I love this book.
Unexpectedly, I received this book as a gift. A new friend was telling me about it. She was floating and swirling with emotion and passion as she spoke of this book I was so intrigued. I put it on my mental list of “get this book and read it”. What is truly amazing that although RF and I are new friends, she knew me well enough to realize my TBR pile is LONG. We are kindred spirits in that sometimes you read a book and you NEED to talk about it. You NEED to share it and know that it is wrapping up your loved ones in its wisdom and imagination. We saw each other on a retreat in April when she was gushing over this book. In May she presented me with the book and I was overjoyed.
I wasn’t sure what to expect and found myself pulled into this book with self examining interest. Although it isn’t a book about self healing and change, it is exactly was it became. I appreciate the opportunity to look deeply into my own practice of reciprocity and my relationship with our natural world. I discovered a liberation in sorts and began to embrace gratitude on a whole new level. “Braiding Sweetgrass” has begun to assist me in understanding my role in global harmony and change.
The Post Christmas Pre New year window has always been a stressful time for me. I noticed an increase in relief when I let go of making plans for New Year Eve’s festivities. The year I decided that I didn’t need to be somewhere special or with someone special in order to conjure up good things to come was the year that I began to find some peace with this emotionally charged time of the year.
This year I was hoping to relax and disconnect from everything that is swirling in my mind a million miles an hour. That however is not in the Universe’s plan. I was silly to think that disconnection would ever be in the Universe’s Plan for me. Christmas Day brought me what felt like endless waves of emotional discomfort, being rushed, ignored, and angry. I tried to articulate my feelings, send up the flares that I was in need of some help to process. Looking back I realize my mistake was in looking to someone else to help me through instead of spending the time to look within and find my answers and strength.
Christmas night I walked alone. I walked and walked. I sat and watched the water and the moon. I listened. I sat still and listened to my heart. I am taking time now to seek comfort within myself. I am taking time to allow myself to work through what is unfolding. This process may seem trivial to others. I am on a journey. I know this. I have spent a lot of time recently trying to build a communities, teams of emotional support and guidance. I have poured myself into relationships and I am feeling alone and exhausted from the efforts. I am looking around and realizing that I am going to redirect my energy into my own body and mind and build that community.
I am engaging in my morning ritual of meditation, yoga, and prayer. I was wavering on this practice, but now I feel peaceful and committed to my practice. Two days ago I went outside and practiced in the rain. As it misted over my skin and I stood in warrior, I felt a voice call out “Power and Motivation.” It became a mantra through every asana and breath. Power and Motivation will thrust me into the day and guide me. The next morning I sat and sank into Dirgha breath as the wind blew the large leaves around me. It whispered “Open and be Willing.” I unfolded and allowed my self to float in love with what was and what is to come. This morning I sat. I breathed. I moved when an impulse took me. I allowed my body to go wherever it was driven. I felt nothing. I breathed and allowed my impulse to move me. I did this not planning out my sequence or even opening my eyes. I dropped into someplace of purity between breaths, a place of prayer. And then it came, the voice inside asked me to purge. To let go. I felt another whisper reminding me not control what that means but allow. I took a deep breath and agreed to let go today. Then my body said step forward, step out of that puddle and into New.
I am listening. I am creating. I am breathing. I am letting go.
Stepping out of the puddle into New.
I am sitting outside on my deck getting some much deserved reading and relaxing done. The glorious babble of our river lulls me into quiet gratitude and joy. As I am looking up from my pages, I notice a few dried leaves cascading to the grass from the canopy above.
It is happening. Already. I feel the pang of wanting summer to last forever. I feel the need to capture my time in a jar with fireflies and laughter. I hear a soft cry hanging on to the wind and realize it came from me.
Things change. Life moves.
In that moment I remind myself of the apple picking to come and the amazing crisp bite to the air. I think of the cozy blankets cuddles and the warm cider kissing my lips. I allow myself to feel excited for the squeals of delight at our first snow. I welcome the thoughts of sledding, baking, and wrapping presents. This delight gives way to seeds and garden plans. Then onto another splash in the river and harvest in the sun.
Change can be so thrilling when I see it through a lens of joy. Knowing that it can be challenging and sometimes difficult. Yet I greet it with compassion and kindness for all the wonder it continues to bring.
I am not even sure exactly how I feel about this yet…I am putting this down in a post so I make sure to come back to this and remember this moment. I work in a Title I inner city school and wore this shirt to work. I have worn it before. However, today, a colleague told me to go home and change my shirt. They said it “should say all lives matter in schools.” I was surprised given the location and situation that we are in everyday, that someone I work with would even question or pause on this movement. At first I thought they were trying to joke with me. I let the comment hang out there and let them see that I believe in this movement. This is not a message of Black Lives Matter more than anyone else…but they matter just as much as everyone else and you CANNOT work where I work and possibly think that things are equal. I know I have much more to say on this but need to get back to work. Wow. (not to mention the ONLY person who can tell me to go home and change my shirt is…ME.)
A couple of days ago, we had a wonderful day spent at the Town Pool near my mother’s house. We are visiting for a a couple of weeks and sometimes we trek over to the town pool rather than spend the whole day at home in my mom’s pool. The town pool has diving boards, a sprinkler park, and water slides. It is a really nice facility and the population who uses it is diverse. It has a very laid back atmosphere while still upholding top notch safety regulations.
While we were there, a little girl was wading in the water near us. My mother and I were in the kiddie section with my little guy watching my daughter go down the water slides. This little girl was bobbing around and hanging on the ropes looking a little lost or bored. Eventually she spoke to my mother and told her that she didn’t really know how to swim. My mom had a lovely chat and while I was helping my 2 year old float and kick, my mom convinced this girl to paddle around and gain a wee bit of confidence. It was enough to ignite some life into her smile and also glue her to our family for the day. Shortly after this, it seemed every where we turned, there she was. My daughter played with her and swam, but this little girl really didn’t know how to do much but float and dunk her head under water. They had a hard time choosing what to do because my daughter, although a year younger than this girl, is a strong swimmer. The girl’s mother came over at one point wading through the water only to inform the girl that she was going to go over to the deep pools with a friend and she should just have my mom and I look after her. I was stunned. The woman made no attempt to even introduce herself to us or even speak to us, but hooked her daughter to us.
We did look after her. We included her into our conversations and played in the water. However, when it was time to get out to have lunch, I felt torn. I wanted to invite the girl to our table and blankets to eat. But something about it felt strange. I do this a lot. I take on other people’s stuff, or even other people without thought or question. However, I have committed myself to taking on MYSELF more than others and this felt in violation of that concept. I am grateful for my ability to pause and get lost in thought. It allowed the Universe to step in to guide me. The little girl waved and made her way through the sea of swimmers to find her family. I saw her across the pool deck seated slight away from the swarm of family surrounding bags of snacks and accessories. She waved again. I waved back. Moving forward and touched by an invisible strand of human connection. I am reminded that not everything NEEDS to be defined, solved, or analyzed.
April 29 – I was convinced last night that I would be up before the sun and ready to approach the day. I had been waking so early recently that I figured it would be like all the others. However, I slept right up to my alarm and even then was not enthusiastic to peel myself off the sheets. I stumbled my way to work and parked my car. Sitting there I was reminded that in order to embrace this life and steer myself in a direction toward my goals and dreams, I would need to break habits of self doubt and negative energy.
I got out of my car and before I grabbed my bags or did anything else, I breathed. Several enormous gulps of fresh Spring air entered my body. I was then inspired to give the day some Sun Breaths right there in the parking lot. I said Yes to the day and brought myself into the light.
I remembered a recent commitment I made that involves a daily gesture of self care, self love, and a moment to deepen my practice. I put all my bags and work aside. Went to a locker and unrolled a yoga mat. In the new sun of this new day I greeted it with some gentle yoga. I spent some time examining my balance and where I am placing weight through my feet on the mat. It was liberating to reclaim work space as a place of love, healing, and spiritual practice.
I am at work doing my best to be present and focused on what is at hand. This is no small feat given that I am getting continuous updates from home as to the comings and goings of The Foxes. It is so amazing and I am grateful for the diversion. I got a lovely note letting me know there are five babies. We now have confirmed visual on five babies. I was giddy with excitement.
And then there was a short wave of panic. Five? Wait, how many babies do foxes have? So I looked it up and found out that Red Foxes tend to have 1-10 kits at a time…then I screamed. Ten?! Oh my goodness, can we handle ten little foxes soon to be big foxes running all around our hill? I breathed and gave over to the Universe knowing it’s all going be alright. The Foxes are here and bringing joy. That’s where I will stay.
Matt and I are constantly chuckling now and empathizing for that Mama Fox. Every time we see those wee ones pop out and my wee ones go running up the steps to see them, the foxes zip back into their holes. We giggle but apologize to that Mama who has probably been out hunting all night for them and would simply like five minutes to nap or do whatever and she can’t get it. We know. We know all too well.
May 8 – We only had 20 minutes to discover our stillness and find the light within ourselves. We began from a standing spiraling energy and gently took each breath to settle and go inside. We took care of our bodies. We took care of our hearts. I am so blessed to have this opportunity and doing my best to take it every time.
Tadasana and Utkatasana brought us swiftly into concentrated power. I am so proud to look out at the room full of young people taking the journey to be healthier and more mindful. It is in these moments of sustaining postures that I am no longer agitated by discomfort. I am finding ways to allow it to be there while also being appreciative that I can experience this. I enjoy reminding my students that they have control over their experience and can adjust accordingly. It is liberating.
Cobra today was transformative. We focused more on our alignment and less on how high we lifted and it became a new experience. I am hoping to show them that pushing through sometimes leaves you empty. That in yoga it is important to explore the stretch and sensation in the small movements and adjustments. My students took the time to allow their bodies to gradually rise and stayed present to what slight shifts could reveal.
When is came time for our closing mediation I encouraged my students to focus on recognizing their inner strength and power. With every inhale we invited thoughts of what we most want to become. We inhaled the strength and power we wish to possess. With every exhale we expanded and rejoiced that we are already what we wish to become. We celebrate the path and continue the cycle. I saw the light beam out from every face in front of me. These kids shine. Be the light.
April 17 – This week I wanted my yoga students to not only make strides in their personal practice of focus, stretch, strength, and balance; but I wanted them to know that anything was possible because they possess all the tools they need to be successful. I wanted them to believe that they hold their power. Our mediation was centered on the quote:
Everything you need, your courage, strength, compassion and love; everything you need is already within you.
I began class with that phrase and ended with it. I also told them:
There are only two mistakes someone can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. -Buddha
I could feel them melt as they released into these ideas. When I said it at the beginning of class, it was something to think about and roll around in their brains. When I said it again at the end of class, I could feel the kids grow and get more powerful. It is the most amazing feeling in the world to feel that inner strength from someone radiate into the room. I am so thankful for this opportunity.
Then it flooded me like a fiery bubbling wave. I needed to hear this and say this. I needed to remind myself that I do not need to search anywhere but in my own self for all the courage, strength, compassion, and love I need. I have it. I have had it all along. So much of my upbringing has reinforced the American scheme of being dependent on commercialism, self doubt, and self deprecation in order to survive. I am reteaching myself to look within and like what is there. I am learning to be faithful in myself and capabilities.
“The is never a time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment, the time is always now.” -James Baldwin DWCHS ’42
April 3 – This was our closing meditation in yoga this morning. We are reinforcing that we are control of our actions and how we focus our energy. I am never quite certain from where the quote or intention will come and yet every week as if by magic it happens. I am so blessed to be part of a group of young people that are using yoga and meditation to redirect their futures.
I have found this quote particularly helpful in warding off feelings of failure and doubt. I am always in the moment of creating my salvation. I am always in the opportunity of generating positive change and growth. It seems as though stress, deadlines, expectations, and frustrations have been consuming my thoughts. I am doing my best to remember that I can breathe and make better choices. I can enlist help when needed. I can believe in the power of now to release me from the mistakes I made before or the perception of myself that is not serving me well. I know that each breath I inhale, I can reflect all the things I am able to do in this moment to feel and be better. With every exhale I breathe out gratitude for the opportunity to be this amazing person with choices and love. This is what I encourage in my students. Go inside and bring in the celebration of self. Breathe out the appreciation and be thankful for the ability to be celebratory. It guarantees motivation and positive energy.
Each moment I take my salvation, my future into my own hands, I am empowering the inner warrior to love, celebrate, and give thanks. In this moment now I am beyond happy that I am bringing yoga into my life with a more focused and dedicated approach. I am grateful that I have students with which I can share my journey and together we learn and grow. Healing is a process. I am coming back stronger and more aware and I am thankful.