The Most Important Part of Your Face.

I remember being a little girl watching my mom put on lip gloss. She got really focussed. She looked in the mirror and puckered her lips just so. The gloss always smelled really good – like berries or candy. Then she would mush her lips together making sure both lips were covered. Every once in a while if I was very good, she would let me put some on too!

That’s how I learned that my lips were the most important part of my face. The part that deserved the most attention. It didn’t matter if I was out playing on my bike or in a fort in the dirt…my lips should always be pretty and glossy and smell like candy!

Then as a teenager I started to get pimples. Like every other teen I was the victim of unscheduled eruptions that ruined my whole week. From watching everyone else,  I learned to cover my face. I used foundation, highlighter and powder to try to make my whole face look uniform. No big red swollen spots Here! No Sir!

That’s how I learned that covering up my face was the most important part. Don’t look natural. The more makeup the better. At work, at school, on a date….my face should always been that perfect shade of non-shiny beige.

Recently, my eyes have caught my attention. How did I get those dark circles? And why are my eyebrows looking so pale? I guess It’s that grey hair creeping in. I use a little concealer under my eyes although it’s hard to find stuff that doesn’t settle into my wrinkles. And draw on some eyebrows…quick!!!!

That’s how I learned that my eyes are the most important part of my face. The part of my face that I wish still look young. The windows into my older soul. The part of me that looks back at me in the mirror. My eyes that change color with my mood. Grey when I’m upset and blue when I’m happy.

From someone who has been there, please know that it really doesn’t matter if you are wearing fruity smelling lip gloss, or if your makeup is covering your zits. Whether your eyebrows are on fleek is of no concern.

What really matters is that you use your mouth to speak words filled with loving kindness. That when you do speak, you speak to everyone…the homeless, the singled-out, the nerds, the popular kids, the people who seem ok but really aren’t, the ones who need you to tell them, “You are not alone.” That you use your words to speak out against injustice and hatred. And that you also learn when NOT to speak…that’s a tough one.

It’s important that you use your face to be real. No hiding, no wearing a mask, no pretending to be something you’re not. “Perfect” is not the destination. We need you to be YOU. Because you have an individual purpose that no one else can achieve. Turn your face towards those who need to be seen and heard. Face the crowd. Face the Music. Let your face be your autobiography!

And finally, work to SEE people for who they are on the inside. Look on others with patience.  Look through their mistakes and into their hearts. Look for the silver lining. See what is good in the world and find grace for each and every soul you meet.

And then you will be truly beautiful…..

 

 

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Going Gray…scratch that…SILVER!

O.M.G. My hair is really going gray…ummmm I mean silver! I decided a couple of months ago that I was tired of the incessant color, grow out, hide my head routine and that it was time to let my natural color shine! But to be really honest, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I didn’t know if I’d freak out and start coloring again or if I’d be able to remain brave!

What really surprises me is that I’m fine. I’m not freaking out. I’m not feeling older. I’m not feeling self-conscious or worried at all. I’m actually enjoying it! I don’t know why I didn’t do this much earlier!

I started coloring my hair when I was about 30. I remember going to the salon and crying in my chair because I was going gray and I didn’t want to look old! My stylist was patient with me and gave me some golden highlights which were supposed to make me feel better and they did for a while. But very quickly I had mostly blondish hair and when I looked at photos I didn’t recognize myself!

So after that I decided to color my hair dark brown. I used an at home single process – Clairol #120. It was my go-to color for years and years.  Until this year. I’m going to be 50 this year and as you can see my hair is really silver so every time it would start to grow out my roots would be very visible. That combined with the fact that I needed to color every three weeks really began to wear on me!

On top of all of that, as a yoga instructor and motivational speaker I am always talking about authenticity, about loving yourself as you are, about being the REAL you….and I didn’t feel like I was doing that. I felt fake, pretend and like I was hiding behind my hair color. I don’t want to do that anymore.

So here I am in all my glory. My crown is totally silver. It feels like I’m stepping through a new threshhold….one that will burn away all the chaff. Into a place where My body, my mind and yes, even my hair will be gloriously me – ALL me. No additives, artificial colors or preservatives! LOL

Now my eyebrows…..that’s another story…..:)

Cookie Police!

Do you like cookies? My favorite is a coconut macaroon but I’ll try just about any cookie once. I guess I like cookies as much as the next person. It’s even better when they are free! Even if they aren’t really great cookies – they’re free and that makes them awesome! My local print shop always has a box of cookies sitting out by the coffee maker and everyone is welcome to have one or two.

A few days ago, I was happily munching a chocolate wafer cookie while waiting to pick up some items when the lady in front of me turned and addressed me. I was in my own world at the moment so I didn’t really hear what she said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.” I said to them. Lady A dressed all in white with white hair wrapped up in a french twist said, “I asked if you were eavesdropping on our conversation?” “No” I told her, “I was too busy enjoying my cookie.” Thinking to myself, “Oh boy, what did I miss?”

Lady A continued, “Yes, it’s only skinny people like you who can eat cookies!” she said with a little laugh and a dismissive shrug. First of all I wanted to kiss her for calling me skinny and then my brain got stuck trying to figure out why she thought only skinny people can eat cookies. When I get confused like that I find that going with my gut is usually best.

So I told her thank you and then proceeded to share with her that I wasn’t always this size. That before I became a yoga instructor I was 40 pounds heavier, severely depressed and about ready to get a divorce. I think she was taken aback by my candor. “So you see,” I said with a big smile on my face “I earned this cookie.” I worked hard to get here and I now allow myself to have a cookie now and then. Cookies aren’t just for skinny people.”

At this point, lady B – much more quiet and a little cowed by her friends’ outburst began to ask me where I teach yoga and how she could find out about classes. Lady A left and Lady B and I visited for maybe 10 minutes. She took my contact info and may come to a class.

It’s strange being a public yogi. I get people who think I don’t eat meat – and lots of yogis do abstain from meat. I get people who think I don’t eat bread – OH HELL NO…..I Love bread. I drink coffee with a little cream and sugar and I even eat dessert occasionally. I’m pretty much a middle of the road yogi. I believe that between the two extremes lies the path. I’m not fanatical in any way except for the fact that I believe yoga can change your life. It changed mine.

So……If you want a cookie – eat it dammit. No matter what anyone says.

Xoxo From a Yogi who got called out for eating a cookie in public. And I’d do it again!!!!!

My Yoga Journey

When I came to Yoga, I was overweight, severely depressed and lost. My marriage was coming to an end, I had two teenagers and I didn’t know who I was supposed to be anymore. I had been: mom, wife, church lady, lunch lady, lady trying to be the perfect everything and none of it had worked. I ended up lying on the floor of my house, crying every day for a year. I finally went to the doctor for help after several scary months of not wanting to breathe anymore.

My doctor told me to take some antidepressants, get a counselor and get some exercise. I did all of those. I took anti-depressants, got a great counselor and picked yoga – because I thought, “It’s only stretching right?” Ha! Boy was I wrong!

At the end of my third class, during Savasana I had an epiphany – what Oprah calls “a light bulb moment.” It was that I was in charge! I was valuable and I was enough just the way I am! I can choose to make the decisions for the direction of my life. And everything started getting better from that point on. It wasn’t easy though. I had a lot of tough decision ahead of me and days where I would question every choice I was making.

I kept practicing and then started Yoga Teacher Training. I cried every day in class – I mean EVERY day. I don’t know how my teachers dealt with it. I’m sure the other students thought I was losing it. But it is now four years later and I am a dedicated yoga teacher/lover of myself/bringer of light and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my job!

It’s more than a job really – It’s my life and It’s a calling. For me, the most important part of a yoga practice is getting in touch with who you really are, on the inside. It’s being able to hear that little quiet voice inside that is your heart telling you which way to turn, telling you what you REALLY want to be and do. It’s learning that you are stronger than you think – because you REALLY are! It’s learning that you are worthwhile and lovely and special – or remembering that you are. That YOU are in charge of making your life what you want it to be!

We forget somewhere along in life that it’s ok to listen to that voice. The one that says it’s ok to take care of ourselves – that it’s ok to jump in rain puddles even if we are 60 – that we don’t have to live our life exactly like everyone else – and for me, that you don’t have to be unhappy, overweight and lost forever.

At 44 I saw the light. It was as though someone flicked my forehead and said “You have the Power!” You have the right to be happier. You have the tools to be healthier. You can find your way. Yoga set me free. And I want YOU to be free too.

YOU are lovely and special and you have gifts and talents that no one else has! You have a light inside of you that only you can shine! You have the power to be healthier, happier and free! We create our reality and it all starts in our mind. We get to choose positivity and light or….not. We get to choose our actions – actions that affect ourselves and others for good…….or bad. We get to choose our words that uplift, love and encourage others….or not.

As we begin to make those choices our lives will begin to change. Some people will fall away as you become more aligned with the true you. New people will be drawn to you because of your outlook and positivity. Those who truly love you will stay right by your side and hold your hand and say, “You go girl!”

For those of you who may be struggling today I want you to know you are not alone. You may be struggling with your weight, or with depression, addiction to perfectionism, a need to please every one else. You may be feeling worthless and hopeless. I’ve been there and may I just say…..reach out for help, tell someone, create a circle of friends that will support you, open your heart and tell them the real stuff – don’t keep it hidden.

Go to your doctor if that’s an option, take the stupid meds for a while even if you don’t really want to, and find a way to exercise – go walk, ride a bike or even try Yoga. You might find a community there of loving, real, broken and challenged human beings – just like YOU!!! Who knows? You might even find a calling.

From My Heart to Yours, Dawn

Integral Yoga Gibraltar

I had been in Gibraltar for two weeks and I was yearning for a yoga class. I was trying to practice on my own but you know how THAT goes. Time flies, activities get in the way, tourist sights beckon so practice became few and far between. I looked up yoga in Gibraltar on the internet and found Integral Yoga. It looked good. My only worry was the yogis in the pictures were wearing all white flowing garments and my yoga clothes consist of tight pants in multicolors! I was going to look like a peacock in a field of snow but I was determined to go anyway.

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It took some time to find the studio in the warren of narrow cobble-stoned streets that is Gibraltar. The room was long and narrow and totally packed! A few friendly yogis moved their mats apart so I could squeeze in. I counted two rows of 13 along the outer walls and a few squeezed in between the rows! Michelle, our teacher for the night has been teaching for over 20 years and WAS wearing all white but everyone else was wearing normal yoga gear so I fit right in!

Michelle’s message for the night was to practice Ahimsa with ourself. She reminded us that sometimes we strive too much and can harm our bodies. She cautioned us to be gentle, take it easy and rest when needed. Her voice filled the crowded room easily. I found I could close my eyes and imagine it was only she and I. Her beautiful spanish accent making each asana sound more magical than usual.

At Integral Yoga the teachers do not get paid to teach. The students are asked to donate what they can afford. It is suggested 5 euros per week – which is about $7.50. The money that is collected is then sent to charities that are sponsored by the Integral Yoga School.

This is very different from how we do things in America. Yoga is big business with studios being supported by the monthly fees they collect from their students not to mention all of the expensive yoga gear they sell! Yoga studios are also now producing class after class of yoga instructors who each pay around $3,000 to earn their certification. My question is where are all these teachers going to teach? Soon there will be more teachers than students!

I have been trying to make a living by solely teaching yoga and fitness classes for over 3 years and I have found it almost impossible. My body can only physically handle teaching about 10 classes per week and at a maximum pay of $25 per class (It’s usually more like $15) That is only $250 per week. Also I have had to hustle to find classes to teach. I have been teaching at a retirement home, a private gym and a parks & rec department of a city all at the same time just to try to make enough money! Most yoga teachers I know have a full time job and then only teach yoga part time.

Is it wrong for us to be cashing in on yoga in America? Should yoga be shared as they do in Gibraltar by donation? I know I’m going to have to find some other way to make a living. As much as I love teaching yoga I just can’t afford food, shelter and clothing for $250 per week. I will keep teaching because I love it. I have even fostered yoga by donation classes in several locations because I believe there should be options for people who can’t afford a $15 drop in fee. It seems to me that we are squeezing our clients for more and more cash and those who cannot afford the expense are told, “No Yoga for YOU!”

It’s something to think about isn’t it?

Check out Integral Yoga and their philosophy here: here: http://www.integralyogagib.com/

7 Little Lessons on Life

Did they hear me? Did I get my message across? Do they KNOW how wonderful and awesome they are? These are questions that have been running in circles in my head this last week. As I prepare to make big life changes and move away from my kids, students and friends for an unknown amount of time I find myself scurrying to put to paper all the things I want to share before I go!!!! There’s so much to say and so little time!!! So here are a few nuggets. Please take what is helpful and leave the rest.

Love Yourself – Everything else flows from this. You MUST learn to love yourself, make time for yourself, spend time with yourself and care about what happens to yourself! YOU have to be your own best advocate! You have to take care of your health – physical and mental – especially moms. I have been a mom who put herself last on the list. The list looked like this: kids, spouse, church, house, school activities, community activities, friends and then maybe me. Let me just tell you that being last on the list did not make for a healthy person. And also, what kind of example was I showing my daughter because I certainly don’t want her to grow up and feel that her place is last on the list. What I learned is that children hear your words but they copy what you DO. So, make time for you! Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Take time out. Take a class or go hiking. Do whatever it is that you miss doing B.C. (Before Children) It is not selfish to take care of yourself so that you then have energy to share with others.

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Remember Life is SHORT – Live it NOW – If there is something you’ve always wanted to do start making plans to do it NOW. Write it on the calendar, plan time off work, get a sitter and go DO that thing. You do not want to come to the end of your life with a bunch of regrets. I know you’ve heard this before and it may not seem like it right now while your baby won’t sleep through the night and your toddler still isn’t potty trained but PLEASE believe me – it goes by in a flash! MY kids are 18 and 20 and it seems like 5 years ago they were entering kindergarten. Go out and live a little! Don’t wait for “someday.” Make your life Epic!

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Live Simply – I used to have a big house, with three sets of silverware because you know, you must have the fancy stuff for holidays, the everyday stuff and also the camping bakelite too! At one point I event had 7 different Christmas trees – One for each room – some small, some big but HOLY Christmas! And you know what? All of that stuff I owned didn’t make me happier. It didn’t keep me from getting divorced and It didn’t define who I was a person. Have less stuff, spend more time with your kids, bake cookies, work on your relationship, go for walks instead of driving all the time, don’t use credit cards, only keep the clothes you actually wear. Donate or give away all the rest and watch how much more freedom you have! We spend WAY too much money and time buying and caring for THINGS. Keep life simple.

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Breathe Deeply – Get your butt off the couch! I don’t care what you do or how you do it – just move. Whatever it is that makes you feel groovy do THAT. I love yoga, riding my bicycle, roller skating, dancing, hiking and I even just started to learn how to long board. Get outside, increase your heart rate, breathe deeply. It’s magic. It will help you think clearer. It will keep you healthier. It will help you reconnect with mother nature and your own inner joy. 

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Travel Lightly – Where ever you go on this earth use only what you need. Pack it in and pack it out. Bring only a backpack. You really don’t need all that extra shit. You think you do, but you don’t. Get out and see the world! If you can’t travel around the world, travel around your country. If you can’t do that, travel around your state or city. Meet people, start conversations. Build a community. Travel will help you to learn that everyone wants LOVE and BELONGING. Everyone wants peace and happiness. Everyone longs for their children to have a better life that they had. We’re not all that much different. Travel will help you see that we all are one. 

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Be Brave – Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Maybe that’s bungee jumping or sky diving? Maybe it’s just speaking your truth. Maybe it’s taking a risk to be vulnerable with someone. Maybe it’s saying those three little words “I Love You”. Maybe it’s kicking up into a handstand! There are lots of ways to be brave throughout life. Being brave is a choice and it’s something we can practice. Start small and then move up to the more difficult. The rewards in confidence and self-esteem are totally worth it, I promise!

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Remember How Glorious You Are! – In yoga we have a salutation that is Namaste – which means (roughly) “The light in me bows to the light in you and recognizes that we come from the same source.” We all have a divine spark within us – a soul, a spirit, an energy that makes us WHO we are. WE are special! We are unique, broken, gifted, challenged, talented in our own wonderful combination of ways. I believe that we all are here for a reason. That we have a purpose that we are here to accomplish and that only YOU can accomplish it! YOU have a purpose, YOU are special, YOU are LOVED, YOU belong. You are ENOUGH just as you are – today, right now, in this moment.

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Well, that’s all I have for now. Thanks for taking the time to read. I am so blessed to be a mother to my beautiful children, to have found the path of yoga and to have students who come to my classes. I love this life. I am so happy to share it with all of you and I look forward to many more years of travel, growing, learning and practicing with y’all. Truly, Namaste

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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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