I too shall rise

Mandala Meditation in the Sand in Costa Rica

I have been an athlete ever since I can remember. My parents have this photo of, what I can assume, is me as a kindergartner. I’m wearing an over-sized purple tee-shirt, sporting a Cheshire grin and proudly shoving my ‘whatever place’ medal in-front the camera lens. Innocent and happy, I was a young runner, an athlete. Little did I know then that running races would propel me athletically throughout grade school. Eventually, running evolved into an even broader passion for fitness in college, where I began backpacking and rock climbing with the Outdoors Club.

I have accomplished a lot for a 30-year-old young woman. For example, I moved across the country to teach teenagers survival skills in Utah, and I taught preteen girls how to rock climb and scale mountains in Wisconsin, now I teach English as a second language to students from all over the world. I guess my most significant accomplishment is obtaining my 200-hour yoga teacher certification in 2019. A goal I never realized how badly I wanted to achieve until I almost couldn’t.

I thought I had set out on a pretty tenacious adventure. Just me and my backpack flying to the middle of Costa Rica for 28 days to live in the jungle with six other strangers learning how to teach yoga. What an adventure! Right?!

And it was the most epic adventure, a totally magical experience. That was until my second week of jungle yoga, where during some downtime, I was staying true to my adventurous nature and went for my daily jungle jog. I would run up the mountain, get a good view of the ocean, then head back to camp, maybe a three-mile run in total. Except for this time, my solo jog turned into a race for my life.

With no cell service, I was embracing nature and disconnecting from technology. So, without headphones to distract me, I was able to hear something slightly unsettling in the distance. The sound belonged to an enormous German Shepard, panting aggressively and getting closer. I did not get the impression this dog wanted to give somewhat welcomed, adoringly drippy kisses, nope. This hound was protecting his territory that I had somehow invaded.

As he made his way to stand in front of me, I put my hands out, feebly hoping this gesture would calm him down. ‘I love dogs; he isn’t going to hurt me’ was all I could think. Boy, was I wrong.

The attack began. First, he bit my right hand briefly and then clamped down on my left. ‘RUN’ flashed across my mind. I yanked my hand away and sprinted off the jeep trail into the jungle, but the beast chased after me. I tripped, rolled onto my back just in time for him to jump on top of me and bite my right arm, ‘this is how I die,’ I thought. I was able to kick him off of me, but couldn’t stand up quick enough before he landed another bite, this time to my right knee. ‘FIGHT’ now consumed every fiber of my being. With my free left leg, I landed a solid kick to his rib cage, but in return, my exposed my left ankle was next on the menu. Another kick to the ribs, and he released my ankle but then had my entire knee between his teeth. Finally, with all my strength, I kicked and kicked. Before I knew what was happening, I was running back to the jeep trail, with the dog still on my tail.

Bleeding everywhere and coursing with adrenaline, my guide training kicked in, remembering with a bear attack to ‘make yourself big.’ I knew it was time to be alpha, or the attack would never end. I turned around and stood as confidently as I could, I had a-what to me feels like an eternity, but was probably closer to 15 seconds- staring contest with the dog.

While I was busy telepathically commanding the dog to not hurt me again, a local man, spoiler alert, the dog’s owner, came running to the scene. He was able to jump on the dog and bring it back down to their home. Meanwhile, leaving me standing stranded, alone, and bleeding in the middle of a jeep trail, in the middle of the jungle, in the middle of Costa Rica.
What would you have done, screamed for help? Nobody heard me screaming for my life when the dog was biting me, who would hear me now?

What could I do?

I screamed for help: nothing but the toucans and howler monkeys chattering in the trees answered my cries.

I waited, hoping the non-English speaking man would return.
Minutes passed. Positive that help was not coming, and with nothing more than my sports bra and yoga pants for protection against the open flowing wounds, I walked back to my camp. Where I was swiftly rushed to the emergency room by my instructor. After receiving ten stitches for the ten dog bites, I was sent on my unhappily newly deformed way.

How could I do yoga now?
Should I go home? Give up? This is impossible.

Since I already told you that my best accomplishment was obtaining my 200-hour yoga certification, you won’t be shocked by the ending.

I did not go home.

I learned to adapt.

So what, I couldn’t physically do every pose. But, I could continue to learn how to teach yoga. And I did.

By my fourth week, I was back on my yoga mat, going through every asana (pose) that my injuries would allow.

Even though I probably wasn’t supposed to see it, my instructor cried a few tears of joy after presenting my final class. Which certified me to continue spreading my love and teaching yoga to others.

Now, a year later, I have successfully taught at two different studios and have found the confidence to call myself a yoga teacher.

A Yogi’s Family

Let your confidence rise and blossom
Just as the lotus

One benefit of practicing yoga is the ability to walk into any studio and understand the language, and I don’t just mean Sanskrit. I mean the language of yoga.

Today, I almost skipped yoga class. I’d been going every morning this week, and yet today I awoke feeling unmotivated. It was the classic trap, thinking to myself how comfortable my bed was and then falling victim to not only the comfort of my comforter, but also falling down the bottomless Netflix hole. But, I resisted.

Good thing I did, too.

Before even walking into my studio my car was spotted by Tarren, (my good friends Tarri and Darren’s self proclaimed, rediculousuly cute couples nickname) and the second I opened my car door I was embraced with so much love and the warmest of smiles, talk about heart opening. Before I knew it the whole crew was walking through the door, including a few ladies I’d been seeing throughout the week. “The yoga crew” as I call them consist of a small group that I not only practice yoga with on the regular but also have been hiking and exploring the Hudson Valley with for the past year.

I was overjoyed.

On top of all the familiar faces the owner of the studio, Arlene, was teaching today’s class and she is simply the cherry on top. Every class she leads you through is a journey through your body and soul. Probably why she aptly named the studio Sol Full Yoga.

After an hour of what was more like an intense workshop style class, thanks to the familiarity between all the students and instructor, my mind and body were spent, savasana certainly got me one step closer to Nirvana.

Concluding class, our intimate vibe continued with a fun chat about how we see ourselves and how others see us.

All in all, I am brimming with a sense of humbled joy. For the past year I’ve been able to be apart of a family. This family has loved me unconditionally and has always been there for me. It has also extended outside of the studios walls. This family, this yogi family speaks a language which resonates with my heart on such a high frequency it’s almost uncontainable.

And, I almost didn’t go to class today.

This language and frequency is why I practice yoga and why I bring my practice into a studio. Even though I consider Sol Full Yoga my home studio, I get to carry that love with me Everytime I step onto my mat and into every studio I enter.

I’m so humbled by the home I have with Sol Full, and even though my practice started in Utah, and I received my teaching certification in Costa Rica with a different instructor Lura, who got me through one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, but that’s a story for another day, Arlene will always hold a place in my heart as My Teacher.

The love of my Yogi Family instills me with confidence. I hope to carry and spread that love with me every day.

That is my yoga.

Day 3: Freedom in Adventure

What’s your definition of freedom in business and adventure in life?

To be free in business, I would work in a balanced environment where production and validation are equally rewarded. Freedom in business, instinctively to me, means the freedom to control your business. As an aspiring yoga entrepreneur, I would love the freedom to run a private yoga company working on a flexible schedule and working with my clients in their homes or offices. The next part is the financial stability to go out and do the things that fill the soul.

Adventure is not exclusive to jumping out of airplanes or running marathons, and it doesn’t even have to leave your front door. Adventure comes from your mind. If questing through a digital medieval castle on your computer is your adventure, then having the freedom to pursue that adventure is what brings life to a complete circle.

Day 2: Tomorrows Utopia

If you woke up tomorrow and were free to do anything you wanted with your life, what would you do and who would you be?

If I woke tomorrow my own personal Utopia, I would be stirred by the sun’s rays peaking through the blinds, warming not only my soft comforter but also my heart and soul. Followed by the non-obligatory, yet daily, “I love you, how did you sleep”? From my partner.

My Utopia would proceed with a day full of activity and love. Free to do whatever I wanted, I would practice yoga, meditate, and experience all the pleasures this life has to offer.

Free from financial debt and the burden of money, my utopia would promote emotional wealth with no shortage of joy and love.

Day 1: For the passion of greatness

Red Passion Flower

Write a post on why you started your blog, who you wanted to reach, what you wanted it to be all about. Then state why you joined this blog challenge and what you want to get out of it.

I am starting this blog because I want to break down my walls. My walls of fear, for starters. My fear that I am not a great writer. A doubt I justify with the excuse I tried being a writer but was fired. A poor excuse, one that shattered and altered my reality, but a reason all the same. How bad of a writer can I indeed be if I’m standing in front of a classroom every night, teaching people the English language?

I remember while playing Art Major in High School – yes, my high school had majors, and my Major was, in fact, in Art. I sculpted some pretty cool things, too. – my throwing instructor (clay throwing, like on a wheel, pottery!), she told me she was the worst student when it came to learning how to throw pottery on the wheel. She admitted that she absolutely hated it, yet here she was 20 years later teaching it. That story has stuck with me ever since. So many of us end up teaching our worst subjects, and I have an idea as to why.

Passion. And passionate people are who I hope to reach. I hope to reach people like me and you. People who don’t give up. People who suck so badly at something that, rather than being defeated they master that hindrance. And because of that dedication, you understand, deeply understand the struggles of this passion. That understanding is what makes you a great teacher. My audience are passionate teachers and students, just like you. Which is what I am all about. Passion.

Passion is the drive from which greatness can only be achieved. And I joined this challenge so that I can become a great writer. So, here’s to tackling that fear and diving into the deep end of my discomfort. I’m not a great writer yet, but the more I practice, the better I hope to become. Mastery is just another word away, and another and another…

2020 Turning Anxiety into Excitement

Admittedly, I haven’t set a New Years Resolution for a few years. Now, being in my 30’s, I had it in my head that a new year’s resolution is a childish notion. A goal I’ll work on for a few weeks and disregard come February. Those ten pounds, which I continuously vow to rid myself of every year, seemed like an empty promise to set yet again.

Why not, forget the resolutions and just work on being the best version of myself possible, I keep telling myself.

So, yet again, this year, I had no real intention of setting a new yearly intention.
Until these words crossed my path.

Turn your Anxiety into Excitement.

At first, I just thought this was another mantra I could appreciate for three seconds and move on with my life. But something about these simple words spoke to me. I had to really think about what turning anxiety or fear into excitement would actually look like.
That ugly sucker monster anxiety and all the damage which ensues is no stranger to me. So, when I find ways to help alleviate the chaos left in the anxiety monsters wake, I usually explore that salve.

So, with one day behind me of applying this mantra to my life, here is where it has gotten me.

I usually stress over answering emails. For whatever reason, the second I see my Gmail icon pop up, alerting me of some new urgent matter that needs attention, my stomach does somersaults. So, rather than telling myself I’ll answer my emails later once my anxiety subsides, I jumped into responding with excitement to each email. I switched from an inexplicable dread to thinking ‘answering emails is fun!’ Before I knew it, not only did I answer all my emails but I started writing this blog, I called a friend to hear a story she had been dying to tell me, I set up a potential career meeting, among other to-do list items I had been putting off.

Quickly switching up my thoughts helped me to not only respond to my emails, but the momentum contributed to my increase in energy and focus. Which helped me complete the tasks I had been neglecting.

Day one of applying this mind set, and I gotta say it has been a positive experience.
Today wasn’t a day of extreme panic, and I didn’t get to practice turning high-level anxiety into excitement. But, this small practice of having a positive day with positive thoughts will contribute to my future, where that anxiety monster is waiting to attack. And I’ll be ready, thanks to this daily practice of mindfulness.

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