Dream Big!

I grew up in a trailer park. You know those small, grubby looking places that are wedged in between strip malls and freeways? The ones where the yards are full of small cement ornaments and plastic flowers. You know the kind of place I’m talking about?

When I wasn’t living in the trailer park with my grandparents I lived where ever my mom took me. I have lived in many apartments, once right next to a railroad that would make the apartment shake when a train went by, a travel trailer in Alaska (it was tiny and COLD). Basements and small shabby rented rooms.

We moved a lot. I went to 8 different school before graduating. Sometimes for a few months and sometimes for as much as two years. When I look back on that part of my life I feel some sadness at the instability of it all but out of that experience came many good things. I learned to make friends quickly! I learned to let go of friendship quickly (moving tomorrow!) I learned to be outgoing and friendly and to look for the good where ever I went.

I never knew what my life was going to be like 6 months down the road but I knew change was imminent! I had to live in the present and do the best I could with what I had. And I got really good at it! I used to dream about traveling – you know the BIG kind of traveling – to other countries and to someplace of MY choosing.

Fast forward to today and I am on the brink of another move. The start of another great adventure and hopefully the beginning of a wonderful phase of my life. I’m moving once again to a new house, a new way of living, a new partner and a new future.  AND…..not only am I moving to a new house…..my dreams of traveling BIG are coming to fruition – finally!

This week my company announced our 2014 lineup of International Yoga Adventures! We are taking the leap of faith and trusting that there are others like me, like us who want to visit the world, meet new people and live an adventure!

Our first trip in March is to go sailing along the coast of Belize! We have reserved a 38 foot Catamaran that sleeps 8 people. We will sail, swim, play with our kayaks and paddleboards, eat fresh fish, enjoy some sunshine and hopefully we’ll see some dolphins and make new friends!

Our second trip in June is a Discovery of Morocco! We start out in Marakesh where we get to peruse the local markets and taste the food. We also travel out to Berber villages and trek through the Rose Valley. Finally we ride camels on the edge of the Sahara Desert and sleep in a Bedouin camp overnight! (Doesn’t that sound dreamy?)

Our third trip is a Trek through Thailand! We start in Bangkok and visit Buddhist temples, take an overnight train to Chiang Mai and then we visit Chiang Do and get to ride elephants!

Isn’t that amazing? It’s almost too much to believe. It seems like a dream – a BIG DREAM!  A really, really good dream. Travel the world and see it’s sights. I get to choose where I want to go now AND I get to invite others to come along with me! Not too shabby for someone who grew up in a trailer park – huh?

Yoga is teaching me to LET GO!!!!!

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Let go? Let go of what Dawn? What do you need to LET GO of? Well, just about everything it seems. In yoga there is a lot of teaching about letting go of our attachements. Attachments to things, places, people and outcomes are just some of the things I am working on LETTING GO.

Letting Go is very difficult. We get attached to our things, our belongings, our possessions. But it’s funny, I’m finding out that I don’t own things – they own me. I love my books, my artwork, my collectables, my shoes (oh yes I went there ladies!) But if I want to have a life of freedom, travel and happiness I am finding that owning things, storing them, dusting them is such a waste of my time. I would much rather travel around the world than stay in one place to pay rent on a house just to store my stuff – (please see George Carlin’s “STUFF” sketch here)

Letting Go of places is next. Where are you from? Are you from the place you were born or your longest residence? Are you from the place your parents raised you or are you from your college town? Letting go of an identifier like this can be very difficult. This one is easier for me because I have moved around so much in my life that I can’t really answer this question without about 10 minutes of your time – and boy is that a waste of time! I still need to come up with a good answer – maybe “I am a citizen of the world?” I’m open to suggestions.

Letting Go of people is very difficult for me. Especially my children. I have two teenagers 18 and 16 and even though the stress they sometimes create in my life makes it easier to let go of them – they are still my babies and I am not sure I will ever be able to totally let go of them. I am learning though that I have to let them fly – especially my 18 year old. He is an adult. It’s time for this momma bird to let him fly from the nest!  Now I just have to figure out how to stop the worrying part. I have to realize that they are intelligent, capable, young people and they are going to direct their own lives. I’m not in charge anymore. I need to Let Go with lots of hugs and kisses and good wishes!

Letting Go of outcomes is probably the most difficult. My life is not what I always thought it was going to be. I did not plan to be divorced after 21 years of marriage. I did not plan to be a yoga instructor – in fact I didn’t plan to be anything. Not knowing what the future holds, where I will be living, where my children will be, where I will be working – It’s all a bit much huh? Like flying in the fog. Or as a good friend of mine puts it “Jumping into the abyss!”

This is also where Yoga comes in – I am continually learning to LET GO of my assumptions about my yoga practice and asanas. Earlier this week I was able to touch my toes to my forehead but yesterday – not so much. Also this week balancing on my right side is wobbly and unstable – due to a pulled hip muscle a few weeks ago that is still healing. So I have to LET GO of what I think I am capable of – some days are strong, others are not. Let go of what I think I can do and just do what I can.

So this is where I am. I am smiling, trying to Let Go of it all. Trying to be accepting of where I am on a daily basis. Attempting to let go of my assumptions and attachments to outcomes. Trusting my kids to be smart and strong and make good choices. Hoping the fog will clear and the view will be a brilliant blue ocean and white sandy beach!

Stillness is Good

Yoga is teaching me that stillness is good. This is a particularly difficult lesson for me because I came from a lifestyle of activity – doing – busyness is better. The more activities, the more commitments, the more jobs the better. I am also a recovering perfectionist so I love a list! Boy, give me a list and I will set about marking those items off one by one and If I can do them all before noon – then aren’t I special and talented.

But be still? Sit still? Have no plan for the day? No list of “to do’s”? Ouch! That’s almost as painful as going to the dentist. What will I do with my time? Do I just sit here and stare out the window? Physical stillness is difficult – as many of you found out the first time you attempted Savasana at the end of practice. It is almost as challenging as any other pose – that lying still, letting go, letting the breathe move on its own, keeping the mind present.

Physical stillness is hard but mental stillness – for me – is much harder. I have had brief moments of mental stillness but to be honest, it doesn’t last for long but when it does – OMG – it’s the most refreshing, soothing thing imaginable!

The last 24 hours have been really hard at my house. The stress level is palpable as soon as you walk in the door. My body is reacting negatively and my mind is off the hook. So I took a little time this afternoon to meditate. I listened to Rod Stryker’s Stilling the Lake of the Mind and it helped. I can actually take in a deep breath now – something I haven’t done since this time yesterday. I can see the forest through the trees and know that this too shall pass. I’m going to be alright.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not all Zen. I still have a lot to deal with but I do feel better. Stillness is good. Sometimes It’s hard to get there but I encourage you to try. This life is hard and things are always been thrown at us when we least expect it. Yoga is teaching me that by being still, getting grounded and breathing I can weather the storm better.

~ Namaste Ya’ll

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Choose Love over Fear

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Choose Love over Fear! Sounds easy right? I’ve have come to find out that it’s not as easy as it sounds. I discovered Choose Love over Fear as my Dharma about two years ago and it’s been a day by day struggle – sometimes minute by minute depending on the situation. But thankfully, through the study of yoga, I am learning how to Choose Love over Fear.

Let me define what I mean by this statement. I believe that everything in life falls into two categories: Love or Fear.

Love includes: happiness, time with my kids, eating yummy food, bringing joy to others,  yoga and any other type of exercise, noticing beauty, being present, holding hands,  warm fuzzy thoughts, being in community with others and especially choosing to believe in the positive.

Fear includes:  anxiety, hurtful words, nervousness, circular thinking, hurrying, stress,  hate, gossip, negative self talk and small mindedness. It includes limitations and worrying about what other people think, only living for the future and self abuse in any form.

Instead of worrying about the heavy traffic in front of me that might make me late – I choose to believe that I should enjoy a slower pace today, take my time, smile at the folks around me and be at peace. Instead of worrying over my son and his choices in life – I choose to believe that I raised an intelligent, articulate young man who will eventually figure out his path. Instead of worrying about my future – I choose to believe that the right job will come to me when the time is right.

Notice in the last paragraph how each example I wrote used the word “worry.” Worrying is a big thing for me – my challenge to overcome. I have learned that worrying is a waste of time. When I worry I create a made up future that will impact me in some negative way – So basically when i worry I create something false to make me feel bad – Why would anyone do this?

The most important word here is “Choice”.  It’s my choice. I can worry and fret and moan and be miserable or I can CHOOSE to be positive, think the best of people, give love to everyone I meet, and trust that it’s going to be alright even if I am not in control. I choose love = happiness over fear= unhappiness.

I believe in the law of reciprocity. Treat people the way you want to be treated. What you send out in to the world will come back to you. There is enough fear and anger and hate in the world already- we don’t need to add to it. Choose Love over Fear People!