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Gratitude for Pop-Up Community Time

Thank you to my wonderful Grant Park neighbors, friends, and yogis who came together this morning for 75 minutes of community, sweaty yoga, and a good cause–Hotel St. Dunstan’s.

Thank you Nirvana Yoga for the studio space and for allowing free community donation classes to take place on a regular basis.

 

Rebecca, Tom, Carol, me, Adrienne, Elizabeth and Joanna for community donation yoga class at Nirvana to benefit Hotel St. Dunstan’s.

From the church website: “St. Dunstan’s serves as one of 13 host congregations that provide shelter and meals for up to four homeless families for a week at a time, four times a year. Sunday School classrooms become home for the families while they are here. Parishioners provide meals, serve as evening hosts, and spend the night. We are assisted by parishioners from Holy Innocents and St. Anne’s Episcopal Churches. Family Promise is a national organization, providing networks of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim congregations around the country.”

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The clouds that wander…

The clouds that wander through the sky

Have no roots, no home; nor do the distinctive

Thoughts floating through the mind.

Once this is seen,

Discrimination stops.

Clouds

Rest at ease your body.

Giving not, nor taking,

Put your mind at rest.

Maha Mudra is like a mind that clings

to nothing.

–Buddhist Tantric master Tilopa (988-1069 CE) in his “Song of Maha Mudra”

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Remembering Billy

I’ll get this part out of the way first—Billy was murdered where he slept behind a gas station near my house in Grant Park. Local media reported the cause of death was believed to be blunt force trauma to the head.

“Neighbors told Channel 2 that customers and workers at the gas station loved Bethune, who they said held the door open for everyone and did favors for people,” the short blurb in the AJC read as if trying to humanize someone whose life was already made meaningless by the headline: “Homeless man found beaten to death in Grant Park.”

Not that I am any better. Billy not only held the door for me but he knew my name and what I did for a living. He knew my son and where he went to school. He had a rough idea how much I gave him the last time I gave him something and when that was.

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“Breath” by Janet S. Wong

Breath is a broom
sweeping your insides
Smooth and slow:
You pull scattered bits of dream fluff
and heart dust into neat piles.
Short and quick:
You coax shards of broken thoughts
out of forgotten corners.
Breath is a broom sweeping you fresh.
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Wish I Knew at 22

There was an awesome challenge on LinkedIn this week in honor of #Internationalwomensday called

Mybeautifulpicture

At 22, I was intensely creative, unfiltered, dragged along as if by the invisible strings of constant and passionate inspiration. My brain would wake me at all hours of the night with full poems or paragraphs that had to be scribbled down on paper before it would shut back down and allow me to sleep. My tall Eiffel Tower frame–fine architectural wonder of Amazon flesh I had the potential to be–was left willowy and weak from body image issues and the attendant eating disorders.

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January: Not Ordinary Time in Yoga Studios

Last night before class, I asked the teacher, Amanda M., if now that the holidays had passed we had entered yoga “ordinary” time like in the Christian church calendar, those regular days when we go about the business of ordinary living.

January7

The first Monday of 2019.

“No!” Amanda responded emphatically. “It’s January. There’s nothing ordinary about January in yoga studios.”

“Really?” I asked. “Why not?”

“Because it’s when everyone returns to the studio.”

A major ah-ha went off in my head. It was true. I had been in some sparsely populated Monday night classes in December (I was keeping my eyes on my own mat so I wasn’t noticing overtly.) Yet Monday, January 7, the first Monday of the New Year, was full of people.

My youngest son’s girlfriend gave me a Yoga Journal calendar for Christmas that has daily practice tips, from how to get into Parsva Bakasana (side crow pose) to how to meditate. Most people probably view yoga as primarily a form of exercise like CrossFit, which is completely fine. I guess like other exercise routines, you start out great at the beginning of the year with the best of intentions and then life happens.

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Hello, Yoga Teacher!

sibleyflemingyogateacher1

New Year’s Eve 2018 I taught my first yoga class.

About a week after Christmas 2018, I was anonymously walking down the potato chip aisle of the convenience store across the interstate from my house, when a familiar voice tapped me on the shoulder. “Hello, yoga teacher,” said my late night friend, one of the store clerks, a young Indian man who often marvels at what I am willing to put in my body and how little impact it seems to have on my well-being.

There are many ways to get to know strangers. One is by having late night conversations about how poor food choices conflict with the idea of yoga teacher training, one of the main focuses being non-violence against yourself and the world around you.

What my friend did not know was that I wasn’t in training any longer–I was a fully certified instructor, so “Yoga Teacher” was less a nickname and more a fact. It was a little ironic given I was secretively buying Ruffles cheese potato chips and Vienna sausages. And it sort of jolted me awake a bit–it’s simply not always easy to walk the walk. For me or anyone else, about anything.

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Where the Bears Are

Mesmerizing live brown bear cam. Check it out at www.explore.org.

This summer, I’ve been watching the brown bears fishing for sockeye salmon at Brooks Falls in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska via a live cam.  The National Park Service provides this 24-hour live stream free of charge every year between July and August.

I shared the bear link with a girlfriend who subsequently invited me to spend the weekend at her mountain house in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

On the way in the car, she told me that she’d received calls from her mountain neighbors warning her not to walk alone in the woods because of the plethora of black bear sightings in the area. There was lots of evidence of rummaging through garbage cans, and one man walked into his kitchen to find a bear in his refrigerator.

Knowing I love to walk, my friend said we should walk together, or at the very least I should take her hunting dog, Millie. It’s one of those things you agree to because it’s easier than telling a likelier truth.

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The Girl Who Loved Ligers

This past weekend, a friend and her 14-year-old daughter joined me for what I believed to be their first yoga class. I arrived early to stake out the back row with mats, blankets, blocks, and straps. The back row not only allows for anonymity, it provides the best vantage point to see where to put the body parts.

ligertrainer

Photo credit: Andy Carvin. A liger and its trainer, Dr. Bhagavan Antle, at a Renaissance Festival in Massachusetts, USA, October 2005

My regular “spot,” a thing Leigh Anne, the studio’s owner, doesn’t allow, is in the middle of the room under a six-foot-high window that begins half way up the wall and reaches to the ceiling. Laying on my back, I can see tree tops against an ever-changing sky; standing, my view expands to a row of well-appointed Victorian houses.

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