Thursday, August 25, 2016



Turn to page 103 of the nearest book and make the last word of that page the first word of your next blog post. That's what the prompt said to do.* 

I picked up Richard Rohr's The Naked Now and turned to page 103. The last word is "elsewhere."

In so many ways, it's such an appropriate word to begin with. In so many ways, it's the perfect word to describe my summer. I've had a summer of elsewhere

I've traveled a ton, sleeping about a third of the nights in the past few months in beds that are not in my own home. I've been on many airplanes, rolled many miles in rental cars (though they were kilometers while I was in Canada). Even as I write this, I'm sitting on a beach on the North Carolina shore, where we are staying this week. I am elsewhere this very moment. 

It's the week before life settles back into a familiar rhythm of school mornings and dance/tae kwon do afternoons. The suitcases used during the summer of elsewhere will be put away in the attic and I will be (for the most part) staying home. 

I see the word elsewhere and I ask myself, am I ready to be settled? Am I ready for the everyday, in and out, repetition that is my life as a mom? Or will my heart still be elsewhere?

It's a bit of a contradiction, really. I'm more homebody than a thrill-seeker. I don't love the unexpected. I'm a bit of a scaredy-cat, really. But I AM a free spirit and, reluctantly I admit, disinterred in being bored. 

My life is lovely and I'm grateful for it. I have a wonderful little family and a small, quaint home with two beloved old dogs. I have yoga classes to teach, delightful students who make my heart feel full. It's all good

And yet. 

I'm under the beach tent and the wind is whipping through my pony tail. Waves crash on the shore, in my line of sight just beyond my fingertips as they tap this post on the screen of my iPhone, which is enclosed in a plastic baggie to protect it from the sand and salt. I am peaceful, happy, content here. The summer of elsewhere is still my reality and yet, the reality of life at home looms. 

I've run all over this summer. I've played and learned and rested and worked. I've been challenged and tried to heal my bruised-up heart. I've attempted to find elsewhere all the things I haven't found at home, while being still. 

And now it's time to reorient. To get small. To stay in one place. To make soup and volunteer in my kids' classrooms and to wash loads of laundry with leotards and school uniforms, to find the martial arts belts and homework folders they've misplaced and to start to make lists of all the things needed to make a magical Christmas for everyone, including me. 

Can being home be enough?

Or will I long for elsewhere?

*this is another prompt from Micah Murray's Make Blogging Fun Again course. Check it out.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Thank you,

I am not always an early adopter. It took me years to try gelato. We just signed up for Netflix, like, two years ago. I'm thinking about getting a pair of UGGs this winter. I can't even with Snapchat. I'm not exactly what you would call "cutting edge."

Which is why I just signed up for at the beginning of the summer, while the rest of y'all did this years ago. And can I just tell you? It is changing my life. Or at least the way I read.

I'm a mom of three elementary-aged kids, which means basically that I am a professional taxi driver. I've also had a job where I worked 20 to 30 hours a week on average. Add to that I'm a girl who needs 8-9 hours of sleep each night to minimally function, and let's just say my reading time has gone way down hill since my kids gave up napping at age 2. is amazing. Because now I can read while I exercise, while I do the laundry or the dishes, while I drive yet another leg of carpool, while I lay in bed with my eyes closed ready to fall asleep.

This makes me happy because I love reading. But the necessities of my life have prevented much it. (Save my once a year beach trip week, where I do nothing but sit in a chair with my feet in the sand and read book after book after book). (Listening to audiobooks also counts for my library summer reading program, for which I can earn fine waivers for all the times I'm late returning the hardback books I checked out but never actually read. Winning!)

My first listen was Brené Brown's Rising Strong. I actually own this book in hardcover, and as much as I love all her other books, I just couldn't get into reading this one. But I downloaded it on Audible for one last go. And guess stuck! I love Brené Brown's personality and listening to her read her stories in Rising Strong was so much more compelling than reading them myself. If you're a fan of her work like I am, but RS isn't doing anything for you, try listening to it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Next was Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Big Magic is one of those books I saw everybody on the inter-webs talking about, including Brené Brown. I enjoyed reading Gilbert's memoir Eat, Pray, Love, so I was open to reading more of her work. Over the last couple of years I have been trying to embrace more of my creative side with writing and art, and so a book on creativity seemed like a good idea. So, Big Magic it was.

I liked Big Magic a lot. I felt inspired, and found Elizabeth Gilbert really funny. It made me feel brave and more confident to get myself out there with my creativity. Some of it was a little weird, but I'm a yoga teacher, so I'm OK with weird. If you want to boost your imagination, read Big Magic.

I fell in love with social science my sophomore year of college, under the guidance of a wonderfully wacky professor named Arlene Eskilson. It's this love of social science that led me to Malcolm Gladwell a few years back. I hadn't read David and Goliath, one of his newer books, yet. This book is a fascinating look at why underdogs are not always what they seem and why sometimes those who are least likely to prevail actually are most likely to prevail. I'll just say, it was an interesting read during the primary campaign season. 😳 I enjoyed it a good bit, and will be listening to more Malcolm Gladwell in the near future.

Next up was Jen Hatmaker's For The Love. Y'all, Jen Hatmaker is funny. F-U-N-N-Y. I saw her speak at a conference a couple of years back and I honestly appreciated her comedy every bit as much as I appreciated her profound things to say about Jesus. With Jen Hatmaker, it's a both/and. 

This book felt a little stream of consciousness or like a collection of personal essays or maybe some blog posts. I loved it. I laughed, cried, felt seen and known as a mom, and was convicted as a follower of Jesus. Jen Hatmaker can do it all. Also, you also get a few recipes. What more could you want?

Now I am listening to The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. Anyone I know who teaches trauma-informed yoga says it's a must read. So far (about 3 hours into a 16 hour book), it's been a history of van der Kolk's career history working with people who have experienced trauma. Listening to his journey is fascinating, as is hearing how it parallels our growing cultural consciousness of trauma and its effects. I have to listen in small doses or else I get a bit overwhelmed. But I am glad to be learning.


As I was in the middle of writing this post, I caught this from CNN in my Twitter feed: "Relax, readers: Audiobooks aren't 'cheating,'" Yes. For me, for now, this is how I can nurture my love of books and reading. Thank you, Thank you, thank you, thank you.

*this is my second post from the Make Blogging Fun Again course by Micah J. Murray. If you want some blogging inspiration, check out this class. Worth it.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Wandering in the Desert + a Christmas letter in August

My friend Micah introduced a new blogging course a week or so ago. Micah is an amazing writer and knows his stuff when it comes to blogging. I clearly need a kick in the pants when it comes to this, since I've posted practically nothing here for two years.

It's not that I haven't been doing anything, it's not that I haven't been living stories worth telling. It's not even that I haven't been writing (if you count stream-of-consciousness journaling on airplanes and long Instagram captions as writing, which in this season of life, I do). I just haven't been blogging. I haven't been following the sage advice of Anne Lamott: "Butt in chair. Just do it."

So when Micah posted about his Make Blogging Fun Again course, I figured that was a good place to start.

Our first prompt is to write a Christmas update letter. So awesome. Never mind that it's August and 90 degrees out. Never mind that I probably have exactly two readers at this point (Hi, Mom! Hi, Rae!). Never mind that I never really know what to say in Christmas letters even when I have a peppermint mocha in hand and the Nutcracker soundtrack streaming through my earbuds. Never mind all that. Let's go.
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A few weeks ago, I attended the Simply Jesus Gathering in Eagle, Colorado. What an amazing four days! The gathering centered on the life and teachings of Jesus, a stripped-down, non-churchy set of conversations about how people have encountered Jesus. I got to meet and hear many teachers and writers that I have admired for a while, through their books and the fount of wisdom that is Twitter.

One of those people was Idelette, the founder of SheLoves Magazine.

There was a time for conversation and prayer with the person next to you. Just so happens I was next to Idelette. We shared about a little about our current stories, a little about what was being stirred for us so far at Simply Jesus. Idelette asked me, "if you were to describe your life right now in one word, what would it be?" Without hesitation, I answered, "desert." She smiled and replied, "did you know that 'desert' means 'to listen'?" I replied that I did not, but thought to myself, "that's about right."

2016 hasn't been the easiest so far. In January we made the heartbreaking decision to leave the church we'd been part of for five years. In May God called me to step away from my job in yoga ministry, asking me to walk away from two programs I co-founded and couldn't have been more passionate about. In June our oldest kid graduated from elementary school, reminding me that this time with my littles is going way too fast. Our favorite mailman retired. (And Gary the Mailman deserves his own post. Soon, I promise). And the tiny, white puff of fur puppy that the cute roommate of my friend Timmy just adopted in 2001 is now my husband's and my very old dog, losing her sight and hearing and senses and control of her bladder, and every day I look at her and wonder if 2016 will be the year we have to let her go, too.

It's been a lot of loss, this 2016. Zora Neale Hurston wrote, "There are years that ask questions and years that answer." 2016 seems to be one of the former. I keep thinking about what Idelette said to me, about desert meaning to listen. So often there are questions and we want immediate answers. Over the course of this year, I've prayed a lot, asking God to answer me. Where are we supposed to go to church? What am I supposed to do for work? Who is supposed to be our spiritual community? How are we supposed to nurture and support and raise these kids in the way they should go? How are we supposed to know when to take our sweet girl to the vet for the very last time?

God isn't being super forthcoming with the answers. What I do hear is, "Wait. Relax. Be quiet. I'm right here. Listen."

And so I try.

I cling to the story of Jesus in the wilderness. The Bible says that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. He met the satan while there, but it was the Spirit that led Jesus there. And in those encounters in the desert, Jesus became more of who he was meant to be. He was tested, but was refined by that testing. When he emerged from the wilderness, he was weak, but he was also oh, so strong.

I don't know how long this wilderness season will be. But I do know that I'm being prepared for something through it all. And while I wait in the desert, I long to listen, and to listen well.
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So, that ended up being a lot more intense than what I intended when I sat down to write. Isn't this supposed to be about making blogging fun again? Sheesh. :) 

What I intended to tell you about was:
+ The wonderful online class on creative prayer I had the privilege to lead this winter.

+ Becoming the first Opening Yoga Instructor with Mind Body Solutions, which means I've got deeper training to work with yoga students with disabilities. Yay! (Thanks to my student partner, Kati, for her willingness to learn and partner with me).

+ And being an ambassador for the very first Kids Yoga Day on April 8th.

+ The friends I made out in Arizona in May, who let me lead them in some yoga and opened their hearts to me, and helped me feel accepted, known, and loved.

+ The incredible week I spent in Minnesota in June with my teachers, mentors, friends at MBS, learning more about adaptive yoga and healing the deepest broken places of my heart. (Also getting to see some of my other favorite friends, including Micah!)

+ My oldest going en pointe. Squeal!

+ My middle winning her school's art contest to honor MLK with a poem about unity.

+ My baby losing his front teeth, confirming for me that I am no longer mama to any little, little kids. (Waah!)

+ Our awesome family trip to Ontario, Canada.
In front of the CN tower in Toronto
The Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park
Niagra Falls Boat Selfie
+ The way these ladies love and support me, even though we aren't all going to the same church anymore. As it turns out, we all still love the same Jesus.

+ How I am so excited to be a presenter at the National Kids Yoga Conference in Washington DC September 30-October 1 with my bestie and ministry/business partner, Rachel.

+ Oh, and the Simply Jesus Gathering in July. Where I was broken wide open to both the hurt in this world and the possibility of healing as we grow into the people Jesus has made us to be. (Pictured Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts and Pastor Ricky Bolden).

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I love this quote by Glennon Melton. "Life is brutal. But it’s also beautiful. Brutiful, I call it. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together so tightly that they can’t be separated. Reject the brutal, reject the beauty. So now I embrace both, and I live well and hard and real." 

Maybe that's exactly what this post is about, for me anyway. Learning to see the brutiful fullness of this year so far. If you're still reading, thank you. I'm grateful for your company on my journey.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Yoga for Dancers

"In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well." - Romans 12:6a NLT

When my oldest was 3, she told me she wanted to be a ballerina. At the time I thought, "of course you do--you're a 3-year-old girl. Who doesn't want to be a ballerina when she's 3?" We signed up for a Creative Movement class at the nearest ballet studio, and it was love at first position.

She's 11 now. She dances five days a week for hours on end. When she's not at the studio, she's writing choreography, working on her splits, or reading POINTE magazine. She still wants to be a ballerina.

She's a lovely dancer. There's a light in her when she's on the studio floor/stage, like this is what she was made for. I believe she has a God-given gift. 

And yet, I wouldn't say she's a natural. Poor baby inherited some tight hips, hamstrings, and calves from her daddy and me. She has to work really hard to gain flexibility. Mama also contributed some scrawny arms, so there's that, too.

And that's where yoga comes in.

Yoga is a complimentary practice to her dancing. It helps in her physicality. It also helps ground her in the other aspects of her humanity. It teaches her patience, perseverance, self-acceptance, focus, and to connect to things outside of herself. She says yoga makes her feel refreshed. But I'll be honest. She loves it because it helps her dancing.

Here are some poses that can be helpful for dancers (and non-dancers, too). *

Reclined Big Toe Pose Supta Padangusthasana
Lying on your back, place a strap across the ball of one foot. (If you don't have a yoga strap, an old belt or tie works, too). Extend the belted foot leg and stack your ankle over your hip. Lengthen through the down leg and gently turn your toes toward your shin. Turn your down leg in a little so all five toes are pointed skyward. Feel long from the bottom of the down leg through the top of the head. With the extended leg, imagine the back of your knee opening gently, like the petals of a rose. Use the strap to guide your toes towards your shin. Avoid locking your knees to protect your joints. Stay here for 5-6 breath cycles. Repeat on the opposite side.

Crescent Lunge Pose Alanasana
Take a big step back with one leg, landing on the ball of the back foot. The front leg bends toward a 90-degree angle/L-shape. Give your back leg a slight internal rotation so that your kneecap is facing straight forward and slightly down toward your mat. Zip up through your belly muscles. Stack your shoulders over your hips. On an inhale, sweep your fingers up towards the sky and grow a little longer in your fingers. Then tuck your shoulder blades down a little...imagine you were putting them in your back pockets. Breathe softly in and out through your nose for 5-6 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Downward Facing Dog Pose Adho Mukha Svanasana
Bring your hands towards the front of your mat and step your feet towards the back of your mat. Spread your fingers out nice and wide. Your hands should feel strong, but not rigid. Bend your knees a lot and take your tush high...feel your spine get really long here. Keep the length of your spine and the height of your sitting bones and start to drop your heels towards the mat, keeping all ten toes facing forward. Don't worry if your heels don't drop all the way. Keep lengthening the spine and backs of the legs so you look like an upside down "V." After 5-6 breath cycles, step both feet forward into our next pose, Forward Fold.

Standing Forward Fold Uttanasana
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bring your hands to your shins (or in line with your toes, if you're feeling super bendy). Lengthen through your spine and flatten your back. Gently draw the backs of your thighs back and get longer through the top of the head. Keep your shoulders soft...away from the ears, with the shoulder blades on the back side of the heart. On an exhale, fold forward, bringing your head towards your knees. Be gentle to yourself! Don't force this pose (or you'll risk hurting yourself!). Where you are today is just perfect. Three breath cycles here.

High to Low Plank Pose Chaturanga Dandasana
Start on your hands and knees, with your hands spread wide (like Down Dog), placed under your shoulders. Extend your legs and balance on your tip toes. Feel long from your heels through the top of your head. Keep your elbows hugged in to your sides, but feel a widening across the front and back of your heart space. Press the floor away from you. To move to Low Plank, roll even further on to your tippy toes and start to bend your elbows. Lower down no further than 90 degrees (L-shape) and keep your elbows in at the chicken wings! Stay here for 1-5 breaths (and be kind to yourself if this is hard for you--it's a super challenging pose!). Carefully lower all the way to the floor.

Cobra Pose Bhujangasana
Bring your hands underneath your shoulders. Remember how we hold our hands? (Fingers spread nice & wide). Press your big toes towards the back of your mat and slightly turn your inner thighs in towards each other. Imagine the arc of a rainbow. Begin at the base of your spine. With each vertebrae, continue to make the rainbow shape as you lift the spine and come into a backbend. Keep the hip points on your mat as you press the floor away with your hands. Open your heart on the front and back side. Hold the pose for 4 breaths, then make a pillow for your forehead with your hands and rest here for 4 breaths.

Bound Angle Pose Baddha Konasana
Sit on your bum and bring the soles of your feet together so that your legs make a diamond shape. The closer your feet come to your sitting bones, the more intense the stretch...but you want to make sure you can keep your spine nice and long, so if your back starts to round, take your feet out a little further. Breathe in and press your sitting bones into the floor and extend out the top of your head. On your next inhale, hinge forward with your hips and elbows until you feel a good stretch for you. Stay here for three breath cycles, then release.

Pigeon Pose (modified) Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Start in Downward Facing Dog Pose. Bring your right knee behind your right wrist, then bring your right foot toward the left edge of your yoga mat. Lower your hips and stretch your left leg behind you with your knee cap pointed towards the mat. Keep your hips level with the floor, not dumping into one hip bone or the other. Walk your hands forward until your are folded forward over your bent knee. (If your knee hurts, bring your foot a little closer in). Breathe here for 7-8 breaths, then return to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat on the left side. Sometimes people feel a little emotional in this pose. If that happens for you, know it's totally normal!

We hope these poses help you as you dance through life, with joy and rhythm!

*this post is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or treatment for anyone. Check with your doctor to make sure yoga is right for your body and always listen to what your body is telling you. If something doesn't feel right for you, it probably isn't. Participating in any exercise is done so at your own risk. The author of this blog assumes no responsibility for any injury related to what you've learned here, and recommends you practice yoga under the guidance of a trained yoga teacher.