Archive for March, 2017

I fell in love with the song the first time I heard it.  It’s called Azawade by The Toure-Raichel Colletive.  It’s an eight minute, instrumental song filled with meanderings of guitar strings, graceful piano, gentle tapping percussion and some humming.  Right away it made me want to move and so I began to use it in yoga, on my own and also in my classes.  The song seemed to make me want to flow in my movements as if to feel every single beat of that music make its way into my muscle fibers.

A few months later, on a warm July day, two friends and I made our way to Athens, Ohio for an afternoon to meet up with another friend who lived there.  We went to a couple breweries and had a nice dinner and then tried to figure out what we were going to do with the remaining hours of our visit before heading home.  Well, the moon was full, the night had descended and it had come up in conversation that one of my friends had never been skinny dipping.  And so we hopped in the car and started the drive out to a lake that was a little ways out of town.  I was in the passenger seat and so the driver requested that I play some music.  I put on Azawade and we put the windows down.

We drove along winding roads, headlights marking the way and we didn’t say a word the entire eight minutes that the song played.  The warm wind filtered through the windows.  When we arrived at the deserted public beach area of the lake, we parked the car, walked onto the sand and then stripped our clothes off and we ran squealing into the water.  We swam around for about 20 minutes in the black water, swimming through the full moon beams that danced on the surface.  We laughed and did flips and handstands.  And then we began the two hour drive back home, the water from the lake rolling off our hair and the sand still plastered to our bodies.

For the days that followed that, whenever I heard the first few notes of the song Azawade, my mind would immediately drift to that night.  This song, that memory.  And I would feel a joy that was absolute both in that moment and in the present one.

And then, months later, Azawade wandered across my playlist while I was hanging out with this fella that I had been seeing.  We were in each other’s arms, whispering and laughing gently and our words seemed to dance along with the song.  Afterwards I told him, ‘I now have a new favorite memory that goes along with this song.’  For a while I made this the truth.  And then when things with said fella didn’t work out, the song became too painful to listen to and I began to skip past it on my playlists, turning away from the good memory that had gone bad.

Some more time has passed since then, and this morning as I unrolled my mat and pressed shuffle on a playlist, the sounds of Azawade began to fill the air around me.  My first inclination was to bolt, to skip the song.  But then something strange happened….I decided that instead I wanted to reclaim it.

And so I moved once more, following those guitar strings and gentle keyboard keys wherever they took me. I closed my eyes and began to move back to that night in Athens, that night where I bathed in a lake filled with full moon reflections and laughter.  It was a night where I felt absolutely sure that all was right in the universe.  And it’s times like this when I truly feel joy.

I began to think….How often had I done this—-allowed my light, my good to be overshadowed?  How easy had it became to just give away my happy to those who did not deserve it?

It was then that I began to think about glory.  Someone once wrote this equation out for me: Joy+Sorrow=Glory.  Sure, joy is awesome, but glory is one step beyond that.  But in order to get to glory, we must go through a little bit of sorrow.  And then glory becomes this whole new thing; it’s an appreciated joy, it’s a reclaimed joy.  And there’s no way to skip directly to glory by bypassing sorrow.  It just doesn’t work that way.

And so my practice this morning became one of glory.  Because there I was,  truly acknowledging all the little pieces of my history that this song had been the soundtrack to…..the joy and the sorrow.  And then I made a decision to let go of the sorrow and to choose joy…and I swear that song sounded sweeter than ever.



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When my friend texted me the other day and asked me if I had any books to loan her about self-love, the first response that came to my head was ‘guuurrlll please’.  But they don’t make an emoji for that so instead I went to my bookshelf and found the book that I wanted to loan her and sent her a screen shot of the cover.  Now, this friend is an amazing, incredible person—beautiful to the core, smart, loving, caring and funny.  I love her.  Why would she need that book?  Well, for the same reason that she probably thinks that I am a pretty cool person too (I don’t think she would hang out with me if she didn’t) and I am the one that owns the book.  I think this book has sold quite a few copies.  It’s not just me and my friend that have trouble spreading and giving the love and care and worth to others that we also deny ourselves.

Not giving myself the value and love that I so openly bestow on the people in my life is at the root of the things that hold me back.  It’s what leads me to get involved in unfulfilling relationships with men, it’s what keeps me from truly seizing my place in this world.  It’s the thing that, once I finally accomplish it, will make me feel like I have finally figured things out.  So I strive.  And I know, in the core of my bones, in every tiny little muscle fiber of my body and the beat of my heart, that I know how to do it.  I just don’t always listen to all those things.

But it’s all about the journey right?

So, this book is called “When You Think You’re Not Enough”, which is a fairly cheesy title but it’s filled with pretty great teachings.  Before I let it leave my hands I read through it again as it had been a couple years since I had done so.  There’s a passage which says ‘Ultimately, self-compassion is a series of choices, a moment by moment conscious turning away from that which will harm your spirit toward that which will nourish and sustain you. It is choosing, in any particular situation and over and over again, whether you’ll treat yourself or beat yourself up’.  And I love this passage because it just seems so tangible.  When I look at this whole idea of loving myself, of creating this whole relationship with myself that is healthy and unconditional, it seems like such a big idea.  But knowing that I can make these tiny little decisions, these seemingly small steps that will eventually lead to miles….well that’s a little bit easier to wrap my brain around.

These past few weeks in my life have been a little trying and I’ve had a million little chances to practice these moment by moment dances of ‘turning towards.’  What works for me might not work for you.  We are all a tiny bit different in the things that nourish our spirits, but we are all the same in that we know, somewhere deep inside those bones and muscles and heartbeats, what ‘good’ feels like.  For me, going for a run makes me feel like I have all the strength I need as I urge my feet to keep moving step after step.  Getting onto my yoga mat allows me to clear the cobwebs in my head as I let the rhythm of my practice take hold.  Cooking a nice dinner makes me feel like I can truly take care of myself.  Sitting on the porch, listening to music and having a little cry makes me feel like I can access and then give birth to the swirling emotions in my head.  Sometimes it seems a bit impossible to do these things—-my legs feel weary, the mat intimidates me,  the cupboard is bare and my tears are stuck somewhere I can’t access them.  But when I’m able to turn towards, I feel like I’m getting just a tiny bit closer to this whole notion of taking care and loving me.   And my hope is that eventually, this tiny bit closer, this one little step, might get me to where I want to be.

And it’s a little bit of a cycle and a little bit of ‘faking it until I make it.’  Because it’s the times when I feel the most unlovable and unworthy that I have a hard time lacing up my shoes to go for that run.  But it’s also in those times when I most need to give myself the gift of something that I know will nourish my spirit.  It’s these gifts that slowly teach me that my joy is a battle worth waging. It’s in those times that I have to pick and choose the voices that  I listen to; tuning out the criticism and what ifs and doubts and listening to the one that is gentle yet firm in her belief that I am enough and deserving of my own love.  That voice is the one that gets me to’ turn towards’ and then when I do so,  that voice gets louder, little by little.  And then, hopefully, one day this voice will do most of the talking.  And it will probably say ‘guuuurrrlll please, what took you so long?’


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