reminiscing. missing.

I missed my grandfather today. I wished he could've been here in Barcelona with me. To show me the places he knew. That were his.


I've always felt that Barcelona was mine. Not mine in a possessive sense. In the way that a certain style is yours, or a habit. Barcelona was mine.


But today I had that sense that he was missing. This city where he had grown up. Where he had lived. That was his. Here I was just reminiscing about every day I'd spent here, without him.  Without him as a guide or a mentor. And now he was missing.

 La Rambla de Catalunya, Barcelona  

La Rambla de Catalunya, Barcelona  

inspiration.

Sometimes it's good to remember that inspiration comes with preparation. When I have no inspiration, if I push myself to at least set up my space- whether that means setting up my easel and putting everything into place and mixing paint, or making tea and getting a notebook and my laptop ready for writing - the simple act of setting up my space creates the right mood for inspiration to come join me where I am.

Sometimes you just have to start. Light a candle. Make it special. Dress a certain way to prepare yourself for it. Put on music that inspires you. 

When I was younger, if I so much as painted  my nails I would get struck with ideas for a new painting. If I tried to do homework, simply holding a pen or pencil made me want to sketch. But I think as we get older and we get more responsibilities, we become less inspired because it feels like there isn't enough time for creativity. Of course that's not true. Creativity fuels you. Creating can give you energy to do everything else you do with just a  little bit more joy. 

Let inspiration hit you. And if it doesn't, seek it out. Create space for it. Tell the universe " I'm ready". And let inspiration meet you where you are  

 

set yourself free.

So humbled.


One of my students today shared with me after my chair yoga class that she cries in closing meditation every time. She lost her son to a car accident in January and she takes care of her sick husband at home. She has nowhere to cry. She hasn't been able to grieve.


I could see her pain. I could see her confusion. She almost wanted to stop coming so that she wouldn't cry.


Two other women noticed her crying and came over to comfort her. These are the two self appointed "chairmen" of the class (it's chair yoga, get it?). And it just made me realize what an amazing little tribe I have. They support each other, they laugh together, and for many of them that class is the highlight of their week. And the three of us just talked with her about what was going on and reminded her that it's okay to cry, and why it's healthy to cry.


We release things when we cry. When we bottle up emotions they cause tension in the body, and sometimes they can cause some very real harm.


Crying sets your pain free.


Human beings are not meant to carry the heaviness of emotions with us. We're meant to feel them. Process them. And then, let them go.


And in doing so, we set ourselves free.

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a little spark of divine light.

I'm currently participating in a writing course and this came from a writing prompt that asked me to write about a "lifegiving activity". So I wrote about yoga. 

I set down the little piece of burning wood in an incense holder. Its fragrant smoke fills the air and fills me with serenity. I roll out my mat and sit down. Before closing my eyes I catch a sparkle from a piece of amethyst, one of the crystals I set out for today. I sit with palms facing up, to receive. The music is soft, melodic, and the words in a language I don’t fully understand. I feel my spine stack and my shoulders soften away from my ears. I feel the weight of my hips releasing into the mat. Letting go. I need this. After some time has passed, my hands come to my heart in prayer, anjali mudra. There is this rush of emotion, this connection. I reach my arms to the sky, sending out my intention to the universe. Hoping. Wishing. Being. My body starts to move. Twisting, turning, folding, opening. I leave my eyes closed to feel. Every muscle, every joint, every part of me. Parts of me that before were numb or sleepy, are now alive with sensation. I breathe into it. My breaths are deep, slow, intentional. It feels so good to breathe. It feels so good to move. Gratitude swells in my heart. I let my body decide where to go and let my mind rest. No need for planning. No need for analyzing. There is medicine in each and every movement. There is healing happening within my heart. This is connection. Real connection. I feel rooted into my own body. Grounded in the postures. As if this is what my body was created for. Like these postures are some ancient code I’ve punched in to unlock...something. I’m not sure what I’ve unlocked. But I know whatever it is, it’s changed me. And I can’t imagine being without it. Finally, my practice has come to an end. I lie down in savasana, corpse pose. I don’t feel like a corpse. My body tingles and I feel blood pulsing through my body. But there is stillness. My body is deeply at rest, yet so alive. I realize what I’m feeling is my soul. Slowly I bring my body back to life. I move into fetal position. Rebirth. I come back to where I began, seated with hands at my heart. I bow to my practice, to myself. Recognizing my connection to the divine, my connection to the Earth, recognizing my own mortality. Then I get up. I roll up my mat, turn off the music. And I take with me only a little spark of divine light.

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attention, here & now.

The more a man knows about himself in relation to every kind of experience, the greater his chance of suddenly, one fine morning, realizing who in fact he is...
— Aldous Huxley, Island

No need for drama or stress. Get real with yourself the next time you're feeling angry or anxious. Where does it come from? Is it helpful? Can you find a better way to deal? I know when I have too much energy I need power yoga, and if I don't get that energy out it makes me all kinds of irritable. I know if my diet is subpar, I won't have enough energy - and then I need yin yoga and green juice. Get to know your body. What works for me may not work for you. What you read in one study about health will completely contradict another study. Get curious about what fuels you, what makes you feel good. And what doesn't. Your body is probably easier to understand than you think - as long as you're fully present and aware of the subtle cues your body gives you. 

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If you've never read Alduos Huxley's  Island, I suggest reading it. And if you haven't read Brave New World, read that one first. Island is his response to Brave New World, decades after writing it. In Island, Huxley creates a utopian society that exists on an island where mynah birds fly about calling "Attention!" and "Here and Now!" to remind the island dwellers to stay present. Meanwhile, the rest of the world lives as we do, money driven and confused. The things this utopian society does can be incorporated into our lives to create a healthier, more sustainable way of life. In fact, this was the last novel Huxley wrote and it almost feels as though he wrote this last book as a blueprint for how he felt society could best flourish. You don't have to agree with everything in the book to realize that he had a lot of things right. 

I encountered this book when I first started exploring my spirituality. I was raised Catholic, turned atheist/agnostic, and was just beginning to re-entertain the possibility of something greater than myself.  This came in the form of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christian Mysticism, you name it. Wherever you happen to be on your path, you'll get something of value out of this book. But I happen to believe that you can get something of value out of every moment, every conversation, every piece of music. If you're open to it.