Dirt roads clear today, but paved roads may see heavy tractor traffic.
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Dirt roads clear today, but paved roads may see heavy tractor traffic.
Things are a little backed up on the county roads today. Alternate routes advised; better take your tractor.
As shared on Facebook by a friend of mine. Author is unknown.
One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore. But then some strange prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”
Those prints are large and round and neat,
“But Lord, they are too big for feet.”
“My child,” He said in somber tones,
“For miles I carried you along.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.”
“You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt.”
“Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand.”
“Floating on this raft in the middle of a lake, envision the lake filled with your loved ones. How they hold you up, support you and fill you with a gentle warmth,” Heather said. I smiled, eyes closed, quite enjoying the guided meditation. I could feel the warm sun on my face through my imagination, and watched off the edge of the raft into the beautiful depths of a lake filled with the love of those closest to me.
“The lake also becomes filled with the presence of those you do not care much for, those who are more difficult to live with, harder to smile at…” My softened consciousness was having a hard time understanding what was going on, and I looked around my raft, trying to make sense of the new instructions. I whirled around and bumped face to face into my ex-boyfriend and nearly knocked myself off of the raft. “Send them love as well, even as they support you.”
What in the hell, I thought. I was really enjoying all of this until I accidently conjured up his friggen face. Was that really necessary? I took an incredibly deep breath and steadied myself back on the raft. I dipped a foot carefully into the water and let my toes steep in an increasingly turbulent lake, awaiting further guidance from my teacher.
It was an interesting conversation, and one I had not thought of before. At the beginning of many yoga
classes, the teacher would made a suggestion of setting an intention, dedicating a practice. I would very sweetly dedicate my practice to a friend who was having a tough day, to my cousin who had a headache, to my sister who was about to start college, or perhaps even modestly practicing for myself, each chaturangaupdogdowndog a sacred homage to those who meant most to me in my life. Gratitude for their love and support as I was fearlessly trying to shift the story of my life.
But to dedicate my practice to someone who had hurt me? Who irritated the hell out of me? This was not a thought that had ever passed through me – but then again, who would think of dedicating their hard work and effort to someone that did not deserve it?
I began contemplating that thought, however. Deserving of love? Who was I to make that judgment?
The next class I took, I dedicated my practice to the ex-boyfriend. I had loved him very much and I would never deny that. But in the end, we had surprised ourselves at how much we were capable of hurting one another. During the opening meditation of class and for the first time since our breakup, I held his face in my mind and said, “I’m sending you love, Mike.”
Through the practice, I determinedly kept my focus, sometimes almost shouting IM SENDING YOU LOVE, DAMMIT, MIKE during the difficult holds or the one extra connecting vinyasa, sometimes almost laughing with the absurdity of my experiment. Then it came time for headstand.I generally came at headstand with a light-hearted attitude, allowing myself a playful spirit as I experimented with lifting one foot off the ground, then the other, but at this point in my practice had yet to actually achieve lift-off or even get my ass over my head. I set my foundation and shot myself a smirk in the mirror. I found a focus on my stinky sticky mat and began chanting “I’m sending you love, Mike. I’m sending you love, Mike.”
I had a moment of shock when I also realized that my feet were straight up in the sky and I was fully inverted. I gasped. I squealed. I giggled. And I somersaulted right over, crashing into the window.
When I finally found my head back over my butt and untangled myself from my fit of giggles (much to the concern of everyone around me), I sat on my mat and closed my eyes, smiling to myself. In Savasana, I held his face once again in my mind and recognized the genuine gush of love that came forth when I repeated my mantra once more.
“I’m really, honestly sending you love, Mike.” And then I let it go.
Love flows. Undeniably, love will pulse. Even if it comes up against a barrier, water will not stop lapping up along that boundary, be it shore, rock or cement, waiting for its chance to pour forth.
I can choose to either build dams or tear them down – the love will inevitably flow, regardless.
I was inhibiting my own growth and evolution by ignoring a whole huge opportunity for love in my life. When I finally let go of the resistance and fear of who were the deserving parties of my love, I was able to completely turn my life upside down and see things in a totally new way. And yep, I tumbled and fell – but what is the point of not taking that chance when it comes?
Letting go is a big part of the yoga practice of life-in-general. There are so many reasons to hang on, so many excuses to not let go. At some point though, you have to ask yourself; are you allowing yourself a chance to expand or are you inhibiting new opportunities from arising?
Is it really worth it to remain cold in your heart for fear that someone does not deserve your warmth? And ultimately, doesn’t it just make you feel chilly?
A student of mine gifted me a bottle of really nice champagne for my birthday back in July. When I saw the gold-foiled top of the bottle amidst the tissue paper, I smirked in delight. After class, I found out that this was no arbitrary bottle of champagne – it was a bottle she had been saving for her wedding anniversary. As her husband had just recently dropped the heartbreaking news that he wanted a divorce, my student had been wondering what she would do with the bubbly so that it would not go to waste. She had determined that I would be the most likely to do it justice and find just the right opportunity to celebrate. She told me that knowing it was in my hands gave her joy. And suddenly, I had never been so intent on effectively drinking a bottle of champagne.
A month later, I popped the cork. And I feel like I really did it justice – I had been up crying, worrying, fretting and stressing on a Thursday night about the fact that I had overwhelmingly decided that I needed to quit my job. I woke up Friday morning, still in tears, stomach bottomed out and not quite sure what was going to happen. All I knew was that I had to be early to a meeting so I could catch my boss for a smidgen of alone-time to tell her of my completely unanticipated decision. There I was, feeling like I was about to break up with my most intimate of lovers, one of my longest romances ever being of that with this yoga studio and the people and my teaching… and worried because the last time I broke up with someone, it ended so horribly…
I had been anticipating the worst the entire time but instead, my resignation was accompanied by the best-case scenario. My boss (/sister/mentor/friend) told me she loved me and she supported me and that she was always there for me, no matter what. It was the longest Friday of my life. I taught a class that afternoon, feeling 1008 pounds lighter than I ever thought I would feel again and worked until the early evening, feeling weak from all the residual effects of worry.
After work, I drove home, picking up a Lil Caesar’s pizza (and crazy bread, duh) and a bottle of Gewurtztraminer. I walked in the front door of my empty house, opened the wine, started a bubble bath, set the pizza box on the floor by the tub and stripped down to sit in the water as it filled up. Once the tub was filled though, I realized… I had a bottle of champagne that I had been entrusted to drink on a very special occasion… and if there was any better time than that very moment, I could not think of what it might be.
Still covered in bubbles, I dribbled my way into my bedroom and grabbed the bottle (still in the box and hidden in one of the drawers of my dresser for the most perfect auspicious moment), put a couple ice cubes in my goblet (yes, goblet, and yes… ice cubes. Blasphemy, I know), and slinked back into the sudsy tub.
I can assure you that I did that bottle justice. And I cheers’ed to my friend every time I refilled that goblet.
“To letting go!” I giggled.
“To being scared!” I chanted.
“To new beginnings!” I sang.
I ate all but two slices of the pizza and drank the entire bottle of champagne by myself – in the bathtub. It was the most purely delightful Tantrikan celebration. And I sat there past the point of reasonable raisin-ing of the fingers and toes for an hour and a half, singing at the top of my lungs along with Mumford and Sons and Florence and the Machine, feeling lighter in my heart than I had in ages. Sure, maybe it was the bottle of bubbly, but I know I could have laid there, drunk, without having had a single drop and have felt just as ecstatic.
To being afraid to let go but knowing that you are never alone as you take that first step toward a new beginning – cheers.
This could easily be seen as a setback. A momentary hiccough. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t help but feel like I am exactly where I need to be.
And where am I? Living back in my old bedroom at my parent’s house in unincorporated Arapahoe country, surrounded by glow-in-the-dark star studded walls and colored pencil doodles of fairies still scotch-taped to my closet doors. I drank a glass of Malbec last night in a Winnie the Pooh collector series Smuckers jelly jar circa 1998 while I snuggled under my down comforter, talking quietly on the phone with a friend until the wee hours of the night. This ought to seem like a setback.
My heart spoke; I listened. I had no choice really, with as loudly as it was shouting from the depths of my chest, periodically gripping my stomach with an indistinguishable but overwhelming fear that I was not to take another single step forward in the direction I had been going for over two years. So I quit my job. I stepped back from teaching. I broke up with my longest relationship – my two and a half years as a professional yogi.
I remember being warned in my very first teacher training in January of 2008 that the quickest way to ruin your yoga practice is to become a yoga teacher. Try immediately becoming a yoga teacher AND an administrator position within the yoga business. That shit ain’t easy – and if you did not have a strong personal practice to begin with, good luck maintaining one.
I became lost in the service of others. Which, as Gandhi or someone brilliant once said, is the best way to find yourself. However, it was not so much that I found myself so much as I stumbled across myself and thought, “Wait, who is this?” And then I would receive an email or a phone call or a question that seemed more important than offering a hand to myself – so I would, time and time again, put myself down further and further on my to-do list.
Please don’t misunderstand – I loved my job. I honor those friends and colleagues from that job. I am grateful for the support and endless encouragement that I always received from each of them.
And so, my quest for my own personal practice begins. Specifically, begins tomorrow with Amy Ippoliti’s Anusara Yoga Immersion. I am so thrilled, I can hardly stand it. I can honestly say that I am doing this for ME – I want nothing more than to delve into my own heart and answer my own questions and be responsible for me and nothing more than me, at least for the time being.
As I put together the interview footage for a testimonial video for Amy, I met with a number of Immersion graduates to discuss their experiences. A number of folks shared with me that after the Immersion, they felt empowered and made huge life changes, such as quitting their jobs and seeking something new. Well, hell – I have already quit my job and I wait patiently and with curiosity on the edge, wondering what gust of wind will raise up to fly me to my next perch.
Which makes me wonder – Lordy, what is about to unfold??
I spent this weekend up in Carbondale, Colorado with a conglomeration of friends and fellow musicians. We were invited by True Nature Healing Arts to come and rock the shakti with a little kirtan love. The facility is beautiful – you gotta check it out if you’re ever in town.
Branden (of TNHA) offered us this beautiful treehouse to stay in for the evening – it’s the kind of place that makes you seriously consider being an 8 year old for the rest of your life.
This was ultimately my first real performance… ever. I’ve sang a zillion times and performed a gazillion times… but this time, I was part of the entertainment. I was even (gasp!) PAID for singing. And between chants, a handful of folks came and dropped off their business cards with me, wanting to have us come and play again.
Have I mentioned how happy I am? I have stepped back from so much (that’s a whole other story… for another time…) but here I am, enjoying the space to express myself creatively – and who knew? Things are even more supportive and empowering than I had hoped they’d be.
Leap, and the net will appear. And there will be friends, music, campfires, breakfast potatoes, shooting stars, beer, adventures and zebra cakes galore.
Another round of endless THANK you’s to Ryan Hader, Damon the Zen Drummer and Darren Willis. You dudes rock.
“I’m feeling a little wobbly right now, like my training wheels are off – except I look back and realize they were never actually there and I was holding myself up all along.”
“Ah, you and your metaphors, Elle.”
“There’s just no one holding up my seat and running beside me like I thought there was,” I said to him. At him. About him. And I know he knew I meant him.
I think there is always an empty feeling once you lose a pillar you always entrusted to hold you up. But the feeling comes on twenty-fold when you realize it hadn’t been there for a long time.
When you look around and feel like your life is completely uprooted, like a scene from a Tim Burton movie where nothing is fully plugged into the ground and at any moment a tree may begin dancing on its upturned roots, there’s an excitable sense of terror. In a fun way. And you just want to put on your 3D glasses and see the miraculousness of Lila, divine play, in everything around you. The problem with 3D glasses is that everything seems to be coming straight at you and even though you know you aren’t really in any danger of getting knocked over, you duck and dodge anyway.
I feel like right now, life is pointing a pistol at my feet and saying “Dance!! DANCE!!” Luckily, I’m an Irish Dancer and I am quick-footed. But at any moment now, life might start shooting the pistol on either side of my hips and shout “Shimmy, bitch! SHIMMY!” Then I’m really screwed.
Until then, I won’t stop banging my feet on the sturdy palm of earth in a brilliant display of the million different ways I can hold myself up.
After taking three yoga classes in one week for the first time in my life, I knew I wanted to be a yoga teacher. I called everyone I knew to tell them my huge revelation. The overwhelming response from nearly everyone: “Of course you are. That’s perfect for you!”
This made me furious. If it was so obvious to everyone, then why hadn’t anyone suggested it to me sooner!? It would have saved me from all the heartache of not being accepted into the music program in college, all the mindless years working retail and waiting tables…
I am one of those yoga teachers who went from first serious yoga class to teacher training in t-minus three weeks. It was truly love at first Tadasana – and after my humble two and a half years of the yoga-schtick, I happily boast somewhere around 800 hours of yoga trainings.
I suppose when you find something you truly love, there’s no denying it. What was that quote I had on my teabag the other day? Oh, right – “Where there is love, there is no question.” Good words to live by.
Whether or not you actually want to teach yoga isn’t the important part of a teacher training. The self-esteem, confidence and public speaking skills students acquire are inspiring, to say the least…
I could go on and on about how much yoga has changed my life, blah blah blah. But I think we both know that your experience would be completely different from mine… and that’s why I encourage you to dive in…
One Thursday night in October, I was manning the front desk at om time Boulder. Shannon came out from her class with a huge, heavy looking statue wrapped under her arm. Fascinated and still new to this whole “yoga” thing, I tried to stealthily sneak a peak at the figure;
A woman riding a tiger.
Ah. Okay. Of course it’s a woman riding a tiger.
Always addressing a hundred things at once, mid-conversation with another student, Shannon sharply shot a glance at me over her shoulder. I immediately pretended like I had not been staring at her tiger-riding woman with all the extra arms.
“You have to clean your altar tonight, Elle. Don’t forget. It’s the last night of Diwali.”
The look on my face must have been an oblivious blank stare.
“You do have an altar, right?”
Continued blank stare.
“Oh my gosh. Elle. Tonight. You HAVE to set up an altar. It’s all about setting a space for manifesting and change and moving forward.”
“Well,” I finally managed to stammer, “I just moved into the new house yesterday…”
“Perfect!” She slapped her free hand on the desk and smiled at me.
My new roommate texted me as soon as I got off work that night. “What are we doing tonight?? Wine??”
“Sure!” I replied. “But first I have to build an altar.”
I didn’t get a response back.
An hour later, I was frantically digging through half-unpacked boxes in my bedroom. Altar, altar, altar… what exactly DOES one put on an altar? I had no sacred little statues of women riding large jungle cats or holy incense to burn. But I did find a little table and a scarf that had a tag that read “Made in India”… this was surely a good start.
I found a sweet card my dad had written to me prior to my final musical performance in high school, a washcloth knitted by my nearly-blind great-grandmother when she was 92… and slowly but surely I felt my altar was picking up speed. I lit a tea-light and hummed a couple Om Namah Shivaya’s and felt wholly satisfied that I had effectively cultivated a sacred space in my new room. Everything else sat around it in a state of complete dishevelment and upheaval, but there was a bright feeling around that little space in the corner.
I came back to the front room after my anxious completion of altar-ification and wanted chips and salsa. The third roommate wanted pizza rolls, so her and I decided to take a field trip to the grocery store. I joked about how excited I was to actually be living IN Denver, where the grocery store was a mere three minute drive away. Out in the country where I had been living with my parents made it more difficult for late night junk food cravings, what with all the dirt roads and loose cattle meandering about past dark.
On the way home from the grocery store, a man on a bicycle came flying out of an alley. I slammed on my brakes and narrowly missed him, my heart pounding and my hands shaking.
“Oh my GOD – that was no cattle…!” The roommate and I began giggling. “Man, seriously – I guess I’ll have to watch out for those crazy bike-riders out here….”
I gently began to accelerate again, and not fifteen feet down the road, another bicycle came flying out of nowhere from my right. I was barely back up to 15mph, and slammed on my brakes again – but hit his back tire with the driver’s side bumper of my car. As my car came to a halt, I watched his little body fly off his bike. I pulled my emergency brake, flipped on my hazard lights, opened my door, and held my breath. Staring in disbelief, I waited to see if he was moving. He moaned, my roommate cussed, and I said, “Are you… are you okay?”
“Si, si. I okay, I okay,” replied the slowly moving little body. I stood up out of my car.
“No, but seriously – are YOU okay? I mean, are you OKAY?” He picked himself up off of the ground and began brushing himself off. I walked over to him and grabbed his hand. “Are you alright?”
With his other hand, he began brushing across his body as if taking stock on all the parts. Everything seemed to still be accounted for, and he traced his hand over his face. “Oh my gah. Ohmygah ohmygah ohmygah…” He was shaking, and I pulled him in and hugged him.
“You scared the crap out of me, kiddo.” I realized we were both shaking.
“I sorry, I so so sorry,” the little Hispanic teenager kept repeating.
“YOU’re sorry! I just hit you with my CAR!!”
I kept trying to ask him questions, but between being so shaken up and having limited access to the language, he was having a hard time answering with detailed descriptions of how he was. He looked down at the mess of a bike, picked it up and tried to fix the obviously broken brakes. Frustrated, he tried to ask me if I knew how to fix the bike. I told him I didn’t, but that I was so glad he was okay.
Suddenly abashed, he glanced up at me. “My fall?”
“Um… yes, you fell.” I started to worry that maybe he had knocked himself slightly senseless.
He shook his head. “My fall?”
“My fault, I think he’s asking,” my roommate said.
“Si, my fault?” I took one more glance at his bike, and for the first time noticed the beer can with a bendy pink straw in the cup-holder, its contents splashed across the road.
Suddenly a little irritated, I replied, “Oh. Well, ya. Yes, you have to stop at the end of an alley to look both ways before you cross it. You have to pay attention when you’re biking in the dark!” I nodded down at the drink, wordlessly making my final point.
As we were loading his bike into the back of my car and gathering our new friend into the backseat to take him to his friends’ house where he was staying, the man who had been on the first bike I almost hit came back.
“Man, I’m so sorry if I scared you, pulling out in front of you like that. I should have been paying more attention…” he went on.
I was suddenly so thankful – had it not been for me slowing down out of surprise for him, I may have hit the second kid head on. Dead on. “You actually probably just saved this kid’s life,” I replied.
We dropped him off at his friends’ and made sure everyone was alright. The bike was broken, but he was okay, and we all agreed that’s all that really mattered.
Pay attention. You never know what’s going to jump out and knock you on your butt if you’re not looking both ways before you cross a juncture in your life – especially if you’re taking the one less travelled by. You know, the one in the yellowed wood and all… You can prepare yourself for change all you want, planning out exactly how you will complete it, taking every precaution into consideration – but sometimes the most unexpected can come out of nowhere and set you back. There is a certain turmoil and discomfort associated with any transition in life – the level of such pain and disarray will vary and you never know until it flat out hits you.
And in the mean time, the things that seem to set you back indefinitely as you move towards that new goal may actually be there to keep you on the right path. Don’t damn them until you study them, wonder why they have presented themselves to you, celebrate them for what other suffering they may be inhibiting you from encountering.
Life can come at you going a million miles an hour and hit you like a freight train. You can either be upset about what it destroyed around you or celebrate what you walked away with. When life shakes things up, it is really shaking things away from you. And as you sit in the midst of the mess, looking out at all the little pieces your life seems to have shattered into, you are given the blessed opportunity to take the things that matter. Pick up the pieces that are worth salvaging and let the others fall away.
And as a packrat, I truly believe it’s the only way a lot of us can learn. We become too attached to too much; attached to relationships that are detrimental to our emotional health, attached to jobs that drain us dry, attached to basements of stuff we haven’t been through in years. Sometimes it takes catastrophe to remind us of the things that are truly worth holding on to – like the friends that are there to comfort us as we mourn, the family that supports us as we try to keep our head above water, the memories – not the STUFF – that are always with us.
Transition isn’t easy. New beginnings aren’t easy. And it’s because letting go to the past is rough. It’s the hardest part. It’s letting go of the pain of being hit with an opportunity for a new beginning and finding that that which you previously held on to isn’t there to hold on to anymore.
It’s building a new sacred place in your life to move forward from now. And it’s adorned with things from your past that empower you. And it’s about learning from the thing that scattered everything else away.
And so, here I sit at my altar, watching the last of my tea lights this evening burn away. And I realize there are things here that no longer empower me. It’s time to let it go, because something has hit me and I’m lucky to still be as strong as I am.
And so are you.