Life Transformation Through Yoga

yoga

Practicing yoga has woven its way through various aspects of this life I live. The parallels are multiple in number, and I believe it’s more than mere coincidence that it’s called “practicing” yoga. It’s a discipline that gives me an opportunity to practice becoming better–at yoga and at living life.

Each stretch and pose, as uncomfortable and awkward as it may feel at first, carries me just a little further to becoming better the next time. It’s about stretching beyond my comfort zone to accomplish what I couldn’t just a moment before. It has shown me to take the uncomfortable, make it comfortable, and move forward.

Yoga teaches me to show up even when I don’t feel like it.  In fact, especially then, because it leaves me with an immense sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when I’m enjoying those last cool down stretches.

That act of showing up regardless of what I feel like doing, reinforces how important it is to show up in life every moment of every day, not allowing feelings to dictate how I live that day. Negative feelings can be overcome by simply showing up, whether we feel like it or not, to live a life of purpose. It’s about pushing past letting feelings control you and using that power within you to control your feelings.

It carries over into my writing life, my running life, being-a-wife/mother/friend-life…my life in general.

Showing up at my desk even when I don’t feel like writing produces written words and pages, along with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when I’m done with my scheduled time, rather than feelings of guilt and regret when I neglect to show up, producing nothing, opening the door to negative feelings controlling me.

Showing up when my husband/kids/friends need my time, even when I feel I don’t have the time, reminds me to set my “self” aside and put others needs before my wants, reminding me life is about relationship and being available to and loving others.

Yoga shows me it’s about the journey of mastering a pose, progressing a little further each time I practice, rather than being able to immediately conquer and perfect it. That making progress through hard work is key to growth–physically, mentally, and spiritually.

A picture of Peace Lily along with its leaf. C...

A picture of Peace Lily along with its leaf. Category:Peace symbols (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yoga teaches me to focus on the importance of each breath as I breathe slow, even breaths through holding each pose, uncomfortable as it may be, teaching me to keep my focus on the matter at hand, anxiety at bay. Not thinking about the next pose, the next hour, or the next day. Just the here and now.  And that leaves no space for anything other than peace.

Sweet, beautiful peace.

All is Grace.

Thankful Thursday – Every Breath of Life

Every sweet breath that fills my lungs from the moment I wake up in the morning until I wake up the next.

I’m grateful for every breath that isn’t my last.

And for the power the act of breathing holds, the benefits, the gifts, the blessings.

meditate

Meditation has taught me to be conscious of each breath that pulses life, to be mindful of the power each one holds, giving this God-given and blessed heart life.

Mindful breathing calms fear and anxiety, allows for focus on the path before us, encourages gratitude, and fuels the body with renewed energy as it fills the cells with oxygen. It’s a simple, automatic action that has the power to transform your life.

Serenity

“A lifetime is not what is between
the moments of birth and death.
A lifetime is one moment
Between my two little breaths.
The present, the here, the now,
That’s all the life I get.
I live each moment in full,
In kindness, in peace, without regret.”

Chade Meng, Taoist poet

All is Grace.

It’s a Heart Thing

A shopping cart filled with bagged groceries l...

A shopping cart filled with bagged groceries located in a parking lot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I was driving home from work one evening this week I made a stop at the grocery store to pick up a few last-minute items I needed to prepare dinner.  I loaded my bags in the car, and took my place behind the steering wheel.I had no sooner started my car when a woman with a full cart of groceries maneuvered her cart in the very tight space between my side of the car and the car next to me, while another full cart of groceries was being steered between the passenger side of my vehicle and another.

That cart, however, was too big to fit and hit the mirror of my car. My heart felt like it took a hit as well, as I watched the woman give my car an irritated look, as if it had appeared out of nowhere and got in her way.

And she kept walking.

My first reaction was disbelief followed by impatience to get home and tell my husband the nerve this person had .
However, my next thought wasn’t anything I was capable of at that moment, but led by none other than a God who knew I needed some serious intervention. I realized how my immediate reaction was so much less than Godly and judgmental. And I realized how it’s so much easier to take someone else’s inventory than my own.

I was judging and criticizing the actions of someone else when my own were less than favorable.

As I drove home, stubbornly still intent on telling my husband about the incident, I realized how quickly my heart had changed from calm and peaceful to dangerously irritated and resentful in less than a moment. By one incident. And how easily it is to hinge joy on circumstances rather than independent from circumstances.

And as my mind frequently does, it traveled further down the thought road, exploring every possible detour, each thought bouncing off of the other like a super ball.

Colorful Super ball, home

By complaining and griping, in the name of venting or any other label I wish to put on it, is ingratitude, pure and simple. Relaying to someone else the wrongs that may have happened that day, reliving each episode as if it were happening all over again, changes the heart from peaceful and content simply because of we are–alive, healthy, and a child of God–to irritable and ungrateful because of something that happened, despite how insignificant that “something” is in the grand scheme of things.

While telling a trusted friend of something unpleasant or “unfair” that has happened during the day sounds innocent, it’s the state of the heart that can lead us into dangerous territory.

It’s when we let that anger, bitterness, and irritation take root in the heart, growing fast as weeds do, each negative thought working as fertilizer, until the weeds tangle and squeeze the life and breath out of a joyful heart, suffocating the peace that can reside there if we base our joy on God and His blessings, rather than circumstances.

This week, I will strive to use each circumstance that threatens my joy to be a lesson in practicing joy independent from circumstances. To allow Him to work through me to raise me above the circumstance to keep my joyful heart on Him. And when I find myself taking someone else’s inventory of their words and actions, to look within and change the state of my own heart.

I realize practice makes perfect, so I pray I’m a quick learner without needing copious opportunities to show up on my doorstep. 🙂

All is Grace.

Thankful Thursday – Angels

An Angel.

Not in the heavenly form with wings and harps, but sent from heaven nonetheless. I’m referring to the special people God has strategically and perfectly placed in my life at the exact moment and purpose that He knew I needed. Those who have made a lasting impact and imprint on my heart, each planting a lasting seed creating the most beautiful flower garden in my heart.
Using first names to personalize, omitting last so as not to “over”-personalize, these people have made my life an amazing journey.

Lisa was a dear friend back in high school. We won’t say exactly how far back. We didn’t have a lot in common and hung around with only a couple of the same people, but I always admired her honesty and standing firm in who she was, and how she always stayed true to herself and her values. That has stayed with me thirty-some years later.

Mr. Rudy, my high school Prose Forms and Creative Writing teacher, taught me the beauty of words, how to connect those words to create beautiful sentences, and how to create stories. He taught me how to appreciate books of all different genres and to think through the characters’ view.

Pam played an instrumental role in my life as she pulled away from our life of parties and drinking fun to that of sobriety and faith. And still much fun. 🙂  Pam had a zest for life and passion for God unmatched by anyone I’ve known. She showed me how to beat an addiction and be truly happy can happen if we keep our focus on God. And years later, as I worked to beat my own addiction, her example still remains fresh in my mind.

Lynne was in my life for a short time, but that time was filled with the power of God and prayer, finding the positive in every situation. The most memorable lesson she taught me? When she was upset or frustrated with her husband she would vent in a way that would not criticize harshly or paint him in a negative light. She would always follow it up with, “But he’s my husband and I love him,” and a giant, genuine smile. Lynne carried me through some of my toughest life-changing events that had I not had her support, I surely would have crumbled. She was a pillar of strength and my rock.

Becky taught me compassion for those with mental illness as I watched her battle bi-polar disorder. She had the most beautiful heart and spirit, loved her family more than anything in the world, and nothing made her happier than to give to others and to make them happy. When she walked into a room, she radiated beauty from inside and out. Ironically, she also taught me the value of life when hers tragically ended. She was, and continues to be, my light.

Ben and Alex (yes, my precious boys) have taught me how powerful the love is between a mother and child. How it feels to say you would give your very own life for another in a heartbeat, and mean it more than you’ve ever meant anything. Ever. They have taught me how to keep giving something to God as I lift them up to Him and take them back again–daily–foolishly thinking I’m the one that keeps them safe. They have taught me about joy, laughter, milestones, and pure, unselfish love.

Clint (my amazing husband) is the life partner I have always dreamed of in a spouse since as far back as I can remember. He has taught me work ethic, the value of family, and a strong belief system. He has taught me it’s okay to take time out, to take a vacation, and how having your spouse as your best friend makes daily life so fulfilling and a beautiful ride. He has encouraged me to pursue my dreams and interests that he knew were so important to me, always my biggest fan.

Nikki has taught me how to live life on life’s terms as it unfolds and as it is given to me rather than how I want it to be. Watching her display such grace as she has struggled through tragedy and some of the worst times of her life has taught me that serenity truly is possible in the midst of life’s trauma and drama. She has taught me true humility and the power of friendship.

Tiffany has taught me by beautiful example how to truly care and listen to another, being 100% present for whoever I’m with. She models beautiful, simple and unwavering faith, as well as wellness of mind and body.

I pray I remain open to God’s calling and to be led to the lives of those He chooses.  I pray that I may be an angel to another, making a lasting impact on those He leads me to, as my angels have been to me.

White Ox-eye daisy flower, Wellington, New Zealand

Daisies. That’s the flower I would like to plant in the hearts of those I touch. They’re known to represent simplicity, loyalty, and purity. And they’re strong. Yes, that’s the seed I want to plant.

All is Grace.

Colorado Floods

Even too much of a good thing is not good.  And while rain in Colorado is typically a good and welcomed thing, it has now worn out its welcome.

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The city in which I live vaguely resembles the small fictional town of Chester’s Mill in Stephen King’s Under the Dome.  While we sit directly in the center of cities with homes and streets getting washed away and loved ones missing, and though we’ve been receiving record breaking rain, there have been no catastrophic rains causing the damage that is occurring in the cities surrounding us.

ss-130912-colo-floods-06_ss_full

A comment I heard plays in my mind–a familiar comment heard amid tragedy:  “How can God allow this to happen?”

I believe it’s important to remember that God is not the author of evil.  I believe God will use evil and catastrophe to bring out the good in people.  To encourage people to be there for one another.  To empathize with and help one another, bringing humanity to it’s best.

gnoColorado%20Flooding_JPEG-0bfde

Natural disasters can be especially devastating because despite the immeasurable pain and loss, there is no where to place the blame.  Mother Nature is too big and powerful.  But God is bigger and more powerful.  God will bring people together and He will heal.  He will restore and make whole again, bringing the situation under control.

Today may we lift up in prayer all those who have suffered devastating pain and loss from the floods, that their lives be fully restored, and that they feel His healing presence.

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All is Grace.

Thankful Thursday — Autumn & New Beginnings

Autumn's Arrival

Autumn–even the word is beautiful, not to mention pleasing to all five senses.

It conjures up images of evening lamplight, candle flames flickering and dancing on walls of rooms darkening a wee bit earlier each evening, the scents of food cooking in the crockpot, fresh stewed tomatoes canning, and the smells of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Autumn brings with it the warmth of the sun on a clear, cool day, and crisp evenings in the rocker on the porch with a soft, warm blanket and a cup of herbal tea.

tea tin

It brings afternoons of fun, laughter, and exercising together as a family while raking leaves into huge piles in which to jump and bury one another.

It’s a time where the trees’ clothing magically turns from green to multiple hues of fire orange, golden yellow, and vibrant red–the hallmark of Autumn–as well as the scent of those changing and fallen leaves, the fullness and completeness of summer. The closing of one book and opening of another.

And that new book contains so many new beginnings. Fresh starts. Its energy breathes new life into my bones, hot and tired from the heat and busyness that tends to take over summer before we even know what happened.

It’s the start of preparing my home for cozy evenings spent in front of the fireplace, hot apple cider while reading a good book on the back porch, wool sweaters, and those soft and comfy hoodies.

Walks in the woods, dried, fallen leaves swirling around my feet and crunching under each step, the woodsy smell and earth’s aroma as nature, too, readies itself for sleep in order to prepare for a new season. The chill in the breeze making rosy circles on smiling cheeks.

Autumn seems to be the start of a new writing season for me. It’s the time I plan–the stories and a writing schedule that will carry me through the winter. Also planning my next NaNoWriMo project. And though it means a schedule, it’s a feeling of coming home to that place I find freedom, warmth, security, and even exhilarating madness that somehow feels comforting.

It’s the beginning of a new holiday season, of time spent with family and friends, the annual conference for my day job in the breathtaking mountains of Keystone, Colorado, as well as a Writers Retreat in a serene retreat center snuggled in the Rockies, the latter being a first time adventure. A new beginning.

Leaves Under Water

It feels like God is especially close in the Autumn season, His presence surrounding every side of me and His blessings interwoven in every aspect of my life. And as I breathe in His magnificent presence, I bathe in the glow of His goodness. And I am so grateful.

All is Grace.