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.