It Happened Again

The clutter built up.   Not in my apartment, but in my car. How did it happen? One moment at a time. One day maybe I felt too tired to take a bag out of my car and it went from there. It built up. 

I didn’t actually buy a lot more stuff. Stuff just accumulated, including the dirt on my car. I decided I had enough and that the time had come to clean out the car.

I started by taking everything out. All the items that weren’t trash I piled into my living area. Then I took the car to the car wash! There’s something cleansing about having a clean car. It’s like it’s brand new all over again. 

I didn’t stop there though. I’ve worked too hard to allow clutter to infiltrate my living space again, so I spent a few hours today putting away the stuff that had accumulated while doing laundry.  

I’m telling you all this because life really is a process. Two steps forward; one step back. I can’t tell you the clutter won’t reappear but I can tell you I’m still so much better off that before. I know more of my possessions. I own them. They don’t own me. 

That’s progress. That’s hope. I’m also aware I’ll be able to declutter again. I know that when an object, a thing has served its time that I can thank it for its service and let it go. Let it go. That’s progress. 

I have more space than before and I LOVE it. It feels FREE. So many people have written books on decluttering.  Go to a bookstore and browse through some. Google for ideas. Try some. Find one or two or three methods. Create your own. Create space. Make space. 

I’ve heard it said that when we make more space in our surroundings we discover more of who we are in the spaces inside. 

I find that true. Not all the spaces bring joy but they do bring snippets of realization and that makes all the exploring worth it. 

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Clearing Away Cobwebs

A couple of days ago I found myself wandering around the beach across from Neptune’s Net in Malibu. As I stood against the railing I observed a young couple doing a selfie shoot with the picturesque ocean as their backdrop. They appeared to be in their 20’s. In the sand they had written Coming January 2017; next to that they had gently arranged a onesie with indeterminate writing on the front. With a selfie stick in hand they playfully posed.

At times the presumed father-to-be would place his hand lovingly on the young woman’s abdomen. Their playful and carefree smiles revealed untold joy. I watched them for awhile as they engaged in the give and take of the frothy waves reaching the shore. A magical enchantment embraced me.

I thought for just a moment that I wished I could go back to the carefree places of my twenties, but as soon as that thought crossed my mind, another took hold. I can be carefree in any moment I choose. Any of us can be really. What keeps me from being or feeling carefree? Assuredly it’s the mental prison of thoughts. The mind is a crazy neighborhood. Some say it’s a place to never venture alone.

I differ on that last part though. I do wish to venture into my head alone, taking a pickax with me to chase away the cobwebs that cloud my thinking. Those cobwebs aren’t real, but I think they are. I allow them to exist. I create them. Whoa! Wait? Did I just say that. Yes, I did.

I create my cobwebs. No one else. And when I sweep them away I feel so free, in ways this writing can’t describe. There’s a reason why Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now is an international best seller. People crave the idea of living free, of living now, of living in the moment.

We live in rough worlds, internally and externally, and it’s so easy to allow the negative dramas, personal and otherwise, to overtake us. Anyone who has ever cleared away spider created cobwebs knows that they come back.

That’s where people can get stuck. The cobwebs come back and they feel defeat. Sometimes I feel that way. More than I care to admit I feel that way. Being on the beach a few days ago, and watching that young couple, I also came to understand a profound truth: wallowing in an imagined misery of what isn’t doesn’t help me live the life I deserve.

The mind is a tricky place because it will try to convince you otherwise. It wants you to live in defeat. But the heart does not. The heart wants to soar free. The question then is how do we allow the heart to influence the mind?

The answer is easy: as Joseph Campbell says “follow your bliss.” What does that mean though? Simple. Do one thing each day that brings you joy, that makes you smile. The old adage is true. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I work at this by the way. Every day. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don’t, but I keep at it. If you’ve been with me awhile you know I’ve been decluttering, and I’ve discovered something: I LOVE the new found freedom I feel. I’ve also discovered that I still have A LOT of stuff, and that’s okay.

I have decided recently to spend a few minutes each day devoted to continuing to declutter or rearrange my belongings. In this way I know what I own and what I own doesn’t own me. Plus it makes me HAPPY. Being happy means I’m living in the NOW.

Clearing the cobwebs away and keeping them away means working at doing what makes you happy. Find ways every day to make yourself happy and the path to your bliss will reveal itself.

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Which Way Will You Go?

When I arrived home this afternoon from lunch with a friend I had a choice, I could sit down and take a nap or I could make some coconut butter. I chose the latter. There’s nothing wrong with a nap, but I’ve been doing too much of nothing these days or brooding or whatever you call it and I’ve been long wanting to try my hand at nut butters.

It really doesn’t take too much time to make nut butters, maybe 20 minutes from start to finish, including clean-up. I followed a recipe that included a bit of macadamia nuts and a pinch of salt. It tasted yummy, but Ill know for sure when others give it a taste.

After I finished making the coconut butter, I sat down for a bit and realized I had another choice: plant my self on the couch for the rest of the evening or go to yoga. I asked my friend Linda what to do and she said “Go to yoga. It always makes you feel better.” And she right. Yoga always does make me feel better.

The week has been a roller coaster of emotional triggers, which can and will be exhausting. The only way out of all these twists and turns is to walk straight through them and the way straight through them involves “radical self-care” and yoga is one way of doing that. That’s what got me to yoga earlier in the week and it’s what got me to yoga on a Friday night.

In that hot room, it’s just me. Well, sometimes thoughts do get in the way, but their intensity diminishes with the time spent going within in that room. I hope you have a hot room somewhere for those moments. That hot room can be anywhere or anything that feeds your soul needs. A place that instills peace within you. Everyone has that place. We just have to seek it.

Studies have shown that being in nature for a little bit of time can cure human ails: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/06/how-walking-in-nature-prevents-depression/397172/ Nature doesn’t cost money, so there’s no excuse there. Find your sanctuary and know that you can always go there because once you’ve found it, and can harness it within, no one can take it from you.

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Out with the Old. In with the ????

Six years ago I bought a coffee table and matching end tables. I liked the coffee table at first but soon realized my error.  

This particular coffee table had a bottom shelf where I thought I’d like to put books, and I did like doing that but I forgot what I liked more. 

I love sitting on the living room floor in front of the tv with my legs outstretched in front of me while also doing some work, but I haven’t been able to do that for six years now because I didn’t take any of this into consideration when I bought that table. It wasn’t an intentional oversight. I just didn’t happen to think of it. 

Since I’ve been working on decluttering I’ve spent more and more time thinking about surrounding myself with things that make me happy. That coffee table did not make me happy. 

So Sunday night I took up the coffee table to see how I’d feel without it there and I LOVED the feeling of freedom. I didn’t need to wait to make this move. It was time to say goodbye. 

It was not an expensive piece of furniture and was starting to get wobbly so that made it easy to take down to the garbage area where someone could take it. That’s what I did yesterday and I feel no regrets. I don’t have a replacement in mind, and I’m perfectly okay with that. 

I’m going to spend some time simply enjoying the space and see what wonders the universe brings my way. 

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Title Already Taken

What You Think of Me is None of My Business—a book I could write, except the title has already been taken. I experienced the most amazing breakthrough in yoga this week, proving once again that yoga really is cheaper than therapy.

On Monday I found myself struggling mercilessly in yoga. More sweat poured out of me than I’d ever seen before. I struggled to move my limbs even the tiniest bit in each pose. I just wanted to lie down. I felt exhausted. I knew going in that I wasn’t fully hydrated as I’d had a temporary crown fall out Saturday night making my tooth sensitive to liquid so I didn’t drink much on Sunday.

So many thoughts ran through my heard, most of which involved what others would think if I took a breather and laid savasana. Would they think me lazy? Unfit? Etc. The list went on.

Then I stopped myself. What did it matter? What did it matter what anyone else thought?

I’ve spent the majority of my life worried about how others perceived me or my actions. I don’t really know how to fully explain this, but I’ll try. The difficulty with the explanation lies in the shame I feel for having spent so much time concerned with how others think to the detriment of my own life. But this is not a surprise for many reasons.

People of all ages have bullied me and treated me with cruelty for most of my life. Adults, children, relatives, etc. One time at a birthday party for my late uncle one of his friends, who was probably in his 50s at the time, openly mocked me for being obese. He walked around calling me Walter “the refrigerator” Perry. I happened to be sixteen at the time. Other adults, including my uncle, heard him and laughed. No one stopped him. No one cared.

Other times I’d walk around the mall as a teenager and I’d have people following me, yelling at me, calling me names. People saw and did nothing.

In high school, one of my gym teachers, Judy Bennis, decided on her own to try and help me lose weight, so she insisted I walk laps around the campus, in full view of everyone, while my peers played tennis and other fun sports. I found ways to hide, for her misguided attempts to help me did more damage that she could have ever imagined.

There’s so much more, so many more painful memories of mistreatment because others felt a natural right to judge me or find me unworthy because of my size.

Given all that, is it any wonder I experience difficulties expressing myself or being true to myself? My need for belonging and approval has far outweighed my ability to stay true to myself, but this approval I’ve been craving—well I’ve been craving it from the wrong places, all the places outside myself. Until now….

I woke up during yoga this past Monday. I woke up and saw the light. I don’t need anyone else’s approval. I don’t need anyone else’s permission. I don’t NEED because WHAT YOU THINK OF ME IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS!!!!

And in that moment I laid down on my mat. I honored the moment and I allowed myself to just BE. To feel FREE.

And the world didn’t end. No one looked at me funny. It wouldn’t have mattered if they did though. I left class Monday afternoon feeling happier and freer than I have in ages, knowing I didn’t and DON’T need anyone’s approval.

I’m human. I MIGHT make mistakes. I might stumble or fall, but so what if I do? And so what if the whole world sees that?

I also realized I don’t need to apologize anymore for my choices or actions or words. Love me or don’t. Accept me or don’t. I seek only my own approval. That’s the real source of happiness. That’s the source of joy.

And for today that brings a bounce to this Tigger’s step!

Oh and go to yoga sometime and just lie there. See what happens. Observe. You might just be amazed at the you hiding inside! And remember: what anyone thinks of you is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!!!!

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Diamonds Really are a Girl’s Best Friend

As a wee young girl I remember clearly hanging out with my maternal great-grandmother at her condo in Long Beach. She had these seemingly huge walk-in closets with loads of hats. She and I would play dress-up for hours. 
I learned only recently that she used to make hats. Hearing that made me wish I had some of her home-seen creations. 

She also had this spectacular cherry four poster canopy bed. She had amazing taste. 

I loved her in ways I can’t explain, and I love her more with each passing day, even though she is no longer part of this physical creation. 

She lived a most interesting life. As a young girl she grew up on a poor plantation. She loved school but had to leave in the fourth grade to take care of her new siblings, something she always resented. 

Her first husband (she had a few) and the father of my grandmother, cheated on her with a woman who had five children of her own and contracted syphillis. As the story goes my great-grandmother gave him much grief for his transgression. Seeing no way out he attempted to kill himself by ingesting poison. This failed but had related tragic consequences when my grandmother’s dog ate the poisoned vomit and died. 

For years my grandmother thought her dad deliberately poisoned her dog and she never forgave him for that. 

Shortly after the botched poison attempt my great-grandfather shot himself. His family blamed my great-grandmother and cut off contact. My great-grandmother then sent my grandmother to a convent and took to spending her time dancing with soldiers at the Coronado hotel in San Diego. 

She married several more times during her life. All her subsequent husbands died of natural causes. One of them really liked my grandmother so they brought her home from the convent and by the time he died it was too late to send her back. 

My great-grandmother loved me. And I loved her. I sensed her strength even as a young girl. I loved visiting with her. It was like having tea with the queen. 

She outlived her daughter who died from a series of strokes before they really knew what to do for high blood pressure and strokes. Shortly after my great-grandmother turned 93 she could no longer live on her own and went to a nursing home where she lived it up and made all the Hispanic orderlies her boyfriends. She survived there for three months. 

I think they buried her in a white casket. 

She left my mom or my aunt a beautiful diamond ring. My mom never wore it as she has a diamond ring that belonged to her mom and she wore that. 

I begged her for my great-grandmother’s ring for years and years but she refused until a few weeks ago. One day there was a robbery a half mile or so from her house and she realized then that it would be better for me to have the ring now than for a thief to steal it. On a side note my aunt had a beautiful gold bracelet that she never wore but refused to allow me to have. A robber stole that bracelet from her house one day, so my mom understood the deeper meaning. 

I now have this amazing ring that graced my great-grandmother’s hand for so many years. In wearing it I feel as though I have a piece of her with me. A piece of an incredibly strong and vibrant woman who lived life her way. 

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Yoga Your Mood

I woke this morning in a funky kind of mood. Self-absorbed. Not-so-happy. Just plain moody. I knew the cure. Get out of my own head, but how to do that? Easy. Go to yoga. Then I started a whole discussion in my head. When to go to yoga. Morning? Late morning? Afternoon? Evening?

As the discussion filtered through my brain I knew I really had only one choice. GO TO YOGA NOW. I needed a way out and postponing yoga would just mean more time in my head. I alone am responsible for my mood. No one else.

So I quickly threw my yoga bag together and left for yoga. I had very few minutes to spare but some the universe got me to yoga five minutes before the class started. How that happened I’ll never know. I am grateful though that I have a yoga studio I love that is so close to home. I used to drive 50 minutes to do yoga. I needed to do that. And I found a great base there.

But then I needed to find more time to just be. To just be me. Sounds New-Agey doesn’t it? Then again I am new agey so that’s okay. I meditate. I yoga. I’m a vegetarian. I’d be a vegan if I had enough money to hire a chef or eat out at vegan restaurants every day.

I’m digressing here. I could feel my mood leaving as soon as I reached the studio. Literally. I felt it rushing out of my body. I had no more space for it. No more space for the self-imposed brooding thoughts. No more space for anything but light.

I’m not sure if it’s the heat or the movements or everything combined. I just know I’m grateful for my yoga. I’m grateful I talked myself into going this morning. There was a time I’d blame others for my mood or life circumstances. But not anymore because the moment I blame them I give them power over me. Power over my life, and I’m done with that or at least I’m working at being done with that.

Think about it. The next time you’re in a mood chances are you are giving your personal power away. When I find myself angry, sad, or experiencing any negative emotion I work at doing something for me, something in my control, something that I feel good about.

A fabulously good friend of mine told me recently that I needed to start each day off by doing something that feeds my soul. He knows I’ve long been a people pleaser and inclined to do more for others than for myself, so I took his words to heart. It doesn’t even take a long time. Doing a task as simple as putting laundry away frees up my mental space. Taking out the trash can also free up literal and figurative space.

After yoga I took myself to Barnes and Noble to have a small bite to eat and to read a book. I’m going to tell you all about that book in another entry, but I’ll leave you with this. My day could have turned out so many different ways, but I took the path to self-care with yoga and then with a book date, and I’m far happier for taking that fork in the road.

Therapy

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