Permission to Fail

What if we grew up in a world where we were told it was alright to fail? Oh the possibilities and life lessons that would arise. We would be a society of adventurers and optimists never worrying about what others thought or being embarrassed.

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I ventured to Lynn’s Baptiste class at noon today. Sorry I cut off your face, Lynn, but I want to get the message out that this is a class to attend. After working all morning, I wanted movement, and Lynn’s class was just what I needed.

The messages that flow from yoga can be life-changing if we let them in. Today in tree pose, Lynn basically gave us permission to fail. She wanted us to flow, rise, and bend enough in this pose so that we fell over. This threw me off a bit, and at first I had a hard time getting into the pose. But then I reached down to form my foundation and lifted up stretching my tree toward the ceiling. It felt good, so I reached back further and then a little more, surprised by how far back I was able to go. I kept reaching. Then I fell over.

I went back into it, but kept couldn’t get my balance. It didn’t feel like failure, because Lynn was there. She said it was alright to fall over. It happens to everyone, but what happens internally is what gets us. We become self-conscious, angry with ourselves, and often don’t try again. Who wants to embarrass themselves in front of everyone else by falling?

But as Lynn said, what would happen if you laughed and went back into it? What would happen if instead of putting yourself down, you showed compassion for you? If my friend fell over, I wouldn’t call her a yogi fail, I would encourage her to try again. So why is it so hard for us to do that for ourselves?

I’m glad I ‘failed’ today, because I went deeper into the pose than I ever do. That was the purpose. Through that failure, I found success. I found compassion for me.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?

What would happen if you tried something and did fail? How would you show yourself compassion? Think about a time when someone you loved failed, write down what you did or said to them.

What have you learned from your failures?

I learned today that laughter is the best way to get me back into a pose. Don’t take myself so seriously and go with the flow. After all, we are like the oak tree. We may bend, but we won’t break.

Finding Purpose–Sharing your Gifts

Angeloak
Angel Oak Tree, Johns Island, SC (Photo by Janine Cammarata)

When we take care of ourselves, find out who we are, and grow our purpose, we may want to share it with the world. Trees absorb the energy and nutrients from the earth, take what they need, and then releases all their goodness so that we can live. That is part of their purpose and their branches and leaves reach out to make an impact on others.

  1. What do you want to give to the world?
  2. What is your purpose and how will you share it?
  3. How do you want to make an impact?
  4. What does that impact look like to you?
  5. How does it feel to know what truly feeds your soul?

Trees have known a secret since the beginning of life on earth. They have to shed what doesn’t serve them anymore to make room for what will. Even the evergreens lose their needles and renew again. When leaves fall, it’s a sign that another season has come to an end. Another cycle has come and gone, so that another one can begin.

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  1. What can you let go that no longer serves you?
  2. Is there something you are doing that prevents your newly found purpose from evolving?

Creating space to let the new in or to allow room to grow is part of our learning process. As seasons change, so do we.

Finding Purpose–What Will you Grow?

Finding purpose in life and what drives you is a lifelong endeavor. It will change as your life circumstances do, but being aware of where you are and want to be is the next step. If you have followed the Finding Purpose series, you have established your values, what is important to you, and the type of person you are.

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Everything wonderful starts with something small. Life forms from a tiny acorn.

Journal about the following questions:

  1. What do you want to grow within yourself?
  2. What or who do you want to grow into?
  3. What kind of life do you want to live?

I’d like to grow a sense of community through my teaching and writing. Through my written word and connection, I instill a sense of hope that we can all make a difference, even if it’s a small one. As with the acorn, a small act of kindness can grow into something incredible and self-sustaining.

Old oak

 

acorn
Template to use on your personal oak.

Use this acorn or draw your own and write the words you came up with on your quest for growth. For me it’s writing, yoga, community, personal health, family, connection, hope.

You have the power within yourself to be the best person you want to be. It’s all in you. Nurture it and watch it grow into something beautiful and amazing.

 

Finding Purpose–Root Values

Finding our purpose. Living our dreams. Being the person we want to be. These are strong notions that need deeply instilled values to implement.

The oak tree has huge significance to me as it probably does to so many people. When my son was in the hospital battling cancer, this poem was sent to me. It was a daily prayer to Nick that he would never break from this disease. His spirit never broke, but unfortunately his body did.

Then this poem and all that it signified became my personal mantra, symbol, and prayer to keep going without one of my boys. I have bent, lost my way, cracked branches, had holes drilled into me, have bared my soul, but I have never broken.

oaktreeimageryforhealing

Through my journaling and becoming self-aware through yoga, I have learned what I stand for, and not only how deep my roots go, but also what I value in this life. As part of that knowing, my purpose is to share with others, so that under the worst possible circumstances, you have hope. That is my purpose, that is my impact word–HOPE. We all need it.

Over the next couple days, I will share this process with you. It began with my last post of writing about your personal awesomeness. Start there if you please.

 

oak tree

You can use this image of an oak tree, draw your own or find another image. The point is that the oak tree symbolizes ourselves and our foundation.

Step One: Journal on the following questions:

  1. What are your core beliefs and values?
  2. What is important to you?
  3. Why do you have these values, where did they come from?
  4. How were they instilled in you?
  5. How do they impact your life?
  6. How do you live by them?

Step Two: Write your values in the roots of the oak tree. Words such as honesty, trust, dependable, etc. are words that you will have chosen to describe your values after you journaled. There are no wrong answers. It is whatever is right for you.

Be honest with yourself as this is the path to your purpose and you want it to be true.

Let me know how it goes for you. Keep it in your journal as we will come back to it tomorrow.

Happy Journaling!

Build Community with a Solid Foundation

foundation

My dad was a carpenter who built houses from the ground up. He knew a house was only as strong and durable as its foundation. If any of the columns were off kilter, then so was the house. Each column stood alone, but also in conjunction with the others to support what was built on top.

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This concept of a solid foundation is integral to an empowering yoga practice. Each of us can stand alone, but the energy skyrockets when we are together. Each of us holds the other up. If our individual foundation, our True North alignment is off then we are not as strong as we could be.

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Thanks to the influences of two of my favorite yoga sisters, Kayla Marie and Jess Padula, I have been reading Brene’ Brown’s latest book. I have enjoyed her other books, but this one is making me think all the way down to my personal foundation.

She writes about True Belonging. My interpretation is being my authentic self, living in my True North, speaking and acting in my truth not only when I’m alone, but also when I am with my community. Wilderness is her main theme and that “Belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone is a wilderness–an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching.” (36) The wilderness can be scary, but we brave it to stand in our truth.

In order to build my community of writers, martial artists, yogis, family, cancer patients, etc. I have to be willing and able to stand in my truth, living my life with authenticity. In order to do that, I need to know what I believe in, what I value, who I am, what matters to me, and how all this leads me along my soul’s path.

Even though that path may change, my internal truth and compass stay the same. Only when I am standing in my truth, can I serve as a solid foundation in my community. When we all stand in our truths, we create an unshakable foundation, made up of unique, beautiful, amazing, and special people who are not afraid to be who they are.

This doesn’t mean that I live in perfection. The truth is I am far from perfect and I am perfectly fine with that! I am vulnerable. I hurt. I make mistakes. I fail. But I do all that, because I refuse to live a false life. I refuse to live the life that others think I should live, because it fits into their plans.

When we stand in our truth as a community, we are like the trees from Peter Wohlleben’s book, The Hidden Life of Trees. Our roots combine, we support and lean on each other simultaneously, and we revel in one another’s growth.

hiddenlifeoftreesbook

So where does that leave us? How do we find out who we are? Journaling is one of the ways I have identified my truths. You can do the same. Here are some prompts to get you started:

What and who matters to you? Career? Partner? Children? Family?

What do value? Friendship? Family? Success? Honesty?

What is something that you never compromise? Your word? Honor? Promises? Reliability?

How would you describe yourself? Kind? Hard working? Compassionate? Stubborn?

Daily journaling shows us what really matters. Journal for seven days in a row about whatever comes to your mind. At the end of the week review what you have written. You will read about what is really important to you or what is preventing you from being your true self. It may be a combination, but you are on your way to your authentic self.

Also, I highly recommend reading both of these books!

 

Catching the Moment–Gratitude Day 24

I am grateful to have boys who remind me to catch the moment and be in the present. Stephen continually reminds me to pay attention to what he is saying or what we are doing instead of trying to take photos or write down daily details. I can’t seem to help it. I have always been that way. In a way it’s a good thing. If your kids grew up with mine, there’s a great chance I have some awesome photos of your child.

It can be bad, because Stephen hates getting his photo taken. I may be at fault for that! I love capturing those moments, but it’s true they are never quite as pure or true as when they are happening. And when they are happening, my face is behind the camera. I miss the good stuff.

Take today. During a break in the rain, I took Zoey and Dakota out for a walk. I left my phone in the house (I know it’s a shocker!) and we strolled down the road. I was immediately in awe of the clouds. Some were laced along the sky while others were floating by like shreds of cotton balls. Flurries of birds flipped through the air. There were so many and they flew so erratically, they looked like black leaves just released from the trees.

And fall trees. They are my favorite. Deep red scarlet, burnt orange, buttery yellow, golden brown, bronze, and green hues. The brilliance reminds me of the beauty this world can hold. I was surrounded by it and knew it mattered. That moment, not the photo that I could have taken, but being in it right at that time and place.

You’ll notice there isn’t a photo for this post. It’s in my heart and my mind. I hope you take a moment to enjoy where you are right now.

By the way, in my dream the other night, Nick told me to put down my camera and take in the whole picture. Messages are all around and for that I am especially thankful.

Crazy Apple Picking–Gratitude Day 3

applepicking

It all started with Olivia wanting to go apple picking when she was home from Miami and grew into a crazy adventure with my soul sister, Iris. When you throw in a ladder and a tractor, you know this isn’t your typical apple picking tradition. (Being the voice of reason once again, Alyssia put an end to the possible tractor ride!)

There’s something nostalgic about apple picking, the family connection, remembering the boys and their cousins going on a hayride, eating tons of apples, and capturing their sugar coated faces in a forever smile.

As much as I wanted to go apple picking, there hasn’t been time, and it’s a lot more fun when you have a group of people.

applepicking2

Luckily I have many adopted daughters who don’t mind me tagging along. At least I provide some comic relief for them!

Today I am grateful for my Cuban family and all the laughter, joy, and craziness they bring into my life. It was a beautiful day. I enjoyed quality time with my girls. Each moment with them keeps me on my toes, because I never know what adventure Iris will lead me on next.

Thank you ladies for making my day special!

What Grounds You

baby feet in grass

For the last fews days the topic of forming my physical foundation and grounding myself has come into play. Much of what I physically do requires a solid foundation. In yoga, whatever is touching the floor is my foundation and connection to the earth.  Even today in class, when we were on our back, Jess expressed the needs to press every part of my body into the mat to feel connection and draw strength from it.

In martial arts, my feet are my guide as I smoothly and unobtrusively step across the floor to not give away my next move or have a strong foothold before I kick.

Even in boxing, I am repeatedly told, establish my footing before I hit my target.

My feet, my hands, whatever connects to the earth is my foundation, my center. But what grounds me? What keeps me on my feet and centered when life is off kilter? My breathing has become a huge part of what keeps me grounded. It’s a calming tool that I can use anywhere and provides the space for me to think before I react.

My family grounds me by keeping my head out of the clouds. They connect me to what is important and remind me of where my priorities are.

My spirituality and beliefs are a huge part of my inner foundation. I know I am forever connected my son, Nick, and that is a surety that gets me through the hardest days.

Having a strong foundation that you can root down into when a storm is brewing helps you weather even the most devastating ones. So it’s vital to have it established. It’s like living in a hurricane prone area in a tent. Your foundation is never going to hold.

What is your emotional, physical, spiritual foundation? What do you connect with and how do you root down when life is trying to tear you up?

Photo Journaling

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Observe the photo for a few minutes with a quiet mind and no disturbances. Write about what comes to you. Does it remind you of a place you know or a place you’d like to visit?

What feelings does it evoke? Peacefulness, loneliness, isolation, wariness, serenity? The possibilities are endless and whatever you feel is right.

Using a photo for inspiration is a fabulous way to get your creative juices flowing. It also can spark memories for family memoir. So pull out photos from those old boxes or the depths of your hard drive and write!

 

Oh The Places I will See in the US of A!

Flying to Miami, FL

My journal is a place of possibilities, synchronicities, action plans, and choices. As my husband and I traveled on a plane last month to Miami for our annual trip, I thought about the restaurants, night life, beaches, and local color. There are so many activities to do, but chilling on the beach and soaking in the sun is my favorite.

Reflecting back on my trip, I thought about where else I want to go. As much as I would love to travel outside of the US to Greece, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, and England, I have always wanted to explore more of the country I love.

Then I thought about all the states I have visited. Some were just a drive through, but others were part of a scheduled visit to family, a soccer tournament, or a vacation.

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How many states haven’t I visited and what did I do or see in the ones that I did visit? Was it memorable? Do I want to go back? Well there’s only one way to find out:

Alabama No
Alaska No
Arizona Yes–saw a college game when I was 19
Arkansas No
California Yes. San Diego for two of Stephen’s soccer tournaments. Would probably never have gone otherwise. Love it and would go again! San Francisco–same trip as Arizona at age 19.
Colorado No
Connecticut Yes. Soccer and family
Delaware No
Florida Yes. Many times to Disney, Stephen for soccer, visit family, annual trip to Miami
Georgia No
Hawaii No
Idaho No
Illinois No
Indiana No
Iowa No
Kansas No
Kentucky No
Louisiana NO
Maine Yes. Took a couple trips with our boys when they were little to York. Very fond memories
Maryland Yes. Stephen for soccer
Massachusetts Yes. Visit family and friends and recently to cheer my friend Kathy as she ran the Boston Marathon! Absolutely love Boston!
Michigan Yes. When I was a teen to visit my Uncle Steve and my cousins.
Minnesota No
Mississippi No
Missouri No
Montana No
Nebraska No
Nevada Yes. Lake Tahoe for my honeymoon. Las Vegas for my twin nephews’ christening 26 years ago and last year on a trip with my hubby and got to see my aunt, uncle, and cousins.
New Hampshire Yes? I think for soccer.
New Jersey Yes. Many times for soccer. Karate dinners and a sketchy visit to Elizabeth General Hospital when I ripped up my knee doing a tornado kick.
New Mexico No
New York Born here. I may need to venture deeper into the state and look for locations I’d like to visit and explore.
North Carolina No
North Dakota No
Ohio No
Oklahoma No
Oregon No
Pennsylvania Yes. Went to my cousin’s house a long time ago. Hershey Park when I was 7 and vomited all over my mom! Ah the memories. Soccer with Stephen and took him to Hershey Park, but we only visited the candy store!
Rhode Island Yes. Love the city of Providence as Stephen goes to college there. Federal Hill is one of my favorite places to eat. Have heard a lot about Newport
South Carolina Not yet! Going this month and can’t wait to see the Angel Tree-the largest oak tree in the US and hopefully chilling on Myrtle Beach.
South Dakota No
Tennessee No
Texas No, but want a girls’ trip to visit Lynn, Karen’s sister!
Utah No
Vermont Yes. Skiing, Shopping in Manchester, love Northshire Bookstore, many bed and breakfasts places, and soccer.
Virginia Yes. Soccer and when my sister and her husband moved there.
Washington No
West Virginia No
Wisconsin No
WyomingNo
I’m sure I driven through most of the states on the east coast. The mid-west is virtually non-existent in my visiting, so I need to get cracking!
I plan to visit someone or something well-known in every state! I have a great deal of traveling to do!
If you have some suggestions, please add to comments!
Where do you want to go?