Saturday, December 15, 2012

The World

After a full day of watching the coverage of the events in CT, I have a heavy heart. I feel not only for the families of those little babies, both the ones that died and the ones who witnessed the event, but also for that man who struggled with mental illness and his mom. I get very confused when stuff like this happens because I just don't understand how someone can do this.

I am reading in a little blue book that they gave us at church for this time of advent. The daily reading this morning was so appropriate for all that is going on, so I wanted to share.

"... and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

In the face of all that I see as wrong with the world, I have two options.

One option is to see all these problems as fatal. The world is doomed to be forever unjust and tragic, so I should simply do my best to get the most I can for myself out of the situation.

The other option is to see all creation as the recipient of the overwhelming power of God's compassion and transforming love. When I look at the world this way, I believe that every struggle for peace and justice, however small, ultimately has an effect, and whatever energy I spend to relieve suffering is worth the effort.


Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. 
The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

How I feel that applies to me, at least at this very moment, is to go into each day trying to be loving, kind, caring and of service. I am not perfect, especially at work, but I can get up each morning and try again. Maybe it won't be worth anything, but maybe it will and just as it says, I have to believe that my struggle for peace and justice is worth the effort.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our Strengths

I have so many interests in life such as sports, yoga, dance, etc. Sometimes, I feel like it's hard for me to narrow it down to just one or two things that I enjoy doing and could get really good at. My desires are so spread out and so vast that I tend to dabble in a bit of everything and never really get good at anything. I like to call myself the jack of all trades, master of none. As I've contemplated over the years, maybe even my lifetime, I've wondered what exactly my strengths or talents could be. Every one of us has something, or a set of somethings that make us unique. Each. One. Of. Us.

I feel like, as women especially, we are taught, encouraged, to downplay our strengths, our needs, our accomplishments, etc. We're the ones who sacrifice for our husbands, for our children, for our jobs. We're constantly asked and begged to give of ourselves, even above and beyond our own needs. We're taught to feel guilt in every aspect of our lives. We shouldn't spend so much money, we shouldn't be eating that, we shouldn't be wanting that OR it's the opposite, we should be wanting to do this more, we should be cleaning, we should be able to hold a full time job and be a full time mother. We're always supposed to be doing something else.

After all of the work I've done through 12 steps, spiritual seeking, A Course In Miracles, etc etc, I've found that this is a problem from which we all suffer. So, my goal moving forward is to build people up, and I feel like that's one thing at which I'm actually good. So, as my readers, this blog post actually has an assignment. I want you to spend some time, quietly reflect on your day to day interactions and write about you like about yourself. What do you do that's good? What do you do that makes you proud?

Here is my list:

1) As I said above, building people up. And what I mean by that is, relating to people in their own struggles, through mine. Helping them understand that they are not alone in what they're feeling and that someone in the world has felt that way too. And that their feelings are normal, and through prayer, and some footwork, we can change for the better, if a behavior needs to be changed. I think part of why we feel bad about ourselves is because we're ashamed of ourselves and our thoughts. But we all have some messed up thoughts, it's our actions that can be shameful. And when our actions are shameful, it's not that we're inherently bad, it's that we've got a past that needs to be healed and we can all change for the better. Once I felt equal to everyone else, I wanted to be better and believed that I could  be better.

2) Honest - this actually can be a detriment as well because I can say things that are too harsh at times. I am very direct. And typically, I say what I mean, and I mean what I say. But I feel that through my directness and my honesty, people can be at ease. I may make fun of myself in order to make you feel comfortable. I use very detailed, graphics examples of my colored past to help you not feel as bad about whatever your struggles are.

3) I forgive fairly easily. I realize that there's probably some underlying issue that may cause someone to hurt me OR maybe, I'm hurt because I'm sensitive and what you did to me wasn't even hurtful (if that makes sense). I'm saying that I realize that what's upsetting me isn't always the other person and so I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and forgive them.

4) I try to see my part in the situation. I am quick to analyze my part, evaluate where I've made a mistake, and then attempt to make an amends quickly.

Even as I write this list, it makes me feel more like I'm bragging about myself because it's looked down upon by society to talk about yourself in a positive way. There is a different between being overly boastful, and simply realizing that I have strengths that were developed by a higher power and life experience. I'm grateful that I can speak kindly about myself and have confidence.

So again, the assignment is to write about the good things about yourself. Maybe you're really good at listening, maybe you are very insightful, you're reliable, etc. Take the time to 1) get to know yourself and 2) treat yourself as though you were a close relative or child. Would you tell your child that he/she is fat or stupid or ugly, or whatever you say to yourself? No, so why do it to yourself?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Family Time

This weekend was a weekend that was full of family time. I've spent a year truly trying to dedicate my life towards living in the present moment but it's been more difficult than I imagined. There are so many things I want to do, and so many things I want to experience, but in my situation right now, I don't have the time. I've explored so many different new things, really trying to experience life and learn about the world, but have found that even though they're things I want to do and not just obligations, I'm still rushing to each new experience and worrying about being on time, having time for others things and neglecting myself and my family in the process. After taking some advice, I decided to start scheduling family time and before saying yes to a commitment, really thinking about it and giving an answer later. The result, so far, has been more time with my family which has been very rewarding.

This weekend, my stepdaughters and I painted canvases to put in their room as decoration. They are REALLY talented - here they are -

Neely's painting (she's 13)

my drawing, inspired my Zanti Power Yoga - see the pics in the back:)

Jesse, she's 11

It was so fun to do, we have completed some stuff to help decorate their room, and even though we were doing things and away from home, I feel rested. 

We also did some holiday decorating crafts - 

inspired by some Pinterest finds

I've found that doing things with them, and not having a slammed schedule, makes me happier, it makes me feel more rested, it makes me worry less, etc. 

The down side of that is that I've been missing out on some things such as regular yoga classes (I've resorted to a regular at home morning practice), running - especially in a group, things like that. But, you know, I just can only do what I can do at this point. It won't be like this forever, and we'll see how it evolves in the future. But for now, I feel grateful to have the opportunity to make these memories. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday Giving - philanthropic gift ideas

Tis the season of giving and I'm sure many of you will be doing your holiday shopping over the next month. There are lots of deals going on and I'm sure you can find a bunch of stuff for your loved ones. If you're stumped on what to give someone who has everything, I want to present an option to you - philanthropic giving! What I mean by that is giving to a charity in the name of someone. You're essentially killing two birds with one stone because you're helping others in need and giving a gift. So here are some really great options:

1) World Vision

A little blurb on who they are -

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organizationdedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
Working in nearly 100 countries around the world, World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.

The cool thing about World Vision is that you can buy a gift for a family in need such as a cow, a sheep, ducks, etc. Each item is listed and shows what exactly it gives to the family. You can also just make a donation for a specific cause. It's a cool way to give.

2) Oxfam

About us

Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations networked together in more than 90 countries, as part of a global movement for change, to build a future free from the injustice of poverty.
We work directly with communities and we seek to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

What we do

Find out how we work with others to end poverty and injustice, from campaigning to responding to emergencies.

Very similar to World Vision

If you want a physical present that you can unwrap and have, this is a good store to buy from. They buy everything fair trade so your supporting an artisan in another country and also getting a cool gift. If you live in Greenville, there is a location on Augusta Rd. They have locations all over, so just look online and it can tell you if there's a store near you. 

Fair Trade basically is a way to buy goods at prices that are still fair to the artist. The issue I have with stores like Wal mart is they bully farmers in countries to lower their prices to something that is unsustainable long term. The farmers have a hard time making a living because they're at the mercy of the large producer, I use Wal Mart as an example because they're one of the worst. Even if the store sells Fair Trade, I'd be surprised if it was actually Fair trade certified. So this is a way to insure that the artists are getting the money that is appropriate for what they're selling. 

International Princess Project is an organization that can best be described through their mission - 

The Mission of International Princess Project: Establish self-sustaining enterprises in partnership with indigenous organizations that provide for physical, emotional and spiritual needs of women formerly enslaved in prostitution; AND advocate for women enslaved in prostitution around the world

The pants are kind of fun and I've worn them to yoga a lot!!

5) Rwanda 

So this is something I hold near and dear to my heart (which you know if you regularly read this blog). If you want to give some money to Rwanda, whether it be the orphanages, the women in Gisenyi, wherever, let me know. I have a direct way to get them the money. 

Send me an email to and I will make sure those ladies get it. I don't have a card to give you but can send a photo for you to put in a card, like a gift certificate

Thanks so much! I hope you buy some stuff from some of these places for your friends!!! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Deserving Gifts

One lesson I've learned over the years is that I can't live with an attitude of scarcity. The first lesson I learned was in my own job. I would get so stressed by others being successful when in reality, there was enough for everyone to be successful. As I studied A Course In Miracles, it talks of scarcity and the idea that the more we operate from it, the more we have. Here is a quote - 

Quote of the Day
"Miracles shift us from a 'get' to a 'give' mentality. The desire to get something reflects a core belief that we don't have already. As long as we believe there is scarcity inside us, we'll continue to manufacture scarcity around us because that is our basic thought. No matter what we get, it will never be enough."

— Excerpted from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

Read more:

I began to operate from a place of giving vs getting and my life changed significantly. I became more financially stable and although I was giving more, I started to receive more. Father Pat told us something when we started discussing tithing, he said that give the church $100 and see what happens. If you don't receive your money back tenfold, then he'd give you back your $100. The people that did it told him it was amazing how what he said came true. I don't feel the same call to tithe to the church as much as I feel a call to give money to people in need. 

But the idea of giving in place of scarcity is not the purpose of my post today. The purpose of my post is to whom shall I give? 

I had a couple of discussions this weekend regarding giving and who is worthy of the gift. I don't know if this is everywhere or just the US, but if you followed the election at all, you see there's an idea of giving to people who deserve it. Some people don't work hard enough to get handouts. Some people haven't earned the right of help from others. America is about earning. We've done a great job of building the American dream. If you work hard, you can earn your way into richness. Hard work is rewarded and there always seems to be an argument between people about who works the hardest. 

I've experience this own struggle within myself. There was a time in my life where I didn't feel worthy of God's grace. I didn't feel like He was going to help me because I hadn't earned it. I thought, why would God help me, I haven't done anything to earn His grace so I'm just going to be left out in the cold. I've made mistakes in my life and I haven't been what He wanted. 

The definition of grace:  unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification

Unmerited is the key word. Jesus didn't hang out with all of the people that were deemed worthy of his grace and forgiveness, he hung out with the sick, the rejected. God doesn't promise grace to people that are good, in fact, he says, we don't deserve it. If my goal in life is to be as God is, to have the same qualities that He has, shouldn't I be willing to love in the way He does? 

So maybe the gift in giving is not to give to someone who deserves  it, but to give in spite of our own judgments, to give to people in need. How would the world change if we just told everyone, I love you and I'm going to help you, no matter what. What if we gave up the idea of scarcity and just realized that God performs miracles? Maybe by giving, I'm opening up a pathway for God's grace to someone else. I know that when I received God's grace in spite of deserving it, I wanted to be better. 

It's not a popular thought, but I feel the lesson I've learned is that it's not my job to judge and then give, it's my job to just take the action and allow the miracle to happen. If I have to sacrifice a little so that someone else can have a little, then so be it, but it's been my experience that when I give of myself, I've never been without. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

This is a time of year that everyone begins to reflect on that which they are grateful. I think that I try as best I can to keep a grateful attitude all of the time, mainly because there are a few times in my life where it was hopeless and even when things get tough now, they are still a million times better than they were then. But we're not perfect and it's easy to get short sighted everyone once in a while. I can forget just how bad it really can be, and even in my wildest imagination of how bad it could be, I think it could, in reality, still get worse. But I digress - the purpose of my post today is to discuss something for which I am grateful.

Yesterday, I posted a photo about Tao Porchon-Lunch, a 93 year old yoga teacher who is just so cute!!! The caption read...

"True Inspiration: 
Tao Porchon-Lynch is 93 years old, a yoga teacher, and dances Tango and Samba whenever she gets the chance! She says "I don't believe in age. I believe in the power of energy." We couldn't agree more....
Photo: Vladimir Yakovlev"

thanks Yoga Trail

One of the yoga teachers here in Greenville posted a blog post she wrote of which this post reminded her -

Greenville Yoga blog

I thought it was an interesting post and was congruent with everything I'm hoping my blog is, a reminder that maybe our standards of what we should be, physically, mentally and spiritually, are a bit unrealistic, especially when compared to a snip-it of another's life. It reminded me of where I was a couple of years ago and helped me remember what exactly I'm thankful for today:

1) I am no longer bound to a scale or a diet 

I've spent years worrying about my weight and I kept telling myself, if I could only lose 5 lbs, then I'd be okay. Inevitably, I'd lose the 5 lbs and think, oh, I was wrong, I meant 10 lbs and so on. I've been as heavy as 175 lbs and as thin as 145 lbs in the last 12 years and in that wide range of weight, I've never been satisfied with where I was. All I was doing was forcing myself into a diet that left me miserable and gave me one other way to feel guilty. Although I am closer to the larger number than the smaller number, I have given up all efforts in trying to control my diet. I eat what I want, when I want. And I've never felt free-er

2) I no longer speak to myself in a negative way

When I started yoga teacher training, our assignment was to wear a snappy band. Anytime we said anything badly about ourselves, we had to snap that band. I found myself snapping the band all of the time! I was constantly telling myself I was fat, or that was stupid, or I am crazy, etc etc. If I spoke to anyone else the way I spoke to myself, they would've punched me! Why does it seem to be acceptable and even highly regarded by society to degrade ourselves? Now instead of saying negative things about myself, I say positive things in the morning to myself. It's similar to this - 

3) I'm not bound to society's idea of beauty

I realize that people I see on magazines and on tv are held to a different standard. They have time & money and it's part of their job to look good. I also realize that there is a lot of airbrushing in magazines. I cannot hold myself to that standard. And really, what's more important is if I'm nice and loving to others. 

I feel free. And I am very grateful that I am not a slave to that cycle. I've got others to work on, don't we all,  but that ship has sailed and it is amazing :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Deeper Level of Intimacy

Some of the people closest to me know that I am in the process of converting to Catholicism. I went into this process a little skeptical as there are certain things that I wholeheartedly disagree with in formal settings, but I have been drawn to Catholicism for a while, and specifically within the St Anthony's community. It's not something that I'm going to go deeply into because I don't want to hear others' opinions on it and I know that by writing about it, I'm putting myself out there to hear the opinions. I'm simply using this as an introduction for the reader to understand where I'm getting some of my information and how I'm processing it.

So with that being said, back to my original point, I'm converting to Catholicism and what we do is break away from Mass at a certain time to "break open the word". I've gone into this process skeptical but am constantly surprised at the difference between the Catholic church and my bouts with other Protestant religions, surprised in a good way. I have gotten so much out of all of our meetings and it's continued to support a long, 12 year battle, of my own spiritual search. I will probably be writing about a lot of these things as they fall right in line with how my blog has continued to progress into spreading the word of happiness, positivity, and all other things good. (I hope that's what I'm doing anyway).

Father Pat, who is a WONDERFUL priest and I really can't say enough about, but I digress - Father Pat was talking about the readings set for this Sunday. I don't even really know how this particular example related to the readings, but what he said struck me so much that I almost cried (I'm so glad I didn't because I would've looked like the crazy lady in the row). He said that our spouses, our parents, our children have thoughts and feelings. They are waiting for us to ask the question. I wish I could remember the exact statement, but of course, my memory is terrible. When we broke away and spoke in our group, one of the guys said, "I believe Father Pat was saying that God wants us to have a deeper level of intimacy with one another". I thought that was such an interesting statement. In a world of surface level relationships through social media, texting, work, etc., how many relationships do we actually value and cherish? My husband and I talk about all kinds of things, but sometimes, I forget that he has thoughts just like me. How many times have I really asked my mom how she's feeling and really listened to the answer.

As one who wasn't the most popular in school, I have spent the better time of my twenties trying to make up for that. I think I was doing two things, 1) trying to get as many friends as possible to make myself feel good and 2) keeping relationships at a surface level in order to protect myself from "getting hurt". As I've grown and gotten older and frankly, just run out of time, I've decided that having lots of surface level relationships is no longer working for me. I've been searching for this specific thing, a deeper level of intimacy. I want to invest my limited time in people that I cherish and I want to get to know them on a level that is much deeper than making comments on each other's facebook wall. Obviously, I'm on the right path, because it's what God wants us to do too. I think the other thing is trying to become a better listener. I think God wants us to do that too. How can I be there for my husband in a better way? How can I validate his needs in a better way? All I want sometimes is for someone to just agree with me and say, damn, I know that sucks. It's not like we're reaching any sort of solution, but I feel like I have a partner and I have support.

I'm not sure if I've made any since at all, or if I've conveyed how much this topic hit me, but I love that I'm learning how to be a better person because I feel like that's what spirituality is supposed to be. If you're not walking out of your source of spiritual life/religion with a plan on how to be a better person, you may want to re-evaluate your goal. I know that's what I've had to do and it is working for me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I'm super excited today because today, FAVOR Greenville is having a huge luncheon to celebrate it's capital campaign efforts.

FAVOR is part of a national organization dedicated to educating the public about addiction and recovery. In today's world, we are still uneducated about alcoholism/addiction and the issues of leaving it untreated. FAVOR takes the time to 1) reduce the stigma associated with addiction and 2) provide multiple outlets for people to get recovered.

Core Beliefs for FAVOR:

  • Addiction recovery is a reality in the lives of millions
  • There are many paths to recovery
  • Recovery flourishes in supportive communities
  • Recovery is a voluntary process
  • Recovering people are part of the solution
  • Recovery gives back what addiction takes away

Some facts about addiction:

  • Addiction affects 16 percent of Americans ages 12 and older - about 40 million people. That is more than the number of people with heart disease, diabetes or cancer. 
  • Risky substance use and addiction are this nation's largest preventable and most costly health problems, accounting for one third of hospital inpatient costs, driving crime, and lost productivity and resulting in total costs to government alone of at least $468 billion each year
  • Addiction involving nicotine, alcohol, illicit drugs, and controlled prescription drugs is a complex brain disease (there is scientific, medical evidence that backs this up)
  • 9 out of 10 people who meet diagnostic criteria for addiction involving alcohol and drugs other than nicotine report receiving no treatment at all

There many other statistics showing how much addiction affects hospital, insurance costs and even costs to the workplace. 

There is a solution though, and FAVOR is trying to help demonstrate that. A big challenge to getting treatment is the stigma attached to having this disease. If we can show society that, it's not a moral dilemma and that it is treatable, then maybe, people will seek it earlier. 

Studies show that when people get recovery early, they are more likely to stay recovered. If insurance companies covered treatment, and we were more supportive of a community, how many people could get recovery sooner? That is the goal of FAVOR. 

They are in the midst of a capital campaign to raise money for a recovery center. The recovery center is going to be a place that assists people in their quest for recovery. The center will provide information about treatment facilities, 12 step groups, medication assisted recovery, physicians who supports the disease of alcoholism and addiction, etc. They will also have recovery coaches who can help guide people and act as a support person. 

The goal is $1.5 million and they've raised $1.3. It's such an accomplishment and the event today is to celebrate that. I'm very excited to be volunteering and attending!

For more information, please visit:

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Facebook Exposure

The first time I got onto Facebook was back in 2004, when it was still just for college students. My roommate and I at Clemson started a Facebook account and it was so exciting. Fast forward to a decade later, and I remain one who utilizes Facebook to the fullest. I post articles about Yoga stuff, I talk about sports, and of course, I promote my blog. But after this political season, Facebook has left me in a bit of disgust. I can't tell if this really has been the most extreme election ever, or if it just appears as such due to the internet.

I feel like I may have posted something like this before, but one thing that continually disappoints me is people's inability to decipher the truth from extremism. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, ALWAYS. If you read something that is so shocking, your jaw drops, it's probably not true. It's not that the information is wrong, although many times it is, it's that it's used in a way that is incorrect.

It's never as bad as it seems.
It's also never as good as it seems.
People speak in absolutes but in reality, could actually be wrong.
"Experts" are experts for their side.
Both parties knowingly distort the truth to get a rise out of Americans.

What does this have to do with Facebook? My friends and family are the ones posting this stuff. And it's driving me nuts. What do I like about Facebook? I like seeing pictures of my friend's and their children. And even though people make fun of this, I like seeing what people eat when they cook something delish or go out to eat somewhere and I like seeing peoples' workouts. Why not? Why not see what someone is proud of in their life? Why is it wrong to see people doing something good for themselves? If they're bragging, good. Brag about yourself. You deserve it. I'd rather see you proud of your workout than an opinion piece that is riddled with extremist, threatening information written to induce you to make a choice based on fear.

So I'm saying this because I'm going to ignore facebook for a while. I'm a little nervous I'm going to miss something but my thoughts are that there is so much I want to miss, that it might be worth it to miss some good stuff. I'll be writing stuff on my blog and using my A Southern Yogi facebook page to promote my blog. I am hoping that I can get myself together enough so that when I come back to FB, I'll be able to handle the content, but for now, I'm kind of done with it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's Over!

I'm glad to know that the election is over because no matter who you like, the commercials had to be driving you crazy! It certainly was not my favorite and I hope that we can now move on. One of the things that I felt very disappointed in was the way that we seemed to treat each other. I think one of my biggest challenges to myself in life is learning how to discuss a topic with people who have different opinions. Can I respect that they may have had a different life or a different perspective and while I may not agree with him/her, do I need to resort to name calling and degrading comments to make myself feel better? I certainly don't want to live my life that way.

But rather than sit back and judge people for the way they acted during such a heated election, I thought it might be nice to give some different solutions for dealing with such a stressful time. I don't think I'm alone in being able to feel the stress of yesterday in my body. I feel frazzled and I keep having to take deep breaths to shake off the tension I feel everywhere I go. If you are happy with the results, be happy, excited and continue to focus on the positive ways you can be an influence in people's lives. If you are not happy with the results, this may be a good time to accept it for what it is and continue to focus on positive ways you can be an influence in people's lives. How can I be positive, though, if I'm all frazzled? Here are some things to do to relax and get yourself centered:

1) Take a deep breath

Here are several articles on breath and how it affects stress:

Article 1
Article 2
Article 3
Article 4

There are so many methods to practice breath work but the simplest thing to do is this:

a. Sit in a quiet place, lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to, and sit with your back flat against the wall.
b. Close your eyes
c. Take a deep breath in, filling your belly with air first, then allow it to rise into your chest. It's like your chest and stomach are a bottle of water and the water fills the bottom first as it rises to the top.
d. exhale pushing the air out with your belly like your squeezing the bottom of the water bottle
e. repeat that for 3-5 minutes.

2) Take a bubble bath

I think this is pretty self explanatory. How relaxing is it to take a hot bath? I love it. Maybe add some candles that are scented with lavender or vanilla. Turn the lights off and close your eyes. Imaging letting go of all of your muscles, starting with your feet up to your head.

3) Loving-Kindness Metta

This is a wonderful meditation that helps us let go of anger and resentment in our heart.

4) Prayer

At the end of the day, there are going to be things that happen that I have no control over. I have to practice this on many levels, on a daily basis and in times when I feel fearful about the future. Let's face it, the reason we get so hateful during election time is because we are fearful. We're afraid of not having control. We think our ideas our best and if they are not followed, then the world is going to end. Much of the rhetoric that I heard yesterday and today was fear based. So what can I do to counteract that? I can pray. I can ask for guidance in my actions and I can ask for God's will. My only function in life is to align myself with God's will in every action. Do I really feel God's will is to degrade others? Do I feel God's will is to be a source of negativity for my family and friends? I do not. So I just sit quietly and ask God to guide me through my day and show me where I can be of service. As long as the intention in my heart is good, then there is no doubt that God can make miracles happen.

You will never see me express a political opinion on this forum because that's not my place. What I will say is that my goal in my daily life is to be of service and of love. When I do that, I am happy and have no fear.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

New Yoga Studio!!

I am so excited about our new yoga studio in Greenville called Zanti Power Yoga. Today is opening day and I was part of the first class!!! The class was at 6 am and here is a description -

"Intermediate Power Yoga – Zanti Power Yoga (Z2)
This class includes an intelligent sequence of more challenging postures which link breath and movement. Taught in a heated, climate controlled environment, the class both exhilarates and calms the body, mind and spirit."

Greenville is growing and we actually have a lot of natural health studios/yoga/body, mind soul type places. I'd really love to foster a supportive community where we all benefit from each other and so I feel it's very important to go to classes at other studios to support each other. As a new teacher, I also get a lot out of learning other styles because it helps me grow as a yogini and a teacher. 

I was first exposed to Julie, the owner, at Southern Om when I took her Power Hour classes at lunch. It was an awesome break in the day and because it was power yoga, I was able to get out some stress and aggression from work :). I've always liked her classes and when I saw she was opening a new studio, I jumped on the change to go to a class. 

Another cool thing that's happening in Greenville is that we got a Lululemon Showroom. It's not the clothing that is exciting (although I finally bought some pants and LOVE them), it's the fact that they are trying to bring together the yoga community and make it supportive and interactive. Again, I think this is VERY important for the growth and acceptance of yoga in the Greenville community and definitely want to be a part of that. 

If you live in Greenville, check out Julie's new studio downtown. You can take a hot class, a non heated class, a Yin class, etc etc. Her studio is very cool! 

 Peggy (who is awesome), me, and Julie, the owner

Katie (you might know her blog), me and Julie

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


As I gotten completely over committed recently, (yes, again), I have realized that I am starting to let go of things that I value dearly. I run out of time, so I start booking activities during times that I hold important OR I just simply don't do them for the sake of resting. I think resting is very important but I also feel there are a couple of other sacred times that must happen no matter what.

1) Date night: My husband and I are busy (he works 10-12 hours a day & I just commit myself to so many things that I'm never home). I've realized that it puts a strain on our relationship when we don't make time for each other because we have to remember why we fell in love. Wednesday night is our designated date night. We go out to eat so that no one has to cook and we talk, just like we did when we were dating. We don't have his girls to care for, we don't have business to take care of and in fact, I typically leave my cell phone in the car or at home. I found myself almost scheduling something and realizing, no, I need that time. In the past, I would've just scheduled it and paid the consequences later which is usually my husband telling me that I need to be home more.

2) My morning yoga/meditation time. I was doing so well with this for a while. I would spend 10-30 minutes in the morning in some type of movement or meditation. Then I got really busy and I would oversleep or I would schedule something else like exercise or some excuse as to why I can't do it. That was probably a year ago and I've had a hard time recovering. I NEED that time in the morning to get quiet and get centered before a busy day at work. My job is very stressful and it's dealing with a LOT of personalities, both co workers and clients. I HAVE to have that time to get quiet, center myself, get focused so that I can be a better person throughout the day. If not, I can become grouchy and then I'll do something that I'll regret later.

My friend Lynne, who is also a yoga teacher at Greenville Yoga, told me that she gets up in the morning and sometimes, all she does is sit on her mat. She feels like at least she is sitting there, on her mat, with a focus there vs watching tv or sleeping. Then she may decide she wants to do some poses and once she gets it going, there's no need for arguing. I've tried to use that motivation for myself and so far, it's worked.

Benefits of morning yoga/meditation:

a) it gets the kinks out - I'm a little rusty in the morning, I need to get moving. Actually, I read an article about our muscles and how these little fibers build up between our muscles. If we don't move them or stretch them, those fibers can become knots and we lose flexibility over time. Next thing we know, we have issues with our hips, our backs, our necks, etc. Movement in the morning breaks those little fibers loose and helps us maintain our flexibility

an article on benefits of morning stretching

b) Preparing for the day - I can go on and on about why meditation is good for you and that may be another post but I've noticed that even when I only spend 5 minutes in quiet meditation in the morning, I am more able to be grateful for the life I have. I can take that time to pray for someone, send loving thoughts, and realize that things are more important than me, and the issues I think that I have. In 2007, I was struggling because of the stress of my job and I started a morning meditation practice. My life has changed so much since then, mainly in the way I handle situations and people. It doesn't take much effort and the benefits are much greater.

"Daily meditation and prayer allow God into our lives. They put us in contact with the true power of the universe. Meditation and prayer not only benefit our individual lives, but benefit our world. As we change our thinking, as individuals and as a species, our external world will shift to fit our new collective vision of the world."
~Marianne Williamson

So, now how do I get consistent? I don't know. I think its one of those things where I'll never be perfect, so I just have to start each day anew. So far this week, I've been pretty good. It hasn't been an hour long class like I'd like, but it's been something and that's a start. 

How do you find consistency? 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Women in Rwanda

I'm not sure if I ever really wrote a post regarding the women of Rwanda and what they are doing. I looked for a post to which I could link this and realized there wasn't an appropriate one. So, I'll just start from scratch. 

In the time I spent in Rwanda, I was mostly with "the ladies" as I call them. I'm sure that you have seen Fair Trade websites or you've seen the African Baskets sold at Earth Fare or Whole Foods. Most of these are made by women in "cooperatives". They come together a couple of times a week and make goods by hand. Each country has a trade or craft of their own and Rwanda is known for it's necklaces made out of calenders. 

They cut the calenders into triangular pieces, roll them into a bead and dip them into some type of coating substance to create necklaces, bracelets and earrings

They also make clothing and baskets

 This sign, which means blessing, was made from banana leaves

This lady was amazing!

a little bit of everything

soccer balls which the kids do play with

During the week, we visited 3 different cooperatives

 These were the HIV Ladies - they all have HIV and come to the medical clinic to get their medicine

These women were a Gender Based Violence group. The lady on the left introduced herself to me and told me she had been raped at the age of 16 years old

These ladies were a mixture, many of them just poor. 

I learned so much from these women and value the experience I had very much. I can't really put into words how much this experience changed me as a person. I loved meeting them so much and I want them to be successful so I have decided to bring back some of their necklaces to try to sell them. 

Please let me know if you'd like to buy any of these necklaces or if you'd just like to donate money. These women use the money to feed their families, to buy health insurance which only costs $5 a year, one is saving up to go to college, etc. 

I realize times are tough but I promise that by giving, you will receive ten fold. Many religions support that argument, and I believe that when the Bible talks about tithing, it does NOT just mean giving money to your church, but also to help those in need. That is more of a Catholic concept than Protestant but let's remember that these people are not giving up lost opportunities, they are doing the best they can with what they have. Some of the women walk 2 hours every day to come to the cooperative meeting place, work for several hours, then go back home to care for their family. Any help would be appreciated greatly by these women. 

Please contact me if you'd like to give or if you'd like to buy a necklace.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

An Extension of Yesterday

I realized that I didn't get to finish my thoughts from yesterday so I thought I would do that today. As I was saying, I've always been in search of the end result without wanting to take part in any of the process. I somehow believe that the end result is going to bring me the happiness I so desire, but the process will not. I think that I have just always been wrong in thinking that completing certain goals and saying I checked off a certain box will somehow complete my life.

Some examples:
*If I make a certain amount of money, then I will feel like ______
*Once I can run a half marathon in this amount of time, I will be happy
*If I weigh ____ much, then I can feel okay with myself

This list could go on and on and while I'm saying this about myself, I feel strongly that most people are this way which is why we have get rich quick schemes and an entire diet industry built on the hopes that people continue on that path. What would those companies/industries do if we just enjoyed the process and did things in the appropriate way?

How I can relate that to yoga is exactly what I was discussing yesterday. I would go into a hot yoga class, have a set expectation of where I should be and push myself to get into poses that while, yes, I could do them, but was it what I should have been doing, no. One thing I've learned is that every class is an opportunity to push myself a little over my own edge and by doing that, I'm building a foundation that is very strong. I can't watch a yoga video such as the one below and then attempt to do those things. I don't know how long that person's been practicing and in reality, if I will get to where she is.

The question I ask myself now is this: let's pretend that I can now do every pose in the video exactly as she's done it - then what? A lot of things I want and desire are such a fantasized idea that I've romanced but in reality, won't do anything differently for me than what I've got now. And this is so beyond just a yoga class, it's just easy for me to relate it to that. For example, I've saved up the amount of money that I NEVER thought I would save up BUT somehow thought would bring me a life so secure and fulfilled, I'd finally be satisfied. Guess what - no it didn't. I finally reached a weight that I felt was "good" and guess what, not only was I not happy, but I was more miserable than I had been at a heavier weight. What was the lesson that I learned?

1) Acceptance of where I am
2) I must find joy in the process
3) Happiness doesn't come from an achieved goal

Because I feel secure in myself from an internal place, it's easy for me to accept where I am in life. I'm really find with where I am and I realize that my situation could change at any point BUT my happiness doesn't have to. Why, because I am in control of that. I can choose my mood any time of the day, any day of the week. I also can appreciate the process and where I am in it. I have short term goals, I have long term goals and I may reach some of them or I may realize I don't need them and can change my mind. But no matter what, I can learn that whatever process I go to get there will be necessary. It just makes it so much easier to say, yeah, I'm find with it. What other choice do I have? 

By taking those expectations off of myself and understanding that there are certain steps I need to take to get to a goal, I can hold back a bit in that yoga class, accept that right now, I am going to be this weight, have to give up that thing I want for the bigger picture. And while it's taken me 32 years to figure that out, I'm grateful that I did now and not at 62 because as much as I've struggled and grappled with my mind over that time, I think it would suck if I had to do it for that many years. UNLESS that was part of the process :)

Namaste y'all :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Getting Back to Basics

In 2010, after years of flipping back and forth, I started a regular yoga practice. At the time, I was very into running and fitness, so I gravitated towards the fad of hot yoga. I think my thoughts were that, it's okay for me to be doing something as slow as yoga as long as it's powerful, I'm pushing myself and it's hot as crap. I was still at a point where I felt like, I must be pushing myself to the limits every day, otherwise, I'm not worthy in some way. It sounds weird saying it, but how many Type A personalities feel like if they're not competing in every aspect of their lives, they somehow aren't living up to the expectations that they put on themselves? I don't think it was just me.

Fast forward to today and find that I'm happy just walk/running and doing yoga and one can see what I call growth (although if you're still caught in that Type A trap, you may not agree). I don't say that in a condescending way, I just mean that some people my have a different perception of what I'm about to discuss.

In these classes, I got a lot of benefits just like you do in any yoga class. I was able to focus my mind, stretch my body, etc. I took the approach that I need to do every pose offered and that I ALWAYS needed to be pushing for that next pose. I think the reason that became a challenge was because I was not listening to my body and I sometimes sacrificed building a foundation in order to reach a certain pose. Throughout my extensive workout career where I've tried pretty much everything, the thing I've discovered most is that having the foundation is very important in preventing injury. I started thinking about that idea this morning and realizing that I not only followed that pattern in working out, but also in everything else. I've always had a desire to reach a certain goal or destination without first putting in the work to get there. I want to have the end result and skip the process that goes along with it. With work, there were times when I was frustrated that I hadn't been able to push my career along to the next step, but I wasn't making the appropriates call to get there. I felt frustrated by the fact that I did the first step and failed. I wanted to be perfect from the very beginning.

As I've continued on my yogic path, I am now finding solace in not being perfect in a class. I am enjoying coming to the mat and acting as though this is something I've never done before. Over the weekend, I tried to listen to every direction that Liz gave. I loved the simplicity of the class, the focus on the breath, the movement and the foundation. It inspired me to make some changes in my own teaching because it's so easy, even now, for me to want to challenge my students in a physical way. In my mind, I think, I want to give them the opportunity to learn the next step and to push themselves but maybe what I want to challenge them to do is to push their minds and push their breath work. I want to make sure that they're building a strong foundation because in the perfection of the simplicity is where we can start to try different things.

My intention for the week is to teach in that specific way - my class is going to focused on the breath, simple poses, and meditation during movement. I'm excited to see how that goes! If you're in the area, I'd love for you to come and give me feedback. I'm teaching at 6 am at Yoganize on 2105 Old Spartanburg Rd, Greer, SC.

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Prama Yoga Retreat

This past weekend, I went on my very first yoga retreat with Greenville Yoga's Liz Delaney. We traveled to little place in Western NC called the Prama Institute. It was a weekend of yoga, vegetarian food and socializing.

this was a cute little entrance leading you the facility - I took this pic on my hike

this was the institute from the road - again on my hike

We arrived Friday evening where we got settled quickly and had a yoga class at 5:30. It was a gentle flow class but in reality, not so gentle. The thing I love about Liz's classes (and Brian's as well) is that breath is the most important and the movement comes second. The movement is very slow and calculated, so you would think you wouldn't be out of breath or your heart rate wouldn't elevate, but it does. The breath work and the movement 1) raised my heart rate and 2) raised my heat level. It's the kind of class where I can close my eyes the whole time and when I'm done, I feel like I've just finished an hour and a half meditation. Very nice. 

We ate dinner after and it was DELICIOUS! I should've taken pictures of the food because it was all very delicious. They have  gourmet chef there who cooks everything vegetarian. We had gluten free cupcakes that were absolutely amazing!

here is Sharon, the chef. She has a program at the end of the year

We had a morning flow class again and then some free time. Everyone was talking about a little hike they took, so i decided to give it a shot myself. And for whatever reason, I REALLY wanted to go by myself. I think partly because I was kind of scared to go by myself. I wanted to test my ability to trust my intuition and build confidence in my ability to do things by myself. I'm fairly independent BUT I don't like to venture out much on my own simply because I'm afraid of not knowing what to do. So while it seems really easy to just go off by yourself and hike during the day, I was actually a little nervous. The hike ended up being so great and I found 3 different trails that I followed. I took lots of pics, but here are some of my favs. 

I was totally fascinated by all the pretty wild flowers

this was a different trail I didn't take but looked very cute

I loved this old structure, there were a bunch like this

I saw a hawk here but it was too fast & really it scared the beejezuz out of me

the grassy knoll and I somehow missed the first trail but found the second time

We had a couple of other yoga classes that were amazing, some delicious food and then set off to return home. Overall, I had a great experience and highly recommend a yoga retreat to anyone. It's a great way to get recharged and away from all of the responsibilities of home. I loved bonding with different women and doing things that were positive and healthy for my body. 

the group - I'm in the bottom right, with the black sweater and purple top 

Lynne, who is an awesome yoga teacher and Liz, who is very fun

Liz, the owner of greenville yoga and I after my hike

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Trying to get back...

As I' m trying to get back in the swing of things, I've been thinking about my blog lately. I keep wanting to blog about things, but get sidetracked because of work, yoga, football, etc. I actually really miss it. One of the challenging things is time. I don't necessarily want to blog at work, simply because things have changed and I'm much busier than I used to be. It's not as easy to take a 15 minute break to bang out a blog post. I'm trying to reduce the amount of activity I do at night so that I can be present for my husband and myself. The other challenge has been content. I don't necessarily want my blog to be so serious, but I also don't want it to be a daily inventory of what I do, because that's kind of selfish and boring, ha. So as I explore all of the different things this could be, I hope that I can somehow get back into a rhythm of posting more consistently and posting things that people, mainly my family and friends, would like to read. 

To recap the weekend, 

1) It's finally football season. We had an awesome weekend of Clemson vs Auburn, AL vs MI, USC vs Vandy, NCST vs UT, and VT vs GT. In my completely unbiased opinion, the Auburn/Clemson game was the best. While during the midst of the game, I was very anti Auburn, and called them all kinds of names in the book, this is actually a team that I enjoy playing and would love to do so in the future. 

I really love college football and will make a confession. I was literally so sick before the game started, I couldn't tell if it was from the food I ate or my nervousness about the game. It is 100% completely irrational, but something I cannot control. I am hoping that there are others in the world that felt the same way, because that is embarrassing. Seriously. 

2) A new study that Stanford conducted came out today. Here are the multiple ways in which the study was reported. 

I find it interesting that two news sources say something different. The other thing I find interesting is that it was a study conducted over 2 years and that it only mentions the lack of different in nutrients, but a major difference in the presence of pesticides. It does not mention the effects on the environment. Of course, I have my own opinions on this, but I'd like to spend more time researching this before I state my final opinion. Maybe there is something to this, maybe not. I will say that I have focused less on organic and more on local produce and supporting my local farmer. 

3) My struggles with going green. I have noticed that it is SO MUCH harder to really go green. I mean, there is so much added convenience in using certain things that aren't as environmentally friendly. Also, the products that have chemicals DO TEND to work better. For example, my Tom's deodorant is not super effective. I found that out in the DC airport when I lifted my arms in the security machine and I STUNK. I was very embarrassed, needless to say. I'm not 100% sure what to do about this. I mean, I don't want cancer, I want to be conscious about the products that I buy and the effects on the environment, but I also don't want to stink. 

4) Lastly, I'm attempting to get back into running. Of course, it's humbling having to start over again, running a minute on and a minute off, but I actually enjoy running and if I could actually get up before 7 am, think I could do it much more often 

I'm going to work on consistency and meaning so I hope you guys keep reading. Please let me know if there are any topics you'd like to discuss.