I see you. I love you. I hold space for you.

I see you. I love you. I hold space for you.

Sometimes I forget about past lessons I’ve learned and then one day they just smack me in the face. Here’s the recent one (learned in Costa Rica). When someone is challenging to be around, you just dislike them for some ambiguous (or not so ambiguous) reason….what about them is being reflected about yourself? What do you actually need to examine about yourself so that you can make positive change and have empathy and hold space for someone? Learning to love people…really love them.

There was a person in my life for a short time that I just struggled to like. She had a negative attitude, complained, and was very self-centered. She would engage in self-defeating talk (I’m stupid, I’m fat, etc.). She often told inappropriate (in my mind) stories and shared way too much information. She was difficult to be around….and for this phase of my life I just found myself always around her, avoid her though I tried. So this idea that there was something about her being reflected about myself made me angry. I’m not negative. I don’t complain. I definitely don’t say mean things to myself. There was no lesson I could think of needing to learn by being around this person.

One day, I was put on the spot to find something nice to say about her. I panicked, because I really couldn’t think of anything nice to say. But at the last minute the light bulb went off. This woman has no filter. She truly didn’t seem to think about or care about what others thought or how others might interpret her communication. Now I’m not advocating that we never filter ourselves. However, I realized that I over filter. I censor myself in such a way that I believe others will be more receptive to what I am saying. A trait common to many women I imagine. In that moment I found sincere admiration for the courage it takes to say exactly what you want and not give a f@*k. Too often I have suffered in silence out of fear for speaking my truth. Fear that someone would be mad at me. Fear that someone would no longer love me. Fear that what I thought didn’t really matter.

So thank you to this person. I see you. I love you. I hold space for you.

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Birthday Reflections

Birthday Reflections

I’ve lived long enough now to have experienced that despite planning, organizing, and making responsible decisions, life doesn’t always work out the way you want or expect. Thirty-nine years in and in many ways I’m starting at the beginning. The past year has been full of loss and hard transitions, and I’m still right in the middle of it. But despite all the challenges, I am choosing to recognize these beautiful truths:

I love myself more than I ever have before and I have been able to let go of a lot of old insecurities.
I completed a nine-year journey to a Master’s Degree.
I am about to start what I have long considered to be my dream job.
I got to fulfill another dream by traveling to Costa Rica and becoming a yoga teacher.
I saw my oldest daughter graduate from high school…and there was a point in time when she was much younger when I wondered if that would be her path.
I have two amazing daughters who blow me away every day with their talent, intelligence, responsibility, initiative, and thoughtfulness (even though I wish they would pick up after themselves!)

I am choosing this year to focus on growing in these ways:

To speak truthfully and authentically from a place of loving kindness and compassion rather than anger and judgment.
To stop comparing myself and my life situation to others. I am no worse. I am no better. I am just me.
To let go of things and people I can’t control or change.

I set an intention for this year:
To see you. To hold space for you. To love you.
To soften towards people and situations that are hard or hurtful.

To everyone who called, texted, messaged, and celebrated with me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reminding me that I am loved in this life.

Two Hundred

A Year of Yoga: Fast Forward to Summer 2015

Pose: All of the poses

Location: All of the places

So I wanted to take a time out from my 2014 Year of Yoga project to fast forward to the present. It has been almost a year since I returned from my European adventures. If you continue to follow this blog, you will see the end of our adventures, our return home, and some of our settling back into California life.

Currently I am about a month away from my 38th birthday and about 6 months away from graduating with an MA in Speech and Language Pathology. My husband, B, had the very sweet idea to send me to Costa Rica for yoga teacher training as a graduation gift. It’s a 4 week, 200 hour, intensive course that takes place in January 2016. After I finish my degree I will apply for my license to practice speech pathology. This process takes between 4 and 6 weeks, during which time I can’t work. So the plan is to utilize that downtime by furthering my yoga journey with teacher training.

If you have followed my yoga journey and have been inspired even a little, would you consider making a contribution to help me pay for the tuition costs of yoga teacher training? I will be paying for my travel expenses, but the tuition expenses are about equal to that.

Contributions can be made on my indiegogo campaign page. Even $5 is an incredible gesture that I promise to pay forward with yoga goodness.

Thank you for following dear readers! Namaste!

One Hundred Ninety Nine

yearofyogaJuly23A Year of Yoga: July 23, 2014

Pose: Headstand Variation

Location: Þórsmörk; Iceland

We spent the day mostly relaxing before hiking over to this side of the park. We found a great campsite courtesy of some lovely Icelandic gentleman we met yesterday in the hot spring. Tomorrow we hike up about 3000 ft. and trek across snow fields and between two glaciers before descending to the coast and Skogar.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Ninety Eight

yearofyogaJuly22A Year of Yoga: July 22, 2014

Pose: Bridge with leg raise

Location: Laugevegur Trail; Iceland

This was our last full day on the official Laugevegur Trail. In the first part of the day, we crossed over this magnificent gorge via this bridge. After a long day of hiking we arrived in Þórsmörk. Þórsmörk is a National Park nestled in a beautiful valley between several glaciers. It is one of the more popular destinations in Iceland both for locals and tourists. There are multiple campgrounds and hiking trails. We headed to the nearest campground which boasts a hot spring, restaurant, and showers. We enjoyed time in the hot spring with a couple beers and chatted with many lovely people about the trek. Afterwards we had dinner in the restaurant and ran into our old friends; the leaders of the Welsh teenagers. They were enjoying dinner in the restaurant while their charges had to cook for themselves outside. We had a great time recounting the trek and getting a little tipsy : ) One of the best things about backpacking is how much it intensifies appreciation for simple luxuries like sitting in a chair, eating a good meal, and taking a hot shower. We will be taking a day off from trekking tomorrow. We plan to spend the day hanging around Þórsmörk, and eventually end up camping on the other end of the park, which puts us closer to Fimmvörðuháls. That is the trail over the glacial pass and down to the coast. But first, a day of reset.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Ninety Seven

yearofyogaJuly21A Year of Yoga: July 21, 2014

Pose: Pigeon Variation

Location: Laugevegur Trail; Iceland

Today is B’s 38th birthday. Happy Birthday love : )

We hiked some beautiful country today, including past this beautiful waterfall. Although you can’t swing a dead cat around Iceland without hitting a beautiful waterfall. When we arrived at the night’s destination, we met our campground neighbor. He was a cute young Scandinavian and it also happened to be his birthday….21st. We ended up hiking to a nearby gorge and sipping whiskey from our flasks together in celebration of the guys’ birthdays.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Ninety Six

yearofyogaJuly20(2)

 

A Year of Yoga: July 20, 2014

Pose: Baby Cobra

Location: Laugevegur Trail; Iceland

This is our 2nd day on the trek, and our first day having to ford an icy cold stream. But we were ready for it and made it no problem. We camped this evening by a beautiful lake and in the company of a charming group of Welsh teenagers. We heard a lot of people complaining about “Molly”. She was washing her over-trousers with baby wipes and didn’t show up to help with supper. In fact, I wrote a short story about a mixed up girl and christened her “Molly”. We ended up chatting with their group leaders for a good portion of the evening. They are secondary school teachers who lead groups on treks every summer. The deal for these teens is that they earn points towards college acceptance by participating in these treks. The treks are almost 100% led by the kids. The adults just sit back and make sure no one dies….meaning they might get lost, they might go hungry, they might run into unforeseen challenges. But the adults just let the kids work through it. I think this is absolutely brilliant. How awesome for these kids to learn survival, leadership, conflict management, and problem solving. We were pretty friendly with the group to the point where we felt comfortable making fun of their ketchup and pasta. They retorted back that the U.S. is responsible for ketchup. Touche.

Photography Credit: Brandon

One Hundred Ninety Five

yearofyogaJuly20A Year of Year: July 19, 2014

Pose: Knees to chest

Location: Laugevegur Night 1; Hrafntinnusker, Iceland

So our first day on the trail was interesting. It started out with decent weather and a nice hike. After the first few miles we ran into some much nastier weather and had to start crossing snow fields. I had opted not to lug my waterproof boots from home all across Europe. They are super heavy and this is the only time I would have needed them. But after today, I really wish I had just brought them. As we started crossing snow fields, my feet became soaked. Even though everything else I was wearing was waterproof, the wet feet and sweat from hiking were enough to make me hypothermic by the time we reached our campsite.

I don’t remember a lot. I remember being really cold. B pitched the tent and I climbed in. I took off my clothes but then was kind of frozen cognitively. I didn’t know what to do next and couldn’t make my body move. B finished settling the tent and climbed in and realized the state I was in (now I’m telling his story because it’s a blur to me). He immediately took action. He made sure I was dry and then put me inside a sleeping bag and threw the second sleeping bag over the top. He made some hot broth and I drank it. He also had the brilliant idea to heat up water, pour it into our nalgene water bottle and throw it in the sleeping bag with me. He also ended up climbing in with me for body heat.

Woah. I don’t remember things being that dire, but apparently I was on the edge. Before anyone (my family) freaks out about this story, we were adjacent to a hut which would have gladly taken me in if things didn’t improve. Thankfully I’m married to a guy that knows how to act : )

I was disappointed that we weren’t able to venture out after arriving. There are supposedly some incredible ice caves in the vicinity that we were planning to check out. But there’s always next time.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Ninety Four

yearofyogaJuly18A Year of Yoga: July 18, 2014

Pose: King Pigeon

Location: Hot Springs; Landmannalaugar, Iceland

The weather has not been great today. We walked from our guest house to the bus station in the rain. We could barely see anything through the bus windows as we rode the 3 hour ride to the interior. Once we arrived, it was still raining. We hurriedly pitched our tent and got inside to warm up a bit. But we’re finally in Landmannalaugar! We’ve been looking forward to this for literally 3 years. So we put on our bathing suits and made a run for it to the warmth of the hot springs. We probably spent 2 hours in the pools, talking with other travelers, exchanging stories, and prolonging the inevitable pain of exiting the warm pools into the 40ish degree rain. We did eventually suck it up and get out of the pools. After changing back into some warm and dry clothes, we embarked on a short hike before cooking some food and heading to bed. I did find 2 items I needed in their little supply shop…woolen knitted socks and a quick dry towel! I’m ready to trek!

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Ninety Three

yearofyogaJuly17A Year of Yoga: July 17, 2014

Pose: Headstand Variation

Location: Tjornin; Reykjavik, Iceland

We had a lot to accomplish today. Our main objective this week is hiking the Laugevegur Trail. It is a 5 day backpacking journey from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk. We are also adding another day of hiking from Þórsmörk to Skogar on the southern coast. The weather in Iceland is unpredictable at best. So there were many supplies we hadn’t brought with us and needed to buy for our trek. We spent the morning at the mall purchasing over-trousers, freeze-dried meals, and the like. I also purchased a beautiful traditional Icelandic wool sweater, which I have wanted since our last visit in 2011. I figure it will be a good layer for keeping warm out on the trail. We then realized we didn’t have trek poles and would most certainly want them. Brandon found a local camping supply rental place which rented us the trek poles for a ridiculously low rate and didn’t even ask for a credit card. Plus they tell you where their hide-a-key is in case you have to return them after hours. Iceland rules! After the mall we had lunch at the famous hotdog stand…you know the one where Bill Clinton was photographed when he visited. We were successful at finding all our supplies and spent the evening wandering around Reykjavik and remembering our last trip here. We also went to the local sundlaug (swimming pool). Iceland has a great swimming pool culture (more on that in future posts). Our bus leaves quite early in the morning to take us to the beautiful interior where we will start our hike. Getting excited to be out in nature for reals!!

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Ninety Two

yearofyogaJuly16A Year of Yoga: July 16, 2014

Pose: Side Lunge with prayer hands

Location: The Lebowski Bar; Reykjavik, Iceland

I have so much to say about today. First of all, our flight from Paris was on a newer airline based in Iceland called WOW. Seriously fun and awesome airline. They now (2015) offer flights from the East Coast of US so if you aren’t flying from Europe, you’re still able to experience the WOW. The flight attendants were funny and the amenities were great considering it’s a smaller company. So fly with WOW. (Ok my plug for them is over).

We landed in Iceland mid-afternoon and took a bus that dropped us right at our guest house. Our original booking ended up being double booked so we were upgraded to another guest house. It was gorgeous and an easy walking distance to downtown Reykjavik. I would stay here again for sure. We picked up some beer at the airport where it is much cheaper and enjoyed relaxing with a drink before showering and heading out to the Lebowski Bar.

So, we found an ad on the in-flight magazine for this place. We are huge movies of the Big Lebowski. If you haven’t seen it, stop what you are doing immediately and go watch it. The Lebowski Bar was great. The food was fine, not spectacular, but there is a whole menu of White Russians (I had a “special lady friend”), a bowling alley and Richard Nixon bowling photo on the wall, and the movie is constantly playing silently on large screens.

I love Iceland. Of all the places I’ve traveled, it’s the one I know I’ll keep returning to.

And I made a cute dog friend who was waiting for his owner outside : )

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Ninety One

yearofyogaJuly15A Year of Yoga: July 15, 2014

Pose: Wide leg forward fold with half way lift

Location: Roissy-en-France

This is the village nearest to Charles de Gaulle airport. Today is our last day in France. We took the train from our little campground in Grez-sur-Loing and have a hotel room near the airport. It was really nice to have a shower. As much as I came to love our little campsite in Grez-sur-Loing, it did become a little boring after 8 days of being rained on in a tent. I’m super excited to fly to Reykjavik, Iceland tomorrow. This will be our second trip to Iceland and we have some amazing things planned!

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Ninety

yearofyogaJuly14A Year of Yoga: July 14, 2014

Pose: Bound Half Moon Variation

Location: Camping Les Pres; Grez-sur-Loing, France

Today is Bastille Day. It’s basically the French equivalent of the U.S.’s Independence Day. We weren’t entirely sure what to expect celebration wise from the locals. We found that actually, it’s pretty much exactly what we do every 4th of July….with one exception. The music that accompanies their fireworks display is awesome 80’s pop instead of cheesy Sousa marches. But it really is a crowd gathering in the local park next to the lake, drinking beer and wine, children twirling glow sticks, and then shooting off a bunch of fireworks. Fun times. Before we headed to the lake, I tried to balance on this trampoline for a pose….it was really hard. Then some cute German girls came along and I felt a little silly jumping around in there with preschoolers.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Eighty Nine

yearofyogaJuly13A Year of Yoga: July 13, 2014

Pose: Watching the World Cup Final with the locals

Location: Camping Les Pres; Grez-sur-Loing, France

Argentina v. Germany tonight. It was an insane crowd of mostly French and Germans. The French were making fun of the Germans (in a friendly way), but the Germans didn’t have much of a sense of humor. Until Goethe scored of course. Then it was all schnapps and smiles. The party went on all night. Long after me and B went to bed we would sometimes wake up to the sound of merriment. There was a lot of evidence the next morning in the form of empty liquor bottles and beer cans littering the common area. But it only happens every 4 years! I’m a little bummed it’s over.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Eighty Eight

yearofyogaJuly12A Year of Yoga: July 12, 2014

Pose: Bird of Paradise

Location: Champ de Mars

We took the train into Paris for the day. Thankfully it isn’t raining! We spent most of the day at the Orsay which I prefer to The Louvre. I’ve always been more into modern art. We had a picnic planned for the week we stayed here previously but it was rained out. So today was our “do over” Eiffel Tower picnic.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Eighty Five

yearofyogaJuly10A Year of Yoga: July 9, 2014

Pose: Balanced Plank

Location: Le Loing River; Grez-sur-Loing, France

It has been raining pretty much since we got here. But we had to get out of the tent for a walk anyways. The main highlights are that a random cat joined us in our tent for a little while and we have eaten the most incredible croissants and french bread from the local bakery.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Eighty Three

yearofyogaJuly6A Year of Yoga: July 6, 2014

Pose: Pyramid

Location: The Louvre, Paris

Today is our last full day in Paris. We started at the Louvre and had to wait in line in the rain for about an hour. We ended only stayed a couple hours. It’s just too overwhelming. The obligatory viewing of the Mona Lisa was underwhelming and highly annoying due to the number of people who only want to walk around with a screen in front of them instead of actually experiencing the art. We had originally planned to have a picnic at the Eiffel Tower but the rain deterred us. I decided to hit up some vintage shops (no luck, but still fun), then we found delicious macaroons, walked through Luxembourg Gardens on our way to the Montparnasse Cemetery. Unfortunately we were disappointed to find the cemetery was closed. We finished the night at home with wine and cheese and bread and weird French tv. Tomorrow we travel to a campground in Grez-Sur Loing which boasts the “most beautiful forest in France”.

Photography Credit: Brandon