This idea is from a workshop I went to this summer with Coby Kozlowski, an amazingly talented everythinger :) ... If you were to make a bumper sticker, or for those of us nondriving city folk, a t-shirt or hoodie or something along those lines, if you were to make something with a slogan that spoke to you, that revealed a little special something about you, what would it say? How would it feel?
The end of summer, the arrival of September has always felt like the beginning of the year for me. Maybe it's the remnants of starting a new school year every September. Change is in the air and I am super psyched as the weather begins to change, the nights begin to get cooler, that I have this amazingly awesome newly recreated hoodie :)
Happy September everyone!
"And at that moment, in that splendid hour, after his wonderful sleep, permeated with Om, how could he help but love someone and something. That was just the magic that had happened to him during his sleep and the Om in him- he loved everything, he was full of joyous love towards everything that he saw. And it seemed to him that was just why he was previously so ill- because he could love nothing and nobody." -Herman Hesse, Siddhartha
"Love is my only path. I am, in fact, a pilgrim on the path of love." -Swami Kripalu
I have a teacher who teaches yoga to bring about world peace. Bringing peace to one individual ripples out to those they are close to, and then out further and further. I too believe it is possible to change the masses through one.
I teach to hopefully awaken in others love. May we all become pilgrims on the path of love :) When you're having a really wonderful day and the birds are singing just for you and the sun is shining and you have this glow about you that radiates out for the world to see doesn't it feel great! And in those moments isn't there a wish for others to feel the same? To help those less fortunate, to make someone else's day a bit better because you feel so darn good? And in helping someone else feel better don't you in turn feel even greater? It goes around and around! Wouldn't it be great if everyone felt like this? Imagine a world in which everyone was having an amazing day and helped each other and we were all pilgrims on the path of love and the whole world shined. It could happen! Why not?
Here's the love ripple effect: When we practice non-judgmental awareness, compassion, and kindness for the self we awaken a love for the self that may have been dormant. (Hopefully it wasn't!) When we love ourselves we want to treat ourselves better, make healthy choices, take care of ourselves, etc. The self love radiates outward to those closest to us. They can feel that love that radiates and they in turn have the love glow and it ripples and radiates outward and outward and outward. One person at a time, love can take over and change the world!
Practice non-judgmental awareness. Practice kindness. Practice compassion. Love.
Here's a goodie from MC Yogi that speaks to the issue...
peace and love,
Hello World! It's been quite a while. Call it a long hibernation through summer if you will :)
The steps for riding the wave of emotion, the wave of feeling, the wave of what-have-you. The wave will pass regardless, but this just makes the ride that much more pleasant than, say, being washed around like you're in a washing machine, dragged into the undertow of whatever it is that takes hold of you. Sometimes we don't see the wave for what it is- a passing something. Sometimes it seems like the world is going to end, darkness is going to take over, there is no way you'll ever succeed, and nothing good and glittery will ever appear ever ever again. Sound at all familiar? When we lose our way what can we do? We can very easily freak out, continue to freak out, then freak out some more while searching for bright neon signs that say, "don't worry! you're going the right way!" But the freaking out is a waste of precious energy. And the neon signs are not always there. During these more difficult times can you stick with your practice, know deep down inside that you're going the right way? Even without the signs, without the positive reenforcement we can continue on the path and have faith that we will come out in one piece, stronger, more connected to our source than we were before.
Breathe. Come back to the breath over and over again. The breath will bring you home, will bring you into your body, your center.
Relax. Don't fight it! That whatever that you're pushing away with all your might will make an appearance whether you like it or not. It's easier in the long run to relax into it- when in a yoga pose that challenges us physically we can sometimes stiffen up and grip our muscles. When we actually take a breath and relax, we are able to soften, energy is able to flow more smoothly through our body, there are less blocks and less tension.
Feel. That screaming hamstring, that deep sense of loss, feel it. Let it in fully, embrace it fully for what it is- an emotion, a sensation washing over you.
Watch. Watch what happens, watch how the sensation shifts and changes in your body or mind. Watch how you interact with the outside world while in this state, in this place. Observe what's going on without judgement.
Allow. Allow it all to happen. Allow it all to wash over you. Allow the sensation to exist and allow it to leave without the need to understand, to get it, change it, etc.
These emotions, these feelings and sensations, they are not you. Stand strong knowing who you are deep down, seeing and knowing your path even when all the lights are out. You are who you are who you are :) embrace it and cherish it!
"Don't be too timid or squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
"It is not our abilities that show who we really are. It is our choices." -Dumbledore
When I wanted to do my senior thesis work on Harry Potter the Literature Department encouraged me in different directions. Any direction really except the one I REALLY wanted to go in. In fact, at first, I couldn't find a faculty member in the department who would take on the project with me. I didn't give up. Actually, it's when others say that something I love can't be done that I become the most stubborn and adamant supporter of my cause :) I wanted to end my undergraduate career doing something I loved. Why spend all that time- a whole year!- pour all that effort and work into something you're not passionate about??? I did my senior work on Harry Potter and it was the best part of my entire college career and one of my proudest accomplishments. It was a true expression of myself to the utmost degree.
It is so important for a person to express their True Self. What this means shows up differently in everyone and, even more exciting, shows up differently every day! There are so many layers and bits and pieces that make up a person that each and every day, each and every action really is a chance to express a different piece. Isn't that fun! I have always been a big promoter of self expression. Whether it was through different hair colors- I've done all the colors of the rainbow at one point or another- whether it was through crafts, or writing, clothing, decorating my home, tattoos, whatever. It's all a new chance to express me!
Yoga is a beautiful expression of the person doing the practice. The way that it changes from day to day, the way that a pose is expressed differently over time is so much fun to experience! When we go out there and try on different yoga styles in different classes with different teachers, we are able to try on a different way of expressing our yoga. Some styles and teachers may not mesh well with you while others make your soul sing out in affirmation. As a student as well as a teacher it is important for me to express my yoga; listen to myself and see what happens!
In yoga, in life, what makes you feel like, "yes this is me and it's awesome!"?
Spring is a super time for self expression. While nature is bursting with blooms and life we too can awaken and express parts of ourselves that have been dormant. Quit hiding the True You and let it all burst forth! Crack your heart open and see what adventures you find!
Voila the Butterflies! My latest edition making their debut in the sunshine as the temperature rises and the winter layers are shed :)
Also, check out the new page! Julia's Craftiness for some crafty expressions... Julia Curtains! Julia Tablecloth and such!
Stay Present. It's harder than it sounds. I recently received my first paid crafty job. It's awesome. I am getting money to play arts and crafts! I am addressing envelopes for the invites to a wedding. It's become a big part of my daily schedule. I found that I have to stay very present when writing out the addresses. There is no room for daydreaming! I was addressing one of the envelopes to someone in Washington D.C. I started writing out Washington and then went into this daydream about how I had always thought about living in Washington. The state not the capital. Although I've thought about that too. But it's rainy a lot in Washington and Bean, my wonderful dog, isn't a fan of the rain. Next thing I knew I had written Washton and not Washington. Ah! To mess up so close to the end of the address too! Stay Present! Do not get hooked by passing thoughts. As I sat there reminding myself to stay focused and present when my mind started to wander I saw how it's all connected. This lesson in my crafty job is the same thing I practice when I meditate and doing yoga. We only have this moment right now. We can't go back and we can't skip ahead (as much as we may try). It's all right now. And yet we spend so much time collectively grasping for the future or holding on tight to the past. Life seems to be a constant struggle in one aspect or another between the past and the future and very little emphasis is actually put living in the moment, in the present. Why is that? When in the moment you are able to experience fully what you are doing and then even the smallest and seemingly trivial task is given more umph because there is attention directed at it. Life is less of a blur when you quit focusing on other stuff.
In yoga we can bring our awareness out of the mind and into the body to come into the present moment. By focusing on what the body is doing, the work of the bones and muscles, really feeling everything that is going on, hearing the breath, that pull toward the future or past drops away. The mind is finally quiet. There is a peaceful calm that appears in moments like this. It's beautiful. it may only last a second or even a microsecond but it's these small tastes of staying present that we are able to build upon and begin to lengthen.
Meditation is nothing more or less than a practice in training the mind. The mind has gone out of control, taking over everything a moving millions of miles a minute. Have you even been lying in your bed exhausted and just wanting to sleep and yet your head is zooming in a billion different directions? Wouldn't it be wonderful to slow it down and turn down the volume? While getting rid of our thoughts completely may not be possible, we can practice not getting so attached to our thoughts. I am reading a wonderful book by Pema Chodron in which she describes a meditation technique where the meditator visualizes their thoughts in these bubbles. (I always picture these huge soap bubbles.) When meditating and a thought arises, notice it for what it is, a thought, see it in a bubble, and label that bubble "thinking". Labeling thinking for what it is takes the hook out of it; takes the claws away from it so it no longer is able to take hold of your attention and it then drifts away in its giant soap bubble. When labeling your thoughts do so playfully; make it a game. It's not with judgement, frustration, or anger that we begin to become aware of our thoughts but with a sense of awe and playfulness. There are many times when I sit down to meditate and feel like I'm one of those bubble making guns. You know the ones that blow many bubbles out at rapid fire? I feel like if someone were to watch me meditate they could see all these bubbles coming out the top of my head. That's how many thoughts I have sometimes. Before reading Pema Chodron and trying this technique I found it difficult not to judge when my head went off on some tangent for what seems like hours without my knowledge. Now when I notice that I have gone off into some deep thought I think, "Wow. Look at all these thoughts! That one did a good job of hooking me." It's a game and therefore a fun practice to try. See how many thoughts you can label! Notice if they start coming slower with more beautiful quiet space in between them.
This is all a practice. It's called a yoga practice or a meditation practice for a reason. It's something that doesn't just come. it's something to work on, to play with, to repeat. and hopefully, with practice, the mind will stay quiet for longer periods of time. Staying present will become easier and more effortless. The tantalizing empty promises of the future and past will have less of a draw.
It's funny the way things come into your life sometimes. I tried something new in my meditation practice and everything seems to be a meditation now; a way to train my mind to stay present. Doing crafts has become a meditation and another opportunity to practice staying int he here and now. And then out walking Bean I found this:
Pretty cool. And when I did it, I noticed the sky just then, and the sounds around me. I found my way back. And smiled.
I have these angel cards that I pick from, not daily, but whenever they call to me. They have different words written on them that always seem to fit the moment and make me go, "ahhhh, yes." Yesterday's card was "integrity". A very big concept and one that I have thought a lot about the past several months and struggle with. I could even go as far as blame this word for not having written more blog posts. That huge word and its back and forth battles with my inner demons. "What do I know?" "Who am I to say that?" "Why do I want to share this with anyone???" "Who cares?" Ah integrity. I struggle with my integrity as a teacher. I worry that I am not bringing my all to my classes. That I am not being all the Julia that I can be. You know that feeling? That feeling of holding back for whatever reasons- fear, nerves, etc. and then feeling like you're missing out because of that? Yeah I get that. I fear that I am not sharing my all, that I am faking it kind of. Make sense? Sometimes I feel like I wear this mask of having everything together because I feel like that's what someone who is teaching should look like. Have you ever watched Legally Blonde and she has her first day at law school and gets all dressed up and announces, "I totally look the part." Yeah, I totally want to seem the part of the yoga teacher even if, especially if, I don't feel like I am. I want to be a Yoda kind of teacher- wise, all knowing, with this peaceful glow about me, and bursting with enlightenment and all that goodness. But as a friend pointed out to me, I'm only 27! I just started all this! This is the time to try and to be excited and yes fuck up but LEARN from it!!! I truly believe and talk a lot about how the point is not to make the poses perfect. We all bring something new to a yoga pose and the pose is expressed differently by each person. That's part of what's so awesome; this uniqueness and individual quality we can all bring to yoga is something I totally love. (Hello, check out the name of my website! NOT Be Perfect but Be You!!!) But heaven forbid I am not the perfect teacher totally on top of her game, that I am not Yoda 7 months after receiving my certification! Whoa. I think these thoughts, fears, and worries qualify as not living with integrity. I may have it wrong but that really doesn't even matter. That's right, it doesn't matter if my definition is off. It's more about what the word, what the angel card, brings up and inspires in the reader. And I am inspired. I want to practice integrity in my yoga practice, in my teaching, in my meditation practice, in my life; be fully present and most importantly for me, take it gently and one step at a time. It's all a practice. It's all a chance to be open, to be ok with showing that messy mushy soft side of myself (yikes!), every moment a chance to practice kindness and gentleness toward myself to draw out the honest true Julia, a chance to put away the armor and the masks and let my inner light shine through. Because that's ALWAYS worth it and always beautiful. I think bringing that to the table every chance I get takes integrity. What do you think?
Be inspired by spring and the new season and the new growth. Strip off all those extra winter layers and with them take off those layers you use to protect your inner self! Go out without the armor, without the masks, stripped down to that beautiful, amazing, messy, mushy, sofy, super human you are! Be willing to take a chance and let your light shine bright!
love and light,
So the yoga I like to do is the kind that can be described the way I would describe food. I learned in my teacher training that when first learning yoga, "you do yoga". It's a physical practice; something that is done. The muscles and bones in certain positions and doing certain jobs. As the practice progresses the actions shift and "yoga does you". The full union and connection of body, mind, and spirit comes to fruition. I think of it as yoga begins to move through me. There is still the physical effort but there is something else too. Make sense? I like that. Those times where the physical effort melts away and it's pure bliss. I like the stretches to feel yummy. The poses to feel delicious and like I am doing a wonderful thing for myself.
My dog Bean is the ultimate stretcher. The way he moves when he wakes up from a nap to go out for a walk just looks so good. So yummy. So... "I want to stretch like THAT!" He's an inspiration. Yes. My little smush faced dog inspires my practice. First, he gets up and does a deep downward facing dog pose (usually paired with a long yawn) and then he rolls through a cat like curved back into an upward facing dog pose. I have rarely seen a dog go into an upward facing dog pose. I started to wonder why it had that name. His stretches are so juicy and he does them with such pizazz! Or maybe it's more the movement moving through him and he goes with it. Really getting into the movements. Oh if everyone stretched like Bean and put that kind of energy, yumminess, and goodness into it, the world would be a much better place!
World, meet Bean and his amazing stretches...
Hello World, I'm Julia. I like things that sparkle. I like glitter. I was once told that the perfect gift for me would be a big pink sparkly ball. The idea seemed so perfect I couldn't stop giggling and smiling. There is a lot more than glitter and sparkle to think about but that is basically what it all boils down to in my thoughts now. When all is said and done, is what I am doing make me sparkle? Because I do just want *it* all to be sparkle and glitter.
I guess you could say I am a jack of all trades. I used to get flustered by the question, "so what do you like to do?" What do YOU like to do??? It would put me in a panic. Still kind of does. Name something and I'll tell you whether I like it or not. I'm a yogini, teacher, fashion designer, seamstress, story lover, dog enthusiast, singer, coffee fan, tea enjoyer, cupcake, cookie, cake, chocolate addict, on a quest for magic, tattoo collector, aspiring barista, knitter, crafty crafter. In a nutshell. If I had to boil myself down into the pieces. I seem to like the word boil right now. What does that mean... Hmmm... Like everyone, I am a collage. There are many bits and pieces that make me me; some stand out more than others, bigger, different textures, but they all come together with importance to complete the whole. Make sense?
Recently I received my yoga teacher certification from Kripalu Center and am excited, nervous, scared, happy, etc. to be tiptoeing down that path. Exploring what this might hold in store for me. Mostly, I am excited about being excited about something. You know the feeling? To pinpoint something I'm passionate about is great. And yes, the feeling ebbs and flows, sometimes I think I've lost it completely in the cracks somewhere, but then it appears again! I'm excited for when it appears again. Sharing my yoga with others, exploring movement and getting out of the sometimes all consuming thought patterns, those brief but wonderful moments when I feel totally at ease and myself while playing yoga with others is what makes my world sparkle right now. Adds the stardust to my eyes. Make me feel more alive, in touch with the energy within and around me, totally living life. Mmmmmm.
Tell me, what does that for you?
may you be happy, healthy, and peaceful
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