An Idol of Mine

wrote a little something about my uncle- my dad’s brother. He is very dear to me. I’d like to share it with you...

 

When I think of Bob, many, many things come to mind. Adventures on Duck Lake, imaginative stories he made up at bed time for all of us kids, working with him on block activities and brain training games when there was concern about my learning progress, massages and cranial-sacral, goofy nicknames, rocks and numerous other things that seemed super out-there or just plain boring to me as a child, but that I am increasingly interested in and treasure the gift of early exposure to. As an adult, I continue to receive the blessings of Bob's presence in my life. He is a trusted advisor, confidant, and source of guidance, unconditional love, accountability and big laughs! He is not afraid to bring up the difficult or uncomfortable topics either, and is someone that it is safe to have those conversations with. Most times, I feel like he can see right through me - through my social masks and protective shields - right to the core. I love this, and sometimes I need this - especially at those times in my life when I have tried to hide certain facets of my life or personality from the world, or even from myself.

There was this one time, when I was a little girl (younger than five) and after a LONG drive from Texas to Michigan to spend the summer with our aunts, uncles and cousins, we arrived at the cabins in Interlochen. My mom parked the car and all four of us kids tumbled out. Uncle Bob, giant in stature and presence, stepped out of the cabin onto the porch and greeted my mom and then my brother and sisters. I waited for the last hug. I don't know why exactly but I think maybe because I wanted his full attention, and to have time for a good long hug without everyone else waiting for theirs. He kneeled down and gave me just that, a really substantial hug. Everyone else had gone inside or was running around by this time. He pulled back to look at me and asked "How's my special girl?"... I don't think I can convey with words what that moment meant to me, or why it has stayed so clear in my memory for over twenty-five years. All I can say is that it was the way he looked at me - not with, but through his eyes. It was in his tone of voice, his smile and the time he took - to check in, with a 4 year old. I, of course, didn't know it at the time - but much self-examination and reflection over the years has revealed a deep seeded need to be AND to be seen as "special". This need is not unique to me - as it turns out, we are all special and have a very fundamental human need for community, appreciation and acceptance - but this impression, of needing "specialness" has been a focal point and common theme throughout my growth and ability to understand my self as an individual. Now, I don't know if Bob sensed this need in me, but I do know that he has a way of tuning in to what is needed in a situation or individual and making those around him feel seen, loved and absolutely special - like he did for me on that day, and has ever since. I am continually inspired by his dedicated presence and spirit of generosity and service to his family, his community and to humanity.

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I hope you all have an “Uncle Bob” in your life- I am incredibly grateful for mine! 

Mental Redirect

What do you do when you feel like you’re in a funk or when your ego tells you you’re not good enough? Do you ever find that you’re  comparing your life and your self to every dreamy feed you see on Instagram? I do.

If I could get one message out to the world, spread one concept on earth in this life- it would be the same one I need to hear, often.  I would tell anyone who feels alone, less than, not good enough or broken that they are beautiful and unique. I would tell them to embrace the perfectly imperfect, weird, awesome, compassionate, wise, beautiful being they are- with all their light and all their shadow.  I would tell them that there is something out there that only they can do, or somebody out there that only they can help. That we are all one. That we are here to heal and evolve. And that they are an integral part of that.

I KNOW these are cliches and that you’ve heard it all before. But I’m saying it again because it’s easy to slip into resistance, fear, doubt and the small-self/limited stories we let run in our heads about who and what we are. All most of us need to be so much happier is the courage to be true to ourselves, focus on what we can do to make this world a better place and stop wishing or trying to be someone else. Like Oscar Wilde said, those roles are already taken. 

Ive made a commitment to myself lately that, any time I notice I’m caught up in fear, comparison or other people’s perception of me, I will practice a mental and energetic “redirect”. I made a list of 5 actions I can choose from to shift my mood and highly recommend this, as it almost never fails to make me feel better. Your actions don’t have to be the same as mine. You can make up your own options... but here are 3 of mine to get the ideas flowing.

  •  3 minutes of “ego eradicator”  (A simple but powerful yogic breath practice that can help elevate our mood and break up energetic blocks. If you’re interested in this just type it in your search bar and COUNTLESS instructions and tutorials will pop up.)
  •  Have a solo dance party! (1 song minimum)
  •  Read something inspiring  (For me this depends where I’m at emotionally but ranges from Eckhart Tolle to Paulo Coehlo to Brene Brown to Swami Rama, Rumi, Don Miguel Ruiz,  etc. etc. I could go on forever here)

The other “redirects” I choose from have to do with meditation, mantra and affirmations (said enthusiastically into a mirror, haha), which are all GREAT options. But they can be anything you want them to be, whatever works for you... Below is a video of me practicing my favorite option. If you got nothing else from this post, at least maybe you’ll get a laugh outa watching me dance like a total dork! *Song dedicated to my ego- because it’s a liar.*

NO SHAME 😉 Love Love Love to you all!

The All-Too-Easily Forgettable Truth

YOU are a sweet, unique and POWERFUL manifestation of the intelligent source of life. You are EXACTLY where you are meant to be. Everything you have gone through and are going through is preparing you for what you are here to do. Have faith in the divine timing of our intricately designed and interweaving paths. Be grateful for the joys and challenges in your life, there is great medicine in both. You are strong and whole and peeling away layers of trauma and conditioning to uncover your beautiful and radiant soul! There is no need to seek your purpose. Be still, look inward, and your intuition will guide you- in alignment with it- moment by moment. 

Just putting this out there in case anyone else tends to let their mind/ego beat them up, shame them and obscure their view of the miracle they are (I read it to remind myself often, sometimes daily)!

Because life is hard and WILD and awesome. Sweet! Full of pleasure, pain, fear, love, trauma, healing, loneliness, connection and an INFINITY of polarities that come with this physical existence. It’s a flippin’ TRIP And guess what...

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“The process of self-healing is the privilege of every being. Self-healing is not a miracle, nor is self-healing a dramatization of the personality as though you could do something superior. Self-healing is a genuine process of the relationship between the physical and the infinite power of the soul.” -Yogi Bhajan

Love Love Love to you all!

Familiar Faces

I've been thinking a lot about reflections lately - family, friends, relationship dynamics, co-creation as well as the simultaneous beauties and dangers of interdependence. It's fascinating to me how easy it can be to slip into taking people, things or one's own existence in general for granted, over and over and over again! Sometimes we can access states of bliss or harmony and for periods of time (however brief or extended) we are able to remain in complete awe, gratitude and reverence of the vast wonders in this LIFE... but then a single blow to the ego, whether it resulted from a new desire, some unmet expectation or just the fluctuation of subtle but ever-flowing energy waves that can leave us feeling temporarily bored or dispassionate, and BOOM, we forget it all! The more we can remind ourselves of the truly precious nature of our reality, in which each and every person we meet is an opportunity to evolve and grow; bringing with them a whole new set of lessons- unique to that individual and your shared connection, the more we will experience it as such... 

This is a series I did in a portfolio class at SCAD, for which I dressed up and posed as stereotypical characters inspired by my closest family members and friends at the time. Using myself as the canvas, with exaggerated personality traits and over animated facial expressions in my portrayals, the photographs became caricatures rather than portraits, mocking our tendency to unintentionally (or intentionally) label those around us. The playful nature of these pieces is intended to dispute the value and accuracy of these silly boxes we try to place people in... especially since we are essentially just reflections of each other - manifestations of the same nature.

"The beauty you see in me, is a reflection of you."
~ Rumi ♥ 

 

A Path Of Yoga

 

“I am now a yogi on the path too spiritual enlightenment... By letting go of all attachments and meditating on the bliss of universal oneness I will one day be transformed into the person I want to be.”

If you’re anything like me you may have thought something similar to the sentiment above. It’s a beautiful idea but for one thing- it turns life into a means to an end, an idea that trips a lot of people up on their journey. Many of us get caught along the way in this belief that enlightenment is some sort of perfect state, but there is no final destination and the only place to get is HERE, NOW. The present moment is all that ever really exists, in which duality and unity are two facets of the same reality, existing simultaneously. There will always be darkness, at every level of consciousness, because there is always light. And where there is light, there is shadow.

Enlightenment, rather than a state of perfection, is a state of expansion- all encompassing. The only way to get there is from being exactly where you are. Accepting where you are doesn’t mean that there is nowhere to go or nothing to do. It just means that you are a being moving through time, rather than a being trying to become something or someone else. It means that you stop the comparison game, break the cycle of self-doubt and tap into your natural gifts.

“If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.” The concept illustrated by Yogi Bhajan in this quote seemed fairly obvious to me... until I realized it included me! Seeing “God in all” doesn’t just refer to recognizing the divinity in all that surrounds us but acknowledging the infinite divine wisdom inside ourselves as well. Maybe some of us avoid this part for a while because it means we can’t depend on sacred texts and teachers for direction anymore. It means we must learn to quiet the mind, develop our intuition and listen to our own inner guru. It means finding the strength in precisely what we are and trusting that we know what we don’t yet know we know. It means having faith in the universe within and without and once we are aware of that inner guiding force, each decision we make becomes an opportunity to get us either closer to or farther away from our Sat Nam. It means taking responsibility for our life, which can be scary but also SO LIBERATING!

We are teachers, seekers, lighthouses- devoted to the manifestation and constant evolution of God in all forms of life. Our primary interest is not in security or being liked, it is in awakening. So we do asana, we chant, we practice the yamas and niyamas and we call on our Buddha, Dharma and sangha when necessary. We do everything we have to do to be able to anchor ourselves in certainty, in faith, and in love- because it’s contagious! Wahe Guru ☺