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Your eyes do not fail you, you are in fact looking at a gorgeous “smart” bracelet that will track your steps and send you personalized notifications from your phone! When I first heard about RINGLYI instantly got excited about the technology but I truly fell in love with the design. I appreciate that their rings and bracelets both have a beautiful aesthetic, but even more so that they also have significance. Each gemstone that they use has different purpose and meaning.For me, looking to invest in anything especially jewelry it has to be meaningful or significant in some way and in fact this makes me want to wear it more.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. As I continue to dive deeper into my relationship with myself, with my personal yoga practice and healthy living this has been coming up a lot for me recently. And even more so with the clients I see. So often, people ask me what is the best type of exercise to get the body they want, the results they desire, or the energy they’re craving. I am discouraged by this questions a lot. Why? I don’t actually have the answer. Or at least, I thought I didn’t. But now, I’ve decided the answer is reclaiming exercise for every body.
The source of my frustration comes from the societal expectation that we have to move our body only because we want it to look a certain way, instead of actually enjoying the way it moves. Believe me, I have been guilty of this plenty. Which is why I feel comfortable calling some bullshit on it.
I haven’t written a post in a while. I could start to tell you that I’ve been uninspired. Truthfully, I told myself that, and even believed it for a little while too, honestly. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that actually it hasn’t been from lack of inspiration. I’ve got recipes rolling out left and right (just not posted) and I’ve a steady stream of article ideas going constantly in my mind, and some even written and not shared.
No what I’ve been doing is a lot of living. I’m a firm believer that everything comes in waves and sometimes certain periods of our lives are meant to focus on specific areas and that’s okay. Writing, though I still do it for myself, hasn’t been one of those focuses for me lately.
There’s part of me that feels I should constantly be churning out content for you all, for this amazing community that I’ve some how had the fortune of getting to facilitate. And then I remember how the word should is an asshole, and I feel a little better ;). In all seriousness I am steadfast in my belief that I can’t just write for the sake of writing, that what is meant to be heard, shared or seen will just naturally flow out of me at the moments when it needs to be released. We all receive messages just when we need them, and that’s exactly how I want my writing to be delivered. Landing just where it’s supposed to, when it’s supposed to, for whoever may need it.
This reflection has occurred a lot lately. Between working with people in my day-to-day work life, settling into routines, navigating the dating scene while remaining reserved (and sane), exploring both the natural wilderness and my own wildness, I’ve been creating, manifesting new projects and finishing up my Amba yoga teacher training. I realize that everything I do is to share it with other people. I am compelled by an inner burning desire to enrich my life through these experiences that translate into lessons and anecdotes that shape and mold me, but also help people in ways I never could have imagined. There is power in experiences I’ve had and yet to have.
Over the past two years I’ve done a lot of personal development into my spiritual connection. By this I mean feeling the spirit of all living things, of nature, of humans, animals, stars, moon and Earth and how all of it makes me feel more connected to myself.
Much of this inquisition has happened through practice and diligence. Much more of it has happened through push-back, difficulties and challenges where I’ve been forced to sit with myself in situations where I’d just rather avoid myself all together. But each of these times were learning points, opportunities for me to go deeper. And deeper.
So deeper I went. Over the summer, during my cross country road trip on my move to Seattle, one of my stops was for this conference. While there I met some of the most incredible individuals that have forever changed my life, and of which I am happy to call friends now. I also had the opportunity to further my journey in connecting to my body.
Over the years of dealing with a disease diagnosis, rejecting that diagnosis with dignity, to embracing it to a fault, to then trying to pick up the pieces of my integrity to somehow make a whole, there was always a lingering disconnect to my physical body. I felt trapped in a different persons body. Surely this couldn’t be my own. It had turned on my so many times. I felt betrayed by this vessel that I was supposed to have a sacred relationship with.
My search for wholeness has always been there, but warped, like trying to see through melted plastic.
While at this conference I met the most incredibly talented and connect woman, Megan Morris the creator of Amba Yoga.
I took her class for women and felt the energy shift within my body as I moved into “what feels good” rather than “what looks good”. And I heard the whisper “you are already whole.”
It wasn’t until later when Megan and I were talking, the first words she spoke to me were how she could see my authentic connection to myself. Blown away is an understatement. Who me? Connected to this body? To my body? She’ll never know how much those words meant to me. I had been working on fostering this relationship, much through yoga, but hadn’t thought I’d truly arrived there yet. I was expecting some grandiose revelation and epiphany where the golden gates open, Angels sing and unicorns prance around, because that is clearly a sign that you’ve reached your destination.
Fast forward a few months, I decided that it was time to go even deeper. This time by way of Amba, and through getting my yoga teach certification. It’s never crossed my mind to be a yoga teacher, nor do I know in what capacities and ways I will use what I’ve learned, but I know how immensely movement has helped me, and because of this I know I can use it to help many of you.
“Amba is an embodied practice of yoga, movement, and dance that is based in the elements found in nature. The practice ranges from strong, earthen postures to fluid, sensuous movement to nourishing breath and sound to deeply restful stillness.
Amba teaches you awakening your physical vibrancy so that you have access to the richness and pure joy of being alive in a physical body.
Many Amba offerings are specifically designed for women. As women, when we have permission to discover our own unique movement – the movement that feels really, deliciously good from the inside out, our spirits get fed and our bodies get nourished.
Amba embraces the balance of hard work and deep rest, sensuousness and higher awareness, individual exploration and community learning. Amba workshops and retreats for women have 3 components: movement, nature, and community. Through physical yoga and movement practices we become more alive and awaken the elements within us. Through nature adventures, we connect to the awe and power of the elements on the planet. We open to the nourishment of the natural forces. Through social gatherings such as Amba Lodge, singing circles, mandala making, and group sharing, we awaken the vibrancy of our hearts and learn from one another. “
Amba provides the space and grace to exist as exactly as we are, in all our abilities, movements, challenges and unique body’s. It’s about being fully present with our animal body and nurturing the relationship between it and our soul weaving a symbiotic partnership.
For the past few months I have gone to this training for one weekend, I go to LA I spend a few days in the swell of love from other women like myself, in nourishing movement and in deep connection. Then I come home and I put all of this into practice for daily life. My thought is, how can I connect more today? Where am I not connected right now?
Because the reality is, there is no point of arrival. The final destination doesn’t exist. It isn’t about perfection, but instead continual refinement. It is entirely about continually arriving in presence, arriving for yourself, and connecting to your vital life force, to your body that allows you to fulfill your soul’s greater purpose.
As I prepare to leave again this weekend, I am enriched by the New Year and eager to see how this journey develops over time, and even more so, happy to be sharing what I learn with all of you.
In 2005 before I started having severe arthritic symptoms, before my fingers became stiff and my knees too weak to walk, before any diagnosis, the world was at my feet. I had the freedom of movement. I enjoyed it largely as an active teenager running around full of energy and an active member of the volleyball team. When disease struck the confines of my bed were mostly what I spent the next months surrounded by. I felt robbed of my independence, of my will and desire to move. I felt I could just lay there and die and it wouldn’t matter.
One day, laying in my mom’s bed tucked under her arm I asked her, “Why me? Why did this have to happen to me?” I had tears in my eyes, as it seemed I never stopped crying from the loss of my mobility, there were many tears shed. She looked back at me and said, “I don’t know why, but I believe one day you will.”
At the time I called bullshit. I didn’t care if one day I knew why or not, what I was really asking is “will I ever be able to move again?” because at the time that is what I cared about. It wasn’t until time passed though that I began to realize what this drastic change in my ability to move was doing for me. It was carving out a different way a life, a new forged independence that runs much deeper than mechanics of my human body.
I began turning inward. I learned the hard way what it meant to have true friends and I harnessed resilience at a formidable age. I figured out what was important to me quickly, and I went for it. I knew from first hand experience that everything in life is temporary, be it the passing of a sunset, physical mobility or eyesight. These things are constantly shifting, changing, and gone within seconds. I learned that in order to live a life I wanted I needed to go for things. This was my spiritual independence.
That’s not to say that I learned this all quickly, and let me also preface that much of this is in retrospect years later. The groundwork was being laid for the foundation of my core.
Even after I began biological medication treatment for what was diagnosed as Ankylosing Spondylitis and I began to feel better, there was a voice in my head whispering “you can’t play volleyball, you shouldn’t do conditioning, you’re not going to run again, your days of exploring are over.”
I spent years battling this voice, actively ignoring and proving it wrong. But I am human, and humans have a delicate weakness to us all that make us as spiritual beings intrinsically special. It separates us from other animals and living creatures. My weakness overcame me and those voices became my steadfast beliefs. I no longer played volleyball, I no longer ran, I no longer did physical conditioning, I still explored but it was with both exacerbated effort and consequences.
When we begin to believe these inner gremlins it becomes our truth. I told myself I couldn’t do things and so I didn’t do them. It’s not even like I tried to do them and couldn’t, eventually something shifted and I decided that I wasn’t capable any more. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
As I started focusing more on my lifestyle over the past few years I began to realize what I had done to myself (read: not what had happened to me) I started actively participating in conversations with myself. This was no longer going to be a passive relationship but one with love, admiration and encouragement. I started doing physical activity again, first with yoga and the change in my eating habits helped ease the symptoms I was experiencing along with the release of muscle tension. Things began shifting.
I tried hiking, and fell in love. I became addicted to the feeling of the fresh air at the top of a mountain, to the adrenaline rushing through my blood. I knew that things were never going to look the same for me again because my self-perspective was making a 360 degree turn.
Hiking for me, symbolizes the epitome of both my able body and my spiritual independence. It sets free my soul by pushing me on a cellular level, reminding me that I am made of feeling not only of joints, ligaments and tissues.
When I signed up to attend the No Barriers Summit in Park City, Utah I knew it would be life changing. I’ve done years of work in the disability advocacy setting and knew enough about previous conferences to be ready for life altering work to occur.
I hiked up Bald Mountain in Utah not because I felt like it was going to be a challenge, which at nearly 12,000 feet of elevation and rock scaling it is, let me tell you, but because of the fear of not feeling able to do.
Hiking up the mountain I realized a bit about those beliefs I had once told myself. They were all fear based. Fear of what? I’m not entirely sure, maybe of not having the identity of a disease anymore, or perhaps it’s something else altogether. Perhaps fear is there to protect you, to keep you from going too far outside your own boundaries and letting you err on the side of caution in situations where you’re in danger. Fear is a good thing in fact, if you know how to work with it. Fear can be a catalyst for motivation or it can be an inhibitor. I choose to no longer let it be crippling. Instead I am spiritually willing.
It’s hard to breathe hiking up a mountain in general, but the altitude change is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. As your lungs begin to expand it feels entirely the opposite, they are constricting so hard that your ribs feel as though they’re bearing down trying to crush them. The barometric pressure of the air decreases and making it “thinner” as people like to say. I started to feel like I was going to throw up. Next came the metallic taste in my mouth as if I were sucking on pennies. Your blood is pumping so fiercely throughout your body as it tries to acclimate to the altitude creating this iron flavor in my mouth.
Nearing the top of the mountain I began adjusting and the harsh reactions weaned. All I could focus on was “inhale, exhale, do it again… inhale, exhale.” Fear could not exist here, self-limiting beliefs had no occupied space in my mind, there was only my essence, my breath, my body and the mountain.
I was free. Free from fear, free from barriers, from self-limitations, from judgment and expectations. I could just breathe. And while you only spend but moments on a summit, you’ve experienced something not only physically in your body, and perhaps visually with your eyes, but spiritually inside of you.
The top of a mountain is the majestic exhalation of the journey of growth it took to get there.
You are enlightened by the experience and through that are destined to share it with others when you come down. And yes, you must come back down, if for nothing else to share your experiential knowledge with those who have yet come upon their strength to summit.
What’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way and so often, as in my case we’re the only one’s in our own way.