Yesterday, I decided (upon hearing it may snow tonight!), to get the cushions off my patio furniture and bring them inside. As I turned a corner cushion over, I saw the trademark white webbing of a wolf spider's home and, indeed, two large brown spiders were not so happy with me.
The webby construction was unbelievably strong. I tried using a sprayer on the hose hoping the force would release its grip on my cushion. That didn't really work. Spider webs intended to catch food are constructed differently than than the web that serves as home and shelter for eggs. The typical webs we think of are constructed carefully. We weave our lives and our path via our choices. We too construct our lives in that sense.
Am I making wise choices?
Is my web constructed with conscious thought or carelessness?
How do my choices improve my life and the lives of those around me?
"He learned that the world is like an enormous spider web and if you touch it, however lightly, at any point, the vibration ripples to the remotest perimeter and the drowsy spider feels the tingle and is drowsy no more but springs out to fling the gossamer coils about you who have touched the web and then inject the black, numbing poison under your hide." (p.200) all the kings men
Do the ripple's your web creates inspire others, offer them your unique amazing energy or does your web suffocate them and steal their energy like a vampire?
I felt bad removing this webby attachment yesterday. I meant to the spiders no harm and knew they had gone to a lot of work to build their nest in such a protected spot. But as much as a web symbolizes the passage of time, it also symbolizes one's fate and one's journey. Does your web reach out in all directions allowing you to travel anywhere or does it hold you back and confine you to one space?
Favorite spider web quote (what? you don't have any spider web quote?!)
"spider web- noun= a thing you walk into which suddenly turns you into a karate master"
After class today, we all had vegan pumpkin bread and pumpkin spice hot chocolate. The recipes are below:
Vegan Pumpkin Bread
(2) 8″ x 4″ loaf pans
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup flaked coconut
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8″ x 4″ loaf pans.
2. Spread walnuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Toast in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add the pumpkin puree, oil, and coconut milk, and mix until all of the flour is absorbed. Fold in the flaked coconut and toasted walnuts. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
4. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and cover loaves tightly with foil. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. Remove foil, and turn out onto a cooling rack. Tent loosely with the foil, and allow to cool completely.
Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate
I simply use 1 packet of hot chocolate mix with hot water and milk and add 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix...and then we added whipped cream!
I really like Halloween. I like to decorate for it. I like to dress up. I like to see all the kids' costumes at my door. I remember last year two kids coming to my door where I usually have a huge jumping spider sitting close by. I activate the spider from inside but I always ask the kids first if they like to be scared; I don't want tears at my door!!! So I asked these two kids. One said yes. He looked to be about seven. The other said no. He was definitely in High School. I figured the older kid could handle the spider if the little kid could so I stepped on the button. The older kid about flew backwards off my step; the little kid laughed. Halloween could be looked at as a good time to address fears because the scary stuff about Halloween is all in jest. Better to deal with a fear of ghosts if they are little kids dressed up rather than real ones, right? So, we are picking up that witch's broom and sweeping away fear today. Fear makes us clutch onto things. It creates mindful clutter.
The word Jharu in Hindi means broom. Symbolically, it represents spiritual cleansing. The deity Lakshmi is the goddess of abundance, wealth, good fortune and good luck. But she is said to only frequent clean places. Alakshmi is Laksmi's older sister and she frequents dirty places; she brings about misfortune, greed and envy. She sounds scarier, right? So we sweep away the dirt, we sweep away the fear, we live in peace.
Today, we focused on "trick-onasana". A pose of balance, openess and expression.
"I don't know that there are real ghosts and goblins, but there are always more trick-or-treaters than neighborhood kids." ~Robert Brault
Some poses are tricky; some transitions are tricky. But the challenge makes them intriguing.
"He was like her favorite type of candy, she realized, a bit sour at first but all sweetness in the long run. Admittedly . . . that tartness was part of the allure all along.” ― Victoria Kahler, Their Friend Scarlet
A New Broom by Witt Wittmann
I bought a new broom today
and swept the cobwebs down,
A thick accumulation of dregs,
a mass of tangles and smut.
I whisked a conglomeration of dust
that forever stuck—inaccessible.
Lifted the rug under which was hidden
years of grime that
Made traversing treacherous
with things that trip you up.
I rolled that rug and cast it off
and pitched the whole mess out.
I bought a new broom today
and mucked about the house.
Gone are the indignities that cannot be untwined
from the unfulfilled goals and dreams,
Cleared the place of bitter resentments
secured with insecurities.
Shackling phobias, permanently pitched
with a flick of bristles strawy,
Dismal doubts and grubby grudges
all brushed not so effortlessly away.
I bought a new broom today
and swept the corners of my brain.
I was cycling through talk radio stations when I heard Kobe Bryant say the following: (This is not a theme about Kobe Bryant!)
“It’s not the first one, it’s not going to be the last one,” Bryant said. “The one thing I’ve come to understand over the years is that you’ll have a bad story that comes out on a Monday and it seems like it’s the end of the world. It seems like everybody is taking shots at you.
“But time goes by, and then you look back and it’s just a Monday. Right? Then have another great story that comes out maybe a month later or something like that and it’s a fantastic story. And then there’s a bad story that comes out a month after that.
“It’s a cycle. And things are never as good or as bad as they seem at the moment in time. So you stay focused on the big picture. Things are never really as bleak as they seem at the time. I just kind of roll with it.”
I asked my son what Bryant was referring to because I wanted to use this quote out of context. After Adam chastised me for wanting to quote Bryant on anything, I decided to carry on. Because, out of context, isn't this really a life quote?
Some days do seem so horrible we wonder how we will continue on and then, before we know it, we have mustered through and the bad day is now a mere memory. People say bad things about everyone. It's hurtful and sad but people also say really nice things about each other, which help us forget or at least tune out the bad comments.
I like the part where he says time goes by and it's just another Monday. It's true, right? Someone can hurt your feelings on any day of the week; what are you going to do with your reaction? How will you choose to react? What will you do with your emotions?
"It only hurts when I breathe. It only hurts when I try. It only hurts when I think. It only hurts when I cry. It only hurts when I work. It only hurts when I play. It only hurts when I move. It only hurts when I say it's just another day."
Everything can feel like it hurts: your spirit, your mind, your body. But giving in to the premise that it is just another day is hurtful to yourself.
A quote offering perspective: "On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that is pretty good."
I read a quote this morning attributed to Buddha (though some argue it is not one of his) that had a great ending to it that read, "Let go of things not meant for you". In yoga, we talk a lot about letting go of what you no longer need or what no longer serves you. But, sometimes, not only is this hard to do, we might even recognize that we don't want to. Hanging onto "stuff" is comforting because it is familiar. So are the emotions attached to it. Letting go also means we have to put in some work and we may not be ready or willing to do so.
But, if we reword this letting go of what no longer serves you to letting go of what wasn't meant for you, doesn't it seem easier? Like, why would I want to hang onto someone else's stuff, right?! Here's an example. Let's say Jane is having a really bad day and she takes it out on me saying really hurtful things. The sadness or anger I may feel is mine, in a sense, because I feel it but since emotions are temporary...it isn't really mine, is it? And because Jane is having the bad day are the repercussions of that really meant for me? I think not. I let go with the mantra "I do not have to feel this way" and let Jane own her own stuff.
I stumbled across the following piece of writing called "Let It Go" by T.D. Jakes. I edited out portions so google if you want the full version...
"There are people who can walk away from you. And hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you: let them walk.
I don't want you to try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you. I mean hang up the phone. When people can walk away from you let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left...
People leave you because they are not joined to you. And if they are not joined to you, you can't make them stay. Let them go. And it doesn't mean that they are a bad person it just means that their part in the story is over. And you've got to know when people's part in your story is over so that you don't keep trying to raise the dead. You've got to know when it's dead. You've got to know when it's over. Let me tell you something. I've got the gift of good-bye. It's the tenth spiritual gift, I believe in good-bye. It's not that I'm hateful, it's that I'm faithful, and I know whatever God means for me to have He'll give it to me. And if it takes too much sweat I don't need it. Stop begging people to stay. Let them go!! If you are holding on to something that doesn't belong to you and was never intended for your life, then you need to . . . . . . . . LET IT GO!!! If you are holding on to past hurts and pains . . . . . . . . . LET IT GO!!! If someone can't treat you right, love you back, and see your worth . . . . . . . . LET IT GO!!! If someone has angered you . . . . . . . . LET IT GO!!! If you are holding on to some thoughts of evil and revenge . . . . . . . . LET IT GO!!! If you are involved in a wrong relationship or addiction . . . . . . . . LET IT GO!!! If you are holding on to a job that no longer meets your needs or talents . . . . . . . . . LET IT GO!!! If you have a bad attitude . . . . . . . . LET IT GO!!! If you keep judging others to make yourself feel better . . . . . . . . LET IT GO!!! If you're stuck in the past . . . . . . . . LET IT GO!!! If you are struggling with the healing of a broken relationship . . . . . . . . LET IT GO!!! If you keep trying to help someone who won't even try to help themselves . . . . . . . .LET IT GO!!! If you're feeling depressed and stressed . . . . . . . . LET IT GO!!! If there is a particular situation that you are so used to handling yourself and God is saying "take your hands off of it," then you need to . . . . . . . . LET IT GO!!! ..."
I love the line that says "don't keep trying to raise the dead"...why? Because your imagination can see how gruesome that would be so why would we allow our minds to hang out there?
"Let go of things not meant for you."
I had been sitting at the table for hours helping with homework when it occurred to me I didn't have a yoga theme yet planned for this morning. My son said, "Yes you do. You just don't know it yet."
That made me think of all the times I tell people you really do have all the answers you need within you. I am certain many figuratively shake their heads and think, no I don't. But we do have all the answers we need for us (not for everyone else, mind you!). But we just may not know or recognize them yet.
“I don't get it,' Caroline said, bemused. 'She's the only one with wings. Why is that?'
There were so many questions in life. You couldn't ever have all the answers. But I knew this one.
It's so she can fly,' I said. Then I started to run.”
― Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever
There are so many questions in life, but we do have all the answers. She didn't have wings because her answer was to run. Where we get hung up is in our expectations of what the answers should be. If I am thinking she has wings so I should have wings, I am stuck in the cycle of thought that I should have wings. Even if a wise friend were to say, no you have legs, you should run, I probably wouldn't hear them because I am so focused on wings, right?
Where has your focus led you? Are you stuck in a thought process and seems to not have an answer? Could it be you are focused on the wrong answer???
Take yoga, for example. The yoga poses are not the answer to yoga. They are a distraction for your ego mind so you can push thoughts aside and get to your answers. But if I am on mat and all I see are my legs and arms moving into poses, it is as though I am focused on the idea of wings again. When I move past the cyclical thought that yoga is about poses and transitioning to poses and conquering poses, then I am able to see the true answer that yoga is more about the spiritual and mental bodies than the physical. And that is where we keep all the answers...inside with our Higher Self, not outside stuck in handstand.
Write down five things that your mind has been stuck on lately. My mind has definitely been focused on something I refuse to give power to by saying it or writing it down because I do believe what you think or say is what comes back to you. But, I will tell you it's about the illness that has leached here from Africa. And as I was describing it on my piece of paper, I suddenly realized my "wrong answer". I should not be focused on that...I should be focusing on health.
What did you write down? How can you turn it around so you are left with a positive answer? Now that I have a new focus and a mantra of "thank you for my family being healthy", I feel stronger and have shifted my vibration into a more positive state.
“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”
― Neil Gaiman
After I sat down and wrote this this morning, I took the dog for a walk and added this next part; I honestly do not make this stuff up! Izzo and I were walking and he suddenly went into stalk mode. His steps slowed, his ears went up and his gaze locked onto something up ahead. I tightened my gripon the leash preparing for a greyhound take off. Did you know it only takes a greyhound three or four strides from standing to hit 45mph? I looked ahead trying to find the rabbit he had spotted or the cat or the squirrel. I did not see any one of those things. As we moved stealthily closer to whatever he was locked in on, a bird suddenly flew from the ground into a tree and he jumped trying to follow. I laughed and told him out loud that the problem he faced was the bird had wings where he only had legs, which all proved to offer a different answer to the question in his head, can I catch that bird?
As most of you know, we recently rescued a greyhound who we renamed Izzo , after the MSU basketball coach, Tom Izzo (yes, I know he is holding a football!). For three weeks, we tried to be patient waiting for the new fence to go in. We took a lot of walks every day but could tell this dog really wanted his freedom to run somewhere, anywhere. On Tuesday, the fence was complete. I took Izzo out into the backyard with me and he just meandered around checking out places to sniff where the bunnies had been sitting earlier that morning. He paused to look through the fence but I am not sure he actually saw it. I finally distracted him by throwing him a ball and when he went to pounce on it, that is when he realized for the first time he was free! He ran and ran and ran! He ran circles around the yard, behind the trampoline, up over one set of steps to the deck and flew off the other. He was so happy! But he hadn't known he was free to do whatever he wanted until I told him. An imaginary leash bound him until a bouncing racquetball distraction set him free.
In the same way Rosa Luxemburg wrote, "Those who do not move, do not notice their chains", one could also say those who do not move do not notice the chains are gone.
Consider some of the things you would like to do but, for some reason or another, feel you cannot. What are those reasons? Do they really exist? Are they invisible ties someone else put there that really do not exist? For example, if someone told you that you could not be a doctor because you are not smart enough, they created this imaginary chain labeled stupid that holds you back if you believe it. Question the chains and the labels. Believe in yourself. Try whatever it is you felt you could not do to see if, in the moving forward, you actually find you are free to follow that path. Like Izzo with his imaginary leash.
When we realize anything and everything is possible, we begin to open up to the Universe to let it know that as well and the manifestation of our desires begins to emerge before us.
I was outside yesterday in the back yard with Izzo. I was weeding; he was not! He was running along the side fence with two of the neighbor's dogs. I could tell he really wanted the fence to be gone so he could run and play with them. Luckily for Izzo, one of the dogs is an escape artist... a very quiet one! It wasn't until I stood and turned that I realized the other dog was in my yard and the two were wrestling and playing! I swear Izzo's desire for a playmate manifested because he wanted it bad enough. The dogs never barked out their plans. There must have been a very silent digging and sliding under the fence and then a very quiet greeting and play because I didn't have any idea what was going on behind me!
Even the actual barrier of the fence became imaginary as the dogs figured out a different way through their obstacle to get what they wanted. What is your obstacle? How can you move around it (or underneath it, as the case may be!)?
There are endless quotes about how we, ourselves, have helped put up our walls. We have handcuffed our own wrists. We have double knotted the ties that no one else can see.
"The biggest obstacles in our lives are the Barriers our mind creates..." unknown
Lastly, I do not usually quote politicians but this one seemed non-political and appropriate:
"There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect." Ronald Reagan
I saw my favorite band play on Friday night. I think I've seen them play 2 or 3 times before but, this time, Fleetwood Mac sounded better than ever. Lindsay Buckingham, on guitar, was so emotionally invested. It made me think about how we hone our craft as we age and it becomes something different than what it was when we started. He spoke a lot about new chapters in the band's journey and their evolvement.
The definition of evolve is to "develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form." I kind of like that. I do feel like a much more complex form in a simpler way, it you know what I mean.
Lindsay Buckingham created this yoga theme when he said that the song "Big Love" was once about alienation to him when he was younger. But he now sees the song as a meditation on the importance of change.
Looking out for love
In the night so still
Oh I'll build you a kingdom
In that house on the hill
You said that you love me
And that you always will
Oh you begged me to keep you
In that house on the hill
I wake up alone
With it all
I wake up
But only to fall
Looking out for love
Big, big love
I love that about perspective. It's why I really don't mind the years going by. No one wants to get older but we do. So being content with that and our evolution and growing wisdom seems to be a better choice to me than not. I can say pretty defiantly I would not go back in years. I used to say I would if I could take my knowledge with me. But, if that were the case, I would be on a completely different path with different knowledge than I hold right now and I would still be able to say I would go back if I could with the knowledge I have now. Do you see? It's still a never ending circle so be happy where you are.
"But time makes you bolder, Even children get older, And I'm getting older too..." Landslide lyrics
"The song has changed meaning as the band has aged, but it remained a part of their set list throughout their career. "When Stevie wrote that, she was probably 25 or 24," Lindsey Buckingham told Rolling Stone in 2013. "She wasn't exactly 'getting older.' Now, that line certainly resonates with a far deeper perspective." songfacts.com
Pause for a moment to think about how your life has evolved, how you have evolved, how your yoga practice has evolved...
Stevie Nicks talked about her first teenage love as an inspiration in her writing. I am paraphrasing but she said something like if you don't use your inspirations, you miss heading down those paths.
I asked my class to write down three things or people that inspire them. The first three things that popped into my mind are hawks, ocean waves and warm breezes. They all immediately have my complete attention. What are yours? How can you use their energy to access the next stage on your path?
"Man improves himself as he follows his path; if he stands still, waiting to improve before he makes a decision, he'll never move." ~ Paulo Coelho
I was wearing my 'choose happiness" bracelet yesterday. Someone working in an office noticed it and said they really liked it because, being in an office, it only takes one person with bad energy to come in and ruin everyone's day. I thought about that awhile. You do run into certain people who make you so upset that you find yourself still upset hours after they leave. But, I question, is that on them or on you? What you decide to do with the bad energy or bad experience is really up to you, isn't it? Because the other person has long since departed and moved on!
Have a mantra as a tool in the back of your mind for times such as these.
-I am grateful.
-Infinite love and gratitude (Darren Weissman)
-I don't have to feel this way
-I choose happiness
I gave everyone in a class a piece of paper and asked them to read it. The paper simply said "happiness". Then I asked them to turn their heads to the right and look at the studio's burgundy wall, which they did. (You can try this right now before reading any farther.) This afforded me the perfect opportunity to offer a quote by Lama Thubten Yeshs, which reads:
"Happiness: It’s Here, But We’re Looking Over There."
Every single yogi was holding happiness in their hands yet they all willingly turned away from it when asked to do so. Take the analogy that me having them turn their heads away is like the grumpy person coming into an office and venting. What do you choose? I asked them to think about why they would turn away from what was right before them in their hands...happiness...just because I had asked them to. (Yes, I know I set them up!)
Here's a Buddhist story called Because I'm Here:
An old monk was sweeping the yard in a monastery under the scorching sun.
Another monk passed by and asked him, "How old are you?"
The old monk replied, "I'm seventy-seven."
"You are so old! Why are you still working so hard here?"
"Well, because I'm here."
"But why are you working under the scorching sun?"
"Because the sun is there."
The scorching sun is the grumpy visitor to the office. But here, the monk does not get caught up in the sun's drama; he just keeps on staying in his present.
Check out the following link for another story on choosing happiness!
And, in the meantime, carry around your own happiness.