That Spark

I met my husband, Rob, on an ordinary summer night in Wichita, Kansas in 1982. The same year as the invention of the internet, the arrival of the McNugget, ET, the moonwalk, Risky Business, the minivan and AOL. I was out with girlfriends at the local college bar. I noticed him across the room and I think he noticed me at the same time. Our eyes kept meeting and each time we locked eyes, I felt an electric current run through me. It felt like lightening striking. When he finally approached me, I felt lit up by that invisible current. I marvel at that random meeting now.

That spark, that current, and that invisible lightening strike was enough to begin a life-long romance. We had known of each other before this encounter. Wichita is a very “small” large town, yet I had no clue about his personality, his preferences or his morals. He is two years older than me and the big brother to a lovely girl in my high school class named Anna. I knew a few of his friends from working at the same pizza place one summer. And that was it. Yet here he was, and I knew meeting him was going to be big. The match had been lit and while we couldn’t predict what would come next, I felt a deep sense of knowing. My soul’s recognition of his soul.

We married on June 7th, 1986. That year was a sad one in many ways…the Chernobyl disaster, the Challenger crash and the beginning of a recession to name a few events. Yet that 105-degree day could not have been a happier one for us. In front of a large group of family and friends, we committed ourselves to each other. It’s a commitment that has survived the test of births, deaths and all the joys and sorrow of life in-between.

It is our 35th wedding anniversary this year, and we have fanned and coddled and protected that spark as if it were the olympic torch. I feel fortunate that he is as deeply invested in our marriage as I am. It takes two as the saying goes. I wish I could understand what causes that spark to happen. I think it’s the same spark that inspires art and novels and great sports moments. I like to think of it as a wink from the divine or a nudge from the universe to go in this direction. Whatever it is, I feel so happy we both felt it and continue to nurture it this many years later. Happy Anniversary to my Rob. Let’s keep it lit for another 35 years.

Happy Memorial Day and New Day for Public Class

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Happy Memorial Day from the Yoga Goat. I take my freedom for granted most days. Today my heart is with those who serve now and those that paid the ultimate price for this beautiful country.

As we turn the page to summer, there is a new schedule beginning at Prairie Yoga. This week the studio is opening back up to in person classes while maintaining online offerings. My Zoom Gentle Yoga class will now take place Wednesdays at 5:00pm CST. This is a nice time of day to unwind from your day and reset for your evening. I hope to “see” you in class! To find out more and to sign up please visit: https://prairieyoga.org

I continue to offer private yoga classes on zoom and in person classes in the Phoenix area. Feel free to message me privately for the details and to set up a time: amyluwho2@att.net

Walking Meditation

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We are of the earth, and belong to You
Every step that we take upon You
should be done in a sacred manner;
each step should be as a prayer.
~Black Elk

Summer weather is on the way. A time when we shed our socks and wear more sandals, or even go barefoot when possible. I have many wonderful memories of running around barefoot as a kid. Nowadays, it's harder to get away with bare feet in public. Yet, I still love it. 

Whether you can be barefoot or not, walking without having a destination can actually be a very grounding meditation. Paying attention to each footfall as it walks on the earth can help to quiet the mind. Feel the connection of the foot as it hits the earth and be completely present to the feel of the grass or sand with each step. In his book "Present Moment, Wonderful Moment," Thich Nhat Hahn says, "We walk all the time, but usually it is more like running. Our hurried steps print anxiety and sorrow on the Earth. If we can take one step in peace, we can take two, three, four, and then five steps for the peace and happiness of humankind."

Mindful walking will actually quiet the mind and slow down our breathing so that it is in harmony with our steps. Spending ten to thirty minutes walking mindfully can have the same effect as sitting for meditation. And, if you are lucky enough to get to be barefoot, the feel of grass or sand under your feet can even connect you to your inner child and that joy of summertimes past.
The mind can go in a thousand directions.
But on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.
With each step, a gentle wind blows.
With each step, a flower blooms.
 ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Minimalism

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The minimalist life is our new way of being. We moved from a 4 bedroom home to a 2 bedroom apartment almost two years ago, with the plan to live in the apartment for a year while we looked for a small garden home or condo. Then the pandemic happened and Rob and I have co-existed in our small little apartment since. One would think that might be a recipe for disaster. But it has actually been surprisingly easy. We have all of the creature comforts one needs in a home and nothing we don’t. After 30 years of home ownership, it feels like freedom. We have friends worried about their yards, their roofs, their home maintenance and we realize how easy we have it. The time we used to spend on home maintenance is now spent on other interests. And those interests are healthy, for the most part. Being outside, finding new recipes to try and exercise are things we have more time for now. There is no longer that feeling of needing to be doing something else. By de-cluttering our lives, we have brought ease to our minds.

I write about this because many of us do a Spring cleaning this time of year. Maybe you aren’t going as extreme as we have, but it’s possible to lighten your load in other ways.

Here are some minimalist ideas:

  • Check out your local library. When I see a book I’d like to read, I add to my request list. I have enough books on my list that I almost always have something new to read. It’s a great way to resist buying and it is very eco-friendly.
  • When you bring something new into your space, see if there is something that you can donate from your space.
  • Now that the worst days of the pandemic are behind us, is it really necessary to stockpile?
  • Shop resale stores.
  • Spend less time looking at ads, whether on tv, online or magazines. Seeing bright shiny things makes you want to buy bright shiny things.
  • Rather than gifting someone a material item, consider giving them a fun experience instead.
In the end, only three things matter:
How much you loved,
how gently you lived,
and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you. 

Jack Kornfield

Coming Back

How does the country opening back up feel to you? For me, it feels like this adorable chipmunk whose image we captured on a bike ride the other day. As a collective, we are all emerging from our nests to see what it’s like out there now. How is your world different? Has the pandemic changed your approach to life, work, or how you manage relationships? It’s my hope that there has been a shift in our priorities. That we have learned that it’s ok to not be so busy in ways that aren’t fulfilling. And just maybe we have learned to be more compassionate towards our fellow man.

Happy Earth Day

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Summer Morning by Mary Oliver

Heart,
I implore you,
its time to come back
from the dark,

it's morning,
the hills are pink
and the roses
whatever they felt

in the valley of night
are opening now
their soft dresses,
their leaves

are shining.
Why are you laggard?
Sure you have seen this 
a thousand times,

which isn't half enough.
Let the world
have its way with you,
luminous as it is

with mystery
and pain~
graced as it is
with the ordinary.

Forgiveness

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“It’s not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you.” Tyler Perry

Do you carry anger, resentment or hard feelings towards another? How does that really feel in you heart? Does the person you have these feelings toward even know how you are feeling? For me, all of this feels dark and heavy. It is not a feeling that is fun to carry around day-to-day.

To forgive is to have the chance to rewrite your own story. Do you really want the actions of others to define who you are? Of course the actions of others affect our lives. But do those people deserve to have a starring role in your own story? Forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s for you.

In my own life, I have had to do some major forgiving. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. It’s much easier to linger in that angry, blaming place. That is the place where that person still resides in part of your psyche. Now, if it is a family member or a current friend, their presence in your life continues but that doesn’t mean their actions have stay in the forefront of your thoughts.

To keep the relationship, it means having to dive deep into other qualities about them that you love and embrace, all the while doing active forgiveness of the action that caused you pain. For me, it’s meant creating a mantra.

First, picture the person you are forgiving in your mind.

Then select a mantra…for example:

  • I love you and I forgive you
  • “Person’s name” I don’t like your actions yet I forgive you
  • I am freeing my heart of (this person’s)actions

In the times in my life when I have needed to forgive, I have chanted these mantras to myself when out for walks, or when I used to jog. People would wonder why I didn’t use headphones and listen to music while working out. Little did they know the work that was taking place as I exercised.

Active forgiveness can also be done during meditation, while you are driving, before you get out of bed in the morning or before you fall asleep at night. There is no timeline for active forgiveness. It could take a week, a month or even a year. The point is to take the time needed to take back ownership of your story, your life and your heart. You are worth the work of forgiveness. It is also important to take an inventory of your own actions. Have you done things that have created pain in other people’s hearts? It might be time to check in and see how your actions have resonated with those you love. We are all a work in progress and forgiveness is part of it.

“True forgiveness is when you can say ‘Thank you for that experience.”‘ Oprah Winfrey

Spring Haiku

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Feel Earth come alive
Spring is awakening now
Light blooms in the heart

Bees, bugs, baby goats
Nature is on full display
Soul finds its nourished

Flowers cover Earth
Sun begins to warm the skin
Life is roaring back

Luck

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For each petal on the shamrock.
This brings a wish your way
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.
 
~Irish Blessing

What is Luck? We all have people in our lives that we consider lucky. What is it about them that gives off that aura? Many people believe that luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while others believe luck is more of a random occurrence. I think it is a little of both, plus how you view yourself and your life.

I watched a YouTube talk recently by Mel Robbins about positive affirmations and visualization. In this talk ,she refers to the recituclar activating system in our brains. It is a filter system that is programmed by you and the people who have had an impact on you. This filter can choose to embrace positive or negative beliefs. To improve this system, it is important to visualize what your life looks like when your self worth is improved. Then consciously think of what you will feel like in your daily life with this new vision. Will you be more likely to raise your hand in class? Will you be more likely to say yes to a new challenge? Will you feel lighter in your heart?

By changing the filter in your brain, also known as self-talk, you change the way you view yourself and your life. The brain doesn’t know the difference between what is real and imaginary. The more you visualize things in a positive way, the more confident you will feel. By visualizing positive outcomes your brain becomes reprogrammed. The science of luck says that lucky people make their luck by thinking optimistically.

Here are some ideas for cultivating more luck in your life from this Irish goat:

  • Each night before you fall asleep think of something good that happened that day. No matter how small it is, find something positive to reflect on.
  • Cultivate an attitude of gratitude throughout your day.
  • Believe that something amazing could happen at any moment.
  • Celebrate the success of others.

“When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure ’tis like a morn in spring. In the lilt of Irish laughter, you can hear the angels sing. When Irish hearts are happy, all the world seems bright and gay, And When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.”

Lyric from “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” by Chauncey Olcott and Geo. Graff Jr.