Monday, November 3, 2014

Pithy Pithy Platforms

Nothing can be taken away if I have the mind-set of "Nothing is Mine".

Nothing is mine in a sense of no ownership. Not my house, my belongings, my shoes, my relationships, my jobs.

When I begin to identify "mine" with things--nouns and proper nouns--that is when things begin to go a bit awry. I become attached and trapped. And as soon as attachment and entrapment happen, it is as if the world goes on to show me the false belief of "owning".

I can enjoy and embrace, but never, ever own. Sigh.

The physical world, in my perspective, is as fleeing as the wind. And just as unpredictable. Everything here has an expiration date. My almond milk, my lease, my debit cards,  my body. Nothing will be allowed to come with me to the grave, so why hold on so tight? Why can it be so hard to let go?

The past few months have been challenging, with a lot of big decisions to make, and sometimes with not much time to decide. I feel as if I have been on a long quest to finding a home in NYC. From living with my boyfriend, to moving out to live with friends, to getting evacuated from a landlord with intentions on renovations and $$$, to storage unit 1, to storage unit 2, to the next decision on where to go.

It feels as if every place I have been has been a landing pad. A place to sit, find rest, settle, but not to get comfortable enough to stay. The ground evaporates. Even my shoes on Halloween melted off my feet.

As I left the dance floor, the venue, and found myself on the raining and chilled city streets, my left shoe breaks. I take a few more steps and it breaks again in a different place. It's raining and it's cold and I scurry to find shelter under the scaffolding on 11th Ave. and W 56th St. In my scuffling, my right shoe breaks too. In all the same places as the left did. Both shoes completely busted.

This seemed like a perfect metaphor for exactly what I am learning in my life. Support from the external world has a shelf life. The safety pods hold me just as long as I need to be held, and when it's time to jump, it's time to take off the old carcass, the broken platforms, and jump with a whole lot of trust, love, and maybe some luck.

Have you ever ran as fast as you can in a forest?

A forest with uncertain and unpredictable terrain? Stones, moss, broken branches, logs, stumps, holes. The only way to choose your steps is to just GO. To begin with some momentum, awareness, clarity, and faith. Keep your eyes open and start leaping. A rhythm begins to show itself and there is a balance between movement and choice that becomes much like a meditation. The stones, moss, and broken branches support you for just a moment---and it is enough. It's all you need.

NYC has become my forest. I run as fast as I can, working diligently to stay as clear and true to myself as possible, hoping and trusting the next stone or shoe will support me just as long as I need it to.

I think the bigger lesson here is realizing the inner stones, pillars, platforms, and support systems that are truly strengthened when the outer ones start to disintegrate. My bones and German gusto! But that too will melt in time.

My inner love and bravery. My passions and my dreams.

Remembering that everything I truly, truly need has already been build and secured inside me.

Happy (Late) Anniversary New York!

Last month marked the 1 year anniversary that I re-moved back to NYC. I have never been happier with my choice to come back. In the last year, I have learned quite a bit about the city, people, and myself. I have learned to think smarter and quicker, love wiser, and have as much fun as possible.

A Few Things I have Learned From Living in NYC the Past Year...

1. Auditions and Interviews:
  • The first 3-10 interviews or auditions are for practice (and have served their importance!) After 10, you are a pro. Some interviews and auditions are great experiences and something positive will happen from them. And then some interviews are just buns...
  • When I get nervous for an interview...very good sign...when I am milk-toast about an interview...I know I need to reflect on what I REALLY, REALLY want out of jobs and life
  • Negative people will have negative feedback and essentially will probably be a negative place to work...
  • Can't take things too personally...listen to feedback...take the bits to improve on and trash what you know isn't true.
  • Re-build self confidence from the inside out.

2. Packing and Moving:
  • Buy boxes from Amazon and have them shipped to current residence. They even have boxes that come with packing tape for $15-$20. Super easy. 
  • U-Haul is the way to go. Never pay for movers, unless you have TONS of stuff. $19.99 and $13 for 80K insurance. So worth it.
  • Storage units in NYC are the way to go, if you are gonna dip out and travel. Most places have super cheap 1st months with no hidden fees either! 
  • Storage Units that have free first months rent and free movers are GOLD
  • Everything is fleeting. Nothing is permanent. And that is a very, very good thing.

3. Transportation:
  • I have about 10 different walking speeds. A good 7.5 is a nice stride. I get shin splints if I'm on speed 10 for too long and am basically sleepwalking if I am anywhere under a 5. 
  • Uber and Lyft and all of these new car services are amazing! Most come with coupons and free first rides too! 
  • I have learned to love the subways. They no longer feel too fact, sometimes I put the train ride in the category of "alone time". 
  • My bike is the best purchase I have ever made here. Helmet, 2nd best purchase. Lights, 3rd.

5. Efficiency:
  • I pre-type texts & e-mails on the subway and send them when I get off the train.
  • I try to live in the present but have the next 24 hours very closeby.
  • I try to have at least 3-4 different functional outfits on my person at all times. To teach, to practice, to go out, and to be comfortable. And have it all fit inside a small bag...SKILLS!

6. Pedestrians:
  • It is absolutely not okay to stop in the middle of the sidewalk to look at your phone. You are a pedestrian and your body is your vehicle. PULL OVER to the side. 
  • May the slow walkers be blessed! 
  • When biking, pedestrians can actually be more dangerous than cars...most of them are looking down at their phones unfortunately...stopping, yielding, and slowing down for them has to be considered (even though it makes much more sense to just stop walking their legs!)

7. Intuition:
  • More so than ever, I have learned to trust my instinct about people, places, and situations. If someone is approaching me, I try to read their energy while they are still 10 steps away and decide if I want to be approached or walk away. 
  •  I trust my gut so much more. I try to never question or doubt that feeling. My body tells me more these days too...or maybe I pay more attention to it. If something is not right, my stomach will actually start to ache.
8. Friends:
  • People are busy and have mad lives, compassion works...expectations don't.
  • Friendliness!
  • It takes quite a bit of effort to connect together and make plans...but it's important to stay connected, even if it means going out of my way sometimes. 
  • Kismet and kindred spirits are my favorite surprises. 
9. Self-Care:
  • I work hard, so I need to love hard. And loving myself and treating myself well is super duper important. Getting a massage is one of my favorite things now. Groupon is amazing. 
  • Yoga, gym, and walking are absolute necessities 
  • Ordering in. 
  • Doin' nothin'. 
  • Dancin'
 10. Dating the City:
  • To maintain my love, inspiration, enchantment, and respect for NYC, I gotta make dates with it. Once a week is good. Or every other week.
  • I gotta try something new often. Shake up patterns and routines and take advantage of what is here!! Museums, parks, shows, the food!

    It's been a challenging yet rewarding and incredibly interesting year. So grateful for all the experiences I have had, friends I have met, decisions I have had to make, and for the many, many learning curves. Thank you, City. Until we toast again next year!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Old Self Teaches Now Self

 Found this today. Wrote it sometime in early Feb. 2014:

On the 5:15am train ride into the city to teach my 6:30am class, I noticed a passed out homeless man who had his hips touching the seat, his feet on the ground, and the rest of his body laying on the 6 train seat. The shape of his body was an upside down “L”, the smell of his body was torturous, and seeing this somebody’s condition was heart wrenching. I did not pay too much attention to the sleeping man, in fact I remember thinking as I turned away, “That is not what I want to see first thing in the morning, no, no, no way.”

As I caught my aversion to the suffering, I created an interesting dialogue with myself. What am I turning away from? Why? I was turning away from looking at human suffering at a very extreme level. Why? Because it made me uncomfortable. So by sparing myself my own feelings of discomfort, I scoffed away.

Being interested in Buddhism, aversion, suffering, and the human condition…after catching the thought of aversion and my corresponding action, I was curious to turn around and just be with it for a moment. I wanted to embrace this. Embracing reality, embracing what is, embracing my own feelings and experience of another human’s serious suffering. Not the kind of suffering that I feel on a very superficial level…but the suffering that does not have a home. The suffering that is hardly embodied. Skin and bones so fragile, a body that is hardly breathing. As I looked at this man I even questioned if he was alive or not. It was really difficult to tell.

As I continued looking into this feeling of discomfort, I found something interesting. I asked myself “Why am I teaching yoga this morning? Why do I practice this practice?"

Yoga reminds me that I can hold space for all of it. I can handle, witness, and hold space for my own human suffering and the suffering of others as well. I can witness the darkness, greet it with empathy, and feel into it, around it, through it, and above it. Yoga strengthens my body, but mostly my heart. It reminds me that I can keep a veil of love and protection around me at all times, yet still penetrate the deepest core of feeling and witnessing to whatever comes up.


Right now was a great time to stumble upon this writing from my past. Good reminder from a previous reflective morning. Thank you, past Self. 

Similiar theme in my life now... Sitting and dealing with discomfort. Not trying to mask it, fake it, turn away from it, suppress it, mistake it, discard it, nor escape it.

Leaning into it a bit. Leaning into letting go. Holding space for my new transition. Leaning into following my heart, all the way through---it's what got me where I am right now.

No attachment.


Bye-bye Queens. Thank you for the reintroduction back to NYC. Thank you for the necessary challenges and all your moments of cozy comfort and ease. Learned a lot about my voice the past 10 months. Learned a lot about my intuition, where I am willing and not willing to compromise. You set my heart aflame and reworked and reinspired my necessary-inner-biatch. Yeah, she really got molded and sculpted in the most raging of ways. Aho!

See you soon Brooklyn! I wonder what you have planned...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Creating Responsibility to Create via Kapotasana

I am currently taking the Level 2 training of the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy program. Besides having my mind blown everyday by the approach, the skills, and the people, I am amazed at what I am learning about myself in the process too.

The last 7 months of living in NYC have been a wavering, chaotic, highly emotional, and an intense ride. Fun too. Cannot forget how much fun I have had, too!

During a facilitated yoga therapy session that I received today, I explored a topic in my life that has been neglected for quite a while. I am forever grateful for the space that was held for me as I got to experience this breakthrough, realization, and insight on my own.

In a yoga therapy session, the client's eyes are closed (much like a meditative state) and they are led through a series of simple yoga postures or a guided meditation that puts all the emphasis on the clients words, stream of consciousness, feelings, emotions, etc. These words, after being heard by the practitioner or therapist, are then fed back to the client close to verbatim, or at least using the same words.

Hearing my own words has been POWERFUL! 

During my session today where my body was in pidgeon pose (see picture below), I had an image of a tree branch breaking. The exact words "tree branch break" were words that came directly from a poem I had written many years ago.

As I explored that memory, I took myself back to when I wrote that poem. I remember the day so clearly. I was in my sophomore year of college, had skipped class that day to stay in bed with my lover, and had blown off all of my worldly responsibilites. Inspired to write, I sat on my bed all day with my computer, a journal, and a few books for inspiration. I gave myself completely, whole heartedly, whole bodily to this poem that I needed to birth. I remember the room turning dark, no longer lit from the sun. I let the day pass as I devoted my entire day, all of my plans, to this creative process. This burgeoning.

Never once feeling guilty.

It is the poem I remember, not which classes I skipped, or how tidy my apartment felt. 

My poem, my exploration, and my self expression was the most self-serving, important, and meaningful way I could have possibly spent my day. I felt a tangible feeling of my soul embodied. I also felt a tangible feeling of my soul fleeing my body as I wrote my poetry on paper.

Checking back in with that feeling today opened up a huge field of insight.

Just a few months ago, I remember asking a friend in New York, "Hey, know that feeling when you are doing something SO incredibly and completely YOU that you know exactly who you are and you love the moment, yourself, and the flow you are in completely and entirely?"

"Yes, I think I know what you are talking about...yeah I do..."she says.

"Yeah, I cannot remember the last time I felt that."

My spirit wants to sob remembering that conversation. To not have a moment of recalling the last time I have felt entirely and totally myself. Feeling painfully nostalgic to the days where that feeling felt so common. I remember driving down a dark country rode in the middle of the night, just to sit on the roof of my car, watching the stars and making wishes. Getting lost in the library for 6 hours on a Friday night, choosing books on psychology, philosophy, symbols, and dreams to pick them all apart and feel lightening bolt epiphanies of how they are all related, essentially the same, and how I felt connected to the macrocosm of life. Rolling out my yoga mat in front of a closed Catholic church devoting my practice to people who still feel small and oppressed by religion.

The poem, the stars, the books, the intentional yoga practice. All the same feeling. The allowing. Being and letting inspiration happen.

The rational mind does not have a say in this.
The rational mind does not know what this is.
The rational mind will not understand this.

Not holding back the action. Being in the flow of my life and of myself. Feeling like an individual. Alone and awesome.

Tree branch break and pidgeon pose.

I continue going inward and asking where and why has this part of myself gone. I come up with answers such as laundry, responsibility, money, work, obligation, cleanliness, perfectionism, feeling the need to keep it all together, rigidness, tightness, structure, time, calendars, transportation.

Oh my god, what has happened. 

All of this shit that I have let get in the way of letting my spirit unfold and unravel in it's divinely creative and sometimes messy ways.

I was flooded with awareness of how perceived stresses of life,  perceived feelings of obligation, perceived  responsibilities, perceived obligations to other people have hindered, stifled, belittled, and squelched my flow of creativity. 

The remedy? At least for myself...

The EMPOWERING word and art use of saying NO. Taking responsibility to say no!

No, laundry you will not be done today. I have a poem to write.
No, responsibility you can wait. I have love to make.
No, money, you are not that important that I will work myself to death and forget about life.
No, work I will no longer keep you around if you feel like work 90% of the time. Also, no more working on Saturdays and Sundays, unless I really want to.
No, obligation I will not be seduced by your clever hooks and guilt trips.
No, cleanliness you are not more important than painting.
No, perfectionism you do not exist. You are an asshole.
No, I do not have to keep it all together or pretend that I do.
No, rigidness, I cannot live with you because that is not where happy and creative mistakes happen.
No, tightness, I can't breathe with your grip.
No, structure, I don't need to follow your rules. I live very well with my own.
No, time, you will not be given to people, things, and activities I do not like. More of you will be given to things and people I LOVE and feel NOURISHED by.
No, calendars, I am going to start planning my moments, instead of my months.
No, transportation, you will not consume my idle mind anymore. I vow to read more on the subway.

So my big insight for today, can pretty much be boiled down to...

The most important and vital responsibility that I have is to create. Create and foster more joy. Everything else getting in the way of that power to create is perceived. Boundary setting and saying "No" will keep my time, energy, and creative juices protected and flowing.

Thank you, pidgeon wisdom and thank you yoga therapy!