Sunday, July 22, 2012

I love Sunday mornings in this old cabin. Doors and windows are open... I can hear the water running over the dam at the creek, the geese are still resting, and birds are singing from all directions. Yesterday my mom and I day-tripped to Port Aransas. I don't remember the last time I went anywhere for very long with just my mama. We went to move my paintings, and the day just sort of kept happening... she brought homemade turkey salad sandwiches, chips and pickles, all in ziplocks for our picnic on the beach. It sent me straight back to sack lunches from childhood. She didn't buy the small bags of chips. We put everything in sandwich bags with "twisties" until the Ziplock bag was born. So the lunch she packed was enough to bring tears to my eyes. But then I got to see her, all 71 years of her, run and jump into the Gulf just like she must've done as a child. My mother, Betty Jean, born in 1940, is exactly 30 years older than me, has grey hair now and the same sparkly blue eyes. We jumped through the waves together, which is something we haven't done since I was a young girl. We walked down the beach and picked up tiny seashells because that was all we could find. We ate our lunch, laughed about the seagulls and how aggresive they've gotten, watched the waves and just sat together for awhile. I kept thanking God for that moment. I have not always been close to my mom. I haven't always understood her ways. I am a creative soul, an artist, and sometimes we feel like very different people. But not that day. I saw all of our many similarities that day, and I felt barriers melt away, barriers I didn't even know existed. Time just stopped for us out there, and we got to laugh like two best friends. We got to the island and went straight to the beach. The second she opened the car door and stood in the sand, a seagull pooped on her forehead. We had just put on sunscreen in the car, and the poop was solid white so I told her to rub it in! I took her picture. She didn't want me to share it, but I HAVE TO. Sorry, mom.

So I smiled all day, and felt the light break into my heart. And then I got to put one of my paintings in my favorite store down there, on consignment. It's called "Cita" and it's a creatively designed space with home furnishings, original art, some jewelry and clothes - all thrown together like bright colors on a canvas. It's magical. The owner, Shanna, loves my palm tree paintings on plywood. And she is carrying my hydrating face sprays I make called "SeaLight Spray!" She wants me to paint more for her store!! I actually have a client. Ha.
Lucky palms, and lucky sprays.... I don't make much money at anything I do yet, but again, I am determined to move through my life and follow things that really light up my soul. I'm in it for the long haul. And next on my path is a 5 week trip with Kevin and Dustin Welch through Santa Fe, Taos, Red River, all through Colorado, into Montana, and over to Maine for a cruise on a 100 year old sailboat.
And before I head out with a huge box of SeaLight Sprays, some colored pencils and all my tiny chickens in my head, let me say this:

I stopped teaching yoga two months ago, and rarely have I practiced since. I thought I was giving myself time to heal the neck/shoulder/hip pain I've been experiencing for months. I thought I was injured. My neck and shoulder have been popping, muscles tensing up without much relief. I had almost resigned myself to a life of pain management, without any pills. I got some x-rays a few weeks ago, and it shows that I have mild bone degeneration in some discs. It shows some minor arthritis.

I'm reconsidering how I think about and practice yoga. And with the help of a few good friends and some yoga instructors I trust, I'm doing some "physical therapy" at Still Water Studio here in Wimberley, and I'm taking that to heart. Helen has given me some hope about healing, and a few exercises and poses I can do daily on my 5 week adventure. She reminded me that I can help my body heal. She showed me how to reconnect with the smaller muscles and tendons, so that they can all relax a little and work together again.

My hope is to be closer to pain free when I return at the end of August. I look forward to teaching again, because it lights me up a little brighter than almost anything else.

See you soon.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hands free.

I met a woman once who had died on the table a few times and was brought back to life. She said to me: "Death is easy. Life is the hard part."

It made me smile because I decided a few years ago that I might want to end my life. And I chose not to. But I also feel that either way, things in this world would've been okay.

June 2007, Tulum, Mexico... I could picture it happening right there, in that moment. I could see it. I wanted to swim out under the moonlight and not return. I wanted to drift to the bottom like a pearl, and watch as the night sky folded her arms around me forever.

This morning I decided it was time to write again. I looked at the photo that sits on my dresser. I am bent over, picking up something in the water. It was that weekend in Mexico when my heart broke into 1,000 pieces. I took some of those pieces and carried them around with me all weekend, in the form of bits of sea glass I collected while I was there. I rubbed them together as I felt my heart break over and over again, like the waves themselves were crashing through me, and I had no where to turn anymore. I just had to stand in the water and let it happen. For the first time in my life, I began to trust that I am not in control of this thing, whatever it is. And right there, I made a promise to myself and God. I let go of some old baggage that desperatley wanted to be set free. I buried some old memories as I buried those bits of sea glass in the sand, the pieces of my broken heart. I let go of feeling such deep guilt over decisions I made 25 years ago. I let go of my desire to self destruct over that guilt. I let go of tiny hands I longed to hold and decided to hold my own hand instead. I decided to create a much safer world for Jamie to live in. I decided to take better care of myself. I decided to heal my own heart, one day at a time. I made a decision to live life without secrets and darkness, and with a stronger relationship with God, with my own spirit, with the world.

Here I am, 5 years later, June 2012. I sit in my cabin on the creek and feel my spirit fly. Over the water, through the Cypress trees, over the hills, and all the way back to the ocean where I see that woman I used to be, who had to get to that beach and break into a thousand pieces so that she could finally see God through the fragments that had become her life.

I am here. In the fullness of who I am, all of my darkness and light, I am here. And the peacefulness I feel from the trust I have that I am no longer in control of this thing, well, it still astounds me everyday.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Two months?? Really?? Not that I have a huge following and you guys are all waiting in anticipation to read something brilliant from me, but still... so much has happened, that I'd love to share here, it's just a discipline to sit down and do it.

So here I am, sitting with legs crossed on my bed this morning, after having had a dream about purple skies and yellow/orange palm trees blowing in the breeze. A storm was coming in, and the air smelled like mango and pineapple. I woke up saying "yellow and orange palm trees in a purple colored storm? Okay, I'll paint it." I have my first show coming up. I'm going to hang my work in a coffee shop in Port Aransas, Texas. It's called "Coffee Waves," and when I walked in there the first time back in January, I could see my paintings there. It fits my style, and the owner is full of charisma and looks like Sammy Hagar. Check plus. We met that day, me and David, and I showed him some photos of my paintings that I have on my phone. Let me say here that I wasn't even looking for a place to hang my art work, but I've always known it won't sell very well in the Hill Country. It's all water and palm trees, mountains, and now mermaids. But my heart barometer was reading really high in that coffee shop, and I can't help myself when that happens. I have to act on it.

Turned out that the earliest opening for me wasn't until 2013. That feels really far away in January, so I just tucked that away in my mind and went on with it. But I noticed I didn't have the same inspiration to paint. It has always been a form of therapy for me, and a great outlet for my chickens, but I think I was just ready to finally put it out to the general public. And so I was waiting again...

Meanwhile, I've been dealing with chronic hip pain, and more recently, a lot of neck and shoulder pain. Chiropractors, massage therapists, accupuncturists... I am trying everything, except cutting back my yoga schedule. I love the students at this little Wimberley studio. They're having so much fun with their practice, and they inspire me so much as a teacher. But the pain has been ongoing for 6 months now. After a session with an accupuncturist last week, and a serious conversation about my blood actually being deydrated from spending so many hours each week in a hot yoga room, well, I decided to pull back for awhile. And when I made the decision to do that last week, I also asked God and all of my angels to help me with it, and to help me stay open to what's next on the horizon.

24 hours later I get a call from the art coordinator for "Coffee Waves" in Port Aransas. They had a cancellation from an artist. They want all of my work on their walls from May 15-July 15, which is a busy time at the beach. Suddenly I'm dreaming of purple skies and yellow palm trees, and smelling mangoes in the air...

More soon, and that's what keeps me inspired.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shark Waters

For as long as I can remember, I have been afraid of sharks. I was around 10 when Steven Spielberg came out with "Jaws," and everything about the ocean changed for me after that. Before "Jaws," I spent hours in the surf, swimming out past where I could still touch bottom and riding waves back in. We grew up making summer trips to a place called "Caney Creek." I couldn't have dreamt up a better place than Caney back then. My mom's dad, we called him "Paw Paw," bought this house back in the 50's. It sat on one of those salt water creeks that was only a mile or so from the Bay. The house was on stilts with a flat back yard. Paw Paw had a garden in the back, and he spent hours watching over us, teaching us how to fish, bait crab lines, check crab traps, and shuck our own oysters. I remember being so sunburned I'd have to wear one of my dad's white T-shirts over my bathing suit all day, with zinc oxide on my nose, and a ball cap on my head that never fit. I never wore shoes. I slept with Off Spray all over my body because I was too tired to shower. The hum of the window a/c units put some sleepy kids out like tiny lights every night. (Now I have one of those units in my bedroom at the cabin in Wimberley and it's heavenly). My mom would stay up with one lamp on in the living room and kill all of the mosquitoes in the house before she went to bed. We would stay sometimes for a month in the summer. We would go to the library before heading out of town, and each of us brought a stack of books down there. We didn't have TV. We had books, cards, dominoes, a garden, a salt water creek teaming with fish, crabs, and sometimes sharks. We spent hours fishing off of the pier in the back. Each house had its own pier, and at night the whole creek came to life under the pier lights. I remember watching the creek during the day, often wondering how it was the same creek at night, the one that lit up with fish and shrimp under the pier lights. There was always something a little frightening about that water at night for me. During the day, I would jump in and float around with my mom and Aunt Sue. I was certain the water was safe while the sun was out.

I remember the night a shark bumped up against the crab trap on the side of the pier. I must have already seen "Jaws" by then because I remember my legs shaking to the point of near collapse. I was convinced that the shark, which was probably no bigger than 4 feet long, was going to bite through the support beams in the water, and cause our entire pier to collapse, and then it would eat all of us. The side of the pier where the crab trap was didn't have enough light for me to be sure that the shark was gone. Needless to say, I turned in early that night. The fear inside me was overwhelming. It made my chest tighten and my whole body shake. I was super mad at that shark for ruining my fishing night. I think sharks went from being mysterious, large fish with lots of teeth, to the fiercest, most calculating predators on the planet for many of us after Spielberg released "Jaws" to the world, and then followed it up with a few more monster shark movies, just to be sure the fear had solidified and completely consumed most of us, and he had raked in as much money as he possibly could on the shark-sea-monster idea.

I can tell you this. My greatest fear is of deep ocean water at night. I dream about it, I paint it, I stay off of cruise ships because of it, and I don't like to fish off shore unless it's in the morning and I've convinced myself that the boat won't sink that day. I have said many times that I would die of a heart attack if I had to swim in the ocean at night. The thought used to make my throat and chest tighten. I remember once about ten years ago, I was in Florida out in a kayak with my ex-husband. We were only about 50 feet out from land, but the water looked to be about 20 feet deep. He rowed over to a bowie that was bobbing around, and at that same time, I saw a dark silhouette of a big fish swimming under the boat. I started to panic. I didn't do yoga back then, so I didn't know how to control my breathing or stay calm. The fear consumed me quickly. I convinced myself it was a shark, and that it was following us, waiting for the right time to attack. Gary saw what was happening and paddled us back to shore quickly. Are you seeing the picture I'm painting here? I was 30 years old then and I was more afraid than I was that night on Caney Creek. I've been feeding my fear over the years with video clips of shark attacks, more movies about those "killers" and hanging on to every word in the news on attacks on our beaches. I even obsessed over "Planet Earth," watching the Great Whites leap out of the water to swallow a seal. All I've been doing is feeding my fear.

At the same time, I am completely obsessed with ocean waters. I watched "The Cove" about a year ago, the documentary on the slaying of Dolphins, and it absolutely broke my heart. Dolphins are such beautiful, intelligent animals. They are our teachers, our friends, and they share this planet with us. AND THEY NEVER ATTACK US. I think this makes it easier for people to want to protect them. It felt like watching cold-blooded murder. It's infuriating and embarrassing.

But even then, I still felt the fear of sharks and dark ocean water swimming through my body. Dolphins were one thing, those innocent creatures who never attack us humans, and I believed in protecting them fiercely, but sharks??? I honestly felt like it was okay if they were getting killed for Shark Fin Soup and shark steaks since they are the most feared predator on the planet (and in my world). I felt like maybe that would reduce my fear somehow, knowing that so many of them are being caught and killed. I remember having thoughts like "well, maybe they can just control the population of the really big sharks, and that will cut down on the number of shark attacks each year." I just didn't care about their well being on this planet because of the amount of fear they have caused me over the years. I didn't care whether or not they were thriving as a species. I remember feeling like it would be a safer planet if THERE WERE NO SHARKS IN THE OCEAN. And again, I think my thoughts represent those of a few hundred million people world wide. Spielberg and the media gave me an education on sharks, but it was a false one. And I let that perception shape my experience every time I put my feet in the ocean. I was a prisoner of my own fear. My chickens in my brain LOVED fearing and hating sharks. They loved letting that fear run through me each time I went waste-deep in the ocean and couldn't see around me because the water wasn't clear. Those chickens have a job to do, and that is to warn me of danger!! And SHARKS are terrifying, so all they've been telling me over the years is to get out of the water!! But my heart says something different. I indulge her every now and then and swim out a little farther until the chickens start screaming at me. Once I even floated on my back in ocean water that was about 6 feet deep. And when I put paintbrush to canvas, I end up painting water. Sometimes it's at night under the moonlight, and sometimes it's at daybreak with a hundred colors bouncing from the sky to the water and through the palm trees. It's all my heart ever wants to paint. And now I know what she has been trying to tell me.
I was told by a good friend recently to watch "Shark Water," to help me with my fear of sharks. Hmmmmm, I thought. How is that little documentary about a guy who likes to swim with sharks going to make any lasting impression on my chickens who have held on so tightly to the fear of sharks for most of my life?

I sat on the couch Saturday morning and watched "Shark Water" without the expectation of anything spectacular happening. I loved the depth and eeriness of the soundtrack (I now own it and I'm using it in my yoga classes). I loved the photography because it's what I love to paint - without the schools of hammerheads of course. Facts started popping up on the screen...

Fact: "The have survived for 450 million years" Me: wow, that's a long time. So they were here when dinasaurs were here. I bet they ate those, too.
Fact: "They are the world's top predator" Me: yea, I know about that one. They're sea monsters!!!
Fact: "They control two-thirds of the planet" Me: yes, and that's why it's okay if some of them die and end up on our plates.
Fact: "But they are not our enemy" Me: blank.

And so I watched. I watched as someone who has loved sharks since he was a little kid, do everything in his power to show what their life underwater has become. It took him four years. He thought he was going to make a movie that was beautiful about sharks - one that showed us that we can and should co~exist with this predator because they are just as necessary to the underwater ecosystem and the survival of this planet as we are. What he ended up making gives us a glimpse into how dark their world really has become. WE have taken out 90 percent of the shark population over the last DECADE. (450 million years, remember?) We kill around 100 million sharks a year (they kill about 5 of us) for "Shark Fin Soup" that is on most menus in Chinese Food restaurants, even in Austin, Texas. Shark "fining" is when the fishermen cut off just their fins, and throw the shark back in the ocean, while it's still alive, where it is left to breathe it's last few breaths and sink to the bottom and die. The meat isn't valuable enough to justify the effort and expense in taking and using the whole shark. The fins are worth an astronomical amount. Shark Fin Soup is a luxury. The myth is that it helps cure cancer, since the sharks have survived for 450 million years, and hardly get cancer, maybe eating their fins will help keep cancer away. (The absurdity here actually makes me smile because it's so huge, and we have a long way to go.)

We are literally wiping out another species. We are wiping out an animal who has been here longer than any other animal. I cried harder than I have in years. It hit a level of sadness in me that was deeper than when I have had close friends and family pass away. It hit me in the center of my heart, and I couldn't stop. Maybe I just needed to cry over something other than my own life. Maybe I needed to break through my perceptions of what sharks are really all about. Maybe I was PMS'ing. (I wasn't.) It was too much, really. I think any therapist would've said it was just the catalyst, and obviously I needed to release something that's deeper than just the fact that sharks are being murdered at a rate of about 15,000 every couple of hours. Maybe that's true. Here's what I think, though:

They are the catalyst. They are the thing that I have feared the most in my life. It seems so silly now. A shark is a fish. If it could shoot a gun, it would be a much fairer fight out there as it is raised to the boat to meet its death, but it can't. And I can't protect my body from a shark bite if I choose to swim in the ocean. It's about real risk . We've forgotten that there is a certain mysteriousness and thrill in knowing you're swimming in waters that are the home to fish who could eat you if they chose to. The fact is, we aren't shark food, and never have been. They just mistake us for their food sometimes. So take the risk if you want to swim in the ocean, but let's not kill off the thing we think is causing the risk. Some of us die from shark attacks each year. More of us die from soda machines falling on us each year. Do we have the right to kill them simply because they have killed us? Do we have the right to wipe them out because we're afraid of them? I'm tired of being afraid of taking risks. Boom. That's the catalyst part.

I got my paintbrushes out this week. Mermaids showed up underwater. I don't feel that same fear of dark water. My heart is happy. She won the shark battle. The chickens are just watching quietly. And now I'm just wondering what my part will be in raising awareness about these beautiful teachers of fear we call sharks... this blog post being my first baby step, of course...

As I was watching the documentary last weekend, I found myself saying "I'm sorry" to the sharks, over and over again, grieving their losses, and mourning the fact that I've feared them so much. But it wasn't enough to say it from my comfortable couch. I told Rodney I'm ready to get certified to scuba dive. I'm claustrophobic, have vertigo, and a tired, old fear of deep water and sharks. I'm going in. ~ experience their beauty for yourself.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"In The Now" News...

It's Sunday, and I woke up just in time to see the entire sky in a soft shade of orange. No blue, just orange. And it bounced and ricocheted off of everything, leaving the grass and trees dripping in orange daybreak light. If I could create a paint color today, it would be "Daybreak Orange" and it would be so brilliant that you would want it on your walls, your toes, your car and your wood floors. Can you imagine orange wood floors?? Yea, so can I.

SUNDAY "In The Now" News is as follows: (and it beats the hell out of MSN. I know because I scanned the headlines on my home page this morning... Demi Moore (wish I could call her and tell her it's just her crazy chickens); Still searching for bodies from that Italian cruise ship, (didn't the sharks take care of that?) and Super Bowl Predictions (SUPER exciting). Need I say more? Mine are WAY better.)

"In The Now" News:

One of my favorite friends, Savannah, is waiting for her baby to say "okay, it's time to let me out." So far, "Vanny Baby" has stayed indoors for an extra week. Maybe baby's waiting for the cedar to clear out first. Or maybe baby's waiting for the moon to be in a new phase. Maybe baby is waiting for it's grandfather's "writing workshop" to end this weekend so those folks don't have to be a part of a natural child birthing experience. We don't know the answers to these things, it just becomes another lesson in patience. Patience with the process. Patience with the Universe. Maybe "Vanny Baby" wants to be a February baby instead. Maybe that matters in the big, universal picture. Meanwhile, Savannah waits it out, watching rain storms, waking up at night to shift to her other side, listening to her belly, learning a deeper level of patience. Today I think we'll do some yoga for Vanny Baby.


We had a rain storm one night last week. We got 5 inches in just a couple of hours, with lightening and thunder and I had to remind myself that my cabin was built in 1938, surviving many rain storms, and we weren't going to blow away, or drift down the creek with the rest of the debris. I unplugged my computer from the wall at the same time that thunder cracked right over my head. It sent me to the floor, shaking and laughing. It was powerful, and beautiful, and the creek was completely swollen the next morning. Here's a photo I took while stomping around in rain boots:


Yoga training started this weekend at The Still Water Studio, and two very important, special women in my life signed up for the training. Wendi "Willow" is one of them. The other is Heather, who must have sailed into this world on a giant feather, ready to shed light on all of us with her huge almond colored eyes and radiant "I just lit up your whole world without even trying" smile.

They hadn't met before this weekend. They are from different parts of my life, but now their paths have crossed. I love it when stars collide...

Wendi is one of those women in my dreams who is a healer, a beautiful young mermaid, a mother, and an old woman sharing essential oils and hot tea with me in the kitchen. We were cut from the same cloth, raised in the same town, by parents of the same generation. She is my sister's age, and they were close childhood friends. I was always the "little sister." Wendi and I are both tall now, but when we were young, I was much shorter than her. I remember the feeling I had when we ran into each other after 20 years of life, at a mutual friend's wedding in 2010. I was looking into her eyes, and not at her chin. And immediately, I felt this really strong, old connection. We started talking and laughing about my dad making pancakes for us when we were kids. She would spend the night with Libby and my dad would make tiny dime-sized pancakes for our hamsters, too, so they could have Saturday morning pancakes with us. She remembers lots of stories I had forgotten. My heart latches on to each of them, and stores them in a special place. Finding her again reaffirmed by belief that there is magic everywhere.

Over the next year or so, we shared our stories, our dreams, lots of laughs, and started envisioning a life that made sense to our hearts. We're both living in Wimberley now by choice. We both left Austin by choice. We want to find a piece of land and start a small community. What does it look like? We still paint it in our minds, but so far it has small cabins, one shared living space with a big kitchen and some orange wood floors for yoga. (Just decided that after Sunday morning's sunrise!) Lots of creative space for painting, reading, and writing. We have a garden there, and a place for house concerts. Dogs and maybe horses. Willow is my favorite package deal with her two beautiful children, Jack and Mollie, two dogs, one cat, and a bunch of crazy creatures her son, Jack, has living in his room. We have hippie hearts, southern roots, and laughter in our bones, so much so that we have to let it out on a regular basis.

Jack and Mollie are two of my favorite humans on the planet. Mollie is 6 and has downs syndrome. She calls me "Jimmie," and I love her. She lights my heart in a huge way every time I see her. She is brilliant, curious, deeply loving and has more to teach me than most people put together. I am her student, her biggest fan, her "anything," since her mama is her "everything." My brain turns to mush every time I see her. And Jack? Well, her older brother is here to do great things. We don't know what it will be yet, but he is so wise that I would take his advice and follow through with it on anything. He gets it. He's also Mollie's guardian angel, and he takes his job seriously. He is full of patience and love for her. It's something special to witness.

I'll come back to that another time. For now, we'll stick with the news.

Since we're manifesting a community with yoga, music, kids, and lots of love, Wendi decided to sign up for yoga training at Helen's "Camp Utopia!" She had so much emotion in her voice last night after day 2 of training, that it brought tears to my eyes. They spent three days with Helen, and have many more to go!

And "I came into this world on a feather, Heather" is a more recent friend who has been taking my yoga classes in Austin for the last couple of years. Last August she left Austin and moved back to New Orleans to be closer to family and heal from a recent break up. A month or so later, her grandmother died. A month later, her mother died. She emailed me and I saw how deep the pain was in her heart, over losing the women who had shaped her, loved and guided her. She said I had given her some inner strength through my yoga classes, and that she was so grateful for that now, as she was trying to fill the holes in her heart and move through her grief. I knew it was a long shot, being that she was in New Orleans, but I told her about "Camp Utopia" and how training might be a great thing for her right now. And she made it happen. She's staying at my cabin. She's handling her grief with love. She talks about it. She's moving it around inside her. She'll eventually shift most of it out. And she's using her yoga as a tool for her healing. She still had all of that light in her smile when I saw her. I'm excited she made it to Camp Utopia, and I can't wait to see where it takes her. Secretly I hope she is one of the old women in our kitchen making teas and sweets, but my angels haven't revealed that to me yet. But they definitely brought her here!!

Wendi and Heather both inspire me in so many ways. I'm not a single mom, and I haven't lost my mom yet. To watch these women find the light in their eyes and love in their hearts and face each day with a sense of awe and wonder, always inspires me to do the same, and push through whatever challenge I'm facing.

*** And some final "In The Now" News...

I've been playing "The Healing Game" the last week or so. We always have old stuff inside us that we shove aside. The problem, and/or blessing for me is that with such a demanding yoga schedule, it sometimes just forces out those little "dust bunnies" I was stacking in the corners of my heart. Damn them. But I see too, that I don't have to attach a bunch of drama to my own healing process. I don't have to engage my chickens: Grace, Tomahawk, or Patty. I'm learning to breathe a lot deeper throughout the day. I'm learning to look up at the sky and whisper "help me right here, please" when I feel anxiety or panic coming on. And I'm learning to stop running, and "grow in love" with those who are already around me.


And lastly, I am teaching a group of juvenile teenagers from San Marcos some hot yoga twice a week. Their counselor is a regular student of mine, and after a few conversations on our mats after class, she got the principal to pay for these kids to come to Wimberley and take yoga during school hours twice a week. It might be unprecedented. They have short attention spans, lots of ego, tattoos, tight hips and hamstrings, the odds against them, and yet... I see that sense of curiosity and wonder in their eyes. The seed has been planted. I have them for 10 weeks. It's like watching wild weeds bloom. Their faces go from one eyebrow raised with cocky grins to being fully engaged and focused on their mats. Sometimes they're even perfectly still in Savasana. They don't know it, but they justify what I've chosen to do with my life every time I teach them. If I help them feel a little freer from their little chicken coops, then everything I've done up to this point has been worth it.

"Ew baby, baby, it's a wild world." ~ thank you, Hank.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

She gave me Butterflies.

I saw her last night. The back of the house was nothing but old casement windows and glass doors that opened to a long covered porch. Huge colored glass bulbs hung down at various lengths in all sizes. Fabrics hung over chairs, bed posts and on the walls, red and turquoise, orange and lime green. The softness of the women who live there could be felt in every color, every piece of fabric. Candles and incense perfumed the air. It's a house I've been in so many times, but each time it reveals itself to me in a new way. A bunch of women live there. Mermaids and healers. All good witches. They laugh late at night in the kitchen over hot tea and freshly spun fruit concoctions. They live intuitively, with their heightened senses, quick wit and laughing eyes. I've only seen them a few times. Last night I had the pleasure of walking through their space again, seashells and candles everywhere, the air feeling thick and salty, wind chimes playing a symphony in the breeze out back. Through the windows, I could see the huge old oak trees dripping with moss, and the thick lush St. Augustine under them, running all the way to the bay.

I'm in the back room this time. I see the familiar couches, books, and soft rugs on dark wood floors. I looked out the window and there she was, perched high in the corner of the back porch. Her bright green eyes were glowing. The look was stern, but loving. I'm sure my jaw dropped. It was like being in the presence of Royalty. There she was before me, hovering with her giant wings open on full display. I could see red and orange, and the brightest most beautiful yellow wrapping itself in and around, into the most intricate designs that made up her wings. They must have reached 10 feet from tip to tip. I stared at her body for a long time. She was so much more beautiful than any human being I've ever seen. She was the deepest color and texture of black velvet. Her body looked like an art sculpture. She had small delicate shoulders, enormous almond shaped eyes, several small arms, and a visible aura around her, letting me know that she was a superior being. I had no doubt.

We stared at each other for a long time, and for totally different reasons. I knew there was no mystery to me. I was far less interesting in my human form. She already knew my struggles and limitations that come along with being human. She was not studying me, or looking at me in awe. I am not royalty on this planet. That was clear. No, this very special creature was simply trying to tell me something.

"What could you possibly want from me??" I asked her. She lowered her gaze and bowed her head in a gesture of surrender. I felt her frustration over my inability, in my human form, to be able to just listen to her, through her eyes, without using my brain and words to communicate. She was not an alien. She was not a foreign person who spoke no English dressed in a costume. She was an enormous Monarch butterfly, and she found me in my dream last night.

Just my luck. I'm not fascinated with butterflies. I haven't studied their habits, and I certainly don't speak butterfly. I do think they are stunningly beautiful, but I don't seek them out really. I did recently start blessing each one of them that splats on my windshield while I drive. I started that about a year ago while spending so much time driving back and forth to Wimberley. My heart started to hurt each time another one ended it's life on my windshield. I would blow a kiss in the air and say "I'm sorry," and I really meant it.

So I thought to myself this morning...maybe that's why she came to see me. Maybe she can see my heart, and she knows I'm trying to live from there.

So there I am, in this dream, staring at one of the most beautiful creatures I've ever seen, awake or asleep, and I'm trying to figure out what it is she wants me to do for her.

I started to think that maybe she was trapped on the porch. She was enormous after all, and maybe it would be difficult for her to tuck those amazing wings in and maneuver herself back out into nature, into some enormous tree where she could settle in for a nap. So I walked out on to the porch to investigate and saw immediately what the problem was.

Sitting in her favorite chair with her back to me was a woman with an easel set in front of her. She was painting a butterfly. And for her project, she had caught and taped a basketball size butterfly to a piece of paper. It was still alive. I looked up at that enormous mama butterfly, and the intensity thickened in her gaze. I knew this was her baby. And I knew she wanted me to set it free. I moved fast. The woman was showing me her painting and talking about the brush strokes and how they captured all of the color in the butterfly's wings. I was choking on our human insensitivity. I kept her attention on her painting and gently lifted up the paper with the butterfly taped to it, and in one motion I untaped it and let it fly out from under the porch. The woman just stopped talking and stared at the butterfly as it flew off. She said "isn't it beautiful?" "Yes" I said, and we both watched as it flew off under the oaks.

I looked back up in the corner where she was. Her gaze was softer, but still stern. I got a message from her. She said I have to continue. She said I have to take responsibility for what's happening while I'm here.

And then I woke up.

And the feeling in my heart was much deeper than what I had been feeling this past week. Sometimes my dreams show me something so simple, yet the message is deep and clear. And for the most part, the message is the same: It's not about me. My life is really not about my chickens trying to over-analyze, surrender to the moment, go back to judging, criticizing, being fearful of something else... cycles. All cycles. I think what my dreams are showing me is that there is a much deeper way to live. And if we're lucky enough to be able to learn to listen while we're here, what's revealed to us is so much more beautiful than what we can imagine. A butterfly isn't just a butterfly. She's a mama with a life span just like we have. She makes this world a much more beautiful place, and she's just as important as we are.

I guess she had to show up in my dream in her enormous size so that I could actually SEE her, in all her glory, and she could show me what's happening right under my nose. We're killing living, breathing creatures every second of the day. We're doing this without much thought, except maybe a pause in my heart as another butterfly splats on my windshield as I'm going 60 mph to the yoga studio in Austin, to teach people to SLOW DOWN, RELAX, and BREATHE.

Oh damn. That's it. I have to practice what I preach. That's a tough one. Does that mean I should ride my bicycle to work so that I don't kill anymore butterflies?? Or how about I just slow down so that maybe the death toll isn't as high. Geez.... I'm just one person. What difference can I possibly make??

All the difference in the world to one giant mama butterfly.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Happy 2012 from the cabin on the creek in Wimberley, Texas!! The robbery sped up my plans a little... funny how that happens. But first, let's back up again to that Summer of 2009...

I had been home from yoga training just a few days. That much time in the Californian desert with my yoga mat left me feeling like I'd survived a lab experiment. My mind was clear. My senses were heightened. I also felt a little numb and disconnected. I would ride my bike to the coffee shop and just sit and watch people, from my recently wiped hard drive that was my brain. From there, I would ride to the yoga studio to cure that "fish out of water" feeling I had. They told us at training that we would experience some psychological shifting when we left the yoga bubble. I desperately missed the 360 students I saw everyday for those 9 weeks. It was like going to camp and attending college on a cruise ship that only offered Bikram Yoga as a recreational activity. And it was mandatory. I could've continued living like that for several more months.

I walked away from that experience knowing that we are meant to live in community. I think we thrive as humans when we have no walls around us; trusting ourselves and each other and openly relying on each other, even if we don't always get our needs met. We are healthier if we face each other and communicate our discomforts and fears, as opposed to shutting ourselves off from everyone and hiding our weaknesses - the very things that connect us. My yoga training helped me break through the idea that I had to present myself as being polished and perfect to everyone around me, or not show up at all. I saw that I could be broken and miserable around them, too. I could be angry, sad, or laughing my head off, and it was all the same to them. I got many gifts from that training experience, but feeling a sense of total acceptance and love from everyone around me, no matter what I did, felt like a rare and special one.

An age-old concept of "living in community" became very clear to me when I got home. I even understood that if I chose to continue living even a somewhat isolated, ego-based life, that I would wind up miserable, again.

I spent a lot of time that summer writing, trying to dump out as much as I could so that I could ease my mind back into some kind of routine, but also so that I could start to imagine my life the way I wanted it to be from my heart's point of view. I took a blank notecard and wrote down what I wanted my life to look like. It was the first time I had ever done such an exercise. I wrote:

"Learn how to garden. Take an art lesson. Find a community - Wimberley, maybe? Paint, write, breathe, spend time alone, do yoga. Give love everyday. Set boundaries. Live with both feet in the boat."

I like the last line. It's something I'm still working on.

I've been coming to Wimberley since I was a little girl. Our San Marcos neighbors had a family cabin on the Cypress Creek there. The cabin smelled like cedar inside, and I fell in love with it instantly. We jumped off of rope swings hanging from enormous cypress trees into the clear, cold water. I remember swimming with a face mask on, watching fish, and thinking that life from that perspective was absolutely perfect. I loved the energy, the people, the water, and the little town square in Wimberley. Later that same summer post yoga training, after I'd released my intentions of living in community, possibly in Wimberley, to the Universe, by way of a 4x6 notecard, I ran into an old friend, Judibeth, who was living there. She's an artist, a mother of 4, and lives on some land with her garden, goats, cats and beautiful family. I went to visit her. I fell in love with it all over again. I didn't know many people in Wimberley at the time. My healer, Patrice, had worked her magic on me down by Jacob's Well the year before that, but I didn't have many close ties to it. Judibeth introduced me to some wonderful women. A group of them were meeting weekly for something called "EFT" - "Emotional Freedom Techniques". Patrice had already taught me to tap my way out of repeated cycles of anxiety. I know it's very effective. And so I started coming to Wimberley once a week for some tapping on my pressure points, but also to get a sense of how Wimberley felt.

Several months later, I met Rodney, who has lived in Wimberley for 15 years. And for the last two years, I have been back and forth, dating him, dating Wimberley, enjoying the courtship between all of us, while still hanging on to some fear around total commitment to Rodney and to Wimberley. I had one foot in and one foot out for so long that I got used to it. I hung on to South Austin for many reasons. I felt like it was more my home than anywhere else I had been. It was such an important part of my rediscovery of myself. I moved there as fast as I could after my divorce because it felt like home. I experienced a lot of transformation there. I found new beautiful friends, fell in love, fell into codependency, healed some old addictive behaviors and fed some new ones, found my yoga, and eventually my heart again. How could I leave that place?? I didn't have to, really. I think it left me.

My desire to be in a smaller community took over. My desire for wanting both feet in the boat took over. I wanted that clear, spring-fed creek, less traffic, more trees, fewer people, and more like-minded people. My need to let go of my little red wagon I'd been pulling behind me the last 5 years took over. My little wagon full of old journals, pictures, t-shirts, sand and guitar picks. My little wagon full of self defeating habits that on some level I wanted to keep repeating. My little wagon full of my chickens, all belted in and ready to go with me everywhere I went. (If Grace were a toy chicken available in stores, she would come with a tiny suitcase and some running shoes. She's always ready to bolt.) My little red wagon full of what was important to a soul-searching, scared 37 year old woman with a gut wrenching determination to find her place in it all. I now understand that I don't need to search for my place. My place is with me. The "old strings" don't really exist. It was just another exercise created by the chicken coop. I now see that I can easily jump into my life with both feet. The only thing holding me back was me and my chickens.

Finally, an amazing woman named Helen, found her way to Wimberley after many stops through the states over the years. She and her husband, Ron, are Canadian, and they live in their Air Stream trailer on some beautiful land just outside of Wimberley. She was a piece of my puzzle I felt like I needed to get here. She opened "The Still Water Studio," the sweetest little yoga studio in the Hill Country, and she offers HOT yoga classes. I found her last September, and started teaching for her in October. She's full of light, totally inspiring, a great leader, funny as hell, and passionate about healing, and what yoga can do for us while we're here. She's truly a gift, and what she is doing in this small community matters. And I am blessed to be involved.

And so after the robbery in November, and 13 years in Austin, Texas, I set my sights on Wimberley, with my little red wagon in tow, full of journals, one turtle, several anxious chickens kicking around from under their seat belts, and one steadily beating heart. She had been asking me for this since returning on my magic yoga mat from training. It was a mandatory call for community. I didn't skip a beat as I loaded my things and headed deeper into the hills, and closer to that water.

As always, the story is unfolding everyday, and I love being a witness.

I found a magical cabin nestled amongst some pecan trees on that same Cypress Creek. I spent my morning yesterday with my mug of hot tea, sitting beside an enormous cypress tree, watching the water run over the rocks in that timeless, never-ending way, while above me on the bridge, the town parade went by, in honor of the Wimberley Highschool Football State Champs.

The yoga classes are growing. My desire to teach and connect with the students is so alive inside me. Chrislyn came with me, and that too, is a blessing. We don't know what to do with ourselves sometimes. And Rodney is closer to my heart, and my home these days. Life is flowing through me, with me, and I don't have to struggle against it as much. The 37-year-old South Austin chick has turned into a 41-year-old Wimberley resident. My little red wagon is parked down by the creek under the Cypress trees, taking a break for awhile... my chickens are in the back, basking in the January sun.