also started me thinking about me, if there were times I’d mechanically moved my way through my day.

It also had me think how many of us have robot-ed our way through a whole lifetime. It reminded me 09/11/01 the date 12 years ago in US history that stands as a day when lots of lives ended. Many people I could imagine thought this was going to be a regular work day, just like any other day. However it was their last day. Their last of everything. I can only imagine how many people would love to have their loved ones back. To be able to hug, kiss and laugh with their special people. I can only guess that their message to us would be,  go all in. Be present with every person and moment of your day! Don’t take any moment for granted. You never know when it maybe your last chance. Yes, even if you’re the one behind the counter at a fast food joint. This day, today is a gift.  I think the best way to remember 9/11 and those who lost their lives that day is to live present, awake & alive and vibrant lives. Not to remember the fear that event created or learning to hate those who flew the planes. Let’s remember those people by celebrating who we are and those we love. Celebrating the gifts we were given. Let us live, not just survive.

The Happiness Question – What Makes You Come Alive?

ImageHave you ever felt dead inside?

Like a machine that’s only clicking it’s way through time without thought or feeling. No meaning to life. Click, click, click…the machine that perpetually moves along. Why are you staying in a space that makes you feel dead? Stop trying to fix and force what isn’t working. It’s time for a new question.

What makes you come alive? 

What makes your toes tap without even thinking about it? When are you smiling ear to ear and don’t even realize it? For me it’s yoga and salsa dancing. When I land warrior II pose, getting deep into my legs and ground into the mat, I feel alive and powerful. When I stretch out my arms and reach, with an energy that shoots out past my fingers, I feel alive. Salsa – oh where do I begin?! The movement touches my soul like nothing else does. It feels like heaven when one smooth turn flows into another. When I’m in synch with my partner – when our hands, arms and feet flow seamlessly. I could dance until my toes are swollen and legs too sore to move the next morning.

This is not about me and what makes me come alive; ultimately, it’s about all of us. The world – each person across our globe doing more of what makes us happy. That’s why asking the happiness question is important. Imagine with me a world where each person smiles every day all day long. Where people are applauded for their craft and what they bring to the world. That happens when each of us are brave enough to fall in love with brings us alive. To practice our craft, to fall in love with it again and again. To play with it and make it ours.

What makes you come alive? Tell me. Now that you know, go do it! Practice it and make it your obsession. We want to experience you when you’re at your best. Share it with us – the world. We want to see you come alive.