Archives for posts with tag: well-being

 

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I first came across the word “kintsukuroi” a few months ago in a blog that Tommy Rosen wrote. The pictures of these pieces of pottery were so beautiful, so much more interesting in every way. Not long after I read this article I had the first of several experiences that made me relate to this concept in my own way.

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Within a week, after reading this article, I was gifted a beautiful hand thrown mug by a client of mine who is a ceramicist. It is a vibrant burnt orange color, with glistening golden veins of lacquer running through it. It became my favorite coffee cup.

A few weeks later I was having an energy session with a friend and healer and we were discussing aging as women. She told me how beautiful and glowing I looked. (her words, not mine) She said, ” Although you look much younger than you are, I can see your strength and the wisdom of your years. I see your wrinkles, but your face glows as if the lines were filled with gold…”

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At Christmas, I received a most precious porcelain tea candle holder. A delicate lotus flower. Upon releasing it from it’s tissue wrapping, I discovered that a couple of petals had broken off. The woman who gave it to me was horrified, but I found it in keeping with a theme…

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Finally, a month ago, I knocked my new favorite cup over on my marble counter tops and the handle broke into three pieces. I could repair it, but not sure that I trust the handle would hold… best to just hold it firmly in my own two hands perhaps?

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If you break and repair a plate, or cup or bowl that has been broken, the surface area actually is larger wouldn’t you say? The glue adding more substance to fill the cracks.  A heart broken and reconstructed could conceivably hold more, albeit differently. 

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All of us are scarred and broken in some way. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Broken to different degrees, in varying numbers of pieces. I believe the defining factor in whether we will be stronger or be able to hold more in our beings is what we reach for to glue us back together.  My glues of choice are yoga and love. Not that too much wine or chocolate, or macaroni and cheese or sofa sessions of “Dexter” or “Breaking Bad” might not make it into the mix from time to time… But by and large my choices are healthy ones. That will make me resilient, not disconnected and closed. Wiser, but not suspicious and wary. May I always strive to repair myself with the honey of love, the liquid gold of my yoga practice.

 

Find your own golden lacquer and do your repair work mindfully, with attention to detail. And may we all find ourselves more beautiful for having been broken, with more to give. 

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“and we are so fragile

and our cracking bones make noise

and we are just

breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.”

-Ingrid Michaelson-

 

I worked long and hard on a Valentine’s Day posting and….it vanished as I was trying to publish it….hmmmm….

So I leave you with some sweet images and advise you to be loving to yourself first on this day. With every word, thought and action, ask yourself, “Would I treat someone I love like this?” Tend to yourself with your full love and attention, and then spill that out into the world.

Today, and every day. We will all be the better for it.     Love, Jodeen

 

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I know it sounds funny, but shavasana is an acquired taste. It develops over time and takes a great deal of practice to reap the rewards.

How can laying on your back with your eyes closed be hard work you say? Especially after a challenging yoga practice. But being still and quiet and not sleeping brings up a great many things for most people.

I have seen from time to time, people who will roll up their mats as the rest of us are getting ready to lay down at the end of class. True, sometimes people need to leave early and tip toe out. But still others seen no reason for staying, when the “workout” is over. “You are doing anything anymore, so just leave. It is a waste of time.”

I have seen those who fidget and fuss, eyes open, sighing loudly., and when it is time to begin to “bring awareness to your fingers and toes”, they have sprung up to a sitting position and are ready to bolt for the door.

For some people, if they are asked to just be still with themselves, that is the most terrifying thing they can imagine. That would mean you have to actually be present with yourself and see what sorts of things might float to the surface. Thoughts that are easily kept at bay with being “busy”. You cannot hit a moving target, so as long as we remain in constant motion we won’t have to look at ourselves and see what is there. Quiet is the enemy. Sitting with yourself for too long will be your undoing…

My own personal experience was not that, but something else. I would finish a class, covered in sweat and suddenly not have the actual practice to focus on anymore. So my mind would spiral back to the outside world and all of the people, situations and things that made me insane and stressed out of my mind. On occasion I would drop into shavasana, that utterly relaxing in between space, not awake, not asleep, and I would begin to feel so blissed out. But then, I would pull myself away from it and think “you are wasting your time here pretending that there is bliss to be experienced.  You are wasting precious time that you could be spending being pissed off and furious at how not o.k. Everything is! You almost fell for it. Just say “no” to shavasana.

So I began to lay there, sharply awake and use that time to mull over and retrace the laundry list of how I was being done wrong by the world and the stupid people in it. I began to look forward to this heightend time at the end of class to more finely hone my powers of discontent  and plot the demise of my enemies. Amazing…

Slowly, ever so slowly, I would have experiences of going deep, sometims falling asleep, but sometimes dropping into a true shavasana. I would be weightless floating in space and enjoying the silence and I would begin to hear a voice. I would think, “Who the hell is that? Is it God? Why are they talking? I really need them to be quiet because I am so blissed out right now….” then I would realize that it was the teacher, and that I was laying on a rubber mat in a room full of people and that I felt like I had been asleep for hours. Reality: 5 minures.

As this happened more often, I noticed that I felt less and less inclined to “hurry up and be upset again at the injustice of it all. Time is a wastin’!” Then I began to notice that I just didn’t get as worked up over stuff the way that I used to. I was spending more and more time in a yogic state. On and off of the mat. The peace found in yoga is our natural state of being, the world outside the mat is actually more of an illusion. A contrivance. The scales had tipped.

I refer to shavasana as a time to “marinate in the juice of the practice”. It is like pushing the “save” button on the computer. It seals it all in. And in that time the body, mind and spirit can rejuvenate, reboot, rewire. Yoga changes us and shavasana seals in the newly edited version. 

Shavasana is now my dear friend and a state that I can dip into whenever I need it. Whether I am laying on my  mat or not. That is a sweet and  useful life skill indeed.

 

over the years I have done many kinds of exercise. Aerobics and Jazzercize back in the stone age… ballet, modern dance, light weight training, gym workouts, mountain biking, running, walking, hiking, and the last 12 years, yoga has been at the forefront of my physical activity. In the last 6 years ecstatic dance (you, wildly dancing like no one is watching in a room full of people who are dancing like no one is watching them, and, no one is watching anyone else) in the last couple of years I have also been a regular at the Y and incorporated weight training, stairs and elliptical machines into my regime. In the last few months, BodyJam is the latest addition. BodyJam is a fantastically fun dance class where you learn dance moves and the choreography is built on section by section. The music is great and the moves very hip hop inspired. So I am now at the Y about 4 days a week, and am having a very different experience being in a gym atmosphere than I have ever had before in my life. I attribute my yoga practice to this shift.

In the past I had approached working out as something I needed to do to atone for the sins of my indulgences to radically alter my imperfect body into something thinner and hotter than it currently was.  It was a loaded masochistic exercise in feeling unsatisfied with myself and striving to attain something that was never realistic. At times it was obsessive. Weighing myself a couple of times a day. Not healthy at all and I think chances are good that a huge percent of people have this experience when they work out.

Fast forward to me after doing yoga for 12 years. I LOVE going to the gym. I do not see it as a task or grueling punishment that I must subject myself to. I focus on my breath, find a rhythm. Slow the movements down. Each move mindful and controlled. I delight in the strength of my body, the sweat and exertion, and I smile and laugh a lot in the process. I am curious as to what my body can do, how I can help it move with grace, build muscle and burn fat. Enjoying the workout itself rather than foucs on some nebulous end result.

It is very interesting to see how many people do not smile, nor even seem to enjoy any part of their workout experience. How uber serious people can be in dance class, or even yoga class for that matter. Sometimes I think yogis can be the most pious and humorless of all. I always try to remind people that we do yoga because we love the doing of it, not because someone held a gun to our head and made us go.

Find the joy, the playfulness, the curiosity.

Try something new: Dance, fencing, tai chi, zumba, kick boxing, yoga, ballroom dancing. Our bodies can fall into habitual ways of moving, so stir things up. That is good for your brain too.

Savor and luxuriate in the moving of your body and your breath.

Have fun, work hard, but keep yourself safe and don’t push too too much.

If you happen to take a class called Body Attack, please don’t take it literally…

Find an activity that you enjoy, not something you find torturous or you will never stick to it.

Don’t starve yourself, your body needs fuel. Make sure it gets the nutrients you need.

Be kind to yourself. No negative self talk, only encouraging words even if they are only in your head. Health comes from the inside out.

Finally, do it because you have your best interests at heart. If you don’t, who will?

on thursday november 14th , I went to the hospital and had my port removed. A port, is a device that is inserted under the skin, that the needle can be inserted directly into, rather than mess with your veins. Chemo can actually burn the veins (yikes!) and cause them to collapse… so the safer alternative is to install a port directly above your heart (?!?) where the toxic chemicals can be immediately and efficiently pumped through your whole body.   Mine was installed when I had my mastectomy, so when I woke up from surgery, there it was. My matrix borg port…being infused with the chemo kool aid…super sci-fi.   Apparently, they are not noticeable on most people, but I am leaner than most, so I looked like I was trying to smuggle a wire tap under my collarbone. Needles are never fun, but having one plunged into your chest every 3 weeks always mildly creeped me out to say the least. Then it becomes just a ritual that you are a part of, and now the day had come that I was to have the last invasive intruder removed from my body.  

I walked to the hospital as it was a beautiful day, and as we walked, I was overcome with the ride the last two years had been, and wept the whole way there. Thinking of all of the people who had surrounded me with love and then come and gone and moved on, and new troops to take their places. How all of the circumstances of my life had changed so dramatically, I hardly recognized it some days. Although I was not alone, it was my solo journey. My experience exclusively.

As I checked into the hospital, I realized this was my 3rd time there. I was even put in the same curtained cubicle to wait to be wheeled to surgery, with someone new beside me, but this time I was to be wide awake. It was a 15 minute procedure, so local anesthetic only and then I would go home….so wild. My crew came to get me and I was wheeled thru the labryinth of the hospital urging them to run faster so that we could get some speed in those long hallways. We entered the operating room, which has the climate of a walk in freezer, brightly lit, no mirrors on the ceilings and a super festive atmosphere. I was wrapped in the obiquitous warm blankets ( my favorite thing about all of my hospital time) and asked what kind of music I wanted to listen to on the pandora station. Someone had just sent me this amazing youtube clip of this woman dancing in the OR before she had a double mastectomy.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/06/breast-cancer-flash-mob-deborah-cohan_n_4227915.html

I mentioned it to the doctors, and they said if they had known before I had been prepped, they would have let me dance first!….as a concellation I listened to Beyonce’s “get me bodied” as they did the minor surgery. Hard for me to keep still. So cool to be awake in the OR, but my face was draped during the procedure, so I still don’t really know what goes on in there, they said they would have to kill me if I saw anything..so it ended up being a positive, upbeat and party like atmosphere. I requested one other song (Aural Float)  and then I took my port in a ziplock… ( I asked to keep it) and was taken to lunch at Bittercreek and then home. Done. Only the tiniest scar. Barely noticeable.  Then I crashed hard. Slept. Was taken care of and let it sink in that this part was over. Actually, all of it was over. It was a new time. A new place. A new life. Not like it was before. At all. No more doctors appointments, treatments, ct scans, mri’s, exrays, ultrasounds, emotional collapses from the fall out of chemo ( a separate blog…) just living and moving forward. May I not have to do this again, but if I do, I will, and I will know the drill. Now to be in this new place because of where cancer took me and yet not identifying myself as “a cancer girl” either. Living with an awareness, but not a fear. Being healthy and conscious with my eating, but not paranoid. Today is New Years eve, and a new untouched canvas lays before me. The brushes are already swirling in the paint…  

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Hello, now that I have your attention…..I just wanted to share my very favorite Christmas poem with you. A friend of mine wrote it the year my daughter was born and I pull it out to revisit every year. I love it’s simplicity and the last line bring tears to my eyes every time. regardless, of your belief system, this is a story of birthing light and hope into the world. I wish you all a beautiful holiday season and turn your face towards the light and move forward.

 

heavy with god

I walk beside the donkey

swaying in the dark

follow some star

never seen one quite like that

my carpenter husband

frightened with responsibility

holds my hand

and the donkey’s rein

finds us shelter

in a barn

frets

no matter how he tries

things never turn out right

but I think it’s perfect

for God to take a human form

in an animal setting

the manger looks like a cradle

no birth is easy

not until the star’s straight up over the eaves

is the boy born

wise men appear

with gifts worth more

than Joe makes in a year

shepherds adore him

sheep sleep

the light comes from everywhere.

-Josephine Jones-

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I adore david whyte. love his words, the pictures he paints, the feelings he holds up to the light. the only thing I love more than his poetry, is listening to him read his own work. entrancing.

this poem has been going through my head a great deal lately, and as I was driving back from a yoga workshop in McCall across this landscape, it rang loud and clear. I wanted to share this. hope it touches you the way it has me.

 

the winter of listening

“no one but me by the fire,

my hands burning

red in the palms while

the night wind carries

everything away outside.

 

all this petty worry

while the great cloak

of the sky grows dark

and intense

round every living thing.

 

what is precious

inside us does not

care to be known

by the mind

in ways that diminish

its presence.

 

what we strive for

in perfection

is not what turns us

into the lit angel

we desire.

 

what disturbs

and then nourishes

has everything

we need.

 

what we have

in ourselves

is what we cannot know

in ourselves but

what is true to the pattern

does not need

to be explained.

 

inside everyone

is a great shout of joy

waiting to be born.

 

even with the summer

so far off

I feel it grown in me

now and ready

to arrive in the world.

 

all those years

listening to those

who had

nothing to say.

 

all those years

forgetting

how everything

has its own voice

to make

itself heard.

 

all those years

forgetting

how easily

you can belong

to everything

simply by listening.

 

and the slow

difficulty

of remembering

how everything

is born from

an opposite

and miraculous

otherness.

 

silence and winter

has led me to that

otherness.

 

so let this winter

of listening

be enough

for the new life

I must call my own.”  

david whyte

 

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just some memories from the past and a reflection on my present…

….the thanksgivings of my childhood: often spent at a card table in the other room of a relatives house with cousins of unknown origin eating off of paper plates and drinking kool aid out of jewel toned anodized aluminum tumblers that left an odd clear metallic taste in your mouth…

David and I announcing our engagement to our families…

eating at a diner in San Francisco with a friend from Idaho on a rainy day before having wine and dessert with our new found “friend family” …

continuing the “friend family” tradition and all of us meeting up in Medford Oregon when one of the couples moved there…

on a remote cold and windy beach in Mexico with 50 people who brought all of the ingredients for a traditional spread…tequila and fireworks, sleeping on the beach, and driving home to discover multiple messages that my husbands father had died in our absence…(pre cell phone…)

on a bus traveling from Bangkok to Chang Mai and being given a small boxed “snack” consisting of some rancid drumstick from some unidentifiable fowl…

my daughters first solid food consumed that day at 6 months old, and the look of utter delight with each new taste…

cooking my first one alone 3 years ago…the last one with my grandmother…

and now, this one, a month after my final treatment and 2 weeks after my port was removed!  cooking it with my daughter who is now 16. having the meal unexpectedly ready at 11:30 in the morning….Lily, my mom and I….a sweet surprise of having my roommate and her boyfriend join us…driving up to see my dad and stepmom at their cabin, sitting by the fire, rubbing my dad’s feet and admiring his new head of hair…singing Adelle songs loudly in the car on the drive…going to my boyfriends folks house and eating again that night and playing with the worlds most adorable kitten….miss hazzington. this Thanksgiving being Lily’s last one still living at home…college bound next year…

and so, I find myself grateful, full of grace of where I have been before that got me to where I am now. there is room at my table for all of it…

 

 

“slack” is sort of a misnomer…as the point is to cinch the line as tight as you can, so that you can then balance, walk, stand or lay down on a less then 2 inch wide length of nylon strap. play out all of your “man on a wire” tight rope/circus fantasies without the terror of plunging to your death. you won’t actually fall more than 12 to 18 inches, but man….is it scary! surprisingly so.

my dear friend jeffry had been talking up this experience for a long time and finally a month or so ago a couple of us met in camel’s back and tried it for the first time.

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i was surprised and (relieved) to discover that you don’t just start trying to stand up and balance, but you start by kneeling in the grass on all fours and extend opposite hand opposite leg. piece of cake, right? but then, you lift the toes of the one grounded leg so that you are balanced on your knee, and everything changes. suddenly your body is spastically trying to right itself. a move that I teach and do every day in my yoga class, became foreign and incredibly challenging, by making the smallest adjustment…lift your toes and completely find your balance in your core.

you play with that for a bit and then you try it on your knees on the line. feels impossible, but then after the umpteenth time, you suddenly find your balancing point. you find a gaze point, a drishti on the ground, you slow and deepen the breath and you find it…for a second….then maybe 2…3…

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you can then balance on both knees, sit on the line with one leg extended, lay on your back, sit in lotus ,etc… and then eventually you stand with one foot on the line, the other on the ground and you push up and stand on one foot on the line…..yeah, right…..

the first day in the park I spent most of my time either kneeling or sitting. riding the waves of body jerks as you wildly try and right yourself. it is like riding a bike, you cannot think your way through it, there is nothing to figure out, you can only breathe and feel and when you slide into that effortless space (for a moment or two) it is incredible. it is amazing watching other people do it. every single muscle in their body is twitching and jerking trying to find the balancing point. it is a constant evolution, because the point of balance keeps changing….over and over and over again….

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what a genius practice this is. absolute presence. absolute focus. only the moment.

by the end of the time in the park, I was having moments… you begin to feel the possibility.

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this weekend I went to sun valley and spent a day with jeffry and we set up a line between two trees near a Frisbee golf course. this was only the second time I had been on the line. revisiting the moves I had played with before and discovering how quickly they came back. then I attempted the push off from the ground with one foot on the line. the very idea seemed utterly impossible. fruitless. line shivering out of control. then steadying and slowing the breath, focusing on a spot on the line and pushing up, saying to yourself, “I’ve got this…” you try and try and try and then I fell. pretty hard, which was great, because you realize the ground is not that far away and it is not that big a deal and suddenly there is a shift….and then you push and you hang…for a moment and you realize that this impossible thing is actually possible….and that feeling is really something. and each time you discover some new tiny adjustment you can make, a new way to access the balance. how to let the balance just happen. just allow it.

It was beautiful to watch him as he has been playng and practicing for quite awhile. he walks the line, turns, sits…you see what can be done.

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it was a very powerful and playful experience. it is like being a kid and learning to ride a bike again and finding the freedom, ease and expanse that comes when you find that sweet spot of balance. and again, and again, and right now and right now….a transferable life skill for sure…

give yourself some slack why don’t you…

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(above artwork and poetry by heather bauer)

“this look of sorrow as she walked among the fires – it was familiar to him – he had felt that way when he was younger. how to talk about it, how to talk about such things. when he was a boy he was happy when the men arrived (the men who drove the horses to the land and would work in the orchards) and in a way wanted them to stay forever – but he was also anxious that they had arrived and he was no longer alone. the sorrow came from those two feelings – the happiness of company and the anxiety of interrupted solitude.”

-from the novel “the orchardist” by Amanda coplin

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I love being by myself. eating meals at home or in restaurants. solo. taking myself out for a glass of wine, go to a movie, a play, a party. alone and with no wish to meet someone or run into any one. just taking in the event with no distractions. a bike ride, a hike. I love to travel by myself, take long drives and even road trips alone. or just sit silently on my couch gazing out the window listening to myself breathe. I can do all of those things blissfully alone and never, ever feel awkward. at all. I love that. a lot.

it is the one down side of having someone in your life, you are no longer alone as much and trying to maintain that delicate balance between happiness for the company and the anxiety of interrupted solitude, is rather tricky at times.

being in a room with the door closed with someone else in the house is not the same as being alone in your house. not even close. sometimes there is a precious sweetness to that proximity and sometimes not… i was married once and lived with 2 men at other times in my life. I cannot ever imagine myself living with someone again.

I realize that I want it all, and that is just how I roll. I love my solitude, my freedom, my space, my home, my schedule, me being in control of everything…yes, I said it. “me being in control of everything.” you can quote me on that.

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I am also an incredibly social, friendly, loving creature who has a lot of friends. real friends, not Facebook friends. friends who I give my time and attention to and look them in the eyes and hold their hands when we talk. i have coffee, and lunch, and make meals and share wine and trade body work and watch their children, and return phone calls in the middle of the night. my daughter is the center of my world, and when she is with me, I orchestrate my life to put her first. my mother lives 6 blocks away, we have a standing date night every Tuesday and talk everyday and see each other almost as often. my father and brother have been more in my communication loop than ever before.

I am also a yoga teacher and massage therapist. I take those interactions with students and clients very much to heart. more tending of others. I do an incredible amount of tending of others…

I also desire deep connection with someone significant. not because I am afraid to be alone, but because I love BIG and that is a waste to not share it with someone deserving of that. love loves to love love. we want to be desired and petted and loved and adored and seen and heard and witnessed in a way that actually means something, with someone who really means it.

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and then….i want to be alone. and miss them all. and think about them. and feel that tug of longing. and while I am feeling so delighted to have so much love in my life, from so many different sources, i am sweeping my floors, changing the sheets on my bed, burning sage, arranging flowers in vases, plumping pillows, reading books, listening to music, writing blogs, petting cats, cooking meals, and folding laundry, taking dance and yoga classes, laughing with my daughter, watching movies, tending to myself, nurturing my soul. and yes, probably on some level, feeling safer and more in control because it is just my space. and I like it that way very much thank you.

it is my beautiful selfish gift to myself, and i am all the more for it. everyone wins.

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“when he was gone the place took on a delicious strangeness, she often felt she was looking at things for the first time.

there was a  certain uncanniness angeline felt in opening her closet in the morning. her oatmeal dress hanging in the space on it’s hanger, her workboots leaning against each other on the porch. the narrow bed with it’s purple red and green quilt, the bedside table with it’s jar of rocks, piled books. the porcelain basin where she washed her face. the apricot orchard, the buzzing bees like a haze in the spring. the barn, the smell of hay and manure and grease and old leather. the sun streaming through the slats. the mules nose in her palm.

being alone, she was able to see each thing more clearly. although there was fear in solitude, somehow, this only made things sharper. it could not be sustained, this solitude, this level of sensitivity, but for the short time that he was away it was glorious.

it was a great gift to herself.”

-from “the orchardist”-