The Yoga of Experience – I Just Lost My Good Excuse

I often come up with snippets of ideas for stories. I’m not exactly sure how to categorize these stories though. I guess they are children’s stories? I mean, the protagonists are often mice or cats or other small furry creatures (with the occasional bird or turtle thrown in the mix). The plots are fairly straightforward. So maybe the best way to describe them might be “stories for children of all ages.” Yes, that sounds about right.

Usually, these stories write themselves. I start out with a little bit of an idea, and I sit down and write. And the story writes itself. When this happens, I know I’m onto something – that the story comes from somewhere else besides my brain. They are mine, but it’s like I’ve “written” them somewhere else and it’s just a matter of tuning in and downloading them through my fingertips and into my computer.

When a story is jagged or somehow irking me as I write it, or if I feel frustrated, I know that its time hasn’t quite come yet. I back off, leave it alone and try again another day until it’s ready to show up. It’s a really satisfying process. Sometimes when I go back and read the finished product, I’m surprised. In a good way.

Many times after I’ve written a story, I think, oh now this needs some illustrations! Yes, wouldn’t this be so much cuter or more fun or whatever if there were some cute little sketches that accompanied this story!

A few times I’ve tried to illustrate my own story (in 2014 and 2015 I released Christmas books that were stories accompanied by little sketches I drew), but usually when I try to do something “artsy” I get really frustrated and everything comes out looking like a potato with a bad hairpiece. It doesn’t work. Maybe I’m too critical of my own art. But whatever. I CAN’T DO IT. Nor do I want to, because it’s not my thing.

But I so often wish I had illustrations to go with my supacute stories. So a few times I’ve asked friends who are amazing artists (because I know a lot of them!) if they would be interested in illustrating one of my stories, they are all very nice and usually say yes. Hooray! Except.

Except they are very busy people and don’t have time to work on a small project like mine.

I don’t blame them at all! I get it. I really do. But I am still sad because my stories go un-illustrated. They are naked little stories.

After a while, I started saying this to myself: “I can’t find an illustrator to make my stories come to life so why bother writing any?”

And so I stopped writing stories. No more tales (or tails?) of below average intelligence partridges. No more spinning yarns about birds who teach their friends to knit. No more nail-biters about worms who save fancy dinner parties from being overrun by ants.

Until now.

As I grow up, grow older, and grow wiser, it finally hit me today. Screw the illustrations!

If I wait till everything has a drawing to go with it, I’ll be waiting a long time. I would rather share these stories without illustrations than to have them just sit as a bunch of 0s and 1s on Google Drive. I would like you to read them. And hopefully enjoy them.

You’d think I would have realized this before today. But I am a slow learner. A late bloomer. A conformist, apparently. OH GOD NO! NOT THAT!

Well, better late than never. It’s time to get them out into the world.

So I’ve started going back through some things that I’ve written. Some are finished, some are not. But I’m getting back to them – and there are more coming. About a cat with special sleuthing powers who travels all over the world flying his own plane. And another cat who lives on a farm on the Russian Steppes. And a bird who can’t decide what book to read next.

You’ll be able to draw your own illustrations to go with them.

This is an illustration by my amazing uncle, Jan Zaremba, which he did for my story “The Thunderstorm.” We published it in 2014 and it’s available here.

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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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