Getting Lost in the Woods

I received a lovely note from a friend of mine this week and I’d like to share some of it with you:

Hi Dawn 😉 I don’t know if you remember me, but we met about five or six years ago. I follow you regularly on Facebook and I have to say that the way you live your life is very inspiring to me. You radiate happiness and the possibilities of following your dreams! You look healthy, happy, strong and like you are outside a lot! Thank you for sharing your life with others and being so inspirational. I’m going to put some shoes on everyone and we’re going to go outside and get lost in the woods!”

Big, big smile! This note made me so happy! She is right! I AM healthy, happy, strong and outside a lot! As my motto is Live Simply, Breathe Deeply , Travel Lightly  I make certain that I spend lots of time outside as part of my exercise routine which fits into the Breathe Deeply part. I love my life but it wasn’t always so. And this friend knew me before. She new me when I was 45 pound heavier, depressed and not enjoying my life very much. So she can see the difference that my Yoga Gypsy Lifestyle has facilitated.

I love her line about “getting lost in the woods” and I thought about it all weekend while my guy and I were off camping in Eastern WA. We routinely head over to the east side of the Cascade Mountains to avoid the cold and wet Puget Sound area where we currently live. We feel so much more energetic, ready to explore and “Breathe Deeply”  when we can be in the sunshine!

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Each morning we get up, have our coffee and decide where we want to explore. On our first day we walked down the short path to the creek that was below our camp site. The creek is about 15 feet wide, very shallow and clear as can be. You can make out the color and shape of every stone as the water passes over. There are a few rocky ledges over which the water burbles softly – my favorite sound on earth! Cedar trees reach their branches low to the water’s edge and mossy rocks invite you to meditate for a while!

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The next day we decided to take the road less travelled. My guy has a big pick up truck and enjoys getting it nice and dirty! We drove north out of Winthrop, up and over the mountains on a long, rutted, dirt road to Conconully.

Along the way we saw thousands of acres of land ravaged by forest fires! We couldn’t believe our eyes. Over every hill was another hill and valley devoid of trees. The only thing left were tall black spires where healthy green trees used to stand! We couldn’t comprehend how huge the fire had been. How hot it must have been and how long it will take to regrow.

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After our long drive we needed to get out of the car and move for a bit so we stopped in Mazama and picked up a trail guide. They have some great bicycle trails over there! They are color coded on the map just like ski trails. Green for easy, Blue for a little more challenge, and black for those who want to ride hard! One of the trails even goes 30 miles over to Winthrop! We chose a green trail and rode out 5 miles to a suspension bridge over Early Winters Creek.

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But the most fun of all was our morning hike on the last day. We set off just after breakfast on the flat wide trail heading west out of Klipchuck Campground. The trail meanders through some meadows with widely spaced trees which became more dense as we went on.

When I get into the woods I become enamored with the wonders of nature around me. It’s as though I’ve stepped through some magical portal where everything is more interesting, beautiful and in need of closer inspection!

One large tree was dripping sap from its bark. The sap glowed amber gold in the sunlight. This same tree also had hairy lime green moss growing on its north side. The swirls and whorls of the bark make beautiful layers of color and pattern. 

Another tree had fallen to the ground and was now a nursery for all kinds of fungi and baby trees. A spider’s web glowed with rainbow colors in the morning sunlight. Berries and wild flowers of every color were in attendance. I noticed a spot where a squirrel had recently enjoyed his breakfast of pine nuts!

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I pushed my way through bushes, climbed over massive fallen logs and crawled under others. I traversed a narrow rock ledge and sat on a log listening to the sounds of nature all around me, I watched the breeze blow the maple leaves and tried to identify the birds singing nearby……I was lost. Lost is the woods and happy, happy, happy!

When I was a kid we were told to go outside and play! We used our imagination, built forts, scraped our knees, rode our bikes, drank from the stream, built race tracks in the dirt, played tag among the trees and came home when mom called for us. As an adult, I try to be outside at least for an hour every day. This time in nature helps me recharge. It helps me think more clearly and be in the present moment. 

Times are different now.  People are becoming to attached to their electronics. Kids and adults alike are busy checking their facebook feed,  playing computer games and sitting in front of the TV.  I’d like to challenge you to leave your phone behind and go for a walk. Go somewhere you haven’t been before to foster a sense of exploration. Try the beach if you like being by the water. Try the woods. Take your time. Look around, see the beauty. Engage with nature and plug-in to something real! Maybe you too will find that you enjoy Getting a Little Lost in the Woods!

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P.S. As I sit here writing this, two squirrels just ran past me, one chasing the other! Now time to turn off this electronic gadget and go plug-in to nature!

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Big Fat Body Shame

 

I have been thinking about writing this post for some time now. It’s been sitting in the back of my mind saying, “Me, Me, Write about ME! But I have been pushing it aside because it’s just too close to home. It’s a really sensitive topic for me but I’m going to go there anyway. There is never going to be a good time where this doesn’t feel scary so I’ll just say it quick like pulling off a bandaid – I think I’m too heavy.

Body shame & guilt started early in my life. I can remember being about 8 years old sitting in the car with my mom watching her point and laugh at people who were overweight. My father was also concerned about my size – commenting if he felt I was eating too much and even asking me as an adult, “How much do you weigh now?”

It has been a lifelong struggle. I joined Weight Watchers when I was 19. After reaching my goal and becoming a lifetime member I quit WW to do it on my own. I Binged and Purged my way down another 10 pounds. I have yoyoed through a lot of life. I tried pills, teas, wraps, potions and diet after diet in my 47 years of life and still don’t feel thin enough.

6 years ago I found myself bigger than I’ve ever been. I was depressed, my marriage was coming to an end and I didn’t know who I was supposed to be anymore. My doctor recommended three things: medication, a counselor and get some exercise. I did all three and chose Yoga as my exercise. I fell in love at first Savasana and haven’t looked back since!

Through Yoga my body started to become more toned and fit. I found out I was stronger than I thought I was. By practicing often and eating half of whatever I wanted I lost about 40 pounds. In the process I became a yoga isntructor and personal fitness trainer. But that stupid freaking voice that says I still need to lose 10 more pounds just won’t shut up!

The real eye opener came when I went away for a few days with a couple of my girlfriends. After the first day, one of my girlfriends said to me, “Dawn, do you even realize how much you body shame yourself?” and I thought to myself, “Well yeah, I know I do that inside my head – I just didn’t realize how much of it was coming out of my mouth!” I don’t know if I felt more comfortable with them that weekend and so I was just being my uncensored self – or horror of horrors – am I like that all the time? Do my students hear it? Because as a yoga/fitness instructor I want people to be healthy, to feel strong, to be in love with their body – am I sending mixed messages because I can’t seem to love my own body?

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This picture was taken that weekend. What I see is a slightly chubby me. 

The thing is, I have good days and bad days. There are some days when I look in the mirror and I like what I see and I really like who I am! I know I’m strong and healthy. I know I’m smart and have a good sense of humor. I like my sense of adventure. I’m brave and love a challenge so why does this one thing still keep bothering me and most importantly HOW DO I FIX IT? And don’t just say, lose the weight! Because it’s not really about the 10 pounds. It’s about that voice in my head. And it it weren’t the 10 pounds it would be something else.

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When I look at this picture I see a strong, fit yogi!

Maybe that something else is that you don’t like your nose, or your feet, or maybe you think you’re boobs are too small – whatever it is that the negative voice in your head keeps bringing to your attention. How do you deal with that? How do you love yourself? Because I hear a lot of gurus saying that we need to love ourselves and accept ourselves right where we are. To realize that we are enough – perfect in our imperfections…Hell I’ve said these words in class many times. You know why? Because we preach what we are working on ourselves.

I have to fix it myself. No one can help me do it. No one can say anything to make me feel better. It all has to come from within. So this is what I’m going to do. Every time I hear that bitchy negative voice telling me, “You’re too heavy. You shouldn’t be teaching yoga or doing any personal training because who would want to learn from a chubby girl?” I’m going to take that thought and hold it captive for a moment – to check in with myself to see if that message is actually true. And when I find that’s it’s not true I’m going to fill my mind with positivity toward myself. Tell myself things like “I have students that love me just as I am. I can only be me and bring what I bring to the table. I AM enough. I am strong. I am valued. I am loved just the way I am. I do not need to be anything but myself.” And I’m going to do that over and over and over until I believe it.

So that’s it. That’s the plan. I would love to hear from you if you struggle with some of these issues especially if you’ve found something that helped you! We all have our work cut out for us in this life. Let’s encourage each other and find ways to make our lives better, healthier and happier!

Not believing I’m going to actually hit the publish button…….yikes!

5 Yoga Poses for Sailors

We’ve all had an experience where staying upright below decks is like performing funky dance moves due to waves and wind pushing our boat over or we find our foot slips when we try to maneuver from the deck to the dock to tie up. What about using the head while underway? That’s never a pretty or easy event! As a yoga instructor I have identified 5 of the most useful Yoga poses that we can practice to make our life aboard a little more agile, balanced and capable!

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The first pose is Vrksasana or Tree Pose. This is a great balance posture that helps us strengthen our legs and core so that our balance will be better and where is balance most challenging – that’s right! At Sea! When the boat is rocking and swaying back and forth having good balance is a must! This pose can even be practiced while you are brushing your teeth! Give it a try! The counter is right at arms reach if you need it! Start standing on your right foot and bring the left foot up onto the calf. (It doesn’t have to go as high as in this picture – start lower!) Press the foot into the standing leg. Tighten your tummy and pull your bum in. See how long you can hold it! Then do the other side! I hear it from my students ALL the time – As we age our balance seems to be one of the first things to go! Well, you CAN get it back – you just have to practice!

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Another great pose is called Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog. This pose is usually done on a flat surface. Spread the fingers really wide, lower the head between the biceps, lift you bum high and stretch the hamstrings to work the heels toward the ground. They don’t have to touch the ground just try pressing the heels down.  It’s a great stretch for the legs, back and arms! When I saw this photo I immediately imagined trying to keep our boat from bumping into the dock because someone forgot to put the bumpers down! I know I’m not supposed to get between the boat and anything else but I don’t really want to lose any more gelcoat! It’s also a good pose if you have to climb over a ton of gear to reach some far corner looking for a bilge pump! No one’s ever had to do that right? LOL!

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This one is called Virabhadrasana III or Warrior 3. This is a balance pose again but there is also a lot of work going on in the glute and thigh of the raised leg. And we need strong legs at sea! The goal with this pose is to bring the body parallel to the deck – It’s harder than it looks! See the arms clasped and pointing forward? Looks like a wind indicator to me! Now, I know I don’t spin in the wind easy and I’m sure as hell NOT going to get on top of the mast but this pose could also be used to signal land if you’re on the other side of the boat and your partner can’t hear you. Especially after you’ve yelled at him twice and he still doesn’t understand – I DARE you to try this! Watch his/her jaw drop! Then send me a picture of YOU doing it!

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Utkatasana is also known as chair pose. Hmmm, I wonder where we can use this on a boat? Maybe the head? I HAVE been know to call this “Porta Potty Pose.”  We all know that sharing a head with other people means that sometimes the seat is not exactly dry so using this semi-seated position keeps our rear clear of any unpleasantness. ‘Nuff said. I think you get the picture…..Sorry couldn’t help myself!

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And finally,  Savasana or Corpse Pose. The goal of this pose is total relaxation, no work, no worries, just rest and it’s how I end every yoga class. This pose comes in VERY handy when I need to flake the jib! I find by lying on the jib it stays low to the deck, the wind doesn’t catch it and it gives me a minute to rest before moving on to my next task. This pose can also come in very handy if you are feeling a little bit queasy – just turn your head and look at the horizon! Or if the sun is out and you just need a few moments to yourself! it’s my favorite spot on the boat!

All joking aside, Yoga is a great compliment to sailing. It helps to keep me strong, balanced and fit. All things that help me be a better sailor, partner and part of the crew! And I can do yoga anywhere! If you haven’t given yoga a try I totally recommend it. I only started about 4 years ago and it’s done wonders for me!

I wish you Fair Winds, Following Seas, and Flexible Forward Folds!

If You Could Be Anyone, Who Would YOU Like to Be?

The other day my boyfriend asked me, “If you could be anyone in the world, who would you choose to be?” I didn’t even hesitate with my answer which was, “ME!” He laughed and looked wide-eyed at me in surprise! Maybe because of my answer or maybe because I answered so quickly. Then he began to clarify, “You could be famous, or be a movie star or someone from history!” “Yeah,” I said, “I know. I’d still want to be me.” It was a short little conversation that didn’t last very long but I’ve been thinking about that question ever since……If YOU could choose to be anyone, who would you be?

It’s an interesting question don’t you think? You could be Marie Curie and be the first woman to win a Nobel Prize! You could be Eleanor Roosevelt and inspire millions! Hell, You could even choose to be Oprah because she has more money than God! Or Jennifer Lopez – Dang she’s gorgeous! Why would you choose to be yourself? Unfamous, not rich, average old ME…

I’ll tell you why I answered the way I did. I KNOW me. I know what my history is. I know what mistakes I have made. I know which people I have hurt and I also know a few people I have helped. I know what my challenges are, what I’m afraid of, what makes me happy, what food I like and which direction I want to go with my life. I’ve worked long and hard to get where I am today and there is no way that I’d want to start all over again being someone else!

And besides, their life might look great from the outside but you can sure as hell bet that they have issues too! Oprah may have more money than God but she openly admits she still struggles with her weight. Eleanor Roosevelt was inspiring but people also made fun of her appearance and her husband had a very good female friend. (wink, wink) And Marie Curie won a Nobel Prize but died from her study of Radioactivity. JLO has an amazing body but she’s a single mom and I bet she feels lonely sometimes.

You know who I admire? I admire women who have the courage to tell it like it is – to be real. To share their struggles and be vulnerable – that takes real courage. Elizabeth Gilbert does it. Brene Brown does it. Even richer than God Oprah does it. Being real and talking about their struggles lets others know that we are not alone. That NO ONE IS PERFECT! That life is hard sometimes and we need to give ourselves a break. That is what inspires me. That is what makes me feel that I belong. That it’s ok to be human, imperfect and working on my crap.

The funny thing is, that most of my crap comes from me! From my own mind. From that loud, obnoxious, bitchy voice in my head that tells me, “You’re too fat. You’ll never make it. He doesn’t love you. You’re all alone.” Confronting that voice, questioning it’s validity and getting it to shut the hell up is an almost constant battle. And since I spend a lot of time with women- teaching them yoga, talking about our lives I know that we ALL struggle with this voice.

Luckily after 47 years on this earth I have learned (for the most part) how to listen to the quieter, kinder more loving voice that says nice things to me like, “It’s going to be ok. You ARE enough just the way you are. It’s ok to be vulnerable, real and share your heart with others. You are NOT alone.” The challenge is to keep listening to this voice over the other. To choose to Love myself instead of falling into Fearful thinking.

So I choose to be me. I choose to be honest and real about my struggles in life. I choose to be brave and keep moving forward towards my goals and things that scare the bejesus out of me. I choose to keep trying to be the best version of me I can be.

Life is hard sometimes. Everyone struggles. There are lots of challenges and lessons to be learned. Try to be kind to yourself. You are not alone. Be Brave. Be Real. Be YOU.

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5 Things I Miss About Living in a REAL House.

In about 8 weeks I will be packing up a very small amount of stuff and heading out on a year long road trip. We will be driving our truck loaded with all of our camping gear and towing our trimaran across the country to sail and hike and camp. As we get ready to go I have been doing some house sitting for friends of mine to help raise a little extra cash and also to get a break from our RV lovingly called “They Gypsy Love Bus.” House sitting has been really nice. The only problem is that it makes me realize what I miss about living in a REAL house.

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#1 A Bathtub – There is just no replacing a nice bath. One that you can fill up with hot water and bubbles if you like. Sink in and soak, getting rid of all the stress from the day and wash thoroughly. It is so soothing. Something a shower does not quite accomplish. In a bath, you can close your eyes, feel the heat radiating from the water into your body, take your time shaving the acres of skin in which unwanted hair grows. You can even read a book if you want, light a few candles, make it an event!

#2 Laundry facilities – I know I’ve probably mentioned this in past but one of the greatest things about being in a REAL house is having your own washer and dryer. I can do laundry at night if I want! I don’t need a pocketful of quarters and I certainly don’t have to wrestle other people for a chance to use the dryer! I can even do multiple loads without someone giving me the evil eye because they also have a crap load of laundry to do!

#3 Gardening – I love watching a garden grow! It is so fun to go out every day and check to see if the beets are a little taller. Did the deer eat any of the lettuce? Check out those hollyhocks! Wow they are getting tall! Planting, watering, weeding and tending a garden is just something I don’t get to do in an RV and when I’m house sitting I usually get to eat some of the veggies too! Score!

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#4 SPACE! I can walk around in a house and there are actual rooms! There is a bath ROOM, and a bed ROOM and a dining ROOM. My RV is only 300 square feet in one long tube. Sure there are sliding doors that kind of separate the spaces but being in a REAL house has made me realize how small my RV really is. And what most people feel is a small house – say 1400 square feet – that feels BIG to me! A house that has 2400 square feet is a mansion!

#5 A neighborhood. Since I’ve been house sitting I take time each day to go for a walk around the neighborhood. It is fun to see who is working on their flower beds, notice the apple trees coming into fruit, check out the fun styles of fencing people use. I miss that. In an RV we are kind of loners. Our neighbors come and go every few days so we don’t really take the time to meet them. Here I can imagine getting to know your neighbors, waving as you walk by, building a community.

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I’m not sure what all of this means since in a few short weeks I will actually be moving out of our RV into a truck, tent and trimaran. I will have even fewer belongings and less space. But it will be a big adventure! Just as living in The Gypsy Love Bus has been an adventure over the last year. Someday I’ll have a REAL house again.  It’s something to look forward to! I’ve chosen to live this way – for a while. Because for now adventure calls and I’m listening. 🙂

What Does Freedom Mean to You?

It’s that time of year again! Everyone is getting ready for the big party on the 4th! Stocking up on ice and beer, planning a BBQ and time with friends and don’t forget the fireworks! Celebrating freedom is big in America!

Freedom comes in many shapes and sizes. Teenagers relish the freedom that driving a car brings. For stay-at-home moms freedom is 15 minutes alone in the bathroom without a small child banging on the door! For people who sail, it’s pulling up anchor and heading wherever the wind takes you!

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For me freedom means travel. In only 8 weeks my guy and I head off on a journey across the United States! We will be free to drive, camp and sail wherever we choose! I visualize us waving our hands out the windows cheering, “We’re FREE!!!!” as we drive down the interstate with Bruce Springsteen blaring on the speakers, and huge grins glued to our faces!

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In addition to the freedom that our truck, tent and trimaran will provide over the course of the next few months, there is another level of freedom that I strive for.  Freedom that can only come from within. As a yogi I practice Aparigraha (freedom from attachments).

Freedom from attachment means freedom from things. I like having fewer possessions because that means less work for me! It also makes it easier for me to travel! No plants to water! No house/pet sitter. The Yoga Sutras explain that “Excessive attachment is based on the assumption that it (the possession) will contribute to everlasting happiness.” ( YS 2.7) So instead of buying stuff I prefer to have experiences.  It’s experience that makes life rich.

It’s not always easy though. I like to buy books, new clothes and shoes – oh how I like shoes. But I’m trying to have less so I go to the library or borrow books from a friend so I can return them. I try to be happy with the clothes I have. I’ve even been downsizing to prepare for our trip! It’s amazing how few clothes I actually wear during the course of a week! And when I’m tempted to buy shoes I try to remind myself what I already have. Although I did still buy those Doc Martins last year. I said I was practicing after all!

So as we celebrate on the 4th of July,  in addition to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness I wish for you freedom to look around you and see how much stuff you have collected. Freedom to decide if all that stuff makes you happy or not? And the ability to look within and ask yourself, “What does freedom really mean to me?”

I also invite you to connect with us on here on this blog or also on Facebook  at the Trimaran Journal or Yoga Gypsies as we make our journey across the US. It’s going to be an awesome adventure and we’d love to share it with you!

I wish you all a happy and safe holiday and I hope that you will always Live Simply, Breathe Deeply and Travel Lightly!

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