Browsing Tag

trust

Photo by Ross Knight

You Get To Choose

How often do you stop and take a moment to witness the extraordinary beauty around you?
How often do you dull yourself to not make others feel bad?
How often do you just close your eyes and take a big, bold, beautiful breath?
How often do you play?
How often do you question what you think of as truth?
How often do you listen to that feeling in your gut, in your heart, or in your throat?
What if the answer was everyday?
YOU get to chose.

Aho

This past weekend I co-lead a Women’s Weekend Retreat in the north Georgia mountains with my dear friend and sweet soul sister Shari L. Fox. Months of dreaming and planning led all 26 of us to journey northward and meet at the Dahlonega Spa Resort just 90 minutes outside of Atlanta.

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A menagerie of women from all walks of life came together: mothers with their daughters, two groups of sisters, longtime friends, new friends, solo travelers, students of mine from FORM {yoga}, guests of Shari’s past retreats through Soul Nourish Retreats, and a few women who had never met Shari or myself.

As each woman arrived you could see so much beauty in their bravery. Each of them showing up with some hint of uncertainty about what the weekend will hold.

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In our first circle we each selected one person we didn’t know and we sat and took turns truly listening to the other as we each told our story. Nervous laughter lifted the room when Shari announced that next that each person would introduce their new friend to the group and say a little something about them. We each took turns holding the talking stone to introduce our friend over laughter and a captive audience. This exercise in deep listening set the tone for the weekend, the ice was broken. We commenced to dive deeper into our sister souls with each passing hour.

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Over the course of this weekend we connected with deeply rooted layers of trust and vulnerability. We learned together, created art together, sang together, meditated together, yoga’ed together (both on and off the mat), and had a couple of impromptu dance parties.

Together we shared wine, tears, laughter, laughter through tears (this is for Pam and all my Steel Magnolia loving friends).

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We shared stories and truths in the circle, in the hot tub, and as we lay dozing off to sleep at night.

More than anything, together we showed up with pure presence, perfectly imperfect and in doing so we wove a powerful and moving experience for each woman there. We created memories, friendships and deep bonds that will last us a lifetime. And this my friends, is what life is all about.
Ahhhh-fucking-ho

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Stay tuned to the Soul Nourish Retreats website for updates about future retreats with Shari and myself (hint, hint ladies!).

And big thanks to Linden Tree Photography for these beautiful images.

Yoga and the F-Word

Disclaimer; I know what all you yogis are thinking out there, that with a post titled Yoga and the F-Word this has to be a blog post about Bryan Kest. Wrong. Read on.

Three years ago my life was over…or so I thought.

The world I had known and built and loved was pulled out from underneath my feet leaving me stumbling, shrieking, clawing. I was standing at the edge of darkness and staring in the face of fear. I was experiencing the terrible reality of divorce.

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At this time I was 32 years old and I had never been alone. Yes, you read that right, I had never been alone. I was with my husband from the tender age of 15, and we were married three years later after learning that we were going to be parents. My husband and I both came from impoverished homes with our parents always struggling to make ends meet and to get food on the table. We were determined to have a future for ourselves and for our children. We both worked diligently from the beginning of our relationship and made many sacrifices to overcome the struggles we both knew growing up. Over the years we succeeded. We built a booming business together through hard work and dedication. For the last 8 years of our marriage our business had grown successful enough that I had the privilege of staying at home with our children. I spent my days running our household, working behind the scenes in our business, and volunteering in our children’s school and in our neighborhood. Being a strong-willed woman who liked to be in control (to put it nicely, but that is a whole other blog post), I found certainty in my marriage. We were going to grow old together and find ourselves at age 70 on a front porch swing sipping on a glass of sweet tea in the pre-dusk warmth of sticky southern summer days while our grandchildren played in the yard. My husband was my best friend, confidant and the only person in the world that I could depend on and trust.

As the reality of our divorce set in the many faces of grief and loss were swirling within my body and bubbling to the surface. Anger. Fear. Denial. Desperation. I was utterly TERRIFIED. I struggled to get out of bed. I struggled to eat. I struggled to sleep. When I was out of sight of my children I spent most of my day crying, locked inside my house. When I did go out in public I put on my warrior suit and held my head high, but inside I was screaming. I lost faith that I would ever be okay again. I was not even striving for happy, I was merely just wanting to be okay. Needless to say, it was bad.

There it is, the f word...FAITH.

Researcher and storyteller Brené Brown defines faith as “a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.” Faith. Much scarier than the other f-word right?

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Over the past couple of years I have found faith again (that journey will come in another blog, another time). In fact faith and I are very dear friends now. And just like with any other relationship, at times we struggle. Sometimes I push faith away because she is just too damn hard to have in my life. She constantly requires me to be present. She demands that I be vulnerable and open. She insists that I lead from my heart and not to make decisions based on fear. Sounds exhausting, right?

As a yoga teacher I strive to teach my students the concept of faith as I understand it. Through a yoga practice faith can be found when we let go of our limiting beliefs. For many of us this is not easy. As we breathe and move through postures on the mat we find ourselves challenged physically and emotionally. Just like in life, it is easy to give up when we are faced with discomfort. But when we are struggling( on the mat or out in the world) we have an amazing opportunity to explore ourselves, our patterns, our reactions. It is EASY to pull out of that utkatasana 10 breaths in when the mind yells “Abort mission!”. The hard part is learning to sit within the storm and to have faith that the discomfort shall pass.

Resolving to accept uncertainty and to choose faith not an easy place to live from, in fact it is very challenging at times. But I know now that no matter how hard it is to live within faith, it is much harder to live without it.

Within the depths of my sorrows and in the gloom of my divorce my yoga teacher Mitchel Bleier passed along this poem to me. Over time these words have carried me toward the shores of uncertainty while holding the hands of my long forgotten friends; courage and fearlessness.

THE TRUE LOVE
by David Whyte

There is a faith in loving fiercely
the one who is rightfully yours,
especially if you have
waited years and especially
if part of you never believed
you could deserve this
loved and beckoning hand
held out to you this way.

I am thinking of faith now
and the testaments of loneliness
and what we feel we are
worthy of in this world.

Years ago in the Hebrides
I remember an old man
who walked every morning
on the grey stones
to the shore of the baying seals,

who would press his hat
to his chest in the blustering
salt wind and say his prayer
to the turbulent Jesus
hidden in the water,

and I think of the story
of the storm and everyone
waking and seeing
the distant
yet familiar figure
far across the water
calling to them,

and how we are all
preparing for that
abrupt waking,
and that calling,
and that moment
we have to say yes,
except it will
not come so grandly,
so Biblically,
but more subtly
and intimately in the face
of the one you know
you have to love,

so that when we finally step out of the boat
toward them, we find
everything holds
us, and confirms
our courage, and if you wanted
to drown you could,
but you don’t

because finally
after all the struggle
and all the years,
you don’t want to any more,
you’ve simply had enough
of drowning
and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness,
however fluid and however
dangerous, to take the
one hand you know
belongs in yours.

 

You can find Mandy at FORM yoga in Decatur, Georgia and out in the world leading retreat with Soul Nourish Retreats. Connect with her worldwide on Facebook here and on Instagram here.