Lessons in Acro Yoga

As the fluid business of the past week settles in to my core, and I sit with the experiences of our Acro Yoga intensive 4 days, I listen instinctively to the valuable lessons that i’ve been blessed with. The biggest being:

Happiness formula = Doing MY best and feeling good about it whilst finding the value in my worth and efforts.

Unhappiness formula = Comparing myself to others. Or as Baron Baptiste has said: “when we focus on the things we can’t do, we lose sight of the things we can do

The leaps and bounds in improvement and stability of my acro yoga (aka yogaFLIGHT) skills has been tremendous and somewhat overwhelming. If I were to compare myself and technique to others that participated in the throwdown, I was truly ‘nothing special’. A beginner at best. However, I still view the time spent with Eugene and Jessie and their acro crew and talents as inspirational models of beauty, grace and flight. I so admire their years of hard work in getting to where they soar effortlessly and beautifully. They are indeed all magnificent!

  • Acro Yoga may look easy and fluid, but only because there has been much repetition, learning and practice (and perhaps falls from great height).
  • engagement of the core and extension through my extremities makes all the difference
  • by coming in to my centre, both physically and mentally, I am able to focus and shift any energies of fear and discomfort
  • hand to hand does not equal death grip
  • Acro Yoga maneuvers with a broken finger is not the best of ideas (although I wasn’t going to let it stop me!) — see the hand-to-hand point above 🙂
  • success with Acro Yoga is similar to being on the Slackline. One needs to find both stillness and breath to keep balanced and focussed
  • it’s okay to stay true to my desires and needs
  • remember the laughter, the fun and the play! oh yes, and the FLIGHT!!!!
  • from the acroyoga.com website: “In the pursuit of excellence we sometimes lose sight of why we were attracted to something. The joy and excitement we experienced can easily be replaced by obsessive striving, and a strong desire to ‘strike the pose’. In so doing we move away from our innate sense of discovery in favor of our attachment to completion.”
To come away from the experience that I did with such a wealth of knowledge and new friends was a priceless adventure well worth the commitment which I at first feared due to injury.
Do you have any experiences that you pushed yourself beyond your comfort zone but were grateful to have participated in?

Reflections on Freedom of Choice, Speech and Opinion

Bring on the May flowers! From the time we left Houston, there was a marked and noticeable change in both temperature and season. The further north we drove, the season of spring showed it’s beautiful head, lagging in its completeness (compared to Texas) as we wound our way through to Illinois. The temperatures had dropped tremendously (feeling almost like winter at times) but it felt good to experience such a metamorphosis, reminiscent of seasonal changes that I’ve somewhat missed in the deep south. I certainly don’t yearn for the blustery and penetrating coldness of winter, but for the most part, I love the Seasons we weather in Canada.

As with any new adventure, if I’m open to possibility and awareness, the outcome could potentially be beyond anything I could ever recognize through daily living. Such was the case when slaDE and I agreed to attend our friend Barbie June’s evening of prayer and live worship at Christ Community Church in St Charles, Illinois. I never imagined the 2 hours to be like that of a rock concert. The ‘band / choir’ (aka Ignite) had all the makings of JC superstars, with a light show, speakers to blow your socks off (I desperately wanted earplugs) and a multimedia display flashing bright strobe lights and words of worship across 2 giant screens. I’m a spiritual person deep down in my beliefs, but religion of one specific name doesn’t resonate deeply. Rather, it’s the principles and ideologies of certain philosophies that remain my stronghold, my spirituality. Born and raised as a strict Catholic, any current thoughts of attending a church service per se (other than a wedding, baptism or funeral) has me flinching and running for cover. As an adult, it’s just not my cup of tea. The service at Barb’s church was kind of cool. I really enjoyed the music. Yet I still am reticent about such public devotional displays that seem somewhat hypnotically unwavering and righteous in their worship. The religious principles of kindness, sincerity, honesty and love sit well with me. Blind faith and devotion, not so much. And then I question, how many people will be offended by my public expression of religious beliefs?

Today, Osama Bin Laden was purportedly killed by a Navy Seals secret operative that left me debating the sanctity of human life. I, in my heart of hearts, believe that an eye for an eye (aka rationalizing revenge) is not the way to live our lives. Both the ecstatic celebration of death and violence, and the spewing of hatred in the name of fighting evil, regardless of the wrongs committed, seems so tragically wrong, on so many levels, in my opinion. Even the vindicated death of Osama which was intended to protect future innocent victims.

I posted a partial quote from Martin Luther King Jr. on my Facebook page that stirred many an emotion, from the gambits of fear and scepticism to excitement over Bin Laden’s death. Regardless of the opinions expressed, the beauty of this platform and the interweb rests highly on the ability to freely speak ones truth. Yet, comments ran amuck and emotions stretched to many levels. What I wonder is … why can’t my beliefs (whether religious, political or environmental) just be that …. my beliefs, without threatening the readers convictions? Why must we exist in such an either / or society? For example, can’t I express supreme sadness at the manner in which people are celebrating a human being’s death without being labeled as a betrayer or traitor of American values? It’s all a rather convoluted onslaught of emotional and sudden upheaval over news of a terrorist that personified incredible depths of pain for the families and friends of 9/11 victims. I certainly don’t want to appear insensitive to the pain nor the healing felt by many. This certainly isn’t my goal in expressing my sentiments online. I feel intensely for those who have experienced the torment of overpowering loss. I also understand that through the broadcast of Bin Laden’s death, a huge weight has been lifted from America’s shoulders, hopefully allowing for closure in the process, healing the hearts of many. It is through this desire to live in love that I pray for world peace whilst also honouring those who are left to mourn and those that serve their countries in the name of freedom. I pray that the spiritual and personal beliefs that we own as humans can be expressly unencumbered without fear of reprisal or acts of violence, in the name of freedom. I want to live authentically, speak fearlessly and love unconditionally through these changing times. It is by only experiencing peace within and through ourselves, that we can bring it forward in to the world.

There is a power in love that our world has not discovered yet. Jesus discovered it centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi of India discovered it a few years ago, but most men and most women never discover it. For they believe in hitting for hitting; they believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; they believe in hating for hating; but Jesus comes to us and says, “This isn’t the way.
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Summer Solstice, the here and now.

sunflowersThe first day of Summer! Such an exciting and welcome season for me. I can’t help but remember days in my youth when the thought of summer meant Freedom! Long lazy days spent pursuing life as I knew it without the influence of school, assignments, tests and all that was associated with my academic years. But now that I’m an adult with different responsibilities and priorities, I wanted to take a moment to honour what this summer means to me in this present moment, living back in Ontario (in Alberta I had a completely different summer relationship):

  • long, long skydiving days
  • early to rise, late to eat dinner
  • shimmering blue bird skies
  • thundering tower-heads
  • lucky lazy afternoon walks by the beach, tepid Lake Erie waters tugging at my feet
  • suicidal mosquitoes and insects painting our truck with their artistic flair
  • deer flies, larger than life mosquitoes, pesky schizophrenic flies, perpetually multiplying fruit flies, viral deer tics
  • farmer’s markets with plentiful locally-grown fresh food
  • late night camp fires
  • yummy fruity Vita-Mix smoothies and sorbets
  • chocolate popsicles
  • spontaneous road-trips
  • reluctant yet at times feverish moments of longing for air conditioning
  • stripped down skydiving jumps
  • happy people delirious for the short-lived moments of guaranteed sunshine and warmth (before the return of yet another long-winded Canadian winter :))
  • delicious moments of complete surrender to the sun, moon and stars
  • our wedding anniversary
  • sharing birthdays with my best girlfriends
  • precious time with my family (this summer anyway!)
  • festivals and outdoor bands (I’ll miss you Calgary Folk Festival!)
  • sidewalk chalk bandits
  • trampoline moments
  • happy upbeat summer songs enjoyed in my more-often walks and yoga practice
  • the smell and feel of fresh cut grass
  • lavenderfields of dandelions and sunflowers and lavender
  • watermelon kisses
  • hot weather
  • sweaty smelly bodies
  • laundry hanging out to dry
  • the need to drink more water than usual
  • slathered on sunscreen
  • family picnics and gatherings

I probably could go on and on, but I’ll spare you. These moments of Canadian summer bliss have me loving life and appreciating the days of warmth and sunshine to the maX!

What has you excited about the summer now upon us (for those in the Northern hemisphere anyway)?

so done!

2 months later with about 40 hours of blood sweat and effort, I have finally finished everything that I need for my official yoga certification to be a registered yoga instructor. How wicked is that! Now all I have to wait for is my papers to be marked and the official certificate to come my way. register with Yoga Alliance, and the world is then my yoga oyster. Yipppeee! RYT
Truly a weight off of my shoulders. It’s felt like a long slog, although I have thoroughly enjoyed the learning process. I was helped by many, inspired by those who love and care about me and totally supported by my husband, mentor and best friend. I am very thankful and grateful.

A day for me, of peace & mindful awareness

Today is a blessed day that I have fully and totally to myself! slaDE~ was out the door before the crack of dawn, heading to the mountains to visit his other love … snowboarding in the Rockies.Ohmm And with the dawn of a brilliantly warm and sumptuously quiet day, I have been nurturing my soul with goodness and alone time to contemplate, reflect, meditate and pursue the physicalities of a healthy body. Yoga! Dinacharya! A blistering steam room detoxifying the body after a heart-quenching workout. Feeding my appetite with loving nourishing foods. A blissful day no less. Something I’ve truly needed all week but haven’t come even close to fulfilling, from within or without.

The pursuit of happiness and mental clarity

In 1936, Dorothea Brande’s recorded these twelve mental exercises. It all comes down the point that we control our brain, our actions, our words.
This article was posted in the Huffington Post.

1. Spend an hour each day without saying anything except in answer to direct questions, in the midst of the usual group, without creating the impression that you’re sulking or ill. Be as ordinary as possible. But do not volunteer remarks or try to draw out information.
2. Think for 30 minutes a day about one subject exclusively. Start with five minutes.
3. Write a letter without using the words I, me, mine, my.
4. Talk for 15 minutes a day without using I, me, my, mine.
5. Write a letter in a “successful” or placid tone. No misstatements, no lying. Look for aspects or activities that can be honestly reported that way.
6. Pause on the threshold of any crowded room and size it up.
7. Keep a new acquaintance talking about himself or herself without allowing him to become conscious of it. Turn back any courteous reciprocal questions in a way that your auditor doesn’t feel rebuffed.
8. Talk exclusively about yourself and your interests without complaining, boasting, or boring your companions.
9. Cut “I mean” or “As a matter of fact” or any other verbal mannerism out of your conversation.
10. Plan two hours of a day and stick to the plan.
11. Set yourself twelve tasks at random: e.g., go twenty miles from home using ordinary conveyance; go 12 hours without food; go eat a meal in the unlikelist place you can find; say nothing all day except in answer to questions; stay up all night and work.
12. From time to time, give yourself a day when you answer “yes” to any reasonable request.

Personality quiz

I just did a quick personalty quiz for an online contest and thought it rather intriguing to see what they came up with. I was somewhat startled at how 100% accurate this description was. Oh how I miss my travelling days. Soon enough …. our RVThereYet.ca tour is in the works for this year :)!

Truly Exotic
You crave culture and seeing things from a new perspective. You love meeting new people and seeing how people from different cultures live.

Connecting with the Homeless

It was my 3rd Friday off this past weekend and I relished knowing that this was ME time. A time to relax, feel inspired and expressive. A time to catch up on items longstanding through the week and a time to potentially catch up on sleep. But what made this weekend so exciting and special was the time that I set aside for an incredibly worthwhile project … Homeless Connect (HC2) at the City Hall, downtown Calgary. HC is a city initiative at attempting to end homelessness by the year 2010. Noble and lofty goals indeed. Having lived here for the past 2 years, witnessing the dire circumstances of many people (50% of whom have jobs) who just can’t afford to house themselves, I see the mass difficulties that the city faces. The occupancy rate in Calgary is extremely high, and with the price of accommodation through the roof, trying to come up with first & last months rent + a security deposit is an impossible task for many, considering that the Landlords here in Alberta seem to have all the rights over tenants; it seems like the proverbial 1-way street in the way of rights and legalities favouring the home owners. But that’s another story ….

sKYflowerSI have always enjoyed volunteering, giving of myself to another without anything expected in return. And in every circumstance that I’ve donated to such causes, I often get back more than I actually give. This however is not about who comes out ahead. Rather it’s about giving of myself and offering a hand up (rather than a handout) to those in need. Feeling so blessed in my life with the world falling into place in every sense of the word, I have everything plus my love and time to give. One could say that I am ‘overflowing’. To this extent, I jumped at the chance at helping out with this quarterly event (the 2nd of its kind – I was unable to make the first, last Spring).

So early Saturday morning, I followed the same schedule of readiness, as if it were a normal workday, and made my way downtown, with a smile on my face and a skip in my step. I didn’t really know what to expect, beyond the unexpected. So to arrive and discover that I was offering my cre8tive services to the Arts and Culture (‘This Is My City’ initiative) booth left me giddy and happy at the possibilities that would unveil themselves. Basically “This Is My City” offered an enticing artist trading card workshop where anyone who was interested could cre8te their own powerful piece of art, on 2 x 3 inch cardstock. This initiative was sponsored by the Arts and Culture Department of the City of Calgary.

I discovered that, at first, most people were leery and skeptical of particpating, saying that they lacked experience and / or any artistic skill … the desire really didn’t hit them that day, nor did they often feel inspired in the harsh world they exist in, every single day. This doesn’t lend itself to invoking a sudden yearning to paint / sketch / cre8te. The homeless people who came to this event were in search of help, resources and connection, rather than offering to participate on this type of ‘frivolous’ level. Art seemed to be the last thing on their minds. Trying to convince people that a spontaneous artist existed within each of us, regardless of the experience, was a difficult, awkward and hard sell.

With the mindset that inspiration is a far better leader than coercion or bribery (why can’t politicians grasp this concept?), I sat down for 4 hours and literally explored, divulging my soul through many a mixed media, and played! Given every sort of cre8tive material imaginable, I painted with acrylics, and drew with chalk, oil pastels, markers, pencil crayons and glitter. I collaged with magazine photos and art paper. I wrote poetry and weaved it into a colourful song on paper. There was no end to my non-digital cre8tivity! And oh how I loved the freedom to express, on such a pure, non-demanding level. Who knew that I would find such joy and gratitude in today’s event? I haven’t been this free to cre8te (with such a plethora of materials) since I was probably in kindergarten. And with my earnest attempts to be as colourful and flamboyant as I could be with no holds barred in my art, people started to enquire, inquisitive about this young girl focused so intently on having fun. I felt like a child given the permission to run rampant with my imagination. And all the tools were provided to express my outlet. And slowly, slowly, people came to sit down and speak with me. Opening up about their childhood dreams, their cre8tive pasts, their addictions which often hampered any possibility of cre8tive expression. And with a little coaxing, I managed to inspire the uninspired into weaving their story on to paper. The art and colour which emerged was incredibly beautiful. The stories, the music, the cre8tivity inspired was an artistic masterpiece which burned itself deep into my soul. The images below are some of the art that was inspired and produced.

words of the homeless

words of the homeless

The impact made on me can be expressed with a few sentences:
“Every Man, Woman or Child, regardless of race, religion, colour or financial status has a heart bursting to be explored, expressed and admired. Art is the pathway and mirror to the soul. And we are all beautiful, with our own story to tell. The possibilities and variability’s are endless, boundless. We are all unique, in need of the freedom of expression, and we are all worthy.”

  • Live artfully.
  • DreAm beautifully.
  • Live blissfully.

Explore, find joy, breathe deeply and savour. Now go cre8te and explore your heart in the vast expanse of life’s colour.

Solstice Blessings

With each change of the season, it is wonderful to reconnect with the fortunes and grace which fill my life and body.
reverenceThursday was the 20th anniversary of my brother Kenny’s death. A day of reverence for me, to the higher power which giveth light, darkness, life and death. A lesson to be acknowledged each and every day …. Life is so very precious. It is everywhere, filling us from the inside, surrounded by the world’s creation, enveloped by a spiritual hug.
Yet in our daily lives we are usually carried away by our forgetfulness, anger, and worries, lost in the past, unable to touch life in the present moment. When we are truly alive, everything we do or touch is a miracle. To practice mindfulness is to return to life in the present moment.” And so, with the reminder of our mortality, it is vitally important to celebrate my vitality; life as I know it is fleeting, a blessing to be appreciated and honoured, with each and every breath of awareness that I can muster. To be alive, thriving and healthy …. WOW! Yoga helps me to reconnect with this cognizance.

Yesterday, the Solstice, was an amazing opportunity to yogically connect with the greater good, through a charitable yoga event which brought together a community of people willing to share their life blessings. slaDE~ and I were fortunate to have the instruction of Kathy Nash; she skillfully guided us beyond the physical asanas, coaxing us into a deeper understanding of the greater relationship that binds us all together within this Universe. Letting go of attachments to my life as I know it is a challenge throughout my yoga practice. Injury persistently hounds my senses, and trying to breath through that pain and discomfort is so extremely challenging. Somehow Kathy breathed fire into my core, and I achieved an impossible awareness that has been lacking since my beginning days of yoga. Solstice. Blessings. Connection. Breath of life and fire. Healing. All coexisted yesterday on this staggeringly beautiful day.

On this Solstice, I wish for you a deep connection with not only your inner light and grace, but also with Mother Earth’s divinity. I wish for you celebration of your fullness, shining magnificence and radiance. I wish for you peace, prosperity of heart and the wisdom to make profoundly exemplary choices for you and mankind.