Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Freedom in the Grocery Store

Shepard Fairey Mural ~ Cincinnati, Ohio ~ January 2011

(See Shepard pasting it up here.)

I'm still toyin' around with my word of the year, FREEDOM.

Last night I was grocery shopping in Trader Joe's and they had some great music playing.  It was an amazing mix of stuff from the '80's and '90's that all worked well together.

Pretty soon, while cruising the aisles, I found myself singing along with this one....

Freedom! by George Michael.  

What great lyrics!!!
* * *
I won't let you down
I will not give you up
Gotta have some faith in the sound
It's the one good thing that I've got
I won't let you down
So please don't give me up
Because I would really, really love to stick around

Heaven knows I was just a young boy
Didn't know what I wanted to be
I was every little hungry schoolgirl's pride and joy
And I guess it was enough for me
To win the race? A prettier face!
Brand new clothes and a big fat place
On your rock and roll TV
But today the way I play the game is not the same
No way
Think I'm gonna get me some happy

I think there's something you should know
I think it's time I told you so
There's something deep inside of me
There's someone else I've got to be
Take back your picture in a frame
Take back your singing in the rain
I just hope you understand
Sometimes the clothes do not make the man

All we have to do now
Is take these lies and make them true somehow
All we have to see
Is that I don't belong to you
And you don't belong to me
You've gotta give for what you take
You've gotta give for what you take

Heaven knows we sure had some fun boy
What a kick just a buddy and me
We had every big shot good-time band on the run boy
We were living in a fantasy
We won the race
Got out of the place
I went back home got a brand new face
For the boys on MTV
But today the way I play the game has got to change
Oh yeah
Now I'm gonna get myself happy

I think there's something you should know
I think it's time I stopped the show
There's something deep inside of me
There's someone I forgot to be
Take back your picture in a frame
Don't think that I'll be back again
I just hope you understand
Sometimes the clothes do not make the man

All we have to do now
Is take these lies and make them true somehow
All we have to see
Is that I don't belong to you
And you don't belong to me
You've gotta give for what you take
You've gotta give for what you take

Well it looks like the road to heaven
But it feels like the road to hell
When I knew which side my bread was buttered
I took the knife as well
Posing for another picture
Everybody's got to sell
But when you shake your ass
They notice fast
And some mistakes were built to last

That's what you get

I say that's what you get

That's what you get for changing your mind

And after all this time
I just hope you understand
Sometimes the clothes
Do not make the man

I'll hold on to my freedom
May not be what you want from me
Just the way it's got to be
Lose the face now
I've got to live 

* * *

Now, while it is likely that he was speaking of something very different than my current circumstances, it *did* strike me as a very yogic theme.

Taking off our masks.

Lifting the veils that disguise our divinity.

Speaking our truths.

Living our own lives.

Yoga FREES us from all manner of limitations so that we are FREE to be our True selves.

 "Yoga helps us find freedom in our bodies.
It also helps us to find freedom in our lives...
We start with yoga poses, of course~
mountain pose, warrior two...
in our bodies is where we practice yoga, 
and you have to do the practice to get the benefits.

Then we find the yoga poses hidden in plain sight,
among all the many details that fill up our days.
Really ~ your job, your broken heart, 
your communication problems in relationships ~ 
these are the Secret Lives of Yoga Poses.

And if you want them to,
these poses can deliver you to 
the brilliance at your very core.
It's true.

They can keep you in touch
with the freedom you are made of."

~Alison Alstrom 

Kick it, George!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Look of Freedom

Front Porch Self Portrait ~ February 15, 2011

After 2 1/2 years of intentionally growing my hair longer (you can view comparison photos here), I declared myself DONE with that process this past weekend.  It feels remarkably liberating!

Also, you may recall that I've been on a teeth-straightening-mouth-expanding mission over the past 14 months.  (See the original post about that here.)  I only have 10 more weeks to go!

As the inner part of me continues to change, so does the outer ~ over and over and over again.

It feels really good to see yet another version of myself reflected in the mirror!     :-)

* * *
Is anything looking different in your world these days?
* * * 

Monday, February 14, 2011


"With life as short as a half-taken breath, don't plant anything but love."

I've been learning A LOT about love lately.  

And as you might suspect, or perhaps has been the case for you too, this requires a great deal of questioning (existing beliefs and conditioning), contemplation, and reintegration.

Thankfully, I continue to come across tremendous teachers ~ both in person and in print ~ who provide just the dose I need to point me in the next right direction.

This past week, that guidance has come from Chapter 2 of Happy Yoga  and this awesome blog post by Cheri Huber

Having this wisdom about love on board doesn't necessarily make it any easier to practice.  However, it *is* slowly changing how I view the world and navigate my daily relationships.  And I find I am able to return to my peaceful center more quickly as I recall these various teachings.

It's almost like learning a new language ~ the language of the heart.

* * * 
"'s the yogic truth:  The love you experience at any time with any person is not coming from them, it's coming from inside of you.  It's your experience of your true self.  In other words, the other person is the stimulus that allows your own love to be uncovered....

...Love is a radiant sun, burning for the sake of burning, shining for the sake of shining, asking nother in return.  The reward of being in a loving state is the greatest reward possible: being in a loving state.

Love does not want, love does not resist what is, love is not restrictive, and love is not judgmental.  Love is not controlling, manipulative, or conditional....

How do you become loving?  It's simple:  Stop wanting.  Well, it's simple to say that, but there's a little more to it.  It's not something you can think your way into.  In fact, the only way to attain a loving state is to quiet the mind a bit.

...A human being's challenge is to start from a place of chaos and wanting, and come to know peace.  The prize is so sweet, more cherished, and better understood for having gone through so much to attain it.

Be love.  It's that simple.  If you can, let go of wanting approval.  Let go of wanting love.  Give yourself some approval, give yourself some love.   You may realize that this is enough.  If you can let go of resisting who you are, and allow yourself to BE, exactly as you are, you might feel a tremendous relief.  THAT is loving yourself."

~Happy Yoga 
by Steve Ross
pages 44~49
* * * 

"Your task is not to seek for love, 
but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself 
that you have built against it."

Happy Valentine's Day, dear reader!

Thank you for being here with me. :-)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tahrir Means Liberation

"There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom."
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Freedom to Move?

Photo source:  activerain

This is Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, California.   It has been a favorite place of mine since I first saw it in 1991.  (We've been back twice since then.)

That lone, tall palm tree is my beacon.  It is just spectacular.

(I'll try to post some of my own pics of this area soon ~ as they are stored on our old computer and not easily accessible.)

In the past, I have been known to say I want to live there.  Usually such utterances occur when the weather first gets cold here.  No one has ever really taken me seriously or given me the chance to explore this desire, including my husband.

As a result, I've been able to rationalize my way out of it and remain planted here in the Midwest.  Until now...

This has been kick-ass winter.  It has been an intense snowy, cold season since the first week of December.  And last week's *freaky*loud*and*wild* ice/wind storm (which graciously brought us a 36-hour electricity outage and 8 degree temps outside) pushed me over the edge.

As the mercury dropped inside my house (dipping down to 43 last Thursday morning), I could feel any remaining resolve I had left to stay here ebbing away.

Done!  Done!  DONE!

I have declared that this will be my last winter in Ohio.


If you're on Facebook, you know that I had a weird, synchronistic thing happen about two weeks ago.  I had just listened to LoriLyn's video post, in which she encourages us to ask our guides "Show me" ~ when we're uncertain of our next step.  I went to bed that night declaring a heartfelt 'show me'.

My dreams that night were vivid!  And then entire action centered around various aspects of Encinitas ~ and my not being able to get there due to a lot of obstacles in my way.

The next morning, as I sat in my living room for reading, journaling, and meditating ~ I opened a book at random to read a story of the author's guru visiting the United States ~ and staying in a guest house in.....Encinitas, California!  (That book is An Offering of Leaves by Ruth Lauer-Manenti)

This blew me away!  And clearly got my attention.

Believing that things 'come in threes', I waited for the third 'show me' sign from the Universe.

And it came last week.

I had been putting off reading a book for my yoga teacher training (mainly due to the power outage at home), so Thursday evening I snuggled on the couch under blankets and opened our assigned reading.  (This fabulous book is Moving Into Stillness by Erich Schiffmann.)

During the introduction, the author mentions that, early in his discovery of yoga, he moved to Encinitas to study the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.  (I discovered Yogananda during my last visit there in 2004 ~ and that introduction was a turning point in my relationship with yoga.)

The pull I feel to move there now is *very*strong*.

And my rational mind seems ill-equipped to come up with any acceptable reasons why I should not go.  I've tried every angle and they all pale in comparison to my soul-felt desire to move. 

I'm done being a martyr to the Midwest.

SO many areas of my life have changed these past few years.  One of the only constants has been my living situation.  And now I believe that is being hoisted up for inspection and introspection as well.

Just like all the other aspects of myself that demanded my attention, this one is seemingly not giving me a choice.  It *must*be*considered.

Please stay tuned...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Revelation

Yoga Takeover of Fountain Square, Cincinnati ~ June 2010

As many of you know, I LOVE yoga.  It has been my true companion and deepening spiritual path for several years.

What you may not know*, however, is that I am four months into a year-long Yoga Teacher Training program.  Yes, it's true.  I am studying to become a yoga teacher!

{I'll be sure to share details of this 'dream' in future posts.  The decision to do it ~ and the sources of inspiration that lead to that point ~ make for an interesting tale.}

For now, though, I am excited to tell you that tonight I put together my first class sequence ~ and even a playlist to go with it! ~  which I will teach tomorrow morning at 11:30am.  There are three of us teaching an hour-long class, so I will lead them through the first twenty minutes.  It's amazing how quickly twenty minutes goes by when I'm the one concentrating on the instructions!

I have so much anticipation and joy at being on the precipice of this next right step, that I think I will have trouble sleeping tonight ~ and will wake up in the morning with that giddy we're-going-to-Disneyworld feeling!

Yet another faith-full move in my year of embracing Freedom and embodying Happiness.

Yippee :-)

*(I needed to keep this dream close to my heart during its infancy (as I have a history of scattering my energy and then letting things peter out). Other than my husband, only a few people have known this secret.  Actually, I only just told my mom and sister this past weekend.  Thank you for understanding.)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Letting Myself Off the Hook


Being without electricity for 36 hours over the past two days has definitely given me pause.  I unexpectedly found myself in survival mode, where so much that fills my daily thoughts and actions suddenly became extremely unimportant.  I literally could not bring myself to give energy to anything beyond the present moment and the ramifications of being without heat as a homeowner in the middle of a winter ice storm.  (And someone who, under normal circumstances, doesn't like to be cold.)

It was intense!

As a result, I am left a bit exhausted (but thankfully now *warm* and exhausted).  And am also left to consider what I have learned by enduring this experience.

When this week started, I had such different intentions for how I thought/wanted it to unfold.  Ha!

"Life is what happens when we're busy making other plans."
~John Lennon

Instead of forcing myself to stay on my original path, I am going to listen to my body's needs and the call of my spirit and take some time to regroup.

In a coaching session today, I found myself telling a client that it is okay to break our own rules.  (That's good advice for me right now, too.)  What serves us one day may not serve us the next.  
Things are moving *very*quickly right now as the planetary shifts continue.

Interestingly enough, I just pulled up this week's New Moon review and found it to be *quite* relevant for what I'm expressing.  (You can read another excellent explanation here.)

We are *so*much*more*powerful* than we realize!  And now is the time to step into that power ~ for the sake of our global tribe.
"But first, before we begin the process of real social transformation, each of us has to step into the future and begin to live it now.   We can only change people's ideas about life by our example.  
So first look within to change your own behaviors, desires and vision."
~Cathy Lynn Pagano

As the beginnings of Spring start to stir underground ~ and the daylight extends gloriously longer ~ what seeds of intention are you planting?  What's calling to you?  Are you able to live with open hands and let go of all that no longer serves?  What are your visions for the future?  What manifestations do you want to realize?

Are there ways in which you need to let yourself (or others) off the hook in order to move in a different direction?

Perhaps name one small step for today that might take you there. I would be honored to read your courageous musings in the comments.

Go ahead! Tell me yours and I'll share mine. :-)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happiness is the Way

Winter Sadhana ~ Day 1

The back of our house ~ February 2010

Today begins my next round of intentional sadhana practice.  By combining a few weekend days here and there, this 40-day journey will lead me through the first day of Spring.

In addition to this structured guidance from Yoga Journal, I am currently reading Happy Yoga:  7 Reasons Why There's Nothing to Worry About by Steve Ross.  It is a timely discovery that is helping me understand what I've been experiencing lately ~ this inexplicable sense of happiness.

You see, yoga philosophy teaches that we ARE the jewel in the lotus.  We ARE the happiness we seek.  Those things that we look for outside ourselves are within us all the time.  If something that we acquire fleetingly on the outside brings us happiness, joy, bliss on this inside ~ it is only because those things already exist within us and are being tapped into by that experience.  Yoga says, "Hey, you can have that stuff all the time!  It is not dependent on outside circumstances!"

Here's a brief story:

"You're living on a mountain of gold and you don't even realize it.  Every time it rains, the dirt and much are washed away and the gold is revealed.  And you run out into the rain, scooping up fistfuls of gold and dancing around.  But you mistakenly think that the rain is bringing the gold, so you worship the rain, and you make sacrifices with your schedule to please the rain.  When there's a drought, you become poor, starve, and bemoan the absence of the rain.  But the gold is always there, just beneath the surface, and the rain has simply been revealing it.  If you'd just dust off the mountain the slightest bit, you'd see it for what it is.  Scratch the surface!  Look deeper! 
There's no need to rely on the rain to reveal your happiness."

~Steve Ross
in Happy Yoga (pg. 14)

Currently, we are ensconced in a winter ice storm.  With the previous snowfall still somewhat on the ground ~ and the gray, cloudy skies ~ it doesn't look very appealing outside.  However, the world is still its beautifully same self as on a bright sunny day in summer.  Mother Nature is still working her daily magic underneath.  Only the externals have changed.

I like the above photo because it helps me to see past the coating of ice and know that my same cozy, warm, sturdy house exists underneath.  It endures through all the seasons.  When I look at the photo, I see that each icicle represents what yoga calls a klesha (similar to a cataract or veil) that has been covering my true, divine nature.  By studying, embracing, and practicing the teachings of a yogic lifestyle, I am removing all that covers my blissful, happy self.

"There is no way to happiness ~
happiness is the way."

~The Buddha