It seems appropriate to offer a quote from the prolific Maya Angelou as we celebrate her life and contributions in the wake of her recent death. This particular quote makes me smile - offering affirmation and rebuke in equal measure.
I can (and have!) handled lost luggage with grace. I find it therapeutic rather than frustrating to untangle knots. But rain? That is another matter entirely!
Rain turns me into a persnickety faultfinder. I don't like being wet. I don't Iike muddy floors. I don't like soggy shoes. I don't like the way the grime of city streets pools beneath curbs after every shower. I don't like how precipitation pulls petals from newly blossomed flowers and plasters them to the sidewalk. I don't like the choreography required to walk down a busy street with an umbrella.
But this morning, as the rain falls in our nation's capital, I am trying to see past my personal preferences and take a cue from my daughter, who already giggles when rain drops land on her face and will one day soon want a puddle jumping partner. I am putting on my boots, grabbing an umbrella, and facing my nemesis.
Can you embrace an inconvenience today?
I must confess that over the past 14 months I have found it challenging to find time to be on my mat at all - let alone attend a studio class. But I decided to make it a priority for the holiday weekend and carved out the time necessary to attend my favorite class on Saturday morning. After a week of eager anticipation, I arrived at the studio only to discover that the instructor scheduled to teach another class at the same time had encountered an emergency and would not be able to teach. "Can you help?" asked the studio manager...
I heard myself say, "yes," but everything within my body screamed, "NO!" My mind immediately devolved into a litany of self-righteous self-pity and excuses: Do you know how much I have been looking forward to this class? Do you know rare it is for me to have this opportunity? Do you know how much my mind and body NEED this escape? I haven't prepared a class plan, and I never teach this particular class - I don't even have my playlists! Certainly someone else can come to the rescue...
But no one did. So I taught the class. During centering I looked out over the yogis in the room. Feeling sorry for myself wasn't going to change anything, and every person in the room deserved the space to work through whatever had brought them to their mat. I had a responsibility to them let go of my disappointment and teach from a place of acceptance.
The students were gracious and welcoming, and the time flew by. Through open windows during a silent savasana, I could feel the gentle breeze and hear the birds in the trees. I found myself smiling, and I walked out of the studio feeling every bit as serene as if I had spent the same time on my mat.
Next time things don't go as you planned, can you set let go of your expectations and accept your circumstances as they are? Can you practice your yoga in whatever form it comes?
At no point in my life did I envision being where I am today. As a little girl I imagined living in New York City - not Washington DC. As a senior staffer on Capitol Hill I saw myself continuing to climb the ladder to a successful communications career. During the years we struggled to start a family, I envisioned a child-free life. But here I am: living in DC, teaching yoga, and raising a beautiful baby girl.
My life is not perfect, but the reality is so much more rewarding than I could have conceived when I was so carefully mapping out the path to my presumed destination. If my journey has taught me anything it is that life is constantly in flux, and while a 10 year plan isn't a bad thing, it isn't nearly as valuable as being open to unforeseen opportunities. Can you allow yourself to embrace a life you haven't imagined?
I don't like to ask for help. Whether it comes from pride (I couldn't dare let anyone know I am not capable of something!), arrogance (no one could possibly fill the dishwasher as well as me!), or not wanting to bother others (I'm sure you have enough problems of your own!), or some combination thereof, I would really prefer to handle things myself. Yet I found myself standing in the middle of a parking lot earlier this month, yelling out to a group of complete strangers to please help me NOW!
On a beautiful blue-sky, sun-shining kind of day, my daughter and I joined some friends for a perfectly lovely play date. After strolling through a park and stopping at a little bakery, we headed back to the car, where I strapped the babe in her carseat, tossed my purse in the passenger seat, loaded the stroller in the back, and walked around to the driver's side door. But it didn't open - not the first time I pulled the handle, or the next, or the time after that. I reached for my keys only to realize they were in the car, along with my phone, which meant no way to reach the friend we just left or 911. A powerful sensation of utter helplessness washed over me as I scanned the parking lot - full of cars, but void of people. As I contemplated the dilemma of not being able to find help without leaving the car but not wanting to leave the babe alone in the locked car to seek help, four men entered the lot.
I called out, interrupting their midday stroll, and as they sensed the urgency of the situation they sprang into action. Within minutes, they evaluated the situation thoroughly, ruled out the possibility of entering the car without damage, and agreed the only expedient solution was to break a window. Using a baseball bat left over from his son's little league practice, one man broke a window and unlocked the door, allowing me to retrieve the babe.
I will, of course, never again close a car door without keys in my hand, but the larger lesson of the day was the ease of asking for help. When circumstances are dire, the plea comes readily, but we shouldn't need an emergency to reach out. How many times have you made a problem worse by stalling as you tried to devise a solution that someone else could have offered more quickly? How many disasters could you have averted - or at least mitigated - by allowing someone else to assist? Is there some conflict or challenge in your life you could resolve by asking for help today?
Recently a reader reached out to ask what books have inspired me and helped me move forward on my journey. She was not the first to ask, but I have hesitated to respond because I find the question a bit daunting. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE to read!. It goes without saying that certain books have been incredibly influential at different points in my life, but choosing among those treasured tomes feels like choosing a favorite child!
In the coming weeks I will share some books I have turned to for inspiration and encouragement along the way, but I first want to open it to you, my fellow travelers, to submit the titles and/or authors who have shaped your life, inspired you to make changes (big and small), or captured your heart.
To contribute to the New Beginnings recommended reading list, send your suggestions and recommendations via email, leave a note in the comments section below, or post them to the New Beginnings Facebook page. I look forward to hearing what books have inspired you and opening a dialogue that can benefit us all...
It could be tempting to dislike the subject of today's Trailblazer profile. Julia Coney has found a way to make a living doing what most of us consider playing: traveling, beautifying, eating, and drinking. But to dismiss the curator of All About the Pretty without getting to know her would be a disservice to you both!
Julia's website, which she refers to as "A Southern Girl's Guide to All Things Beautimous," is full of tips on everything from the newest beauty products to where to dine in Napa, to how to pack everything you need for that long-awaited getaway in one carry-on bag. I adore Julia and I know you will too. To learn how she makes it all happen, read on...
Near the end of the tots & tykes yoga class I teach each week, the kiddos line up against the wall for bubbles. This exercise is, without question, the highlight of the class. Week after week the kiddos wriggle in anticipation and giggle as I approach with the "magic wand."
The littlest yogis watch intently - sometimes reaching for the orbs as they fall from the sky. The older kiddos often scramble up onto their feet and follow me around the room in hopes of catching a stray bubble. What we adults dismiss as a plastic container filled with water and soap is to these little ones pure bliss, and their joy is positively contagious.
While there is great value in gaining knowledge and wisdom along our life path, it often comes at the expense of wonder. How lovely would it be to see magic in a floating bubble or the setting sun? Can you see something today with fresh eyes? Can you allow yourself to be captivated by wonder?
How can marbles possibly qualify as a "tool for transformation"? I'm glad you asked!
At church this weekend a visiting pastor shared that his church gives new parents in their congregation a large jar filled with 1000 marbles when a child is born. The parents are instructed to remove one marble from the jar each week. The jar slowly empties month after month and year after year, finally becoming bare roughly around the time the child leaves home for college.
He explained that over the course of the eighteen years, the marble jar provides a tangible representation of how fast the time is passing and serves as a constant reminder to use the fleeting time well. I love this concept, and think it could be applied to any fixed amount of time you want to treasure and experience mindfully: removing a marble each day as you count down to your wedding date or the birth of a child. Alternatively, the jar could serve to encourage you to honor your progress as you experience challenging times: adding a marble each day throughout a period of mourning or to commemorate one more day of sobriety.
You certainly don't need marbles to live a more mindful life, but the exercise is one way to stay present in each moment. How might you measure the passage of time and remind yourself to experience moments more fully?
In our nation's capitol, Spring is a blissful - but brief - interval between the chill of winter and the oppressive heat and humidity of summer. The winter from which we are emerging was particularly vexing - delivering multiple rounds of polar vortices and their accompanying snow and record-breaking low temperatures. I don't know if the contrast is to blame (or credit) for my appreciation of the present sunshine, mild temperatures, and beautiful flowers, but I am doing my best to soak it in!
The yogis among us can appreciate the beauty of resting in savasana after a challenging practice, but do we allow ourselves to enjoy a period of respite after a trial in our lives off the mat? So often we power through difficult experiences without taking a moment to appreciate the contrast of the relief that follows. Can you give yourself permission to pause and enjoy the springtime moments in your life?
It seems many of the things that catch my eye in the blogosphere lately are related to my role as a mother, and this piece is no different. But the message applies to everyone woman who is an aunt, cousin, sister, teacher, friend, or daughter - and every man who has such a woman in his life - which is nearly all of us.
The words we say have such a significant effect on the young women in our lives - whether we realize it or not. I was fortunate to be raised in a home where food was treated as nourishment, or the focus of a family gathering, or something to be enjoyed - instead of the enemy. My mother spoke of weight loss in terms of being healthy or feeling good, not as the secret to happiness. As I listen to the conversations around me with the ears of a new mother, I recognize my experience is not the norm.
So many women see - and speak of - food as guilt, or a necessary evil - and chase "thin" as if a size 2 figure is heaven itself. Whether we realize it or not, the little girls in our life are listening - and watching. The following piece by author Kasey Edwards captures the passion and significance surrounding this emotionally charged issue. I encourage you to read, digest, and share her letter with the women in your lives - in the hope of creating a better environment for the next generation of women.