One Breath, One Movement

“Yoga has a sly, clever way of short circuiting the mental patterns that cause anxiety.” Baxter Bell

True statement. Almost two weeks ago on Halloween I had bilateral carpal tunnel surgery. Yes, I know that bilateral means both and yes, I knew the first couple of weeks would be difficult even with the amazing help I had in place. The most difficult part of the early stages of healing was not the soft casts I had to wear, the difficulty of basic hygiene tasks, or even the vulnerability of having people dress me, put me to bed, cook, and open/lift everything I needed. The most difficult part of healing is emotional, which I honestly, was not prepared to experience.

The past two weeks I have been a huge ball of anxiety, depression (thank you time change for helping with that), and fear. I created false narratives in my head about everything and everyone – all of which I knew were false, yet could not stop. Everything was out of my control. Everyday I was frustrated and felt stuck. Nothing felt ‘right.’ I didn’t feel normal. I took my “emergency” anxiety medication twice in four days after not taking ANY anxiety medication in almost 3 months. I diffused and topically applied essential oils almost 24 hours a day (Balance and Frankincense in case you’re curious. Ask me about EOs, they’ve drastically impacted my overall physical and emotional health!). Yet, I still went through each day with a tangled mess of anxiety in the pit of my stomach.

Part of the healing process that I knew from the beginning was no teaching yoga until the stitches were out – 2 weeks minimum post surgery – and that it could be 6-8 weeks before I would be back to practicing the way I was before surgery. It was something I could accept, but it was not something I liked in the slightest. Yoga, breath, meditation – these are the means of grounding my mind, body, and soul. Today I stepped back on my mat for the first time since surgery. It was a little messy. My balance was off and I had to modify almost anything that required my hands on the floor: want to master Baby Cobra where there is to be little, to no weight in the hands? Have wrist surgery. Want to get stronger in dolphin plank? Have wrist surgery. Want to know what it feels like to not be able to go into full expression? Have wrist surgery. Injuries teach us. My friend and yoga mentor, says harder is not always better. Modifying your practice does not mean that you are weak; it means that you are present and aware of what’s happening in your body.

Yoga guru T. K. V. Desikacher said, “The success of yoga does not live in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships.” In a short year and a half of consistent practice, yoga changed and continues to change my life. I believe in myself and know I am capable of anything I put my mind to. I am strong, in ways I didn’t know before. Through yoga I discovered the slow and disciplined journey of becoming instead of jumping ahead before I am ready. I typically spend a lot of time in my head, through yoga I move from my head to my heart where the rhythm of my breath becomes an intrinsic part of who I am. With the breath, the residual anxiety left in my chest burns away. In my disjointed practice today, my focus was on warriors. They are some of my favorite postures as they require strength, flexibility, and work every single muscle in the body.

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They are beautiful. As the heart and chest open, inner strength and courage develops allowing me to open up to others and myself. In Warrior II, I feel as if I’m taking up space and making myself known.

IMG_7517On my mat, I’m home. Home in my body. Home in my breath. Home in my heart.My stitches aren’t even out yet, and I know there will be more tears and frustrations to come in the weeks ahead as I regain strength and mobility. So I’ll move with the rhythm of my own breath; one breath, one movement; a low slow, flow.

 

“lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu”

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”

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A Little Honesty…

Check out what I wrote for the 30 Hour famine blog this month. Acknowledging our reality is difficult, yet when we are honest with ourselves and others it creates space for growth. Writing about my feelings of burn out, especially emotionally and spiritually, pushed me to discover new ways to nourish my soul (which I’m still figuring out). So with a deep breath, here is my heart.

http://www.30hourfamine.org/2017/06/little-honesty-burnout/

 

Jamaican Learnings

I’ve been back from Jamaica for less than 24 hours and already the question has been asked multiple times, “How was it?” There is no good, elevator answer to this question. It’s complicated. So, as the plane descended into Charlotte from Montego Bay I tried to put down some of the initial learnings of our team…

IMG_3396You say that the first shall be last. When we experience a new culture, a different way of viewing the world we become overwhelmed with the importance of the small things. Lord, you taught us to be humble.

Each new experience is an opportunity for us to see. To see a culture different than ours. To see the suffering of others. To see abundant hope that exudes an unrelenting faith in Christ. Lord, you taught us to open our eyes.

The hand of one student at school, the smile of one person with a developmental disability, the joy of one adult in the infirmary, the speed of one little boy-all of them over time, whether speaking or mute, reveal to us the importance of relationships. Lord, you taught us to be patient.

True joy lives in the words of a song, the slap of a card game, the smiles of new friends, and the connection of a team. Lord, you taught us to laugh.

On the surface we wonder what reading scripture or praying for someone can do. We wonder how wasting time with children will change their lives. Then, in an instant, we realize we just may be someone’s miracle and we understand the missional impact of relationships. Lord, you taught us to grow.

In spending time with others, we share space with them. In sharing space with others, we bear witness to their suffering and hope. In bearing witness to their suffering and hope, we affirm their value and worth. Lord, you taught us the ministry of presence.

In all things, in all places, in all ways we served God.

Front-Row Seat

I don’t really like long, holiday weekends. At all. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly appreciate not having to work (although in ministry there is never really a day off). But I still don’t like them. I dread their coming for one reason: it’s an extra day (or two) of being alone. Oh I’ll go to the store or to the gym, but for the most part the whole weekend is typically spent by myself. I avoid social media so I don’t have to see what others are up to on their holiday weekend.

But…this holiday weekend was different. Very different.

A few months ago a good friend encouraged me to set down roots. I took his words to heart and have mulled them over many times. The last time I took steps to do that I was hurt deeply. Was I ready to take that risk again? What do roots mean for someone who has a soul full of wanderlust? What does adventure look like staying in one place?

I wasn’t sure I knew and that was terrifying. Even though I had no answers, I renewed my lease at the beginning of May. For the first time since 2013 I’m living in the same apartment in the same city. Since that moment a few weeks ago, I’ve lived in a terrible state of vulnerability. There are many changes happening in my life, quite a few I have no control over. That’s scary. I’ve been told there is amazing fruit that happens when you set down roots, but that vulnerable feeling was almost enough to make me run. And run fast.IMG_3227

So as this holiday weekend approached I wasn’t looking forward to it. Then this amazingly beautiful thing happened. I saw the fruit. No wait, I didn’t just see it, I experienced the fruit in the depths of my heart and soul.

In the hugs of friends I’ve known now for 5 years. In the joyful conversation on their front porch while looking at the lake and later watching the sky turn shades of pink and purple as the sun set. In wasting the day away poolside with a relatively new friend. In drops of water splashing one another that were highlighted by smiles and laughter while kayaking that night on Belews Lake.

In being part of someone else’s family in such a way that you know siblings, spouses, and kids. In fireside chats. In conversation that simply flows without effort. In silence too. In counting stars. In deep belly laughs from an inside joke. In knowing I always have a place to go when life gets too hard.

In leading worship and worshipping with the same people. In knowing their names when I look out from the pulpit. In working with friends who trust my “holy spirit urgings” and go with the flow.

This is community at it’s core. It’s the beginning of fruit from putting down roots. But it’s also the fruit of having a wanderlust soul. Community doesn’t have to be experienced one way and I am so grateful that in my life it isn’t. The pressure to have it look a certain way was too much. For me, it’s both/and not either/or. I am who I am because of the people and experiences in my life. While traveling or staying in one place. They’ve shaped me and my life. I’m excited (most of the time) to lean into the vulnerability of putting down roots in this stage of life. There is so much adventure there to discover and I have a front-row seat.

“Cause your whole heart’s a village. Everyone you love has built it. And I’ve been working there myself. And that’s where I’ll be. With a front-row seat. To watch you life your life well.” (Village by Cam)

The Next Thirty

As 2016 began I was filled with hope, cautious optimism, and a bit of dread. 2016 would be the year I turn 30. 3-0. I flip-flopped for months, sometimes within the same day, even the same hour, between being thrilled to be 30 and wanting to stop time forever at 29. Society considers me a failure at 30: semi-successful career, not married, no kids, very little money in the bank, and still renting instead of being a homeowner. Thank you society for placing simplistic, unrealistic expectations upon my life that are based upon some obscure standard.

There is something epic when you reach a new age bracket. It’s a new beginning. A new season. As I move forward into my 30’s, I bring with me all of my experiences and feelings of my first 30 years. In this new transition for me, I see that “society” has it all wrong. I look at my life and shake my head in awe that I’m only 30! Only 30 and I’ve developed relationships with people all over the world (you name the place and I probably know someone, or know someone who knows someone); traveled nationally and internationally listening to stories and engaging in new, unknown cultures; impacted the lives of 100s of children and youth (good and bad); graduated with two masters from two distinguished universities; known the importance of team and won two state volleyball championships; found my way not with ease but with messy, stumbling mistakes; loved in a way that’s broken my heart (more than once); given sacrificially; learned new skills; taken up new hobbies; developed the art of mindfulness (on and off my yoga mat); moved way too many times; held family close even when there are miles between; stood up for causes I believe in; and deepened my relationship with Jesus. This only scratches the surface of my first 30 years, but I’d say it’s a pretty great scratch.

There are expectations of who we should be and what we should accomplish by 30, particularly for women. I’m so glad my life didn’t meet those expectations. The way I lived my first 30 years is authentically me. My deepest desire for all young women as they journey toward 30 is to laugh in the face of convention and be you. Be the you God created you to be. When you do that, 30 becomes a celebration not a reason to wear black and mourn. It becomes a reason to look forward to the next 30 years with a real sense of hope, not a faulty one.IMG_3066

In the words of Tim McGraw, “in my next thirty years” I want more of the same from my first thirty. More love. More joy. More Jesus. More laughter. And yes, even more pain. Along with it I want a deeper ability to more fully engage those things. I want to experience them in the very core of who I am in such a way that I lean into them instead of shying away. Embarking on my next 30 years there is so much adventure to be had. Let’s do this.

Going Hungry for Transformation

Last month our youth group participated in World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine. Check out what I wrote about our experience below…

It was toward the end of our 30 Hour Famine and two of my youth were debating whether or not to have a piece of fruit and cracker at our last juice break. They were so close to completing the 30 hours with only water. – See more at: http://www.30hourfamine.org/2016/05/going-hungry-transformation/#sthash.7yjYIjtt.dpuf