3:08 pm

A Friend Who is Always There

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Do you have a friend you that is always there for you? Katrina explains the importance of this friendship in her life.

I want to tell you about a good friend of mine. I can't call her my best friend because she often leaves me to my own devices when I need a crutch. Over the course of our relationship, she has let me go floundering through crisis after crisis reminding me of all the advice she has given me over the years saying, "Sister, I can't do it all. You have to pick up the slack on this one." Despite our setbacks and separations, she has remained constant in her love for me. She won't hesitate to tell me when I am misaligned  in my thoughts, actions, or words, but she won't go so far as to criticize me, because she accepts me just the way I am. The words she speaks to me in my darkest times are, "Darling, there are no mistakes, only lessons. Open your heart to the lessons."

I've had many friends like her over the years and I have always been so selfish with them, wanting all of their time just for me. I worried that I would be the one who was left behind or that I wouldn't get invited to the fun parties unless I was in a certain clique. She has many friends but she always has time for me. In fact, she has never declined a lunch date or even time to just sit with me in stillness. Don't get me wrong~ this chick can party! We have been upside down and all over the country (even the world) engaging in our crazy antics. She's always up for a good time, but she never overindulges. She prefers a life of balance.

Over the years, she has changed somewhat. Some of her friends have questioned her saying, "What happened to the real you? Why are you all over Facebook and Instagram showing off?" Other friends say, "I'm the only one that knows the real her, the quiet and conservative side. She's really not that flashy. She's way deeper than that." The fact of the matter is she's all of it. She has a solid foundation and she moves and breathes in a way that let's you know she's completely in tune with herself and her divine essence. At times, she moves like a cat coming to life after a long nap, and at others she's as still as a winter's night. Her name is Yoga.

Yoga has been the one friend that I have called upon when my searching for answers to life's questions has failed me. She has picked me up when I needed a hand and has looked me in the eye and held me accountable for my BS when I have gotten above my yoga raising. Yoga held up her end of our relationship when I wanted to bail, and I owe my deepest experiences of humility and gratitude to her. She has taught me to believe in myself in a kinder and more loving way, and to also love her just the way she is without labels or qualifiers. She's the real deal folks. My hope is that if you haven't met her, you will make it a point to do so. I promise~ she will make time for you and you won't be disappointed.

3:09 pm

Whose Life Are You Living?

Whose life are you living? Finding your path isn't always easy. Cathy shares her process of finding her dharma.

Valentine's Day is right around the corner and unless you are completely oblivious about your surroundings, you can't help but notice all the images of hearts and love everywhere. Apparently cupid ate one too many of those stupid chocolate hearts and has thrown up his little pink chunks of love all over the retail market. Needless to say, as a single girl, Valentine's Day has never been high ranking among my favorite holidays.

Valentine's Day has always enhanced my feelings of less than or unworthiness. A day made completely for couples, two halves who make a whole, soulmates who found each other. The goal by which so many measure themselves successful adults. I clearly had failed at this incredibly important task of life, a task I had spent my whole life chasing -- failing time and time again. Bummer.

Recently, I was working with a coach that suggested I wasn't following my dharma. Instead I was too busy trying to be normal to be true to my soul. Following my what? And what’s so bad about trying to be normal? So I researched the concept. Dharma comes from Buddhism and Hinduism and essentially means "the way things are." It is often used at the individual level to mean your mission or purpose. Unfortunately, this definition didn't really clarify my confusion. How did my inability to have a healthy relationship relate to following my purpose? What now?!? Yep, you guessed it, meditation and reflection.

That was 3 months ago, so the answers haven't come quickly, and I don't have all of them yet; however, I am starting to uncover some ideas. The Bhagavad Gita, an ancient yogic text, teaches us that it is better to live your own dharma imperfectly, than to live somebody else's dharma perfectly. Ouch.

I'm so busy trying to live society's definition of perfection that I'm missing my own life. I've been blessed with amazing family and friends who love me completely. Yet, I've taken these relationships for granted in search of what society told me I should want and have -- that elusive soul mate. However, in the quiet moments, my heart would whisper and I knew marriage and kids wasn’t the path I needed to take. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to my soul. Instead I continued to judge my success by the goals of society instead of celebrating my achievements along my journey.

Living someone else's dharma is really not that unusual. There's a whole concept of "keeping up with the Jones" -- all about living somebody else’s dharma. RECOGNIZING that you are not living your dharma AND making a change is the hard part. But wow -- once you realize and let go of chasing a dream that isn't yours -- HUGE relief. I've started understanding my dharma and making changes to travel that path. And no, before you ask, I'm not going to tell you my dharma because it's mine. Go get your own! No seriously -- whose dharma are you living? Is your job your choice or your parents? Is your hobby yours or your friends? Is your religion yours or your families? Whose path are you on?

So how can you figure out if you are living your dharma? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1) What makes you feel passionate deep down in your heart?

2) What makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning? Yes even you people who hate mornings!

3) When you look back at your best memories what were you doing?

Dig deep when you answer these questions. Were you providing care and support to someone? Were you making people laugh, solving problems, helping educate? Your dharma isn't superficial and your answers can't be either. Start seriously reflecting on what path your heart REALLY wants to be on.

Figuring out your dharma is NOT easy, but the work is worth the effort. Letting go of other people's dreams can mean hurting or disappointing others. (Sorry Mom and Dad, looks like all your grandchildren will have 4 legs and cold wet noses!) However, walking your own path can be immensely rewarding. Personally, I have a sense of peace and ease I never had before. I'm calmer and more patient with things that use to set off my anger. I'm also more open to experiences and opportunities than I've ever been. And perhaps most importantly, I'm accepting my relationship for exactly what it is in my life instead of the goal I measure my success - and wow that makes it so much easier. So bring on cupid! He doesn't bother me anymore. His dharma is not mine and I don't feel less for being me.

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3:10 pm

Lessons of a Broken Runner

What brings you to the mat? We all have something we get from yoga. Miranda shares her lessons learned as a broken runner.

I can remember the day as if it were yesterday. I was wandering around the small town of Wilmington with an immense amount of dread looming deep inside of me. I kept thinking to myself "who in their right mind agrees to run a marathon in the middle of the day?!" It was as though I had already made up my mind that this run would be terrible and funny enough, it kind of was. My hips ached from mile 10 all the way until the end, I didn't have my headphones, the course wasn't what I had expected, and to top it all off, I tripped at the 26 mile mark. At the time, I had no idea that would be my last run.

The days following the race were pretty normal. I gave my legs and body what I felt was an appropriate amount of time to heal. However, that first post-race run sadly ended in excruciating pain in my left knee. Fast forwarding a little bit. I took small breaks here and there but each run had the same outcome, this unfamiliar pain that I couldn't seem to shake. It's now been over three months since the race and I can honestly say, I still cannot run. TGFY--Thank Goodness for Yoga!!!

It's been a little over three years that I have integrated yoga regularly in my life. By no means am I anywhere near where I want to be, but I am precisely where I am supposed to be. I firmly believe this practice has helped me to deal with most situations in a much better way. Running gave me a sort of freedom that I have always craved in my life, and yoga, to me, gives the same opportunity but in a slightly different way. The moment I can start to feel the mat beneath my feet, it's as though my body has received permission to move in a way that creates energy, warms the heart, and brings meaning to my life. This whole "loss of running" experience has allowed me to explore my practice on the mat more consistently and with a deeper appreciation. The practice of yoga has encouraged me to take better care of my body by listening and understanding its many needs.

Before yoga, there were so many days where I didn't feel great, but pushed myself anyway because that's what you do, right? You push yourself constantly to be better, because you can always be better. But what if you just be? Be exactly what you are in that moment and that is absolutely enough? Maybe I could push through my knee pain just so I can be better but after almost 28 years, I have decided to take it a little bit easier on my body and do what feels, not only appropriate, but good. As I look to this body with understanding, patience, and gratitude, I have challenged myself to remember to love it fully, as well. Running was always a good way to keep in shape and without it consistently in my life, my body has changed in just three short months. I've had to remind myself every single day that change is neither bad nor good, just change. And by golly, change is not only okay, but inevitable and an opportunity to grow.

Yoga has opened up my mind to see the body as this amazing object that is capable of unbelievable things. And if that's not amazing enough in itself, it's YOUR true home. I have developed a much deeper appreciation regardless of the changes taking place or the reflection that I may see in the mirror. As strange as it tastes to be saying this, I am overly grateful for this experience and its miraculous timing. Yoga has had a remarkable effect on my life that I am so much more aware of now. How beautiful it is to be able to connect with yourself every day in a way you never knew was possible. My self-love and gratitude continues to grow on a daily basis despite whatever setbacks or downfalls I may be dealt. At this point in my life, as long as I have my body, my mat, and some quiet moments to myself every single day, then everything is exactly how it should be and I am doing just fine.