Monday, September 30, 2013

Yoga: My Roadmap Home by Rosalyn Fay

There I was, standing in a forward bend watching tears drop on my yoga mat below my head and glad they were indistinguishable from the drops of sweat around them. It seemed like I couldn't get through a yoga class without crying. I wasn't sure why but the simple act of doing yoga would bring up waves of pent up emotion.

“Crying is one of the highest devotional songs. One who knows crying, knows spiritual practice. If you can cry with a pure heart, nothing else compares to such a prayer. Crying includes all the principles of Yoga.” ― Kripalvanandji

My decade long marriage was ending and marriage counseling wasn't working. My recent discovery of yoga was a godsend. Yoga became my therapy; a safe place to go inside and feel what was true for me. The truth was I didn't know who I was anymore. I felt I'd passively handed over a decade of my life to a man I had little in common with because I was young and scared and he was older and wiser. I was turning 30 and I wanted my life back. I'd allowed the safety net of our marriage to close around me. All I could think about was getting free. That freedom came in the form of my daily yoga practice. My body and spirit craved it. On days my mind felt lazy, my body picked me up, grabbed my mat and drove me to class.

Just like the cliché, I told my husband that I was leaving to "find myself." I had no idea what that meant or where I was going. All I knew was that my marriage felt dependent on me staying the same woman and wife I'd been, and that was no longer possible.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means "union with the divine." During my marriage I had lost touch with my spirit, my divinity. Yoga reunited my body and mind with my spirit and has guided me back home to my soul countless times since the end of my marriage 10 years ago. What on the outside appears like a simple sequence of stretches can become a profound spiritual experience and metaphor for life.  Every time I practice yoga I’m reminded of the truth of who I am. I’m also shown what I'm resisting, trying to muscle and control, and where I can relax, allow more space or surrender to in my body, and in my life.

“Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul.” ― Amit Ray

 In a society of shiny objects, instant gratification and comfort seeking, I find it paradoxical that yoga studios are popping up in every town and people are flocking to them, eager to be with their discomfort-- hungry for a reminder of what's real and true.

“Every soul innately yearns for stillness, for a space, a garden where we can till, sow, reap, and rest, and by doing so come to a deeper sense of self and our place in the universe. Silence is not an absence but a presence. Not an emptiness but repletion. A filling up.” ― Anne D. LeClaire

 Although I’ve always been drawn to yoga for the spiritual aspects, there are numerous health benefits worth mentioning. Yoga improves your posture, increases your flexibility, strength, and balance, and lowers your blood pressure, I’ve recently been using it to manage stress, and calm my nervous system and adrenals.

Simply stepping inside a yoga studio feels luxurious and nourishing-- the warm, beautiful open space, the music, the encouraging and inspiring words from the teacher, the time you’ve allocated just for you, away from work and home. There is also a feeling of fellowship knowing everyone else is there for similar reasons-- to go inside, find some inner peace from the outer world and their monkey minds, to give themselves undivided attention, to heal their bodies and find their center again.

“Yoga will always be transformational, even when it stops being cool.” 
Victoria Moran

As I embark on this quest for holistic health, yoga is a constant companion, a dear old friend and integral part of my physical and spiritual well-being. Yoga has gifted me with an aligned body and these questions that serve me daily: Where am I feeling resistance? What outcome am I trying to control or force? What would happen if, rather than avoiding the pain or resisting it, I created more space, surrendered the outcome and accepted the truth of the moment? 

The answers are where you’ll find yourself.

Rosalyn Fay is founder and Producer of True Colors TV, an online inspirational video network for women. For the past four years she has been interviewing women with extraordinary stories of healing themselves and transforming their lives. She brings diverse women together for raw, bold, juicy conversations on her talk show True Talk and hosts powerful live events. Rosalyn grew up on farm in Opportunity, Montana but found her home in the San Francisco Bay Area where she has worked as an alternative radio host and video producer. Visit her website,and twitter

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Home and Change by Heather Lindsay

Photo by Sarah McMurray
Hello everyone!  Here in the Mid Atlantic we are enjoying the most lovely last month of Summer...  chillier then usual evenings are leading to lovely cool mornings.  Autumn is slipping ever so lightly in on the breezes suggesting the time of seasonal transition will soon be with us.  Sitting outside I see leaves already showing the slightest sign of yellowing on our cherry tree’s green canopy and the massive family of “beneath our house siding” grackles have already changed their warm weather plumage to their spotted, feathery, puffiness of the cool seasons ahead.  Crazy early! 

Change is inevitable...  always occurring, never ceasing, and often a surprise that can seem terrifying or ever so welcomed.  Who doesn’t know that?!  I know I do! 

So how do you handle change?  Many of us dread this “C” word, or stand still to let it pass by.  This is harmful to our soul’s true expression, which becomes bound to a monotonous, stuck life that can lead to supreme unhappiness and fear that we may never truly live our desires.  And then the worse thing happens.. we FORGET our desires in the effort of fighting or ignoring change.  This is death to the Soul. 

Yes, all of us surely have experienced some element of this in our own lives or even know people completely bound and gagged within their misery of stagnation. 
But there is always a “gift” in the mud.  A gem so to speak... glistening within all depths.  See.. allowing change to move through your life will give you the gift of Home. 
Home can be a physical place.  But it will never be anywhere unless Home first resides in you.  Home is where your heart is.  You only  have to be aware that your heart is your Home because in it’s expression (whether happy, sad, stricken, or at peace) is the ever shifting you.  

So you see, riding with the flow of life allows you to embody change.  Changing with life’s opportunities gives you the key to your Home within yourself.  Wouldn’t it be grand to feel at Home in any situation life throws your way?  It’s a practice.  This doesn’t mean life will always be easy, but it will be your true expression (which makes it easier!).  With more practice in allowing change into your life you will learn whether this key will unlock challenge and strife or whether you will glide up the staircase of transformation to your happiest of Homes’ within yourself.

I can’t help but think of Dorothy’s ruby slippers carrying her along the yellow brick road on an ever altering, grand adventure after being uprooted and dumped amidst, what at times, was absurdity, fear, and beauty.  It was only in recognizing intelligence, heart, and courage all lied within that she was able to return Home again. 

 “There’s no place like Home”.  Each of us are here on our own adventures.  Some awake, some asleep, some offering a hand, yet, all here awaiting the next change to come knocking on the door.  Is your door bolted shut with padlocks?  Is it unlocked?  Or are you slipping on your ruby slippers and swinging the door wide open singing.. “Hello change!  Where are we going today?

Heather lives in a cozy bay side town in Maryland with her boyfriend, Ryan, and their three fur baby kitties - Tigger, Ophelia, & Willow.  Heather's private practice, Natures Of Light Acupuncture, is the fulfillment of her dream to create a healing place for all in need.  She lovingly practices Acupuncture, is an Integrated Energy Therapy® practitioner and teacher, and incorporates the power of flowers into her sessions through the use of Flower Essence Therapy.  You can also find her on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Contributing & Balancing Our Self

Photo by Sarah McMurray

It's 12:10 am and I'm awake. Words are spilling from my fingers tonight onto the keys and it's the first day I feel like a writer. I've always been a painter, except for the little 6th grader armed with a yellow legal pad that I wrote my first "novel" on. I wish I still had it. I remember the gist of it - about a heroine (there should always be a heroine) creating a magical life for herself and finding ways to contribute to the world around her.

This month I got the itch - the one that slowly creeps in after awhile of trying to go for a dream and whispered so quietly into your ear, "Who do you think you are? You're not like them...go back to ordinary. You are better off safe and protected by a regular job...," it hisses. "You could get your own place, travel, and be protected."

Today I turned in an article for E.J. and in thinking about it now, recognize my own shedding happened in that work. I wrote about how ordinary lives are actually a gift and that we must learn to embrace, honor and celebrate for the extraordinary gift that it is - a moment to learn, to grow, to be a part of something...

That's what we all want after all - to be a part of something, to contribute to someone or to the masses, isn't it?

The women's circle I'm part of is spending September looking at shedding, exploring "She who is awakening." I love that phrase (from Pixie Campbell) and it reminded me that the things we become fearful of are often projections of things we actually would like to change about ourselves. It's like when you suddenly notice a trait or habit in your lover, or friend that rubs you the wrong way - or you start to notice that you play small in someones presence; you are not fully yourself and you catch yourself in that smallness. You recognize that you have shrunk not necessarily, although sometimes it is the case,  from someone else's perspective, but more often it's actually our own fear about a trait within our self that we dislike.

I've caught myself thinking how others must perceive my life as boring - when the root fear is not actually what others think, but that I, myself, find my life boring in someway. I'm not the same vivacious, outgoing woman I used to be - I'm in a season of deep reflection and introspection which is great and all, but I miss the sassy girl. I want her back.

So how does one regain sass? One of the words used to explain "boring" is "unimaginative" and I would hate to be one of the unimaginative ones - because I think that it means a lack of courage more than anything else.

So here's my big, wild dose of courage and imagination for today: we don't have to push ourselves to the extremes. Rather we need to pulsate and undulate in the middle, creating room for retreat, rest, and deep community connections too. It's so simple and yet so bold. I'm a woman who has fought to produce perfect things, not to rest in the feminine place to gathering. In the past two months as I've journeyed hard with autoimmune disorders and adrenal fatigue I began to feel small for not having the energy currently to produce an epic final project. But the truth is, I let myself get small - out of fear of falling short as a productive, successful woman.

Fuck it. Being a workaholic isn't worth it. Burning the candle at both ends isn't worth it. Finding a beautiful feminine way to be and experience life and create something meaningful in relationship is worth it.

How can we create/give to many without burning out?  How do we honor our selves and protect our time for the things that truly matter without feeling small?

Being small simply isn't worth it anymore. Play into your bigness, your greatness and uncover the beauty that is who you truly are and share it. When we are fully, wholly and wildly ourselves there is nothing boring or unproductive about that.

Where are you playing small and will you allow yourself to grow bigger?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Challenging Beliefs by Elinor Predota

Collage by Sarah McMurray
 I've been coming up against a lot of my 'stuff' lately. Well, isn't that always the way? I had a blissful week at the beginning of August. Every day, I did half an hour of voice and movement practice. Every day I did an hour of meditations and spiritual practices.
For the last four days of that week, I attended Dragon Rise Witchcamp, seeing old friends, making new ones, and immersed in a journey of inner discovery with my fellow campers. I was so fully present, I shone. I opened my heart and my voice and shared my song. I wove my shining thread into the shared magic of our temporary community.
Since then, I’ve been in a slump. I think I might have overdone it. Right now, I'm in bed, fighting off a cold/cough thing, and struggling with whether or not I'm allowed to rest.
Well, of course I am, but parts of me really don't believe it. Because it's completely possible to believe two contradictory things at the same time.
Sometimes, it's the fore-brain and the hind-brain that are telling the self two different things. For example, when there’s a big presentation to deliver, we simultaneously believe that it's a good thing to give this presentation - it will stretch us and show us off - and that the best thing to do is to run away and hide under the bed. 
Sometimes, it's our core desires and the culture that surrounds us that are pulling us in two different directions. We simultaneously believe that we have the right to be our whole self and set off on our own adventures, and have absorbed the idea from the over-culture that if we set off on our own path we'll be rejected, lose our partner, our friends, our job, and all our possibilities for 'success'.
To discern which belief to go with in any moment takes a great deal of clarity and courage. As women we constantly underestimate and undervalue the work and the bravery it takes us to live as conscious souls every day.
I've been brought up against my own confusion and fear since a friend of mine received a message from the Divine for me: that I needed to enter a competition, and that I needed to enter to win. Following that message, I’ve been taking part in Maggie Ostara's Next Great Visionary Business competition. It's bringing up all kinds of issues. Who am I to think I'm a visionary? Am I really cut out to be a business woman? Can I really win the competition?
That last one is a big deal for me - a really big deal. I've never thought of myself as a competitive person. It goes against my self-image of being ‘nice’ and ‘kind’ and ‘spiritual’ to think of myself that way. And too, the idea that I have something so worthwhile to share that I would be willing to risk failure, to risk losing, to risk being seen and rejected, sends my hind-brain into a tail-spin of panic.
But I also believe that the message from the Divine for me was true. It's time to change my self-image. I do have something important to share, something so worthwhile that it's time to stop shrinking back and start singing out my vision, to start weaving my shining thread into the wider world, as well as into my spiritual community.
It’s going to take clarity and courage. It’s going to take discernment to follow the path of love between my contradictory beliefs, between pushing forward and giving myself rest, between my inner “Yes” and my inner “No”.
I’m not sure I’m ready, but I’m doing it anyway.
How about you? What are the contradictory beliefs that keep you stuck, or second guessing yourself? How do you navigate your way through them?

Elinor Predota is a heart-centred rebel who teaches people to find the sparkle in ordinary life and to embark on a new adventure every day. She's intuitive, nurturing, incisive, and lots of fun :-) She loves animals, chocolate, hugging, dancing, singing, laughing, nature, music, making stuff, vibrant food, breathing, magic(k), science fiction and fantasy,  and awesome people." You can also connect with her on Facebook and Pinterest.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Creating Your Life

 We carry our bags into tipis near the lake in breathless silence. We’ve been here before, stood on the dock and gazed across the small expanse of deep waters the color of emeralds. Eventually, we gather in the lodge, a circle of 100 women eagerly anticipating a weekend of yoga, creativity and activism.

 We ache to hear stories of women world-changers, inspirers and brave women who let the world break them open in authenticity. 

The days are filled with conversations about writing, art, self-acceptance and finding your purpose. I’ve been waiting for this weekend since last summer when we gathered at camp before – 3 days of  lakeside depth and heart conversations built dear friendships that I’ve carried with me all year. I’m sure it will happen again.

Naseem Rakha, Author speaking at Muse
 Muse Camp exists for women to find their inner muse, to be inspired by stories shared in community and to passionately leap into the unknown – the places we know in our gut are where we must work – through the ego, our selfish places and our fears, in order to come out the other side into the unknown. It’s scary. I’ve come to camp knowing some big thing will take place – but I’m not totally sure what it is.

The last night of camp we gather in the library, seated on floor pillows like an ancient rent tent surrounded with books on the arts and the gentle hum of the wind in the trees outside. Three minute muse begins. Women bravely stand before the room and share three minutes of their story – a snippet of courage, joy, struggle or sadness and we cheer and clap, because we relate.

Eventually a stream of young teen muses stands before us sharing stories we hope young women would not have faced so early in life. These brave girls bare their soul with such courage, such knowing and such authenticity about how the mistakes they made in life and what they learned and what they found in community with other “troubled teens” at boarding school.

I wonder if this depth of authenticity could happen outside of camp? Would we recognize the power of our stories in small conversations with a co-worker or an acquaintance on the street? Perhaps that depth isn’t appropriate in all circumstances, but when someone breaks open before you and lays out their grit, their story – what a privilege it is to witness!

The closing ceremony - friendships forged, releasing things into the fire
 Muse Camp once again reminded me the power of breaking open, of the power of community and the beautiful reason we must share our stories. Our stories and our lives are meant to be shared.  It’s in our communities that we find ourselves, renew our courage and discover that our voice matters.  

We are the ones we have been waiting for – until we allow ourselves to recognize our worth, we stay small. We feel we have little to contribute and we continue in our smallness until we finally break open and recognize story is what brings us together.

Yes, something big happened at Muse - I found a dream once buried - I want to create full time, get out of my own way and dive head first into the depth. I'm still figuring out what that means and how it will unfurl in the months ahead, but I know now, two months out of an "awakening" of sorts due to autoimmune disorders, that life is truly what you make it. It can be a beautiful mystery or a scarcity complex of fear. 

What are you making your life, oh brave authentic women?

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Call for Joy by Erina Patrick

Photo by Sarah McMurray

Every year, I come up with my own unique version of a New Year’s Resolution.  For 2013, I’ve resolved to, “play more and rediscover my joy.”  I am happy to report that it’s been a very successful so far and things keep getting better as we move along towards the end of 2013. In my opinion this is the wisest one I have come up with yet.  And I must say, the universe has met me more than half way. It never ceases to amaze me that all I have to do is open the door to my imagination and invite life to join me in the fun and wondrous adventures abound in the most spectacular and serendipitous ways.

This year’s manifestation of my intentions took the form of a new job as an activities agent; a general step up from my previous day job. Plus, it also boasts many playful perks, to boot, such as free helicopter rides, snorkeling excursions, horseback riding, zip-lining, jet-skiing and parasailing to name a few. By the way, I have already engaged in all of these activities (plus a few more).

I have also been blessed to be able to take some of my best friends along for these good times.  After all, what is fun without friends? I have recently received an invitation from one of these friends to go sky diving; hey, why not roll with it?  The sky's the limit is what I say! What my experience has shown me is the more I am open to the prospect of joy and let go of the old fears that inhibit and impede, the more I receive opportunities to set my heart free and let my spirit soar.

A question I keep asking myself as of late is, “how free do you want to be?” And the only caution that wells up from the spring of my soul is, “don’t let your fear hold you back!” Both freedom and happiness, I believe, are choices we make within ourselves.  And the less these states of being depend on outside circumstances, the more genuine they are. I recently had an epiphany that I am full of hope and faith that there is no room left for doubt and fear to linger. Looking back on my life, that is an astounding statement, as there once was a time when I wanted to hope, but honestly was afraid to as I was sure I was only setting myself up for future disappointment. Pessimism is simply an impenetrable form of fear marked by a profound lack of faith and utter absence of hope.

I can see so clearly now how limited my perspective was then, and that my views guaranteed continued disappointment rather that deflecting or preventing it.  I was constantly affirming that life is a let-down and then somehow surprised to find that I got what I thought.  My former folly all seems so obvious and silly to me now. If luck itself were a coin on the one side would be pessimism associated with poor or bad luck, and on the flip side would be optimism the bearer of good fortune. Charisma is a form of joy, positive energy, personal magnetism, or in more modern terms that x-factor that enables us to influence our lives and the lives of those around us for the better.

To change my world I simply need to change my perspective.  For I find what I seek, and the more I radiate joy, the more vibrations of joy surrounds me and in turn emanates from those I encounter, both known and unknown. Life can either be a game or a chore, the choice is yours! I chose to be happy, joyous and free today and that doesn’t mean I shirk my responsibilities in life. It just means I meet them with a sense of equanimity, balance, and place it all in a spiritual perspective.

"I am a thirty three year old woman, born and raised in Bend, Oregon and current resident of Maui. I moved to Maui to pursue my yoga path and passion for teaching,  while helping people to practice self-care and guiding them on their personal journey towards wholeness. I love the way yoga engages my creative and spiritual nature, I am involved in other creative projects and interests as well, such as writing and creating hand crafted jewelry."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

More than Words by Charyn Gant

 “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice [and heart] to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.” 
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (

I stared at the 10 words I had chosen blankly, not sure how to begin. I had never really done this before and was already judging myself as doing it wrong before I even got started. I felt a bit ridiculous and silly. “Yep,” I thought to myself, “I am totally out of my comfort zone here. I can feel it”.

Not sure how to begin, I started the only way I knew how: logically instead of intuitively. I am proud to say, however, that I did resist the urge to look up my words up in the online dictionary because that obviously defeats the purpose of the exercise. I began with what I thought my first definition should be. However, rereading it, I felt odd. Everything sounded oh so proper, canned and way too formal. It was ego-mind crap. I shook my head; this was not going to work. As usual, I had to get out of my head.

And that’s about when I hit the edge of my comfort zone and stepped off into a field of space that was outside my self-limiting personal picket fence.

The 10 words I’m speaking about are 10 Power Words or Values that resonated with me out of more than 200 as a part of a business boot camp exercise (yes, I said more than 200 words; so NOT an exercise to over think). And as part of that exercise, I had to define what those words meant to ME. Self-definition is in no way a new concept; you’ll find plenty of references and exercises out there on the Internet and you may have done a few on your own. For me however, this was uncharted territory.

You see, I really didn’t know, deep, deep, down, that I actually HAD PERMISSION to write my OWN definitions and in the process, define my own set of values for all areas of my life. This means a long suppressed voice is eagerly waiting to emerge and speak directly to challenge old limiting beliefs and programs that keep me hitting an internal glass ceiling, swimming in a small fishbowl, unhappy, depressed and resentful. So if this sounds like you, you’re not alone. :-)

If you have not already claimed it, know you HAVE PERMISSION to self-define YOUR Power Words and thus what you value, which can give you massive insight and clarity into how you tick in your inner most being. Then you can begin to connect those definitions with your daily life.  And when you make those connections, those words then carry more weight, have greater meaning and act as a built-in guidance system for how you choose to show up in the world everyday in everyway. And what’s more, everything you do and everyone around you can benefit. What a cool ripple effect!

One of my selected words is “Community”, which I defined as: “giving & receiving; sharing; support; gathering & bearing witness to the fabric of life; validation of experiences; releasing judgment; happiness; feeling good; celebrations”.  For right now, this is MY definition; I can continue to build on it, or not. So if Community is something you value, how would you define it? Or maybe one of your words is Gratitude, Prosperity, Purpose or Passion.

Whatever your Power Words are, by choosing to define them from a heart-centered, In-powered space, you can begin to shift the very fabric of what you see as your life. You can gain confidence and have the courage to live fully and accomplish your goals. And by focusing on how we show up as those Power Words or values on a daily basis, those things will expand tremendously. And that is where the real magic begins.

Charyn Gant is the founder of the blog/site When We Listen to Trees: a platform to share information, stories and tolls of how we can improve our quality of life, especially our emotional health as it relates to our physical health. Charyn has been in the alternative healing arena for more than a decade. You can also find her on Pinterest and LinkedIn.