Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mythic Beings Retreat to Vermont, 2014

About a year ago, I heard of Caits Meissner's Digging Deep, Facing Self online writing course for women. I enrolled in the course and was exhilarated by the work I created thanks to its gentle push. Caits and I continued talking after the course concluded. I felt like we had a simpatico. As I lead yoga retreats, and have offered yoga and writing workshops, I asked if Caits wanted to collaborate.

She said yes.

We began developing Mythic Beings, a Yoga & Writing Retreat. I booked Good Commons, a retreat center I'm fond of in Southern Vermont. Caits and I believed in this offering, our own abilities to hold space, and a shared energy between us. However, this was the first try at this specific experience! It felt like something of a gamble and a bit of an adventure.

Fourteen women enrolled with us, though one had a last minute conflict bringing our numbers to thirteen participants and two facilitators. I was nervous as the retreat began, spending a lot of time breathing so that I could focus on being present to the retreat participants. I remembered the last time I felt nervous like that: when I facilitated at the Power of Words Conference last fall.

In each instance, big nerves and huge rewards.

Chef Alejandra Ramos was on site for this retreat offering the most delicious and inspired vegan meals. We all fell in love with her style, flair, and big laugh. Melissa Gellert assisted her, alongside Good Commons' owner, Tesha Buss. We also had Body Worker Danielle Fink on site offering massage and aromatherapy. 

The meals were intoxicating, invigorating, and almost distracted us from infectious laughter. This group was quick to claim one another.

Each morning we had a guided meditation sit followed by a sweaty vinyasa practice, infused with story. The stories that inspired the asana, or physical yoga, poses connected to our later writing prompts.

Caits powerfully read into the myths that shape yoga asana, connecting the themes to our lives and our words. With insightful and yielding prompts, we shared conversation and quiet writing time.

And of course-- down time! Afternoons were spent in the hot tub (the best place to marinate in advance of a massage), taking walks, runs, exploring nearby towns, hiking, curling up with a book, or enjoying a nap.

The last night, a sharing of works written over the weekend naturally evolved into a dance party. Cuz. You can't dim these bright lights.

This powerful weekend moved us all. It was definitely an affirmation to Caits and I that these offerings are important & needed. We are already developing the next Mythic Beings Retreat! Keep an eye out! Take the time to create and connect.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Reality is unwieldy

I think I know stuff.

I think I know who I am, what my life looks like, and will look like for the foreseeable future. I'm a control freak, so I cling tightly to this vision.

I'm getting more frequent reminders that this vision is subjective or fluid. My capacity to perceive what I conceive of as my internal and external life continues to shift. This can sound like some yoga mumbo jumbo. For real, I get it. Let me be more concrete.

I've been wanting to train to be a Jivamukti Yoga Teacher for some time now. I want to do this because I see how Jivamukti practice serves me and my community. I'd like to further it's access-- make it available to more students. The trainings are always a month long intensive. The one held closest to where I live, in upstate New York, is held in April. April is the most demanding month for landscaping, so I would never be able to get away then. One training is held in June, in Costa Rica, but the time, travel, and cost would still place a heavy burden on my household. I've been trying to save money and simply hold the intention. My reality was that maybe, one day, I'd have the savings and enroll in the June training.

Recently, the Jivamukti School announced another training offered in February in India. 

Most of my life, I've dreamed of studying yoga in its birthplace: India. February is the best time of year for me to get away.

I enrolled.

Reality is now that I'll spend February in India studying a practice that I revere and lifts me. In the span of a day, what I thought I knew changed. 

The costs associated with this training are still daunting. Miraculously, it's working out. I found a really good flight. I'm applying for every scholarship I come across (if you know of any please tell me!). I told my community that I could use extra work and I've been hired for additional teaching, workshops, and travel bookings (I'm still very open to extra work to pay off the tuition!). It's still a challenge, but an increasingly approachable one.

I thought I knew things about my own story, the narrative I tell about myself, my history, my family. Recently, I've had a series of conversations with my Mom that have changed that. My Mom has said to me repeatedly that she believed me about some heavy events. Knowing this, knowing that she acknowledges my reality, shifts things. These conversations happened unexpectedly. One day, I thought reality was that I would never get that type of affirmation. Today, I'm believed. 

I'm still grappling with the implications. One, is that I didn't think this was possible. Or, that if I did get this type of affirmation that it would be the sort of cure-all for a lot of history and hurt. It's not. I'm really grateful. I'm really grateful that I get to hear these words. Not everyone does. But it's been interesting to realize that while it's helpful and affirming, it doesn't fix everything.

But then again. Reality can change in a day. What I know to be true might not be the case tomorrow. What I'm learning is to be fluid, present, and ready. What do I know anyway?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cape Charles VA

I almost don't want to tell you all about this.

I want to keep it secret.

For years, Kevin & I have been making the trip from South Jersey to Norfolk. As we approach the Bay Bridge Tunnel, I always say, "it looks so beautiful!" We see marsh land & signs for parks. We always chat about stopping, but as we're about an hour from our destination after a likely 5 in the car, we keep going.

The place we always sighed and gazed at is Cape Charles VA. While Kevin's family has spent years vacationing at the Outer Banks, due to a series of shifts this past year they switched to Cape Charles.

Get this: it's half the price of OBX.

I obviously snagged family photos off Instagram as I stayed blessedly disconnected during the trip. The beaches are empty, the water is the Bay so it's sufficiently calm if you want to paddle board, kayak or even swim laps. The only downside I found (perhaps being offline, though it's debatable whether that's a bad thing) is little variety in restaurants. The seafood, if you eat it, is reportedly amazing. I'm vegetarian. Cape Charles is a little suspicious of us.

It's fine. I'll cook for myself!