The Yoga of Experience: Tell a Good Story.

I have been kind of upset with myself lately, because I haven’t written anything in so long. I mean, the last time I posted here, it was Thanksgiving time. It’s now February. Donald Trump actually became POTUS despite my incredulity of the event.  The birds are telling me that spring is around the corner.

In December, I started to get concerned that I couldn’t think of anything to write about. No stories were coming. Then my new business, SisterMade Essentials, took off and I didn’t have time to write. I certainly wasn’t complaining! Oh well then I got the flu, I can complain about that a little. It sucked. Sometimes I am so bad at listening to my body telling me to SLOW DOWN that it takes drastic measures and makes me slow down. So, I slowed down. A little.

In January, SisterMade quieted down, and I took a little time to enjoy that. But then yoga picked up. Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? It turns out that lots of people made yoga their New Year’s Resolution. Class sizes increased, things got a little busier. I taught a 3-week beginners series, that sold out, and launched a whole new class of fledgling yogis out into the world. Boom.

So then February showed up. And I began to earnestly lament the fact that I haven’t written anything in so long. Do I really have no more stories to tell? Are all the thoughts I’m having not worth writing down? And the longer it became since I wrote something, the more I felt I needed to come up with something REALLY SPECTACULAR. A person can wait a really long time for that to happen…

Then, this morning, I had a thought while meditating. OK so maybe you’re not supposed to have any thoughts while you’re meditating but sorry, my brain doesn’t work that way. I was thinking about how I had just made bread, and the dough was rising, and how the timer would go off soon and it would be time to turn the dough out and put it in some loaf pans. Not very spiritual, I know. But then I realized something. The bread I was baking, was a story. It has a beginning, a middle, hopefully not too many plot twists, but with a definite denoument, and perhaps even a deus ex machnina. The ending is pretty good, leaving you satisfied yet wanting more. When’s the sequel coming out!?

When I make SisterMade BeeBalm, I am telling a story too. I put the ingredients together, I am thinking thoughts that go into the pot with the ingredients, I am pouring my love and attention into it as I pour the heated liquid into the tins. I print and cut labels, put them on the tins, and think nice thoughts as I place items in mailing envelopes to send them off to their new home. Each item then begins its own new story, in its new home.

sistermade essentials

And every single yoga class I teach tells a story. From the moment a class starts, all the way through to “Namaste” at the end, I have the privilege of taking students on a special journey, just for them. Each time, we create a story about movement, breath, love, acceptance, meeting challenges, creating community, and rediscovery. I get to tell that story almost every day.

Sure, I’d love to be widely recognized someday for my stories. But in the meantime, realizing that I’m constantly telling them, even if I’m not writing them down, is enough. It’s satisfying and makes my heart happy.

So many stories get told by us all, every day. Each one is special, unique, sacred.

Tell a good story.

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The Yoga of Experience: Love Letter to The Resentments

I am a student of the Law of Attraction. I definitely don’t believe in coincidences anymore; everything that happens (or doesn’t happen) has a reason and a purpose, and is revealed to me (or not) because of my own doing (or not doing). And thanks to my studies this year, I’ve learned more about myself and the world I live in during the past 5 months than I had the last 5 years combined.

There are lots of paths that ultimately lead to the same place; it’s just a matter of finding one whose scenery you like, and whose winding, often less than straightforward course makes the most sense to you. For me, this path is via the Law of Attraction, and the teachings of Abraham Hicks.

On Saturday November 12, I was fortunate enough to attend an Abraham Hicks workshop in Dallas. It was… indescribable. I don’t quite have words for it yet – not sure I ever will. No, I haven’t manifested a million dollars in the last week, and no I’m not two inches taller or living in Hawaii (yet). More importantly though, I’m much, much happier. I’ve taken more responsibility for my own life, and I’ve begun to manifest small bits of awesomeness, and interesting synchronicities. Life is fun, full of magic, and oh so deliciously sweet.

So it was only fitting that after that workshop in Dallas, I went to Austin for a few days. I went so that I could have some down-time to assimilate the workshop, but I also went down to see some music. I was heading to Sunday Night Services at the Saxon Pub, to see The Resentments.

I’ve written about The Resentments before. Probably more than once (try here, here, and  here, for starters). Because they aren’t just my favorite band ever, they’re also one of the best experiences of my life.

I discovered them a little over 5 years ago and watched a whole lot of YouTube videos until I finally went down to see them in person. In fact, the very first time I went down was exactly 5 years ago this weekend – I drove down to Austin from Tulsa on the day after Thanksgiving.

Since then, I’ve managed to get down to the Saxon Pub a few times every now and again, to get my fix. It’s so worth the trip.

The Resentments are a group of singer-songwriters, who get together every Sunday night at the Saxon, to play some music and throw around some witty conversation. There are currently 5 core members – Jeff Plankenhorn, Miles Zuniga, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Bruce Hughes, and John Chipman. Not all of them are present at every show, but whoever is there, it’s always a great time. They are all incredibly talented musicians and some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. They’re funny, intelligent, kind, and when they play together, the result is magical.

When I’m listening to The Resentments, either in my car or while I’m working – or whenever, really – the music fills me with a sense of peace, and happiness.

When I’m watching The Resentments, when I’m sitting at the Saxon and the vibration of the music and the love fills the air, it’s like… well, it feels like home. It fills me up, it feeds my heart and it lifts me up and makes me feel human… but also it makes me feel more than human.

I’ve had this feeling from two other experiences in my life. One was when I did yoga for the first time, the other was when I saw a video of Abraham Hicks for the first time. Each was accompanied by a feeling of simultaneously knowing I had discovered something BIG but also that I was home, I was back, and I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

The Law of Attraction teaches us to feel, then think, then manifest. It encourages us to reach for good feeling thoughts, and reminds us that we don’t have to wait for something good to happen before we can feel good about it (in fact, it’s quite the opposite). This approach made this last trip to Austin a little different for me, as I had thought it might.

This time, when I went to the Saxon, it still felt like home. It still felt so right and so good and deliciously sweet. I sat alone, at a table with a perfect view, but this time I could feel myself soaking up all the goodness, taking it in on a more complete level than I ever had before. I could fully feel and appreciate what was going on better than I ever had before. And for that reason, I knew that I would probably not be back for a long time.

I realized that at this point, I no longer need the experience of going to the Saxon Pub to truly feel the sweetness of the experience.

I’m sure I’ll be back – I can’t stay away. The music is too good, the feeling is too sweet to stay away for too long.  But it will be different. There’s a sense of closure that wasn’t there before. It seems like I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t need to be there to truly enjoy the experience of it. I can carry it with me wherever I go. Like with yoga, or the teachings of Abraham Hicks… I will always have that love, peace, and pure joy with me.

And how cool is that.


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Into Each Toaster a Few Crumbs Must Fall…

toastparty

 

We here at the Toast Party Headquarters are deeply saddened by the results of yesterday’s election. It’s true that we did switch from the Unicorn Party to supporting the Toast Platform late in the game, but that is our right as American citizens, no? It was our right to decide we wanted some crunchy, toasty goodness instead of more sparkles. It was our right to

So, here we are, the day after the 2016 United States Presidential Election. We are sad.

We’re not sad because the U.S. elected a total TOOL as the leader of the free world. We’re not sad because we were this close to our first female president and blew it. We’re not even sad that the DNC played dirty. And we’re not even sad because our new president is a misogynistic, racist TOOL. Nope, we are sad because we really wanted Toast to win.

Toast. That versatile, crunchy, good-for-your-soul food that everyone loves. At least, we thought everyone loved Toast. Our theory – people just don’t realize how wonderful Toast really is. The world needs more Toast.

So. Now what?

We keep going. We take a deep breath, we hug our cats and our kids and our sig oths, we go out and we continue to be the best people we can be. We continue to be nice to people. We continue to value laughter and love and we try to remember that we truly do need to be the change that we want to see. We teach school, we teach yoga, we help people, we buy healthy food and we listen to good music.

And we regroup.

That’s right, we get our shit together and envision a world where Toast rules.

I’m going to make it my personal crusade, starting today, to campaign for Toast 2020.

No matter if you like white bread, wheat, or rye, it all toasts up perfectly. Toast is great for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. It goes with everything. When you bite into that crisp, airy piece of toast, your heart can’t help but emit a little squeee of happiness.

We need to be breaking bread together, don’t you think? And what better way to come together with our brothers and sisters than to literally break a crunchy piece of bread together. Sharing a meal is a ritual, a bonding experience, a way to share and come together to focus on our similarities and some of the best parts of being human.

Toast 2020. I’m telling you, we are ready for this. Are you with me? We can do it. Be the love, be the change, eat more toast.

 

 

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The Yoga of Experience – Native Language

sb2

You never forget your first language(s).

I got back from California two weeks ago. I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get back to the typewriter, so to speak. If I had to pick a reason – OK, if I had to pick two reasons, they would be:
1. Craft ADD. I love making stuff. With my hands. It’s fun. Sewing, knitting, crochet, making products to use on your beautiful skin. It’s in my blood, making things. Just ask my Dad. So I’ve been busy making stuff.
2. Fear of creative expression. Weird for someone who claims to be a writer, right? And even though I’ll be the first person to demand that the definition of “being human” includes the words “creative expression is one of the core tenets of being human,” it’s sometimes is easier to ignore this and just binge watch Cheers, than to put myself out there and let the inside out.
And sometimes, it’s just hard to find the right words.

I had a fantastic time during my three-week SoCal vacation. Duh! I practiced yoga in Long Beach. I read a PG Wodehouse book (among others). I walked on the beach (a lot). I ate sushi, I bought Vans, and I drank a lot of coffee. I enjoyed doing things and visiting with people, and I enjoyed doing absolutely nothing other than feeling the sunshine on my bare skin. Oh man, I love that place so much.
Even though I’ve been gone a looooooong time, Southern California still feels like home when I’m there. Everything just seems so relaxed, and there’s pretty much at least one of every kind of person you can imagine – everything goes. So it’s really easy to feel like I fit in. Especially in Sunset Beach. I can’t even imagine how much money you would need to actually live there these days, but nonetheless, the atmosphere is relaxed and unpretentious.
When I arrive at the beach, I fall into a wonderful sort of familiarity that feels so natural. I don’t have to try to do or be anything. It all just is, and it’s always exactly as it should be. The waves keep coming, the sun sets over Rancho Palos Verdes, the cargo ships wait their turn to dock in San Pedro. My grandmother’s house still stands – empty now, but still full of memories tucked into every corner.

On this trip, I really connected with Seal Beach, too. It’s sooo cute! I love it there. My Dad told me that he and my Mom were living in Seal Beach when I was born. They rented a house, because my Dad had gotten a teaching job nearby. I didn’t really know that before; my Mom never told me much about her time with my dad. But realizing they lived there together, in that cute, cute place…no wonder I love it there too. No wonder it’s so familiar, somehow.
I will buy a house there someday. It might end up being a teeny tiny house, but it will happen. I’ll have a short walk to the beach, and a short walk to Main Street where I can meet my friends and have a coffee and watch the tourists. You can come visit anytime.

seal beach pier
seal beach pier

I started and ended my trip to SoCal with a visit at my Dad’s house, in the foothills of La Crescenta. It’s kind of a nice way to bookend the trip – a way to acclimate. When I first get to California, a visit with family makes the transition to the culture a little easier. And on the way back home, it’s a good transition back to reality. Because if I had to leave Sunset Beach and drive straight to LAX to get on a plane back to Tulsa, I would cry for three straight weeks.
And of course, it’s also nice to see my Dad.
After years and years of living with women, my Dad has gotten pretty good at listening, without necessarily offering solutions. Occasionally a logical (to him) solution does pop out – and that’s ok – but he’s a good listener. It’s really nice to be able to talk to him about things that I’m learning or discovering or working on. He knows my language, he understands what I’m saying. And one thing he does do, without fail, is call me on my shit.
He listens so closely, that he challenges me when I speak in opposition to who I am working on becoming (he’ll probably have an issue with how I worded that just now, but I can’t think of any other way to say it, sorry Dad!). He challenges me when I express doubt or negativity, after declaring that I am no longer going to express doubt or negativity. He requires me to clarify my thoughts and intentions. He knows my language, because I am his daughter. No one else is left on this earth who can know me like that. There’s a sense of familiarity between us that I sometimes still marvel at to this day, since we didn’t spend much time together when I was growing up.

So as I understand the language of Southern California, so does my Dad understand the language that is me. I am fluent in Californian, I am fluent in Neil. Perhaps they are the same? Either way, I will craft something good out of this language, and it will be amazing, and it will be mine, and my Dad will love it.

ace and dad
ace and dad
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The Yoga of Experience – The Vacation Inside the Vacation

Practicing My Quiet Skillz

vacation inside the vacation

Today marks the beginning of my third week of vacation.
I have never had a three-week vacation before, not counting summers off from school. Which was about a million years ago, anyway.
But earlier this year, I decided that if I was going to make the effort to come out to SoCal and soak up the sunny vibes, then I was going to do it HARDCORE and make it a 3-week affair – for better or worse. As a self-employed person, “paid vacations” are a just an enviable concept, and so when you are someone who still relies on trading hours of your life for money, not working for a while has its, well, shall we say, disadvantages. So I am toughing it out here by the seaside. Thank goodness for Trader Joe’s and the Ralph’s Rewards Card.

My companions have gone home, and I have the next few days to myself before I head inland to my Dad’s, to spend some time with him before heading back to Oklahoma. A vacation inside the vacation, as it were. So here I am at the beach, listening to the waves. All by myself.

Being at the seaside is, to me, the best place to be. As an (extreme) introvert, always looking for potential escape routes or opportunities to extricate myself from possible mayhem, the seaside offers unique opportunities to feel very much on the outside of everything. I am at the edge here. There is one whole side of my view that has NO ONE IN IT and part of me really likes that. The ocean seems to go on forever, offering endless possibilities for emptiness… ah… Add in the salty smell, the sound of the waves, the sunsets over the water (and the surfers), and you have the fixins for My Favorite Place.

I cherish the time I spend here at the beach by myself. There is no stereo, no TV, no wifi, and for the next few days, very few people to talk to. A mini-vacation inside my vacation.
As I sit here, I can hear the waves, and see some kite surfing gear floating in the sky above the top of my grandmother’s house. I am staying in the apartment above the garage. And while it doesn’t have an actual ocean view, it is close enough. Plus, it’s been remodeled, and therefore has a few more modern amenities, such as a stove made in this century and newer plumbing. Since it’s on the second floor, there’s plenty of afternoon light coming in, and it’s truly one of the most pleasant spaces I’ve had the privilege of spending time in.
I stay up here because it’s comfy, but also because I’m hesitant to stay in the main house, my Grandma’s house. She passed away several years ago, but hasn’t lived here for maybe close to 15 years. The property belongs to a family member, who plans to keep the house as close to its original condition as possible (it’s one of the last remaining original structures here on the beach, with unique architectural features, as well as a whole lot of family and neighborhood history. I am dreaming of writing a book on the history of the Neil family and of Sunset Beach…)
I was here a lot as a child, and some of my happiest memories are of spending time here, with my Grandma. And so you might be wondering why I would be hesitant to stay downstairs, in her house…

While the house is definitely habitable, it’s just not… the same. Which is fine – it would be unreasonable to expect thigs to remain the same. But still…
Most of my Grandma’s personal effects are in storage, as the house will eventually be renovated. There is so much history and love and stories in those walls, but for the past few years the energy has felt “in flux.” It’s as if the house misses her. Only once have I felt her presence here – I think she is having a grand time traveling all over the universe, seeing all the sights she dreamt about when she was human, and is too busy to come back here to the beach. But the house is missing her.

I love it here, and I often can’t wait to be alone here. But once I am alone, and it’s just me and the wind and the waves and the setting sun, something akin to loneliness comes up, especially in the evenings and at night. Even us extreme introverts have our limits! Everything in life is all about balance, after all. Tip the scales too far, and we need to find ways to get back to center.

In my ever-increasing wisdom, I realize that this loneliness or emptiness is just a feeling, and once acknowledged, and with a little practice, it can be exchanged for thoughts that are more pleasant. Maybe that’s why I’m here – so I can practice that. There is no one to talk to, no music, no commercials, just me, and… me. So often we try to fill all the empty spaces. Sometimes facing the quiet – and ourselves – can be difficult. But what a great opportunity to practice making it easier.

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