Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dear Katherine, you left your backpack.



Wednesday before Turkey Day, I came home to South Austin after being in Wimberley overnight. It's my usual schedule. My roommate, Chrislyn, had already gone home for the Holiday weekend. I drove up and saw that my front door was wide open behind the screen door. I could see through the house, all the way through to the back sliding door, also pulled wide open. Fear is an interesting emotion, the way it creeps through you slowly, and it slows your mind down so much that rational thinking becomes extremely difficult. I thought maybe Chris was still home, even though her car was gone. I thought maybe I'd left the door wide open on accident. I couldn't accept what had happened at first, but slowly I ruled out the obvious and called 911. I was too afraid to turn the truck engine off. I sat in my truck and waited, furious and scared that they may still be in our house. My masculine side and my ego wanted to bust through there and smell them out, hunt them down and face them head on. My softer, feminine side said, "wait, you are not here to handle thieves." It was a clear message. I listened. Once the police came and checked inside, I was afraid to go in and face what damage had been done, what was missing, what remained. It's a gut wrenching feeling. And it's a familiar one. The feelings that come up are powerful enough to shake your core, make you question the human race and God entirely, and eventually leave you standing there with your hands stuffed in your pockets like an angry child who wants to blame everyone else for her anger, when actually it is all mine.

There is no doubt, it sucks to have stuff stolen. It's funny when you tell people you were robbed, they always want to know what was stolen. A subconscious conversation starts up underneath the one you're actually having. Most people are afraid of being robbed and what they really want to know is what to expect when it happens to them, so they can start mentally preparing for it. So here's the list, folks:

They don't want hard drives, thank God. They're not worth much, and it's too time consuming to wipe them clean. Laptops are worth the time because they're worth more at the pawn shop. Computer monitors are easy to carry and easy to pawn. All of ours were taken. Jewelry is a no brainer. So are flat screen TV's and prescription drugs, but we don't have either in our house. Musical instruments in cases are easy. They took Chrislyn's great grandfather's violin. I know that one hurt her as much as losing the journals that were tucked into a duffle bag with other things in it. They just took the whole bag. You realize that what matters most to you is not necessarily monetarily valuable. It is sort of a beautiful lesson.

There are many factors that contribute to the amount of stuff that's stolen, but I think the big ones are time and experience. I've heard of robberies where the thieves are high on drugs, and they not only steal stuff, but they take great pleasure in destroying things along the way. All in all, we got off with minimal damage to the house, a list of things that will eventually be replaced, and a few things that will always be missed. And every now and then, and if you're lucky enough, the thieves make mistakes. In this case, they left evidence. I was standing by my desk after the police left, looking at the space where the computer monitor once was, and noticed a bag sitting in my desk chair. It was a child's backpack. I'm sure my jaw dropped. It was black mesh, and in the front pocket were several pens for school, in an assortment of bright colors, along with a shoe string, and one post-it note that said: "Is it okay if Katherine works on her math homework in your classroom? If not, send her back to mine." It was dated 11-14, with an illegible signature at the end. I called the police and they came back and got it. It's evidence, after all, they tell me. I felt the anger shift a little inside me. Whoever robbed us has a daughter, or perhaps a teenage girl was in on the robbery, sitting at my desk, wondering what else she could take. Perfume and jewelry were stolen. My 5 gallon glass jar full of change. They went through my belts in the bottom of my closet and took one that I never wear anymore, the one with rhinestones all over it. An antique soap dish is missing. A painting was forming in my mind. I could see a young girl in our house with older men or women who had the experience to break into sliding doors and pass things through in the night. I could see this girl, eyes full of mischief and wonder, as she roamed around our house taking whatever pleased her. Half empty perfume bottles are a beautiful thing when you have none.

My amazing super hero of a sister came over later that evening. I felt frazzled, bewildered, exhausted, angry, scared and sad. She had the perfect remedy. She arrived, backed her SUV up in my driveway, and unloaded an arsenal of spy equipment. She was dressed in black and was holding a bat. She carried in a giant box and my smile grew wider as she unpacked hockey sticks, cleats, tiny plastic remote control dogs, batman capes, gloves, flashlights, goggles, hunting knives, both real and fake, pellet guns, giant plastic jars of pellets, diaper creme for my door knobs incase they came back (she said it was a bitch to get it off your hands) and the cardboard box game called "Trouble" for me to set inside my living room window to scare off burglars.
We played Charlie's Angels for the next couple of hours. We talked about Katherine and what life must be like for her. We suspect my neighbors who live across the street are either directly involved or know who is. Six kids live there with their mom and her boyfriend. The oldest is a teenage girl. I don't know her name. A neighbor tells me that the boyfriend who lives there told him he's been in and out of prison, and he's in a gang called "The Bloods." (I told Libby this, and she said, "that's so 80's.") But the truth is, Chrislyn's car was broken into a month ago, and Rodney's a few months before that, all right in front of that neighbor's house. The kids have come over asking for money. After the cars were broken into, I stopped feeling safe. The boyfriend spends lots of time outside talking on his cell phone, watching our house. I honestly felt like it was a matter of time before something else went missing. We were too easy of a target. I don't know if they are to blame, and I don't spend much energy thinking about it anymore. But I do wish I could give Katherine back her backpack, filled with new tablets, pencils and folders.

I sat at my mom's dining room table the next day for Thanksgiving dinner. We added something new this year. We went around the table and each of us shared a favorite Thanksgiving memory. It was my idea. I needed the love from those stories. And in the midst of reminiscing, time slowed down for me and I saw it all with my turtle vision, my spirit. My family around me at that same table, all healthy and accounted for. My mom's crocheted turkey attached to her apron, my dad's laughing eyes, my cousin's jokes, my sister's quiet tears because her boys weren't there this year. The same plate of food set in front of me that my mom and aunt prepare every year with recipes from generations past. I thought of that teenage girl in my house, two days before Thanksgiving, rummaging through closets and medicine cabinets. She was stealing love. It came in the form of perfume, computer monitors, belts and jewelry, which will never sustain her, but for now, it's all she can get. Every person who stepped foot in our home while we were gone just wanted love. For them, it's stealing so that they can get cash and get their needs met. Should they be caught, arrested, and sent to jail, the need never changes. Should they end up living a life of crime, in and out of jail and prison, the need is still the same. Perhaps they end up with hate in their hearts, emptiness in their eyes with drugs flowing through their bloodstreams... the need will always be there. It's a simple need, too. I got my fix that night looking into my sister's spy box and the next day at my mom's dining room table.

I'm not praying for the extra money to arrive so that I can buy a computer monitor. I'm praying that I hold on to every bit of compassion I feel in my heart for human beings. We are all in this together. I was hoping on Turkey Day that maybe Katherine was happy wearing a new belt, perfume on her wrists, and new earrings in her ears. I also hoped that she paid attention to the little chicken inside her head that said it was wrong. I hope she feels, at some point in her life, what real love is. And I hope she fights for it with every ounce of strength in her body. There isn't anything more valuable than that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hank. And my heart.

It's Thanksgiving week! The storm last night cleared out the heaviness that humidity brings with it. I woke up at 4:45am and stood out on the back porch, listening, watching as rain finally fell with commitment. Ahhhh... and this morning it actually feels like Thanksgiving week.

I fell back asleep after the rain stopped, and woke up with a happy heart and a song in my head, as usual. Must mean it's time to tell Hank's story. He's been waiting patiently, but said today he was tired of being a B-Lister in my blogs. I guess at some point, they all want to be the star.

Hank. My Musical Chicken.

I was that child who preferred alone time. I spent hours sitting in the formal living room, rocking in the old green rocking chair, listening to my dad's 8-tracks and completely focusing on the music and what the lyrics meant. That was my retreat after a long day of kids' chatter and my need to maintain my personal space. I listened to Helen Reddy, Barbara Streisand, Tom T. Hall, Neil Diamond, Don Williams and Hank Williams, Sr. I listened to Simon and Garfunkel, Elvis, Elton John, and Olivia Newton John. I listened to whatever music my dad had collected. I was fortunate because he loves music. I started playing the piano when I was around 8, and what I really wanted to learn were pop songs... Christopher Cross' "Arthur's Theme", Joe Cocker's "Up Where We Belong" and Neil Diamond's "Forever in Blue Jeans." I learned Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" while my piano teacher was telling me to learn Bach and Mozart. "But what about Lionel Richie???" I would say. "You can't play anything really well until you learn the classics," she always replied. It's funny. I can still sit down and bang out "Up Where We Belong" and my dad still comes into the room singing, full of joy and nastalgia.

So today I want to say this to Madeline, my piano teacher, wherever you are: the pieces I learned ARE classics, right up there with Mozart. And sometimes they even tap into a deeper, more meaningful response than Bach ever could. And that's because we relate to it, Madeline. I'm so glad I listened to Hank back then, my musical chicken. He was tap dancing on my shoulder, whispering in my ear... "learn 'Easy Like Sunday Morning' so we can etch it in our memory forever and sing it in the shower for years to come."

Mind you, I understand now what I couldn't then, that I would be a much more accomplished piano player today if I had practiced scales everyday, held the tennis ball under my hands while playing like she asked me to, cut my nails way back so I could press down on the keys with the right part of my finger, and studied chords and key changes instead of album covers before going to bed. But that was my path with the piano lessons.

I heard a Bikram Yoga teacher once say in class that practicing Bikram Yoga was like playing scales on the piano everyday. You do the same thing, everyday, so that you can go out and play Mozart with your life. I loved that, and I say it often to my students. It makes sense to me. We practice the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, working everything in the body, so that we can enjoy a higher quality of life, one that is pain free, and if we're lucky, our lives become a symphony of classical music, simply by practicing your scales, your yoga, one asana or chord at a time.

Tap...tap...tap... Hank, my musical chicken, had to be named and categorized so that I could stop the music that plays repeatedly in my brain. Afterall, meditation is something I crave, and Hank wants NOTHING to do with it. So now, before I meditate, I close my eyes, and imagine myself walking into the chicken coop, and I find little Hank, who's quite cute with his headphones and scrawny legs as he sits by his records, tapes, and now his coveted I-Tunes collection. I gently lift the headphones off of his tiny head, and I say "be quiet for a little while for me, okay Hank?" The first time I did it he squawked and squawked, "what about all the songs we love in the morning, Jamie?? I was going to play some old Paul Simon for us!" I looked at him with love and said, "give me this quiet time, and you can turn it back on later." Now when I come up to him, he just lays flat on his back in a state of dramatic surrender (Libby taught him that, I'm sure) with his hand lifted up high, handing over his tiny headphones without a struggle. We've built a trusting relationship the last few years. He knows his job is important. He knows I love music because he feels every cell in my body respond to it. But now he understands the need for quiet time. I think he actually enjoys it some, too. It gives him time to build new playlists.

When I was little, I made up songs and sang them in the car for my adoring fans, Brad and Libby. I remember once I was in the back seat sitting between them, singing and bumping my head against the seat to the beat in my head. They both put an arm out and pinned me to the seat and put their hands over my mouth. I KNOW I sang all the time, and it must've driven them crazy. I was a singer and a bumper. They went hand in hand for me, and bumping was the most calming, meditative thing I could ever do with myself, so I did it often. It put me in a trance. I'd sit in the living room, rocking or bumping, for hours while the music played. I remember telling my mom and dad when I was little that I was worried I might not find a husband who would let me bump since Brad and Libby hated it. I stopped bumping when I thought it wasn't cool anymore. But every now and then, when I'm in the car with someone and I'm totally relaxed, a song will come on that I love and I'll softly hum and bump my head against the seat. Who needs a time machine? I can shoot myself back to 1977 and I'm in my dad's Ford LTD again with Brad and Libby flanked on either side, while I'm rocking out to Glen Campbell. That's a fast track to sincere happiness.

So enough on bumping, Side Train Annie. What I'm saying here is that Hank sometimes dictates my ability to focus for several hours each day. Music can play so loudly in my head sometimes that I just can't make it stop unless I surrender and go turn on my I-pod for awhile. Music grabs me, and shifts my energy around if it's powerful enough. It makes life so much more beautiful. I must have thousands of songs stored in my memory, and Hank spins them all regularly. He lands on an old favorite sometimes, and keeps in the mix of 10 or so songs that he plays repeatedly. He'd make a great D.J. since he likes to hit the repeat button a lot.

Hank is special, too, because he knows when I need to hear a certain song that's supposed to trigger something in me. He sends me messages through songs. We communicate that way. This weekend, while in Wimberley, he kept playing Patty Griffin's "Let Him Fly" over and over for me. And sure enough, the hawks started stirring around in my heart again. Wimberley is where I found my heart on that fence post I was talking about last time. Here's a little more on her, and if you're lost, back up one post and read the beginning of my "Fence Post" story.

***

She had no way of knowing how long she'd been hanging on that fence post but she was high enough so that she struggled constantly with a thin layer of dust and an underlying current that made her feel vulnerable. She had a sense of wonder at the display of life in front of her, and the wildly beautiful sunsets she was constantly witnessing. She strained herself everyday, watching for those hawks. And they'd been watching her for quite awhile, too, as they lazily looped through the oaks and cedars, landing on much higher posts than hers, and peering down at her. She didn't know why I left her there, or when I would be back. She didn't panic because she knows, and has always known, that I come back. Time doesn't exist for her either, so her days blended together as she would once again watch the sun tuck itself inside the night, arranging a symphony of colors on it's way out. Nights were spent openly, and were a welcome relief to the dry, hot summer days. Mostly she felt sad because she knew I was far away from her again. There isn't much a heart can do to speed up her return when she's left hanging out on a fence post in the middle of the Hill Country. I felt her there for months, but didn't spend much time looking for her. I stayed busy and distracted, noticing from time to time that the hawks were circling much closer than they used to... ***


Play me a song, Hank. Let's get this day started. He stands up and sways side to side as he tosses aside Patty's "Let Him Fly" and picks up her "Heavenly Day" instead.

"Got no one on my shoulder
Bringing me fears
Got no clouds up above me
Bringing me tears
Got nothing to tell you
I got nothing much to say
Only I'm glad to be here with you
On this heavenly, heavenly day."

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Fence Post Story

"Up and at 'em."

I guess it was always my dad's job to wake us up in the mornings for school. He liked to clap and turn on the lights, turn the radio way up and say "Up and at 'em!!" I don't think I've ever woken up with that kind of enthusiasm. Not once. Don't get me wrong, I love mornings. QUIET mornings... I even told Chrislyn, my roommate, that sometimes I don't even talk until around 10:30am, and not to take it personally. We laughed. We always do. So I was up at 6am today. It's only Thursday and I've taught 7 classes already this week. I'm on a yoga high. And when that happens, you simply float around. Sleep is fun but not always necessary. I was writing in my journal this morning, something about how beautiful it feels to spend time with my parents these days, and with my new baby niece, Brooke Jean. It seems that lately my heart breaks at least 3 times a day over the slightest things. Like I said, I'm a big fan of crying. And it has been interesting to watch the shift in what my triggers are. Lately it's the beautiful things that are triggering tears... like the light in my mom's eyes, my niece's long fingers, and the stories my dad tells me about his childhood (he was always barefoot, so his feet were permanently black). If there's a crack coming up to the surface, I let it come, fill it with some tears, and watch it drift away. It is strengthening my will to step out of the way of my own healing process.

So while I'm writing in my journal, I grab my I-Phone because Libby, my sister, texts me at all hours of the day and night. Rules simply do not apply. She was here when I came in to the world, so I adapted years ago. And she's the funniest person on the planet, so that makes it easier. So here's the text: it's a photo of a man who was in the grocery store with her last night. She said he was the only one at HEB besides her at 10:30pm. He was an old man, and looked really sweet. I'm sure she felt some cosmic connection to him. So much so, that she probably took something out of his basket when he wasn't looking.

Since I was lost in a sea of late night HEB shoppers, I decided to open up the Icon I have that I'm just starting to use, called "Notes" so that I could start a grocery list and plan a date with HEB on my own.... bananas, honey, loose green tea, RICE MILK... and on that thought, something else popped into my head, and it was this, which I think is the beginning of another story, so I thought I'd share it here and that way I've sent it out to the Universe and I can watch what it does.

From Jamie's I-Notes, "Fence Post" is born...
Somewhere in the midst of a hoarder who loves strawberry sodas and cigarettes, an artisan who was last seen standing on his roof of steel beams over rammed earth blocks, a photographer who feels most at home behind the lens, and a brother who tracks wild pigs, I found my heart again. She was hanging on a fence post watching for hawks. How she got there is another story. I gently lifted her up and wrapped her in my scarf and carefully placed her in my dad's truck next to me. She mentioned her desire list to me again as we drove through the hill country.... "I still want salty air, warm studio floors, open windows, a garden, children close by or a baby of my own, music, laughter, and the smell of freshly cooked meals always lingering in the kitchen. I want a man who sees ME, and not just YOU. I want to continue to make the decisions on what you wear and who we really connect with. Stop doing Yoga obsessively and find some quiet space again for us to chat. I miss our talks about dreams, mermaids, God, and the need for winter blankets and candles."
"I know," I said. "I'm sorry I left you on the fence post. I haven't forgotten our plans. I just got distracted again by the noise in the chicken coop. I'll keep you close, and we can stay up late and have hot tea and read and you can show me some more of your magical dreams."
She looked up at me with a deep sense of relief. She was tired of watching for hawks...
*****

I like my drift. I like watching where it goes...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Turning the Radio down

This is for Betsy Young Hudson. Thank you for looking at me with your wondrous eyes a couple of nights ago, and saying "I love your chickens. I have chickens, too." And for Kate McLennan. I hope you enjoy reading this while you're recovering from your hip surgery. You inspired me so much. Thank you.
It's about turning the radio down...
Summer, 2009. Right out of Bikram's Yoga Training. I came home after 9 weeks in the yoga bubble and my old friend, The House of Fear, my chicken coop, was open and ready for business. I felt it as soon as I set my huge suitcase back down on the concrete floors of Michelle's guesthouse. "What now," I thought to myself. I looked around at what was familiar... my paintings, my books, the hot pot I use for making tea every morning, my gold blanket I wrap up in while I write. I opened the fridge, and in my fog of trying to mentally return back to my usual environment, I pulled out 2 month old rice milk and made some hot tea with it. I had a few sips before noticing the black flecks in my cup that were floating around. I inspected the rice milk. There was a giant black ball of unknown matter sitting it. I almost threw up. Then I died laughing. Who the hell drinks 2 month old rice milk?? Oh yea, Octavia, that's who. She rode in on her magic carpet yoga mat and landed back in Austin that afternoon. I was in a daze. I'm actually really obsessive compulsive about expiration dates. But there I was, letting my brain swallow me yet again in fear, and sipping on tea laced with black-ball-mold-funk like I didn't have a care or a clue in the world. I needed that yoga training environment to last much longer - for months, maybe even years. I felt like a small child who was forced to wake up from her nap before she was ready, and she is foggy and cranky for the rest of the day because she never hit that stage of deep, restful sleep. I simply hadn't gotten to the end of what I needed from that experience. I didn't mind putting my body through such physical challenges because I just wanted to get to the very center of who I am, why I am the way I am, and how I can live my life with trust and faith, self love and some inner peace. Training, for me, meant safety from the world for a while. I finally felt what I saw in a musical production when I was a teenager and have never forgotten. "Stop this train. I want to get off." The train would stop and all of the people froze except for the main character, who just walked around and looked at the world from the perspective of stillness. (I think I have been craving stillness since I came into this world). I didn't get on line for weeks at a time. I checked my cell phone for texts and voice messages every few days. I simply got up every morning and did what was required -- yoga, attended lectures, lunch, swam in the pool to survive the heat, posture clinics, more yoga, dinner, more posture clinics, and watched Indian movies with Bikram until 3 or 4 am. We got up at 7:30am and did the whole thing all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat. It felt like the movie "Ground Hog Day" with Bill Murray. It was therapeutic and cleansing, and it helped me peel back layer after layer of my wiring, my thoughts and my anxiety, my ego. It helped me let go, truly, of all that I thought I was, and I watched as someone else emerged. It was amazing getting to know her, and I still feel like our relationship is new and fragile. She was not so entertaining, and yet she loved life more than ever. She didn't feel separate or insecure. She didn't have any need to judge, compare or analyze. She preferred staying quiet more often and just being. And nothing external about her mattered as much. Yoga clothes were what I had to put on each day so that I could go sweat out another layer on my mat. My face and body just wanted to feel clean and soft. My hair was no longer something to style and play with so that I felt more beautiful. It became, and still is, just an extension of me. I watched as the old Jamie stripped herself down into something I recognized from long ago - something much more beautiful, because it came from the inside. I watched my thoughts drift through me each day, and I watched them drift right on by. This part of me, my spirit, my true essence, I call "Turtle." She's a slow mover and a deep breather.

Journal Entry while at training, May 9, 2009:

"Something is happening to me. With this yoga. I feel strong and capable. I FEEL it. I know it like I have never known anything. I know it because my bones and muscles, tendons, heart and lungs tell me so. My bladder, the balls of my long skinny feet, my fingers, my small, imperfect breasts, the sun spot on my right cheek, my dirty, unruly hair, the yellow coming out of my eyes every morning, my cramping uterus - all the way through to my spine... they are all singing a chorus to me. They are all in unison. The old, painful, embarrassing and now beautiful stretch marks across my hips are smiling at me. My heat rash leaves beautiful bumps across my chest. My strong, thin arms, still riddled with old memories of saggy triceps... are saying "see? I was always here for you. I am your wings!!" I never knew how to love Jamie with reckless abandon. I never knew how to truly embrace myself. I just knew how to pick myself a part. Bit by bit. So what is this yoga showing me? I feel like the answers have always been there, waiting for me. God is there, too, waiting for me, deep inside the ocean of my heart. I feel it. I know. Jamie is there, too. Beautiful and free, and a light in this world just like everyone else."

I was so relieved when training was over, and I also felt a deep sense of dread. I was seeing for the first time what it felt like to be a part of a whole, that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience, and that we are all LOVE. But I wanted to bathe in this newness I felt. When training was over, I felt like all I had in that pool of love and deep connection was my big toe. I knew that coming home would mean I had to face the fear of separation all over again. Separation from my yogi tribe, yes, but deeper than that, I knew I had to face my natural and ingrained tendency to separate from myself, my heart, and God. I had to face my life again, just as it was before I went to the desert for 9 weeks. I faced Austin, Texas, again, which meant facing my family, my friends, the healing wounds of an old relationship, and a yoga studio that didn't feel like home anymore but I didn't understand why. I faced feeling totally defeated, scared to death, completely annoyed, cold shouldered and complete warmth. I faced old habits and desperately wanted to kick them all the way to the moon. I stared at cigarettes and said "You are no longer a part of me. I thrived without you for 9 weeks. I will continue to let you drift by me." I faced alcohol with the same resolution. I stayed close to my yoga practice but drifted further away from the studio where I started my journey. I didn't feel connected to them anymore. And I started to unravel. Again. I came home with hope that my ex-boyfriend and I would spend time together again. It was with the hope of a child. It was Grace. Grace loved Colin more than anyone or anything. And she loved him like a child - it was full of expectation and disappointment, rage, need and jealousy. It was reactive and hurtful. She was still taking over my brain for long periods of time back then. At the time I lived with my friend and often my other mother and big sister, Michelle, in her guest house. I was going to stay there a few months after my break up with Colin. I stayed there for a year and a half. I finally met Grace there. And she left me paralyzed in that sacred space for months at a time. I remember seeing Michelle one morning as she left for work. My legs were weak from too much yoga, and my body felt racked with emotional pain. I looked at her with Grace's sad eyes, and I said "I don't care anymore if I live or die. It just does not matter to me anymore. I really don't like this life." Michelle gave me a mama bear hug and said "I know. And it will shift again inside you just like it always does. I love you." She went on with her day. I crawled back inside my cave, laid on my side, and cried my eyes out. I cried everyday back then. I cried so much that I got intimate and comfortable with the feeling of sadness. Eventually I started welcoming it. I saw it as another teacher. I laughed one day as I was telling Michelle another T-shirt idea I had. I called myself a "cry baby" one day because I was so tired of crying. And through my tears, I rearranged the phrase into "CRY, BABY!!" As in... let her rip!! Cry until you can't cry anymore. And so I did. For several more months.

July, 2009 Journal Entry, two weeks after training:

I feel like a crazy person. My head feels nuts. I think it always has. My only reprieve is the thought of moving closer to the ocean again. I feel like if I’m close to the ocean, I can sink to the bottom of it if I need to. And that will be peaceful. And that will be how I leave this earth. This body. Who knows about the rest, but right now I feel like I want to have that choice right in front of me, everyday. To sink, or not to sink. And yet, underneath this deep sadness, I have some hope that the ocean will heal me, and give me life again – give me back my soul, give me some freedom from this crazy head of mine, and maybe I can breathe easier. It’s not the location. It’s not that I’m done with Austin – it’s that I’m done feeling this way about myself – my life. Soul swimming freely. UNRAVEL ME.

That was two and a half years ago. It's interesting how the brain processes things like "time." Patty says to me, "you should have made much more progress by now." Grace pleads "Where's Rodney? Where's Colin? Where's ANYONE???" Octavia just keeps me on track with my yoga schedule, knowing that I will find more clarity there, again and again. Tomahawk, who I've yet to write about because he is still revealing himself to me, says with a long sigh "same song, different dance... or is it same dance, different song? Who gives a shit. You know exactly what I'm talking about. You run from your own truth." Hank just spins another record. This time it's Eric Clapton's voice drowning out the chickens, and it's the slower, unplugged version... "Lately I've been running on faith. What else can a poor boy do? But my world will be right, when love comes over you."

The truth is, I came home from training and went back into a very familiar, old cycle in my brain. I know one thing really well. I know how to be hard on myself, and I know how to act from fear. I know other cycles and patterns exist in my brain, but none are as well worn as that one. It's like an old record that plays over and over again. You choose it because it's your habit, without even realizing your taste in music has completely shifted. I KNOW that yoga helps me break out of this cycle. My mat is where I gain insight. It's where I find my inner flashlight to see into my heart and head and I can see what it is I need to do to reset the wiring. It's like opening the hood of a car and checking the engine and the fluid levels. Bikram used the car analogy a lot. He'd say "if you people hear something wrong with your engines, you just turn the radio up." Brilliant, isn't it? We LOVE distraction. What I know now is that on some level, the radio has been up in my brain the last couple of years, by choice, and I am once again choosing to turn it back down. Once again, I am on the hunt for silence and stillness in my life so that I can be a better listener to my heart. For reasons I cannot yet see, this has become my highest priority.

I still live in a world where I barely make ends meet so that I can continue to seek, explore, observe and share my journey through teaching yoga, painting and writing. It has been this way for almost three years, and honestly, for all of the sacrifices I make, I know I can't live any other way. It would go against my heart's wishes, and I refuse to live that way anymore. Sometimes I get really frustrated with my bank account, or the fact that so many people don't "get" what I'm about anymore, but those frustrations are short lived. What really matters is how I feel about how I am living each day, and the amazing truth is that by simply having faith in God, the Universe, and me (all the same to me), I am still making ends meet, and doing what I really love to do.

Yesterday I taught three yoga classes. In my last class, I mentioned to the students that I read and write a lot about what my thoughts are, and how I focus on shifting those thoughts into something more loving and productive. I said "I can brush my teeth in a way where I am being hard on myself. I can wear the bristles down on a toothbrush after a week if I'm not careful. I also scrub too hard sometimes when I'm in the shower. Do I really need to knock off that many dead skin cells every time I shower?? Do I really need my teeth brushed that hard? I'm 41 and still cavity free. I may be gum free by the time I'm 65 if I'm not careful. I'm starting to see that even in those small actions, I can take steps toward being more loving with Jamie. It's exhausting, being so hard on yourself." And I wrap it up by telling them to just pay attention to what their brains are telling them, and if it's not loving towards yourself, STOP it in that moment and shift those thoughts into something more loving and productive. Class ended and a student came up to me who recently found her way to my class. She said "Are you writing a thesis on that subject?" No, I say. "Because if you are," she says, "I'd make a perfect case study. I've spent thousands on every kind of therapy you can think of, and I still say things to myself that I wouldn't say to my worst enemy." I said "But you're recognizing that they're just thoughts and you can change them, because you're saying that to me." I think we'll have tea soon, talk about our brains, and check the expiration date on the rice milk.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sitting by a Moon Beam.



"Quietly while you were asleep, the moon and I were talking. I asked that she always keep you protected." ~ Sade

I can see myself as Grace, when I was 8 years old. I'm sitting under the stars, hugging my knees close to my chest. I'm beside my oak tree, the one I used to talk to when I needed someone to just listen. I'm asking the tree about her life and I want to know what it feels like to stay in the same spot all day, and have your branches sway side to side in the breeze. I want to know if it feels magical to have a bird choose your branches for a nest, since you get to peek into the nest at your leisure and check on the new babies. The moon is out and she quietly watches over me, spilling her light through the tree branches, and over my small shoulders. I am peaceful here. The night air wraps around me like a blanket, and I am lost in the magic of being a child, and of simply being.

I realize that I am, in some small miraculous way, actually living in the moment of my life like I did as a child. My thoughts are not screaming at me. My heart is content to just enjoy the ride that is my life each day. I am moving through with Grace, Octavia, Patty, Hank, Tomahawk, and a few other chickens I haven't named yet. Presently, they're all content inside the chicken coop that is my house of fear, my brain. I feel more settled in my bones than I ever recall feeling.

Transition has been moving through me again. Sometimes I can actually hear a clock ticking in my body. Each tick requires that I pay attention to what my body is saying to me. My heart has been asking for what I recently gave her for a long time. She simply wanted to be free. She wanted to spread her arms out wide, and let that feeling of deep inner peace run through her veins. I am getting better at becoming an observer of my own thoughts. I am getting better at honoring and following through with my heart's wishes. But it can be a rough ride at times. It can mean that someone you really care about and love gets their feelings hurt badly. But what I know now is that if I am taking the best care of my heart, and following through with those feelings I intuitively have, then by doing that, I am also taking the best care of everyone around me. The truth shall set us all free. We get so foggy about what our own truth really is, that it can become our greatest challenge to gain clarity and move from that place. And so it was with me. I saw that I needed to walk out of a relationship I have been in for over a year. I saw that it would serve us both for the better in the long run if I spoke my truth and walked away with love and grace. And so that is what I did. And the truth, my truth, set me free.

I came down with a head cold the same day we decided to split up. Some of my yogi tribal women who are older than me, and watch over me in that tribal sort of way, said I was detoxing the relationship. I hadn't heard this one before, but it certainly felt right when I asked my "internal pharmacist" if that was what this head cold was all about. The answer I got was an absolute yes. And so I treated myself intuitively ~ the way I know how. I took lots of B5 - Pantothenic Acid, lots of Vitamin C, fresh juices, green powders, green tea, some Ibuprofen, and I stayed in the hot yoga room for atleast 3 hours a day, either teaching or practicing. I taught 8 classes last week. I think I practiced 5. It has been months since I've put myself through that heavy of a yoga schedule. The results were what I knew to be true. I sweated out the toxins. I sweated out my head cold, which really translated to: Grace's fear of being alone, Patty's anxiety over transition, and Tomahawk's anger over not being able to play his role of being a victim. I let the tears come in the hip-opening postures and the backbends. I stepped out of the way for once, of my own healing process. I became an observer to what my body was going through, this letting go in love, this passing of something beautiful, but something that needed to shift. I sweat out fearing the unknown, and I loved myself more and more each day, honoring my spirit, nurturing myself back to good emotional, mental and physical health. I honored that I am grieving a loss right now, and that it's necessary to feel every second of it. I'm still in it, and I am grateful for it.

It is Sunday night. My heart is peaceful. I am not getting ahead of myself. I am not letting codependent or addictive cycles step up and run my heart, my life. I am curious about how I feel, and what I am experiencing. I have never been through a "healthy" breakup, because I never understood myself well enough to feel "healthy". I do now. And the shift is amazing. The snapshots I see of me, when I was a child sitting by a moon beam, were from a time when I was peaceful, staying in the moment, and feeling a sense of wonder around just being alive, in this body I was given. And while my heart is heavy with sadness, I feel a deeper sense of peace for having honored my own wishes. I am grateful to have felt so much love in my life, and I am trusting that God has my hands through this, just like He always has.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

GRACE.




She's the one who started the whole thing. And by that I mean, she's the oldest in the Coop. My first born. She's also only 8 years old, and that's where she stays - physically, emotionally and mentally. We're working on it, she and I. She also has a nickname. It's "Little." I love Grace so much that I named her Grace. She is grace. And she has taken over the entire chicken coop for long periods of time, sometimes years.

My dreams the last two nights are again what has inspired me to continue writing about my chickens. Sometimes I want to lock them up and throw away the key. My dreams show me otherwise. The first one allowed me to communicate with myself in another dimension. Was it the ghost of me? I do not know. It was a dream inside of a dream. I was asking me, this woman I could see in black and white, who was sitting in a wheel chair, what it was I was supposed to do in this lifetime. I could see her mouth moving, but I couldn't hear her words. I woke up out of that dream, inside a dream, and I was walking around in a community living space - lots of shared rooms and bathrooms with important people coming in and out. I was consciously aware of how I felt. I knew there was no Grace left in my brain. My "Little" was grown up. I knew because I have felt Grace everyday of my life, in some capacity. And at that moment, I was moving through life without her. I felt no need to be anything for anyone. I felt no reason to possess anything, or anyone. I felt whole and vibrant and necessary and completely unnecessary all at the same time. I was just being. The rest of the dream was interesting. Rodney and I were on an assignment. I was a journalist and he was there taking the photographs. We were in Afghanistan. There were amazingly intelligent and courageous people all around us, and they were in the middle of this war. They were being shot and stabbed in front of me. It was horrible to see, but I knew in that moment, too, that there are many dimensions of existence and death is a small part of transforming into another dimension. This was spelled out to me in scenes of my dream. I woke up with an entirely shifted perspective. Everything was connected again since my brain limitations were blown to bits in Afghanistan. I felt a deeper sense of freedom. I felt no struggle. I woke up and Grace was gone. It was beautiful.

"If you set me free, I will not run." ~ Sade

She whispers to me. She is still so small. Baby-bird like even in her appearance. Her shoulders are small and delicate. Her eyes, large and bright, are still taking everything in, with the newness of a child. Even now, as a 41 year old woman, I often feel Grace's fear and confusion. It's so hard for her to trust that everything is going to be okay. She doesn't really understand "faith" yet, as she only grasps it with the mentality of an 8 year old. She only feels safe when she's not alone. She's afraid of the dark. She's afraid of almost everything. She can't really see past the confined space of the chicken coop, but she's okay with that. There is safety in small spaces and there are usually other chickens close by. She's scared to death of Patty. And Patty just rolls her eyes at Grace and ignores her. She approaches love with the eyes and heart of a child. She wants possession of it. She wants to keep it in a safe little music box on her dresser. She throws temper tantrums. She shuts the people closest to her out. It's the only way she knows how to let anyone know how deeply they have hurt her. Grace gets her feelings hurt a lot, and that's because she's a child, and she sets expectations for others based on that of a little girl. And because of that, she sets herself up for a lot of disappointment. And yet even though she is clingy, insecure, afraid and codependent, she also sees the world through the eyes of a child, and so many times, she can hardly contain herself she is so excited. Grace would be happy riding her bike everyday. She loves to go barefoot. She loves how the wind can shift in the middle of the day, and everything looks, feels and smells differently. Like Patty, she has lightness and darkness. And since this is all really just an exploration of the different personalities in my brain, I will say here that I am learning to love all of my chickens, because they are me, and without each one of them, I would not be me.

“I’ve got faith in you, it’s a razor love, that cuts clean through.” ~ Neil Young

It started when I was around 8 years old. I was the sensitive, quiet child, and the youngest of three. I was also the only blonde in the family, and I think that's enough material for kids to find your weaknesses and attack. I learned words like "dingy", "stupid", "dumb blonde", and (ironically) "Grace" through my closest circle of "Littles" around me -- my older brother, sister, cousins and closest family friends. We all grow up with our own perspective of what's taking place around us. I had a lot of love around me, and yet I still many times felt ridiculed, physically inferior, weak, outcasted, stupid, clumsy and ungraceful. As a result, I felt unprotected. Unsafe. And I let each of those labels attach themselves deep inside me. It took me years to face them, and start removing them from who I really am. Survival mode kicked in early for me.

I was a late bloomer. I didn't grow boobs until I was around 16, and they certainly never felt adequate. I weighed 90 pounds my freshman year of High School. It's one of my memory scars because I had to get on a scale for a physical during freshman orientation in front of the tennis coaches. I was ashamed. Again, I felt weak, uncoordinated, and inadequate. I think these childhood labels I attached myself to were part of the reason I had difficulty learning in school. I mean, after all, a dumb blonde is a dumb blonde. If you're 10 years old in the 4th grade and you can't stop making C's, you just sort of surrender to it. And how could I really push myself athletically if I felt underdeveloped, clumsy and like the weakest link at home who just ran away when things got too physical between siblings and cousins?

Grace found safety in anyone and anything. She fell in love with the tree in her front yard when she was 7. She talked to it and it was her safe place to go when things got too scary. She fell in love with dolphins and horses that would visit her and talk to her in dreams. She fell in love with a boy when she was 6, and she found him again when she was 14. That was the beginning of a long road of self destruction. It wasn't anyone's fault. I was a little girl, and what was going on was destroying my self image, my desire to move through the world as most kids do - with a sense of security, adventure and freedom. Over the years, Grace became so wrapped up in shame and self hatred that it amazes me sometimes that I have made it this far with her. I think she has been with me, at that same age, because I never really knew how to help her mature. She just lived in survival mode. That came from a deep lack of trust I learned as a child. Perhaps it's something we're born with, too. My brother and sister were born with strong personalities, and they have always remained strong. A lot of people who know me now will not be able to imagine that I was this awkward, insecure, self-loathing little girl and young woman, because I am a fairly free and happy woman these days. But there is usually a price for freedom, right? I am grateful I got to pay that price and move out of that self-hatred, and leave those labels behind me.

I am introducing Grace, and all of my chickens, because for 30 years or so of my life, I didn't know what was happening to me, and there was so much darkness I was hiding, or so I thought, from everyone around me. I jumped between personalities in my brain and didn't understand what was happening. One minute I would feel completely empowered and clear, and the next I would be in the fetal position on my bed, paralyzed by fear. It took a lot of wrecked relationships, lost loves, and journal entries where I would empty out the guts of my despair and fill it with tears before I finally wanted to deal with my own inner-wreckage. The chicken coop is my own interpretation and self-medication into understanding my own wiring. These chickens are as real to me as my yoga mat, and just like my mat, they are my greatest teachers.

The only way to face your pain is to go right through the middle of it, and stand up on the other side and turn around and face it, send it love and say "Thank you, my great teacher, for showing me the way."

I think the image I saw of me, in black and white, with my hair pulled back, sitting in a wheel chair in my dream inside of a dream, was a window into my soul. It was my silent speaking self-portrait. She was wise and broken. She had the answers, but had no voice in which to speak from. She knew, but she couldn't relay the messages yet. Yet. It is with Grace and God, with Octavia and Patty, with Tomahawk and Hank, and with the infinite love in my heart, that I will allow that voice in me to come through and shine.

The second dream I had that left me with no choice but to get up today and introduce Grace to you was a dream where I was flying. It has been years since I've flown. I was swirling through the sky, in a blue dress, arms spread wide, sailing through the air with a huge smile and a very clear heart and head. God Speed, Little Grace.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Update on the Weather Inside.

We don't have a TV at our house, so I get the weather report on Facebook. And that's also how I know who's running in the next election and who's at Starbucks in Dallas. Facebook. The absolute truth that we all have our very own chicken coop. I can also see what my yogi pal, Sonia, is up to over in Sydney, Australia. She's a single mom from Spain who loves to surf. Spanish women are overflowing with this amazing combination of passion and deep affection. I hope in my next life that I come back as one. I want a chance to lose my temper with my lover and spew out a string of Spanish cuss words like Penelope Cruz can do. To me, that's sexy. Forget high heels and lipstick. I'm talking black hair on fire, blazing dark eyes and slinging sexy Spanish cuss words all over the place.

How did I just go from the weather to the Spanish Cuss Word Throwing Goddess I long to be? Oh yea, my Chickens. Hold on, let me lasso them up. There! Oops. I pinched Patty's hip with the rope. That's okay. She needs a little rope burn from time to time.

So let me say here that this Blog situation has been a true delight in my little life. I look forward to opening the door on the coop and stepping inside and playing Barbara Walters with them. I don't have many readers yet, and that's exactly how I like it. Those of you who are enjoying the glimpse into my chicken coop have given me some really beautiful, humbling and inspiring feedback. You're telling me that what I'm saying here is affecting you. I have heard it's making you laugh and cry. It's touching you deeply. It's moving you. It's raw. It's palpable. A few of you have even reached out to me in emails to let me know that I should embrace Patty, my Addict Chicken. She's my Guardian, too, you say. She is both light and dark. All of your feedback has left me feeling so much compassion for all of us. Never have I felt so free from releasing and saying things that only a year ago I wouldn't have dreamed of writing to the public. It doesn't matter if it's 20 humans or 20 million. I AM STANDING IN MY OWN TRUTH WITH A MEGAPHONE IN MY HAND. And I am inspired to do this because I believe with all of my might (all of my chickens are making tiny fists right now) that we can heal those parts of us that feel miserable, broken, inferior and worthless. I believe we can embrace ourselves fully. I believe we can forgive ourselves and let go into a place in life where we live in the moment, just like we did as children. I believe it because I survived it, and everyday I grow into a little more love. I'm growing towards the light. We're all the same. I observe people everyday. It's my hobby. It's my research. You relate to my stories and they hit you in the heart because they are my truth, and they are our truth.

So thank you for sharing your words with me. Let's continue to share this journey.

A met a woman last summer out in Wimberley at Blue Rock Studios named Beth Wood. She was there recording her latest album, The Weather Inside. She's a brilliant song writer and has the voice of an angel. Her record is one of my favorites. It's raw and real. And the Title Track, The Weather Inside, grabbed me just with those three words.

Sometimes I reach into my heart's treasure chest and pull out my earlist memories. I picked up my baby book last time I was at my mom and dad's house, on my 41st birthday. My mother documented lots of things. I read things like "she's completely content by herself in her playpen at age one." "She makes up songs and so we sing every morning on the way to school." "She's content and peaceful." My mom saved some soft blonde hair from my first hair cut. I ran it through my fingers. It opened the old cracks in my heart. I cried really hard that night after reading that sweet book. I am still so very much that little girl, and at the same time, I miss her. I long for her. And so I keep reaching in and peeling back this ego I've created, loving and embracing the most destructive parts of me so that I can continue to heal my way through my adult life, embracing that little girl - content and peaceful, safe and trusting.



"The Weather Inside. This house, the weather inside. They've got to find some way to ride it out."

So what's my weather inside? It's like looking out at the ocean on a day when there is very little breeze. The air is thick and sweet. The sky is a soft pillowy blue. The water is mirroring the sky, making it lucid and colorless so that on the horizon, there is very little distinction between water and sky. And that's because it's inside my heart. There are no endings. There is only softness and deep, deep love.

My absolute truth is my commitment to ride it out. Whatever it is.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to Yoga and Folk!!

Octavia is calm and curious. We're not going in at full throttle, but my feet found their way back to my yoga mat this week.

Monday was a lovely day. I decided to return to Bikram's Torture Chamber, and it held true to it's name. PURE BIKRAM YOGA in Austin, Texas, delivers exactly that. My teacher, Marco, said he's been teaching for about 6 years. He taught with confidence and spoke slowly and I enjoyed the simplicity and precise method behind his teaching style. The heat/humidity combo was perfect after my 6 week absence- perfect in that way where it's hovering at the "oh shit" level, but never actually bringing me to my knees. I've done so much of Bikram's Yoga that my body has memorized the postures and the timing. So I know that the challenge in this class for these students was to endure Marco's extended second sets of each Asana.
I love watching the reaction students have when the timing has been altered a little, or the heat feels stifling. Even the most experienced Bikram Yogis will sometimes have difficulty hiding their frustration. I love practicing at Pure because I don't teach there, and haven't been a regular student since before training, so for the most part, I'm just another anonymous student. The classe are always full and the students give so much of themselves in each posture, so the energy is always high.

And so it went on Monday. Rodney was in front of me on his mat. He kept looking at me during the second set with one eyebrow raised as if he were saying "Really?? Are we STILL in Awkward Pose while Marco corrects three students' postures??" We were all feeling it. But for me, frustration gave way to compassion very quickly. And that always leaves my heart feeling lighter, my head dropping all expectations, and my humor kicking in on the last lap of postures and I push through with a beaming smile. Here's what Bikram taught us at training: "Don't ever let anyone steal your inner peace." So if Marco is successful at challenging our boundaries of inner peace because he's holding us in a posture longer than usual, then so be it. That becomes our yoga for the day: to remain present, unaffected, and still have an amazing class no matter who's teaching it, or how long you have to hold Awkward Pose.

What if we went through our days without reacting so much to the external, but rather, adjusting the knobs in our brains so that we're a little more accepting of what's going on around us, and at some point that acceptance turns into full on appreciation?
I went from feeling frustrated in class because the second sets were long, it was really hot, and I was dealing with the fact that I had stepped away from Bikram for longer than I ever have, since first finding it. I was thinking "not today, Marco. Give me a moderate to easy class, please." But Marco had another agenda. And at that point, it was up to me to adapt, accept and then appreciate it. And I did.

Towards the end, Rodney saw me smiling, even giggling, and he started smiling too. Energy is contagious, so be aware of what you're spreading. My postures weren't what they used to be, but I'm not hard on myself about that anymore. It was my mind that felt so balanced. I enjoyed the unpredictability of his teaching style. I enjoyed exploring my new limitations from my extended absence. I enjoyed watching other students around me hassle with their postures, the heat, and their brains trying to adapt, accept and appreciate it all. Some figured it out. Some left frustrated. I felt so good I could barely relax in Savasana at the end. I missed my friend, Bikram. I love what his yoga does for people. I love the challenges that come up for each of us because what lies on the other side of facing that challenge is a deeper love for yourself, and a stronger boundary around your own inner peace. Thanks, Marco, for testing me that way. I wanted a T-shirt that says "I survived Marco's second sets."

The day ended with a concert at Threadgills with Sam Baker. I was still floating on the yoga cloud, and landed in my chair with some old friends to listen to Sam's stories, songs and laughter. I watched as many musicicans showed up to listen and support Sam. Ray Bonneville, Oren Oubre, Jimmy LaFave, Raina Rose, Jess Klein, Audrey Auld... I had that moment of feeling completely content to be in this music community we have here in Austin. It's a community full of love and support. It's small and far reaching. It's hardworking and appreciative. It's inspiring.

What a day. Nothing extraordinary. Everything extraordinary. It's always my call.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Patty. That Bitch.

Greetings from the Chicken Coop, and from my heart. I am here. I am willing. I am listening. And I am lit up like a firecracker, too!

It's funny how much I've hassled this last month or so over many things - what to do with my life, where to live, whether or not to teach yoga anymore, what to Blog about, what to eat, what to drink, how much alcohol I'll allow myself to drink, where to work, what to wear, who to be...

Let's just say that the Chicken Coop has been in full force. And when they're louder than my heart, I become a slave to them (my thoughts) and they have me going in so many directions that at the end of the day, I realize sadly that I haven't really accomplished much. And so it has been, the last month and a half of my life. And you know what? I LOVE IT WHEN THE CHICKEN COOP TAKES OVER!!!! Everything that happens in my life, every thought and action, every emotion and reaction, is a chance for me to grow. It hurts at the time, and it brings up a lot of fear, but it's when I step out of that chicken coop again, and look over my shoulder at it for the hundredth time, that I say "Really?? It's just YOU again??"

It's not the actual events that are occurring around me that cause the fear. It's how I react to them that either shuts me down or helps me move through it with grace and ease. The Chickens are the reactors. My heart is grace and ease.

Patty. That bitch. She has control issues because that's how she maintains the illusion of feeling "safe." She is large, both figuratively and physically. She's loud, bossy, judgmental, and thinks she's always in charge. She has a pretty apron on, a pencil behind her ear, wide hips, big earrings that hurt, red lipstick, purple eye shadow, curled bangs, and sometimes has a cigarette dangling from her beak. She wears high heels even though they hurt her feet. She thinks being taller helps her position of authority, and her older sister says they look great, so she wears them. She clomps around in her designer heels that don't fit right, barking orders all the time, rolling her eyes because she knows everyone, on some level, is just a waste of her time.
She is famous for clucking and clomping around in the coop, squawking "I told you so. I told you we were right. We're always right. If you would just listen to me, things would be much easier, but you're still floundering around all over the place, taking the "democratic" approach and asking Grace, Hank, Octavia, and all those other weaker chickens what their opinion is before making your final choice. None of them are as strong as I am. They can't make up their minds to save their own chicken asses. And you just refuse to see it!" She storms off to her room, and sits in front of her vanity, applying more makeup and perfume, and assessing her wrinkles and flabby chicken neck. She constantly edits her "To Do Lists" with her pencil. She lights another cigarette so she can use her fancy, antique ashtray. She poors herself a cold glass of Chardonnay. She's the only one in the Chicken Coop who has her own room. All of the other chickens live in community, sharing their space with each other, learning to co-exist. Not Patty. She sectioned off her corner a long time ago, and it is her territory. She wrote "Enter And I'll Snap Your Scrawny Head OFF" in red lipstick on the door. It's been there since the early 80's. She keeps applying more layers of lipstick to it, so that everyone remembers the consequences upon entering.

Patty has been a very active part of my brain since I can remember. She's demanding, sometimes passive agressive, and sometimes just aggressive. She keeps score, burns bridges, and manipulates to get what she wants. She loves rich food, drinks lots of wine, smokes cigarettes, loves drugs of any kind, legal or not, served on a plate with whip cream and chocolate, or on a plate with a razor blade. She doesn’t care what form they come in, as long as they keep coming. She is my addict. And right now, she's a little put out.

I stopped teaching Yoga 6 weeks ago. It was both voluntary and involuntary. It felt predestined and unpredictable. It was abrupt and painful, and it was calming and necessary. The safety of my "yoga bubble" popped. I was left with nothing, and everything. All by design, of course. And it has taken me some time to reassess, readjust and reorganize. My brain has been in overdrive. My heart has been calm and reassuring. I know everything is exactly as it should be. I see, in hindsight, that I was exhausted from teaching and practicing that yoga, and that I needed desperately to pull back. The details are not important. I moved through it with grace and ease... all the while, Patty was clomping around up there, pissed off that I didn't pay much attention to her. She put up a hell of a fight, and there for awhile she was running my show again. I was bossy, loud, drank too much wine, smoked too many cigarettes, ate whatever I wanted, kept score, and stayed as far away from the yoga studio as possible. Octavia, my yoga chicken, has been watching Patty with wide eyes. But she never lost her sense of awareness.

I find it all so funny. Of course I’m back to a life of balance now because my heart’s desires are so much stronger now than my brain’s mania. It was like an old familiar storm passed through me again. Patty was up there, in her room, sectioned off from the rest of the coop, practicing voodoo on the other chickens to keep them quiet and subservient. She was making Hank play some old records for her so she could spin around and dance with her wine…

Hank was powerless over her. He moved in slow motion over to the I-Pod station in my brain.

Stevie Nicks was singing “STAND BACK, STAND BACK! In the middle of my room I did not hear from you!” (Patty stands in the center of the room with arms spread out, shaking her hips.)

America reminds her of her long battle with depression, and she revels in it…“Well I tried to make it Sunday, but I got so damned depressed, that I set my sights on Monday and I got myself undressed.”

“The Boss” busted out with: “There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away. They haunt this dusty beach road, in the skeleton frames of burned out Chevrolets…” (She puts her hand on her forehead and remembers with all of her dramatic senses, how many bridges she had to burn to get where she is).

My heart stirred. It always does when it hears music. Patty fidgeted and dropped her wine glass. It’s the only time she knows she’s outmatched. Hank, relieved and exhausted, played the final request, my heart’s request:

“I pray for guidance, and protection. And I know if I just keep on believing, everything’s gonna be alright. Loveliness and tenderness and happiness and openness and togetherness. And the vampires gather round me, and move in to take a bite. They wanna drink my blood of courage and try to take away my fight. But no, no, no, they can’t do that. For one truth I learned in life. You want to scare away the vampires, you simply guide them into the light.” -- Michael Franti and Spearhead.

Michael Franti has Vampires. I have chickens. Patty is laying on her side on her red velvet chaise lounge in her room these days. Purple boa around her flabby neck. Her cheeks are puffy. She’s propped up on her elbow clicking a high heel in the air. She’s waiting.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Heart Messages from the Dream Team


My dreams have been wildly imaginative, vivid and memorable for most of my life. I feel like it's when God and my angels do their "work." It's as if they are rewiring my heart and brain back together, and they're constantly showing me, and allowing me to actually feel what's happening in this life. I remember lots of my dreams in detail. I wake up and write about them so that I don't forget their messages. I've seen mermaids having a tea party in the hull of an old ship at the bottom of the ocean. I was under water with them, holding my breath, watching. They had about a thousand different shades of color bouncing through the water around them. They glanced up at me and said "it's alright to breathe, child. You're dreaming." And so I did. And at that very moment, (because time doesn't really exist in dreams), I looked over my shoulder and saw a torpedo coming. I've never actually seen a torpedo in my awakened state. In the dream state, this torpedo was small with a little propeller on the end of it, and it was headed right for the mermaids. I couldn't talk underwater. I started waving my arms and legs around, hoping to distract them from their light-hearted-happy-mermaid conversation. One of them looked up, saw the torpedo, kept talking and simply held her hand up in the water. The torpedo stopped and fell to the bottom of the ship. I woke up with one more "heart message from the dream team." I call it this because it's always an overwhelming feeling of clarity that I've been given from my dreams. It feels like direct truth from God, from the Universe, that's messaged into my soul by way of a dream.

The message was this: You have no idea what's happening on this planet. You do not have the capacity, in your human form, to see it all. But there is magic everywhere.

I knew with total certainty when I woke up that there are mermaids underwater working to heal this planet at the exact same time that we, above water, continue to miss the point of why we are here. Forces are working together to create balance at any given moment. An earthquake or a Tsunami is this planet's effort to maintain balance. She is just as alive and has a soul just like humans do. We can either work for her, or against her, but either way, she is striving for balance.

Last night's dream left me waking up with fear and sadness running through my blood. I sat up, got my journal, didn't want to speak, and just started writing. Some dreams I want to let go of even while I'm having them because I can't comprehend or absorb their level of darkness and intensity. But like I said, I can't disregard any of my dreams anymore, because there have been too many that I have acted on. They are an inner guide for me now. I feel obligated to pay attention, to remember, to absorb the message, and let it become a part of my tapestry.

I'm in a two story old house with wood floors and high ceilings. The furniture is worn and the air is thick. Someone brought me there, and she is in the room with me, but I don't know her. She takes me to a woman who is sitting on the edge of a bed. This woman was in the deepest emotional pain I have ever felt from another human being. It had almost taken her completely down. She wanted to die. The woman I came with helped this drained, lifeless woman take her shirt off. She had deep bloody scratches all over her chest, arms, back and stomach. She just sat there, in a state of total surrender, showing me her pain. She looked up at me, and the deep sadness I felt shot me out of the dream. Some things are too painful, too heavy, too dark. I woke up with an immense feeling of sadness and fear in my body. Tears were running down my face. I asked God if that was real, and was he trying to show me that there are people who are in that much pain on this planet? He said yes. And the truth is, I knew that, but I am always too busy trying to make my bubble a better place to be, to ever really connect with the real pain of another human, and try to help them heal. My chickens like to just work on Jamie. They're always busy trying to fix and improve HER, comparing, judging, analyzing so that SHE is in the best possible place while she's alive. The dream showed me what I already know to be true.

Our brains are not the best place to live. Our hearts have messages, and bigger plans for our lives than our brains are capable of grasping. I was given a joyful spirit, and a heart that wants to help others heal. I can ignore what I was given and continue to let the chickens cluck around and guide me through my life, or I can try to tap into something more meaningful and move through this life with faith that there is a higher order at work here. Mermaids are stopping torpedos for God's sake. Literally.

So what about this woman in my dream? What do I do about her? Here's what I know. That woman exists in all of us. I have felt her many times through the years. I wanted to scratch my skin off from feeling so much fear and heartbreak and confusion all at the same time. She represents us all. She was me. I still work to heal her, inside of me, because the more I take care of those deeply torn places in my heart, the more whole I become, and capable of helping the person next to me who's dealing with that deep, deep sadness and fear. That's the only way I can help her. I love her, I write about her, and I heal her.

And once again, I am grateful for my "heart message from the dream team."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Octavia goes to Camp Bikram Yoga


Bzzzzz... how is everyone out there??

Octavia is my yoga chicken, and if you're completley clueless as to what it is I'm talking about, then go back to Step One, read my first post, and work your way into this third step. Baby steps, baby steps. The chicken coop is alive and well inside my head. I've started and stopped a few posts in the last week or two because I felt uncertain as to how to approach some subjects without getting lost in the details, or derailing into another life chapter. I wrote in my journal one day that I felt "blogged down." =( Poor little chickens... they've scattered to the far corners of the coop and are pointing fingers at each other again. Chicken scratchin', Hen peckin' each other to death.

I've been on some sort of yoga journey the last three years. Sometimes I think I'm using it as a tool to uncover some great hidden treasure inside me. With each sweaty posture, I get closer and closer to the truth of who I am, and why I'm here. I keep waiting for the breakthrough. Another part of me feels grateful that I have found something that deeply connects me back to my spirit - to the quiet part of me that sometimes thrives and sometimes shrinks back quietly, depending on how loud my chicken coop is that day. Regardless of why, yoga has become the central part of my existence the last couple of years. Two years ago, I was out in California for Bikram's Yoga Training for 9 weeks. We practiced yoga twice a day, Monday thru Friday, and once on Saturday. The room was always atleast 105 degrees, and many times hotter.

It was extreme. It's supposed to be. I wanted my life to shift in some dramatic way, so it seemed like the appropriate next step. I had been hard on myself for so long that at certain points I know it was all my brain knew how to do. And so off I went, to Palm Desert, for enough yoga to make most people question their existence. I wrote to my healer about it right when I got home. Here's what I said:

July 1, 2009

So I came home last night after 9 weeks of Bikram's Torture Chamber, where I was a prisoner of paradise - wandering around the desert looking up at huge palm trees and two rows of mountains all around me. I felt like I was in the bottom of a bowl someone left sitting out in the sun too long. The edge of the bowl was mountains. And just inside that were hundreds of rows of palm trees. I see this scene every time I close my eyes. It's in a thousand colors. I had colored pencils and a sketch pad out there. I kept sketching and giving them away to smiling happy faces. I loved the vegetation there - the plants and trees native to the area were all in bloom - I was mesmorized by the trees. I looked forward to my Sunday morning walks - and to my early morning meditations when I could get more than 4 hours of sleep and have some sense of clarity about me. Many times while walking back and forth from the yoga studio to my hotel room, I felt like I was levitating. We did so much yoga - and everytime I lifted those sweaty heavy towels from my mat and threw them in the laundry bin, I felt the energy I was leaving behind - another layer of my soul shed thru 26 postures in 105 degree heat.

There were so many tears I stopped feeling afraid of them, and started to really love them. I felt no disconnection from my sadness anymore. I embraced myself - I hugged my knees tightly to my body and kissed the tops of them everyday. I breathed in the scent of my own sweaty hair. I had snapshot images appear at week 3 and it lasted until the end. Memories in snapshots of things I'd never thought about. I would see boards I was walking on as a child - boards on the pier of the house we had at the coast. I could smell the crab traps like they were right in front of me. I could see the oil on top of the water from the raw chicken we would tie to lines and lower down into the water to attract crabs. These images were as vivid as if they had happened days ago - and it has been 30 years. I could see the black dirt in the garden - I could smell my mother's skin and feel her cheeks. I can still do this when I close my eyes. None of it has ever left me - it has just been buried by layers and layers of doing - of life - of more memories, good and bad. I tapped into the really old ones because of the amount of sweat and tears and stretching I put my body through. They taught us about memories being stored in the tissues. Now I know it's true.

I faced my ego out there and said "I love you even though you have told me for 20 years that I am incapable, that I am damaged beyond repair, that I will never be a good mother or wife or friend or employee because I am not worthy. I love you even though you don't want me to love you, and you've been telling me since I was a small child that I couldn't do it. And that I would fail to some degree at anything I tried. I love you even though you repeatedly told me there was no way I could be a true success at anything. I love you. I love you. I love you."

I went out there not knowing I would face my worst fear and enemy - my own brain. I felt the fight inside me between heart and head like I was watching two flowers from the same vine fight for sunlight - for their lives. I would listen in class and catch myself drawing vines growing on the ground, and then one vine would shoot up towards the sky, towards the sun. I felt myself standing up to myself and saying NO MORE. YOU WILL NOT DESTROY ME ANYMORE. I have hurt myself more than any other person. In fact, I would say no one has even come close to hurting me the way I have hurt myself. I made sure of that, too. I laugh at people who think they've hurt me. They have no idea what kind of pain I was causing myself.

I had to memorize the dialogue for these 26 postures and deliver it to a panel of teachers and about 50 trainees sitting behind me. I had to do this 26 times. The anger and frustration I felt thru this process left me feeling empty and disgusted and full of rage towards myself. The voice inside my head was shouting at me "YOU CANNOT DO THIS. JUST GO HOME NOW. YOU WILL FAIL AT THIS LIKE YOU HAVE FAILED AT EVERYTHING. DON'T EVEN BOTHER EMBARRASSING YOURSELF LIKE YOU ALWAYS HAVE. JUST ADMIT DEFEAT LIKE YOU ALWAYS DO, and RUN HOME. AND DRINK AND SMOKE YOUR LIFE AWAY." The voice was so loud that it was impossible for me to retain the dialogue. It just laughed at me. Ridiculing and cruel. I felt completely defeated. And it hit me as I sat in the bathroom of the posture clinic room by myself in a small ball on the floor, that I have always felt this way. I pounded my fists on the bathroom floor until deep pain shot up both arms. I cursed God for making me into this self-destructive self-loathing woman who has felt trapped by her own brain her entire life. I went back outside and told the teachers I had memorized SOME of the dialogue, but that I had voices in my head that were so loud, telling me I couldn't do it, that there was no way I could deliver the posture for them. I was ready to go home and hide for days. Isolate, shut down, shut out -- all the same things I have done for years when I am faced with a challenge. They said "No one can make you believe in yourself but YOU." And they looked at me with huge, sad eyes and I saw their compassion and I felt my body reject it, just like it always has. My ego loves to feel separate. Unique in my sadness - alone in my own dark despair.
HORSE SHIT.
The next day I had posture clinic and the dread I felt as it approached was bewildering. My heart kept saying "it's yoga, and you love this yoga. Do the best you can, and you will be fine. This is a learning process, no one is expecting perfection. Baby steps... just be yourself. You are beautiful on the inside, and people see that, too." My head kept saying "you will fail, you always do. There is no way you will pull this off. And you'll be embarrassed and it will send you away feeling defeated again." The battle inside me was far more exhausting than doing yoga twice a day in the hot room. I WELCOMED that yoga each time. My body screamed YES - because sometimes it was the only relief I got. I also saw that this is what drew me to that kind of yoga. It's hard - but I'm a lot harder. It barely scratches the surface of how hard I can be on myself. And so it is.
I went to posture clinic and waited until the end to go. The teachers said I HAD to get thru the next two postures to stay up with the class. My stomach hurt, my head was pounding, and all thoughts of "this is just yoga - relax and do the best you can" were gone, and all I heard was "you will fail" loud and clear.
But there were angels in that room, just like there are angels among us everywhere we go - all the time. So why did it surprsie me? Because the noise in my head didn't allow for much observation or attention towards anything, or anyone else. The angels came in the form of 50 students who had seen my anguish and tears the last few nights, and wanted so badly for me to keep smiling the way I had been at them each morning in yoga. Already these people loved me more than I loved myself, and already they were helping me fight my own ego without even knowing it.
One man from Australia, he's about 6'3", he's a Cattleman, maybe 55 years old - very quiet usually... he stood up and said "Let's all do the posture for Jamie and help her through it." (Usually there are three students in front of you doing the posture while you say the dialogue - the rest of us wait our turn while sitting behind the person delivering dialogue.) Several students jumped up and said "yes, yes! Let's all do the posture for Jamie!!"
And so it went. I got up and delivered "Awkward Pose" with 50 or so students doing the posture 5 feet away from me with HUGE SMILES and the brightest eyes you've ever seen and BAM! It hit me like a giant rock being thrown at my heart. Instantly they became my reflection. Instantly I felt that connection to every living thing on this planet, and my anxiety flowed out of my body thru my fingertips and toes as I kept talking and spewing out the wrong words and smiling back at them because it just didn't matter - and their smiles got bigger and my fucking ego got smaller and smaller until there was none left and all I felt was LOVE. BIG MOTHER FUCKING LOVE - running thru my body from bones to skin, fingertips to toes, and I hadn't felt that LIGHT in YEARS. Even the teachers did the posture with the students for me. And if I went blank, they would point to their body parts to cue me. It was so hilarious and sweet and beautiful. And afterwards, they all said "see? you can do it, too." And the teachers said "Now, take this experience and move forward with these postures and do the best you can. Nothing more." I floated around for the next several hours. I wrote the teachers a letter when I got back to my hotel room at midnight. I told them that there was no way for them to know what that night had given me - but that it was one of those pivotal moments for me. I felt like just another piece of the whole. I didn't feel defeat or hatred towards myself. I just felt like a child who'd been given a chance and actually just showed up dancing her way through it. Passing or failing wasn't the challenge. Letting go of my own enemy, my ego, was. And I did it. I couldn't sleep that night I felt so excited.

So, this is one moment I had at yoga camp, and there were several. After that night, I still had huge battles with my ego... and I still struggled with the dialogue thru the very end. I sit in Austin today wondering if I'll have the courage to teach - but knowing I already do.

I don't fight myself as much. And because of that, I don't feel like myself anymore. I feel that flower just growing towards the sun, without anything holding her down. And there is fear in that, also. But I know I'm finally headed in the right direction. And I know my heart is leading the way.

---------------------------------------------------
This was a long one, so I hope you made it through. It's important stuff as I weave the threads of this blog into something meaningful for you, and for me. I'm a full time Bikram teacher now, in a Bikram Studio. It took me two years to get here. It has been challenging, revealing and amazing. Such is life.
Jamie

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chicken Fights


Remember when we were little and we'd get on each other's shoulders in the swimming pool and wrestle until one of us went under? Chicken Fights. I didn't like that game. I don't much care for any contact sports. It really scares me to have anything moving too fast inside my personal bubble space. For me, that's about a foot outside of my body. You have to be moving fast, or flying fast, or buzzing fast for it to alert my senses and send me off running the other direction. But it happens often. Bees, birds, bugs, humans... I don' t like anything moving fast around me. That part of my brain, that "chicken" is named "Turtle." She breathes deeply, moves slowly, and watches things. I like her.

This weekend I found myself chicken fighting in the pool down at the beach with my boyfriend, Rodney, my sister, Libby, my two nephews, Ethan and Brody, and my friend with really strong shoulders and a huge heart, Chrislyn. And guess what?!?!? I've evolved. I LOVED the chicken fights. I'm not ready to put my head inside a bee's nest or anything, but this shows signs of real progress for me and my limited boundaries around what I'm willing and not willing to subject myself to. And even Turtle was happy.

It amazes me how much time we spend protecting ourselves. It's such subconscious behavior, too. We lock all the doors, take our purses with us everywhere we go, get strip searched at the airport, build walls, fences and gated communities. We carry weapons, walk faster when we see anyone who seems "suspicious", and we run away from bees and kill snakes. It's like we're always preparing for some kind of attack, and yet we all know that the chances of that ever happening are really slim. Just like the chance of me getting stung by the red wasp that lazily loops around in front of me are slim, but I still cringe and jerk and often flee the scene. Todd Snider says in a song that fear is "bigger than Elvis Aaron Presley." I think it's bigger than Jesus Christ, Ghandi and the Beatles all rolled into one. It's huge because it's ingrained in us. We are hard wired for survival and self protection, and anything or anyone who threatens that is the enemy. And that concept starts in your brain. My ego, and my chickens, can be my worst enemy. If I am afraid of life, and feel like I'm holding on the side of a cliff by my fingernails everyday, like I did for many years, then FEAR is the very thing controlling my life. FEAR is in the driver's seat. FEAR decides where I go, when and with whom. It decides what job I have because it knows how much money I have to make so that I can feel safe and protected instead of fearful. FEAR keeps you up at night, wondering if you're going to get robbed or if you're going to be able to pay your mortgage next month. FEAR can be subtle, and tell you what you should be wearing so that no one makes fun of you and you fit in, and it can be monumental, and tell you that you are no longer safe in this world, that you will never make it just as you are, and that you will never get out from under it's claws. I know this beast well. I think most of us do.

As I name the different personalities in my brain, my chickens, I realize that the entire coop they're living in should be called "The House of Fear." I can see them peering out from the door of the coop, with the sign hanging over their scrawny little heads. Patty, the big bossy one, is looking up at the sign with her chicken hands in the air balled up into tiny fists saying "I'll show you, Fear. You're not in charge of me," knowing full well that her bossiness is based on her fear of making a mistake. And little Grace, my co-dependent chicken, would be peering out from the bottom of the door, wide eyed, submissive, shaking, saying "Yes, you're right, Jamie. The only way I know to live is with fear walking in front of me, tightly gripping my hand, guiding me through my entire existence." Tomahawk, my victim chicken, who hardly ever moves, would be laying down at the back of the house, looking up at me with one eye, rolling it, and saying "No shit, Jamie." Octavia, the yoga chicken, would have been in Warrior One pose for several minutes, about to collapse, but chanting, "You will never win, Mr. Fear." And Hank, my I-Pod chicken, would be singing "In the Name of Love" by U2, at the top of his tiny chicken lungs, demanding that I resolve this moment of shear terror and report back to my heart immediately.

And so I do. We take our bikes down to the beach for a weekend of relaxation before the new yoga studio opens where I'll be spending my summer sweating, stretching, teaching Bikram's 26 postures and two breathing exercises and loving every minute of it. I get to release any fear I have because the ocean always has this effect on me, and I ride my bike in the sand and let my Turtle chicken breathe as deeply as she possibly can and savor every moment of that warm, salty breeze. Octavia did lots of yoga in the sand, and I let her hang out in a headstand for about 10 minutes while I meditated on the waves, looking at the sky. Here's what came to me:




I commit to living a freer life, without letting FEAR dig it's claws into my tender heart like it used to. I commit to keeping my chickens calm, sending them lots of love everyday, and separating my heart from them, letting her continue to show me the way. I commit to practicing SELF LOVE because the depths of this practice have lead me to a much lighter, more peaceful place. I commit to my own heart. "I do" I say, as if I'm marrying my own heart.

May 1, 2011. Journal entry while sitting on the front porch of the Tarpon Inn with Rodney, after our day of yoga, meditation, family love and chicken fights at the beach: "And God smiles. The angels nod knowingly. The openings only exist when you feel your way through the deepest places of fear and sadness. Then suddenly there is a beat other than that of your own heart. It's the beat of your soul, keeping perfect time with the beat of the Universe. Attach no thought, no words - just feel the energy, the aliveness of everything around you. Move forward, move in, move with me. A seagull swoops by me, and I have no fear of it. Palm trees dance in celebration. The sun lovingly bounces her light off the waves. I soak it up. I am here ONCE in this form I am in, and I choose to dance with her, setting every cell of my body FREE."

Namaste, ya'll.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Loving What Is

I have a book called "Loving What Is." I haven't read it. I don't need to. I leave it out on the nightstand so that I can read the title every morning and night. It's a beautiful, simple reminder.

I am a grateful and for the most part, peaceful woman on this planet, at age 40 in the year 2011. I work hard at keeping it simple, living in the moment, and loving what is.
I have to work hard to stay balanced, but it’s worth it. I have one of those loud, demanding brains that is always telling me what to do, and it is always changing its mind. So by definition, I felt completely crazy a few years ago. I obsessed over just about anything. I created drama when I felt peacefulness setting in. I went from being an extrovert to a hermit, and could jump back and forth through these roles several times a day. I sold Real Estate full time, all the time, and I never said “no” to anyone. That lifestyle certainly has a life span. Mine lasted ten years. Finally, my body was in pain, my brain was completely confused as to how to stay in charge, and my heart broke free and took the reigns. It was terrifying and beautiful all at once. I had no more energy to keep up with my many personalities I had created. I felt like I had failed at living an authentic life, at honoring who I really am, and I had no idea what to do about it. I was on a beach in Mexico when my ego finally caved in. I considered suicide for an entire weekend. I couldn’t stop crying. My ego was putting up a huge fight against my heart. I was paralyzed by the onslaught. “Inner Conflict” hardly defines it. I was at full on war with myself. And it took a few years of writing, meditating, and practicing yoga and self love, before I finally came back into a “balanced” state. During those first few painful months of trying to sort out who I really was, I came up with a concept that helped me immensely. I created the "chicken coop" so that I could start to identify and separate my thoughts (ego based) from my heart’s wishes. I imagined chickens running around inside the "coop" (my brain), and each one had a different opinion of what I should be doing, how to do it, and with whom. Let me introduce you to a few. "Patty" is bossy with her hands on her hips all the time saying to me, "I told you so." She thinks she knows everything. "Grace" is shy, timid, a little damaged and extremely co-dependent. She has been the most active chicken over the years. She was one I discovered later, and I am still working on reconciling with her. "Octavia" is my yoga chicken. She just wants to practice and teach yoga all day long, sometimes at the expense of aching shoulders and dehydration. She took me out to California for nine weeks of Bikram Yoga Training. It was intensely beautiful. “Tomahawk” was badly injured by life. He had on bandages and was seething with anger the first time I saw him. He’s my Victim Chicken.
The way I see it, I am all of these chickens, because they are all active parts of my brain. By being able to identify them, I put myself in a deeper place of self love and acceptance for ALL of me. Now I can watch over them, and love them, but not let any of them control me for long periods of time like they used to do.

Deciding to let my heart be in charge of my life was the most significant decision I have ever made. What has been revealed to me continues to surprise me everyday. My heart holds the road map for my life. I've been testing this theory out, and what has been revealed to me has been astounding. My heart doesn't care about materialistic things or how “perfect” my image is. She doesn't care if what I wear doesn't always match. She doesn’t care about selling Real Estate so that I can drive a nice car and live in a nice house. She loves the smell of salty air, and she loves my bare feet in the yoga studio. She loves to paint, write, dream and remember them, to laugh really hard everyday, and to bring love and tenderness into other people's lives. She loves to heal. She loves to teach and practice yoga. She loves without judgment, without criticism, without the expectation of getting love in return. She just loves. And she's wise. She knows what I'm supposed to be doing, where and with whom. She has always known. I just couldn't hear her because the chickens were squawking orders at me all the time. I imagined myself turning the volume knob DOWN in my head, and UP in my heart. I actually turned the dials daily. It works. And once you start living from your heart, you never want to go back to that loud chatter box in your brain again.

"There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire. The other is to get it." –George Bernard Shaw

Welcome to my Blog. I've been journaling since I was 14 years old. I have stacks of them. One of my heart's desires is to throw my stories out there to see if they reach in and grab anyone, and maybe it helps them heal. I still struggle everyday. It feels like it's just a part of being human. But I know now that I am choosing to struggle, and I know how to stop it. It's powerful. It's just about silencing the chickens.

I believe in healing from the inside out. I believe in a regular practice of self love, because it takes practice. When YOU become your highest priority, everything in your life shifts towards an awareness around healing. I am living proof that it works.


Healing from the inside out.
Loving What Is.

"Yoga Folk Community" is about how my heart wants to live. And I'm listening everyday. Stay tuned....
Jamie