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Anything is Possible

Different Behavior =  Better experience

Changing how you think, and changing your behavior is a considerable amount of work but anything is possible.

Being aware of your thoughts is telling, because you can create something new by training yourself to think more toward growth instead of going back to old ideas and patterns.

What pattern would you like to change? For myself it is the love/hate relationship with myself. I have moments of really great choices and things and stuff and then shit goes south and hey, there I am back at the starting line again. I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m the only person stopping me from doing everything I want, and it’s really damn annoying not to have anyone to blame, ya know? Can I just blame the Boomers? That’s what the rest of my generation does!

So, I’ve been bored and stagnant in my life because I’m not teaching this semester at the university. I will say that not having my email go off 700 times a day is a blessing, but I miss teaching. At first I was okay with it because I had things to do. We just moved and there were things to paint and renovations to make! I was so busy I didn’t notice that I didn’t have anything to do. Then my part time work started back, and that takes up the afternoons. But now I just waste my mornings. Sometimes I go workout. Sometimes I just do yoga in the floor. Sometimes I clean or other domestic shit. Sometimes absolutely nothing.

Because I’m bored, and applying for jobs is only something I can do for so long before I’ve applied for them all, I am working on volunteering. This week I start at the local library branch. In May, shadowing to be a docent at the local art museum. Art and Libraries, the two things I know and love. If I can’t get paid to do it I can at least still participate and do something I really love. I’m starting a 6 week course in conversational French to prepare for my trip to Paris. It will end the Friday before I depart. Oh, and it’s Free, yes Free, through my local library. Once I come back I’m going to take more courses through them on various computer programs, other languages, and some writing.

What’s missing from my life is that I miss learning. I’ve been completely submerged in an academic lifestyle for like 20 years, part student part faculty. It’s really hard to not have that to stimulate conversation and inspire work. Having a lot of time to be  domestic goddess is REALLY not my cup of tea. And it’s really becoming a struggle. Being at home so much is depressing as fuck and I don’t have the money to go do things that cost anything, so I am pulling all the strings I can to inspire myself back into a productive mind set. At this point I need something to spark me back into the world of interaction and thought and balance and inspiration. Even something as simple as helping people with simple computer questions, putting books on a shelf, and asking little kids what they think about something they see brings so much more joy to my mind than sitting around here any longer. I thought was going to be somewhat cool to just have some time off to do whatever. Yeah, it’s not that exciting. It is mind numbing.

So, by changing my behavior, I am hoping to cultivate something more inspiring and delightful in my own life. Something that brings me joy and sense of purpose. Adding these volunteer opportunities on top of the yoga I am already doing is really like a trifecta for me. All things I really like. Too bad I can’t get paid to do it all! Maybe one day that will change, but for now I’m just excited to start a new adventure.

Anything is possible. I’m ready to see what is out there.

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Yoga

I’m fat and I teach Yoga.

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while and it isn’t one that I talk about. Weight is that one touchy subject for most people, especially if they weigh more than they’re supposed to, and even more so when you’re into yoga. Say what?! Yoga? That practice that makes sure people understand that they are acceptable and perfect just the way that you are?! How could you possibly have any kind of problem if you do yoga? Isn’t that the point? To take your problems away? Ideally, but it isn’t always the case.

The first time I did yoga it was with my best friend and a YouTube Video. When I started practicing it was to gain relief from the vigorous weigh lifting that I was participating in at the time. I was always stiff and wanted to get relief and stretch the muscles that I worked so hard building. I started my journey doing Yin style yoga. I needed the calm, long stretches, in order to make the gains I wanted in my weight lifting routines. The yin of my practice helped me find balance with the powerful vigorous yang style I was lifting. If nothing else, I am strong. I am also obese, or if it makes you more comfortable, fat.

Now that we have that out of the way, you will understand why it was intimidating the first time I walked into a live action yoga class. Can you imagine the looks on the faces of the very limber and thin yogi’s I practiced with the first time? I have always been a back row person, and I will always be one, but at that point it was for me to hide. I wasn’t really good at anything, since I was just starting my practice, but I was also determined. Yes, being the fat girl in the back of a yoga class was intimidating, and every time I go into a new studio I have the same thought “Please don’t let anyone notice.” News flash: They always notice! But it is empowering now, because people expect you to be one thing, and then you show them you’re another and they can no longer assume.

Why do you let the opinions of others bother you, you ask? Because it takes a LOT to get to the point where you ignore that kind of thing. Most days it is fine, other days it isn’t fine. Most days I am full of confidence and know I have the knowledge to succeed in my practice and the practice of others that I happen to teach. But teaching, being the fat yoga teacher, that is a different bag of tricks!

Talk about intimidating to step into the place of the teacher, and be the biggest person in the room. People think you don’t know anything, or that you can’t do anything, or that you can’t possibly be a yogi because you’re fat. That is because we spend so much time thinking that our weight defines us and determines who we are. We are conditioned as a society to shame and think terribly of people who are fat, no matter where we encounter them. I want to be the person that helps adjust the way people think and what people think yoga is supposed to be/look like.  I assume that when someone who has never taken a class with me before walks into the room and meets me as the teacher, the prejudice comes out. Why? Well, because that is what we’ve been taught to do. All yoga instructors can tie themselves into a knot and stand on their head, without the help of their hands, and must weigh less than 150 pounds, right? I mean, if you believe the internet then yes! But if you have the ability to think and experience things for yourself, then No.

If nothing else, as a yoga instructor I want to be able to influence others in the way they think and perceive what the shell of a yogi should be. Because that is simply what the fat I cary on my body is–a shell. It doesn’t tell you anything about me as a person. It doesn’t determine my value or skill level. It doesn’t effect you in any way, shape or form. I want people– fat or thin–to understand that you should accept people for who they are, instead of what you think they are. Give them a chance to explore what it is they have to offer the world, and let them do that without judging them. If you walk into a yoga class and the teacher is as big as two normal sized yogi’s, don’t underestimate them. I’ve seen some fat girls do some pretty impressive things!

Every single day I am thankful that I found a studio where I don’t feel judged or unappreciated because of my size. In my studio I’m not afraid of being the fat girl in the class. And if at all possible I hope to inspire other people who think they may not be able to do something to at least try. Cause you know if the fat girl can do it, you probably can too.

In closing, to all the fat girls in the back row of the yoga class, or the one at the head of the class teaching–you’re not alone. You are a spectacular being who deserves a place to celebrate the abilities that you have while not being judged for the things you can’t do yet (key word is YET). So, own your space on the mat and off. Own your body and your choices, and even though it seems impossible sometimes, ignore the negativity that others have for you. Yes, easier said than done as always. What if they stare? Stare back. What if they snicker and laugh at you? Honestly, if they want to make fun of you they will, but the beautiful thing is that the reason they make fun is because they don’t have the courage to do what you’re doing. They don’t understand the struggle of being the fat yogi or the fat instructor. And if they have time to sit and make fun of you, really they’re probably projecting their own view of themselves. We make fun of the things we don’t understand or that make us uncomfortable, and I can tell you right now that people get REAL uncomfortable when the fat girl isn’t afraid of being confident in herself.

Yoga

A Year Later…

So, how has it been a year since I graduated from my Yoga teacher training? It’s amazing how this year has changed me. I’ve gone through a lot, and I have to say that even though I have struggled with everything, including yoga, it is still something that I have been able to keep consistent. I try to ask myself what I’ve learned over the last year, and I’ve really had to dig down and figure out what that has been. Sometimes what we’ve learned gets clouded by what happened or other things in life.

First and foremost I have learned that people not coming to your yoga class is not a reflection on you, but on them and their inconsistencies. Since I live and work by the beach, especially this time of the year, I have to compete with the ocean on nice days. Since I teach on Saturday mornings, especially!

Second, I’ve learned that teaching can be defeating feeling. I’ve taught so many classes since I graduated from kids to caretakers, from a group of friends to a group of regular students. Somedays everything is lively and amazing, other days it actually feels like work. You can only hope that when shit is feeling like work that there is some kind of saving grace in your class that helps your students through, so they don’t feel like it’s work.

Third, you meet really interesting people along the way. They might be students or other teachers, but you do get to know some interesting folks.

Fourth, planning a workshop is not the easiest thing in the world. So many questions! I’m working on one currently, and I don’t know how or when it will all fall into place, but it will and I’m certain it will be amazing. Sometime this Fall!

Fifth, it is perfectly acceptable to take a risk. Whether it is with sequencing or theme or whatever, it is awesome to try those things, even if they’re kind of rocky in the beginning, the more you try, the easier it will become. I had this issue teaching a yoga class on the beach. It isn’t as easy as you’d think! It was truly a challenge for me but I’m glad I had the opportunity. And, if all goes well, if I do it again, I dare say it will be as much of a struggle.

Teaching is something that I enjoy doing. I make a living in a classroom, so taking my knowledge to the yoga studio seemed like it would be pretty similar. It is. But instead of talking about art everyday, I get to help people through an activity. I try my best to incorporate visuals, based around the myths of why we do what we do, so they can reflect back and think about their actions.

I am excited to see what the next year has to offer me. I look forward to seeing how much things change, and while they are, doing my best to live in the present moment and focus here and now. What can I accomplish today? Well, I strive to be 1% better than I was yesterday, since that is all I can do.

Happy Anniversary to all my Kula girls. And Happy Anniversary to me ❤

Life

When Your Path Shifts…

We always think we know what is best for us, and honestly sometimes we do, but sometimes the universe knows better than we do. Some of us call it God, some of us call it a force greater than ourselves. Whatever it is that you call it, that force helps dictate the right path. Even though we think we know what we want, sometimes we just do things because we think that is what is supposed to happen, and then it doesn’t. Then we end up back at square one, trying to figure out what the fuck we’re actually supposed to be doing. That my friends is where I am today.

In the two weeks following the death of my father I wanted to make a big change and take a huge chance in my life. I applied to an EdD program (Doctor of Education) at the university where I work. I got all my paperwork together really quickly, and if we’re being honest, applied to the easiest program I could find. They didn’t require GRE scores (mine are out of date and I REALLY don’t want to take it again), they didn’t require huge essays, lots of writing examples, etc. It was super cut and dry. So, I applied. Wrote the letter of interest, focused on a topic that I thought they would gravitate toward. None of it was a lie, but it wasn’t the real truth of my being, if that makes sense. I got all the paperwork done and submitted. Then came the wait. I assumed I wouldn’t hear back until the official cut off date was here (May 15). Yesterday, I got my rejection letter.

I opened the letter, assuming that I honestly didn’t get in, and I was right. I didn’t get upset. I honestly hadn’t invested THAT much time in this attempt at higher education. I honestly didn’t even really want to get an EdD, but I did want a big change. I wanted something to happen in my life. I needed to fill a void. I needed to continue making my dad proud. I needed to do all these things, but the thing is I wasn’t being true to myself or the path I know I am supposed to take. My heart wasn’t in it. It wasn’t the right path. And despite my attempt at changing something quite big in my life, it didn’t work because I wasn’t supposed to do it. My sister told me to apply again next year. And I very well could, but why would I want to try this path again, when I honestly know it isn’t the right path.

For a long time my path has been art. It is the only thing I have ever been really passionate about. I really like yoga too, but we all know no one actually makes a living on yoga. Art keeps my attention. Genuinely, there is no way that I would want to continue a career that didn’t involve art. I tried the library thing, I thought it would get me a solid job and put me in a career that I would get to have for the next 50 years. It wasn’t my path either. It was a huge supplement to the art path, because it made me a much better researcher, still not meant to be my path. All of the rejection over the years should have been the indication of that, yet I still apply for library jobs and things never happen.

But the thing is I’m applying for those library jobs and the EdD program for the wrong reasons. I did it for the potential of a ‘good’ job, where I could have benefits and a decent income. I did it for the wrong reason though. Why would I even attempt to do those things when I know it would make me feel empty inside. I don’t want to work in university administration. I don’t want to work in a library (unless it is an art library). I just don’t. I want to be a scholar. I don’t even necessarily want to be a PhD, but I want to be a scholar. I want to write articles, have them published one day. I want to maybe even write a book and have it published too. I want to work on innovative new ways to take my art history courses to the online platform that is much more interesting than the way I have them now. I want to show the world that art, be it visual or musical or literary, is the most important thing in society. I want to present at conferences and show the world what I know. I want to be a scholar.

The one question is how does one become a scholar? Well, that part I have to figure out, but lucky for me I have some amazing mentors who are helping me each step of the way. I have a family that supports me. I have amazing friends who support me. I have an amazing man in my life who wants nothing more than to be supportive and help me in any way possible. I have the knowledge to explore different topics. I just have to find the time and dedication to make it all happen. This time I have, and this time I will start to utilize until I get on the right path and become the scholar that I know I am supposed to be.

Will there be hiccups along the way? Yes. Will there be highs and lows? Yes. Will there be many sleepless nights? More than likely so. Will I keep trying? Every. Day.

I hope everyone has a productive Sunday!

Yoga

Full, Blue Moon Yoga

Let me just say that today has been an awesome day.

The cat might have yelled at me to get up at the normal 6:15 to feed her, but it’s still been awesome.

I put together an awesome full moon yoga class on this lovely full and blue moon day. So much power to be absorbed today. I really had so much fun with the ladies from my class today. We made our way through a couple different moon cycles and had some balancing fun in half moon. It was also the best I’ve probably ever done half moon in my life!

One of the parts of my theme today was to pay attention to the impulsive behavior that comes along with a full moon, as well as the emotions and potential heightened senses. Something along the lines if you’re an impulsive shopper, probably don’t go shopping today. Or if you have a tendency to be emotional to be a little easier on yourself and just pay attention to the feelings that arrive in your mind. It happens to all of us. But not everyone pays attention.

From there I asked them to let go of the things that are no longer serving a purpose in their life. I think this part is a reason I’m having a good day! I’m starting to let go of things that have plagued me for a while. And by a while I mean some of them the majority of my life. Also, most of them are self inflicted. Tells you something. But in the moment, letting go is such a welcomed thing. You genuinely become lighter and smile brighter and all kinds of other thing!

In addition, yesterday was kind of monumental and plays into this. Letting go of anger and bitterness I have toward people I’m related to was a fucking powerful thing. And today, working with my students, helping them get rid of whatever they needed was so energizing! I can’t explain it, but the reward of teaching yoga is powerful. And because moon cycles aren’t super common I went through them with demonstrations. The full effect of the class was not achieved for me because I’m still the teacher, but the little bit of it that I did get was spectacular!

Now, I’m off to make a red velvet cake from scratch, for the first time, to take to the Stauble’s Easter celebration. Pray I don’t fuck it up! I cook, I don’t do so well baking, but I have faith that today, being as awesome as it is, will keep on being awesome and bring me success with this baking.

Have a happy Easter everyone. Love your people. Love yourself.

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The Last Day

Today is the last day of university classes. And while we still took some notes and talked about the last couple of movements in my ARH 202 class (Renaissance to Modern) I did something different. I received a package this week from the Amplifier Foundation, which was an education packet of posters they put together to send to educators who were signed up for their program. Through this program educators are guided on how to have conversations about art and the changing face of America. I have been working as a volunteer with this organization since the Women’s March in Washington DC almost a year ago. I supported the kick starter to have the images produced, and I am the proud owner of the 5 original images. The We the People campaign was magical and I am eternally thankful for those who made this all happen. The conversation about art is vital and important.

As an Amplifier Educator I was supposed to open the dialogue about art, diversity, equality, activism, etc. Today, on the last day of class, I got there a few minutes early and put the posters that I was sent up on the wall around my classroom. I lectured for about 40 minutes and then asked the students to get up and look at the art in the room. From there I told them once they had looked at it all to stand by the image that spoke to them the loudest. Once they were settled in place I asked them to explain why. What about the image struck them and what did they see? Some were drawn to the science posters because they’re science majors. Some were drawn to the Native American inspired posters that fight for water and the earth. Some were drawn to the equality images as they see how incredibly unequal the world around them is and strive to change that. The three Shepard Fairey images the We The People series had 7 students hovering around them. When I got to them, and why they liked what they saw, all of them were drawn to the determination of the faces of the individuals. Some identified because they were the same ethnicity, as well, but even those students commented on the determination seen in their faces. The pride they have for being African American, Hispanic, and Muslim was electrifying them and they gravitated toward it.

Y’all, today was the first day that I felt students connecting and seeing the power that art has in society and the world. I felt their interest spark and the desire to know more grow in each of them. Curiosity is magical, no? I can’t even begin to explain the sense of gratitude that I have for my job today. Or how fulfilled I am by how magical that moment was. What a way to end the semester! I need more days like today. I wish I had the money to buy loads of posters each semester to give out to these kids so they could keep the conversation going. That was my only stipulation for those who got a poster. They had to keep the conversation going.

I am for once looking forward to the Spring semester. Excited to see how the interaction with the new crop of students will be. I can’t wait.

If any of you are interested in the amplifier foundation, check them out at http://www.amplifier.org.