The holidays have arrived and with them all of the emotions, traditions, and rituals that have been a part of our culture for decades: big feasts, family get-togethers, cheery music, sugary sweets, incessant (and sometimes frantic) shopping, planning, and movement. While I love this time of year, it also stirs up something for me that resembles stress (so much to do, so little time!), anxiety (can I find the perfect gift for everyone? will my gifts truly demonstrate how much I love all of these people?), and fear (will I have enough money to buy all of these wonderful gifts without facing a debt hang-over?). So while I'm excited about what awaits this month, I am also a bit resistant. Here we go again...
This Thanksgiving week though, I was reminded why we do this "holiday" thing with a frightening text from my sister: "Hey - I just wanted to let you know that I've been in a pretty bad car accident and am on my way to the ER." Whaaap! Just like that, with my heart in my stomach and my fingers shakily attempting a reply text, I was brought back to the very important Now: the very important reality of how precious every single breath is -- the restless holiday monkeys of my mind falling to their death. While my sister is technically okay, there are a million different "could-have" twists that would have left us in extreme tragedy this holiday if they would have happened: but they didn't. Thank God. Because of this event, Thanksgiving took on a different tone this year -- instead of sitting on our phones or hyper-focusing on taking pictures of our cute holiday outfits, we gave ourselves the gift of Being. Together. And the Grace that is the gift of my sister(s) (and my parents, and my cousins, and my husband, daughter, grandfather, nephew, aunts, uncles) hung around her like magic dust that day: she was enough. Just having her with me, able to stand and breathe and laugh and share her thoughts, her stories, her heart.
So, when my hubby and I ventured out to brave the Black Friday crowds so that he could get some cheap beer-making supplies (that's how we roll in the Alexander household ;)), I couldn't help but watch it all from a removed point-of-view, as if I was floating above the 40-yard cash register lines, the aggressive drivers, and the burgeoning credit card bills. And what I saw was that, while there's something kinda sick about all of it, there's also something really sweet about it too: people are JUST DYING to show their tribe how much they love each other by buying all this sh*t and wrapping it up: trying so desperately to say "you mean something I can't even put into words to me."
And while I get it, I still think there's a better way. This year, I am trying to let the Being with these people who are my family members and friends and coworkers be enough; I am going to capitalize on extra time with them, thanks to the holiday season, and open up my eyes to the gifts that their presence brings me just by their existence. How I'd love to witness that "floating aura of Grace" around them during, not just this season, but every day... how I wish that just sitting with them and being in their field of light could be enough. But, good golly, I'm still a human. Which means that I probably still will buy everyone (and myself ;)) a little something this year, that's probably on sale, with free shipping. And I think that's okay too. And so, as usual, I am attempting to walk the tight rope between celebrating the traditions of our human tribe while trying not to fall into their fearful and sometimes stressful traps.
With all that being said, this week's yoga classes will aim to do this for all of us: detoxifying any residual holiday emotional, physical or spiritual cray-cray (including left-over tryptophan and cranberry sauce), and then giving students the quiet, restorative space to just "Be" as they are, which is, of course, enough. Completely enough, no matter faults, mistakes, not-good enough Christmas gifts, weight, clothes, or post-Black Friday debt. Meet me on the mat for these classes this week, and if you want more information on staying balanced during the holiday, join me for my specialty Ancient Ayurvedic Secrets to Relieving Holiday Stress workshop at Haleybird Studios next Saturday!
This week, my "moment" happened while I was pumping. No, not water from a well, but breast milk from my boobs. ;) For those of you who don't know, I have a four month old daughter who has been the source of so much spiritual understanding and inspiration for me and, undeniably, so many of my revelations come to me in these moments of bare-chested connectivity to the miraculous, abundant power of Life and all that Is -- the truth that my own body can sustain a life. However, this week my "moment" happened while attached to my plastic milking machine (aka my breast pump), which is, admittedly, a bit less romantic.
While I pump, I usually catch up on emails, update something on my website, check my Facebook or scroll through Pinterest, but for some reason, I decided to go back and read my old blog entries from my summer trip to Uganda two years ago. Reading them was like hovering over the past and watching it from heaven, gazing upon this really challenging period of my life with an objective, tranquil eye, one far removed from the deeply traumatic, scary, and upsetting experiences of the trip. I couldn't help but weep with joy when I thought about how uncertain and scared and hopeless I felt during that trip: nearly ready to throw my hands up and say forget it to the whole freaking project that I started there, and how, from this more restful place in the future, those scary moments seem so small, the beauty and importance of the trip now so clearly overshadowing the darkness.
And how beautiful is it that here I sit, a year and a half later, in a totally different place, with new people heading the projects on the ground, new excitement budding through the inspirational students at Pewaukee High School, and new developments evolving that I never could have dreamed up myself. And from this vantage point, I realize the necessity of those terrible months completely -- I needed to live through every moment of that trip so that I could live in the much more peaceful, ordered now. Oh, if only I could have, just as Maya Angelou says, "trust[ed] life a little bit," I could have saved myself from so much grief.
But isn't it so human to be so embedded in the story of the now that it's easy to forget about the Great Spirit, the Wise One who knows how to make chaos into order, new skin from a scab, and wildflowers from organic decay? As I venture into this new phase of my life, with my husband traveling the majority of the time, my new business taking off, and most importantly, my role as a mother unfolding, I am reminded that whatever is happening on the surface is only an illusion, masking what's being born underneath it all, that of which I can only dream and will only fully understand from my final vantage point in the heavens.
With this being said, all of my yoga classes this week will be about entering this place of relaxed awareness -- a place where we can be softer, more open as a way to invite the sacred feminine in, becoming soft enough for the juicy, gooey creative nectar of God to work through us and our experiences no matter how sweet or bitter they seem right now. So, you guessed it, we'll spend time with the more feminine 2nd, 4th and 6th chakras with flowing, gentle, juicy practices that remind us to crack back open, get out of our Own way, and let the Great Spirit move on through
Yoga Teacher and Student, Speaker, Writer, Mother, Wife, Friend, Daughter, Sister, Human