What Do Snoopy, Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Tinkerbell Have To Do With Faith?

The Snoopy dance is really the only dance I can do!

The Snoopy dance is really the only dance I can do!

Today was kind of a crazy day. We all have them, one step forward, two steps back. Actually, it started last night.

Yesterday evening, I had a job interview with Company X and I didn’t have a great feeling about it. I left with more questions than answers. I also left feeling like the whole process was moving too quickly. Job interviews where you have to sit through an hour long sales pitch remind me of the “free” vacations you win if you listen to the hour long time share proposal.

I drove home with an upset stomach. Talking to my awesome BF after the interview, he could tell something was wrong. He’s smart that way and very supportive.

It was such a drastic change from how I felt on Tuesday, when I was in my zone, being productive and accomplishing new challenges. Confident, productive Kris was replaced by a Kris who was hesitant and fearful. In addition to the stomach pain, I could feel my neck incisions and my shoulders tightening up. It felt similar to the pain I felt for months after my surgery.

Driving back up today for my second interview, I still had that resistance in my gut. My neck ached so much, I had to get out my heating pad which I had put away three weeks ago.

I tried to tell myself to be open and think of the positive outcomes of this job. I tried to psych myself up and believe this would be a great opportunity.

During the half hour drive up there, I asked God to give me a sign. Is this the job I’m meant to have or is there something better, like the first interview I had with another company last week?

I pulled in the parking lot. Going over all of the positive possible outcomes of this job. “Yay – this job would be great,” I told myself.

Then my cell phone rang. It was a person from the first company, Company Y. She wanted me to come back for a second interview. Now that position I was EXCITED about. Minutes before I was supposed to walk into Company X, Company Y called me. That couldn’t be a coincidence.

I was so happy to get her call, I almost did the Snoopy dance in Company X’s parking lot, but it was icy and I had heels on. Seriously, doing the Snoopy dance is hard enough without heels and ice.

More exciting to me was that I got my sign. In hindsight, I got a lot of them: upset stomach, tense shoulders/neck, sadness and my phone call. But, I needed all of my signs because I’m still learning to trust my own inner voice. I’m pretty new to this thing called Faith, it’s reassuring to get that phone call from God or Company Y to back up my body’s signs.

Anyone can be faithful during the good times. That’s no challenge. Being faithful during the crappy times is hard. Trusting when things seem to the contrary goes against my nature as a somewhat rational being. But spiritual growth comes from the bad times, the hard times, times when things don’t go your way.

My life has changed so much during the past 18 months – the past four months particularly. But I’m learning so many lessons. So I am grateful to the lessons. I am grateful for my teachers. I am grateful to God for responding to my call to action and so promptly too!

Maybe the Universe has always responded promptly to my prayers but I’ve been too blinded or without faith to see it.

Getting in my car after the interview, my decision was made and I felt at ease. My stomach pain went away. My shoulders relaxed. My neck incisions are still a little tight but I think that’s from the cold weather. There is a lot of metal in a small area – I get colder easier than what I used to.

I feel a head smack coming on...

I feel a head smack coming on…

My lesson for the day is to take a page from Leroy Jethro Gibbs and listen to my gut.  Trust my gut and know that God does in fact give me the signs, if I can believe enough in them to see them, like Tinkerbell. I’m just all over the map in imagery tonight. Another sign that my creativity is back and I’m making the right decision.

You can only see fairies if you believe, Peter Pan!

You can only see fairies if you believe, Peter Pan!

I hope my interview with Company Y goes well next Monday. I’d love to be able to share with you all that I am its newest associate. But if I am not, I know that it’s because the Universe has something even better in store for me.

And this my friends is what Snoopy, Gibbs and Tinkerbell have to do with my lesson of Faith.

Cultivating the Silent Witness

mcgruff

One of the concepts taught in yoga is to cultivate the silent witness or silent observer. To get an idea of how foreign of a concept this is in our western world, the first few items that popped up on my Google search were for police tip programs, where they offer money for people to report information on crimes. I had to add “yoga” to my search to get the right silent witness information. Who knew there were stuffed animal versions of McGruff the crime dog? My kind of dog.

Deepak Chopra explains on his website that we each have two selves, the self that we present to the world, “our conditioned ego personality that eats, drinks, feels and senses life around us and in the process of experiencing each sensation, it is affected and overshadowed by it to the extent that it only knows itself in terms of that experience.”

Next we have the second self.  This higher self is “the silent witness that is awake and aware of itself and what is going without being affected by it.”

Why does cultivating this second self matter? According to Chopra, this higher self is “a pure, quiet Self inside you that is more authentic than the self you have constructed throughout your life.”

What the heck?

I’ve always struggled to understand this concept. How can there be something inside of me, that’s higher than me, more authentic than me? Where is my higher self that just watches without judgment or fear or anger?

Seriously, what the heck? I could really use this person.

I started practicing yoga and meditation to quiet my mind and reduce my stress. But I’ve always felt like I’ve been missing something because I haven’t felt this silent witness state. I’m smart. I’m doing the work. I should be able to learn this. But for more than a year, it’s baffled me.

Why can’t I find my silent witness?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot, wondering how can I be a good yoga teacher if I can’t find my own silent witness. Most of the time, I remind myself to live in the present moment and realize I don’t have to worry about being a good yoga teacher now because I’m technically NOT a yoga teacher yet. So I was creating stress about something that is in the future, not the present, which is another concept in yoga that I understand, but don’t always apply – live in the present moment.

Today, two people who are very dear to me, told me about problems they had at work. As they told me their problems with their coworkers, I listened to what they were saying. Then I put myself in the shoes of the other person and thought, for this coworker to act so inappropriately, so hurtfully, that he himself had to be in a lot of pain. It’s always easier to see both sides of the situation when you are not the one directly involved. I do that all of the time. I often find myself asking my friends, did you ever think this person meant this or is just really socially awkward?

That’s when it totally hit me. I was being a silent witness in that situation. Now I just needed to apply that to myself. If I could find that space in me where I’m able to step back from a heated conversation with someone and notice what in me was making me act in anger, what was affecting the other person to make them act out in anger, I would be the silent witness. It’s like being a friend to yourself instead of being yourself. It’s also a great way to diffuse a volatile situation. Cultivating the silent witness is being able to in that moment of anger, step back and see the whole situation for what it really is and act accordingly.

It’s so easy now that I think about it. I’ve been doing it for a while but never thought of it as being a higher self. I like to make things more difficult than they really are.  I guess I expected this higher self to turn me into this wise Buddha like being with sparkles and fairy wings. Or at least to make me 50 pounds lighter and have awesome hair. Wait, I do have awesome hair.

This journey of yoga gets harder every day. As I learn one lesson, it seems like I realize I have five more new ones to learn.

But it’s good because the more lessons you learn, the less you will repeat the mistakes you’ve made in the past. So I am thankful to my two friends who helped ME learn and grow today by sharing your experiences with me. I am so grateful that you helped me learn a complex lesson.

Namaste.

 

Yoga Is For Everyone

Since the conditions outside are snowy, icy and cold, I decided to go up to the mall about a quarter mile away from my house to walk. It was early enough this morning that the stores were closed, with the exception of Starbucks. I think it’s always open.

Malls are interesting places. The people watching is great. I’d guess there were about 50 people there walking. Some were older than me. Others were younger than me. Some people walked alone, like me. Others walked as couples, holding hands, very sweet. Some were wearing jeans and coats. Others were wearing athletic gear.

One of the first stores I walked past was Lululemon. On Sunday mornings, Lululemon offers a community yoga class in its store. Now, when I think of community yoga, or even yoga in general, I think of it being a safe space full of loving yogis holding space for each other and focusing on their practice.

I stopped in front of the store, looking inside at the young, fit bodied, yogis getting their mats ready. I wanted so much to join them. I thought, I am wearing yoga pants. I could easily take off my shoes and join them. I don’t have a mat but I would be OK.

I am unemployed right now, so I am really watching my finances which means I don’t have the extra cash to go to classes at my favorite yoga studio, Elemental Om. I thought how great would it be to go and move my body and share space with these yogis? Maybe once I walked in and told them my story they would embrace me and allow me to join in this open, community yoga practice.

As I stood in front of the door, trying to get up the courage to walk in Lululemon and practice yoga with a bunch of  beautiful, 20 year olds, I got shoved into the window of the store. Turning around, I saw that my assailant was a young yogi on her way in to yoga. She had to see me. She had to feel me when she shoved me. But she just kept walking on in to Lululemon. No apology. She didn’t even turn around to see if I was still standing.

For a moment, I thought maybe she’s autistic and doesn’t know how to deal with people in social settings. Maybe she’s very depressed and can’t bring herself to speak to others because she’s wrapped up in her own pain. Good for her for going to yoga. She really needs yoga. I believe yoga can benefit everyone.

Then I saw and heard her and several of the other yogis inside Lululemon do that loud squeal that young women tend to do when they greet each other. She seemed so happy and perfectly capable of speaking and handling social situations.

It made me so sad that I turned away from Lululemon and continued my mall walking. It seemed so opposite of my yoga experience at Elemental Om. I questioned how can you offer community yoga if it’s not for everyone in the community? Unless you live in a sorority because it seems their community yoga is for young, beautiful, 20-year-olds.

Yoga is for everyone. But not all studios are for everyone, which made me sad for those studios. I’ve learned and have been inspired by so many wonderful women and men of all ages, sizes, colors and shapes. They are the ones missing out by excluding others or making them feel unwelcome.

But then I thought, she really does need yoga more than me. I can find my yoga zone walking in the mall amongst the masses of humanity. So I sent her love and kept walking until I was able to release my anger towards her. By judging her, I was being as judgmental as I was silently accusing her of being.

Being a yogi is hard. But it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Maybe sometime soon, I’ll go back to Lululemon for its community yoga because yoga really is for everybody.

 

 

2014 – To Infinity and Beyond

What do I want to do in 2014? So much. I’m going to put it out here for you and the Universe to see. This will help me stay on track and accomplish more.

  1. Yoga teacher training! I want to be a yoga teacher. My long term goal is to become a yoga therapist like the AMAZING Lilith from Yoga Is My Health Insurance. She has helped my healing more than traditional medicine ever could. I want to be able to help others the same way she’s helped me.
  2. Ayurveda advisor! This ancient lifestyle technology is so powerful and can help everyone to take control of their health and wellness. I’ve been inspired by one of my very first and favorite gurus, Pam of Elemental Om in Lebanon and Montgomery. Her knowledge and passion has improved my life tremendously and I want to learn it all so I can confidently share and help others.
  3. Many years ago, I wanted to be an esthetician and makeup artist. My friends Robin Mallery and Colleen Herman have deepened this desire in me because first and foremost both would tell you what they do is to bring the natural beauty you have inside you OUT. They are both such beautiful women on the inside that it’s no wonder they’re so gorgeous on the outside. Beauty isn’t vanity. Beauty is an outer expression of love (self-love and love for others). I do hope I can go to esthetician school someday.
  4. Find a career and a company where I can grow, inspire and be successful. My first interview of 2014 is tomorrow. It’s an amazing company where I think I could bring a lot to their team and they could teach me.
  5. I MISS my Z girls. 2014 is the year I get back to Dare 2 Dance in Blue Ash and all of my supportive Zumba friends to shake my booty and get rid of this tire around my middle. They don’t call me middle aged because I’m in the middle years of my life but because I have a spare tire around my middle. Love you Buddha belly but I’m going to dance you away!
  6. Sage – you are inspiring me so much to delve more into the spiritual path.  I don’t know quite where that’s going to take me or where you might take me but I’m handing you the keys this year. I look forward to continuing our friendship and path together.
  7. I strive daily to be the best girlfriend and partner to my amazing G that I can be. Every day, I’m humbled by your love and support. I want to continue to grow with you and support you in all the ways you need. I love you!
  8. I want to get more involved to heal the planet and help animals in need. I don’t know yet what this is but it’s something I feel strongly about. So I’m leaving it up to you, Creator, to help me achieve this.
  9. One of my long time goals, that I will accomplish, is to write a book. I got back on the writing kick in 2012 but got off track in 2013. So, I’m jumping back on the track in 2014. And I know my amazingly talented friend Marisa B. will be a great resource to keep me motivated and accountable! Mostly accountable because without knowing I have to have words for you keeps me honest and the TV off.
  10. Back in the saddle – literally. I miss horseback riding. Now, I’m not sure what my neurosurgeon would say about this but hey, I figure my neck is now titanium. It’s not going to break.

 

I have more things I want to do this year, like starting an outdoor garden and finishing up my kitchen. But I thought 10 was a good number to really focus on for 2014.

 

I’d LOVE to hear what you want to do this year. And as always, if I can help,  let me know.

Thursday’s Power Thoughts

I’ve had an amazing week. I’ve engaged with several new communities of people who have inspired and supported me. I asked the Universe to help me find the resources and teachers I needed to advance my journey of making 2014 the BEST YEAR EVER and wow – the Universe brought so many to me so quickly. It’s not even February and I feel like I’m on a great path to manifesting all of my dreams for 2014.

Sage, Colleen, Cassie, Jordan, Erin, Ari, Ray and everyone else I met at Infusion Cincinnati, Goddess Circle and Sage’s workshop on Sunday – thank you all for hearing my story and supporting me. At these three meetings, I met and spoke with more than 30 people who want to make our community a better place by serving and helping others. Not a single person’s goal was to live in a 22 room estate in Indian Hill or drive a Maserati. Everyone who spoke wanted to help others and our city by sharing their talents, music, healing, writing, counseling and even physical labor.

I had so many wonderful healers offer me consultations and treatment this week at a reduced or even no cost. But I know they do this to make a living and I want to give back to them. So I am starting to do marketing services to “pay” them in return. There are more ways than just money to compensate someone for their services and time. Keep this in mind when you have limiting thoughts of “I’d love to do this but I can’t afford it.” This is also why it’s great to choose locally-owned, small businesses instead of large, national chains.

Finally, there is a great power in speaking your truth, sharing your story. That’s why I do this blog and why I talk about things such as my surgery. I want you to learn from my journey because my journey is your journey. I might not understand your pain, but I understand pain. I might not understand your fears, but I understand my own fear. I might not understand your anger, but I understand anger.

Talking about pain, fear, anger – whatever you’re a slave to, whatever is holding you back, is hard but when you open up and express your emotions, your feelings, the power is in YOUR hands – not the emotion. Talking about my surgery takes away the power it has in my life. Keeping silent continues to give your power away. I am always so surprised at how supportive people are too when they hear me speak. You all give me so much love and support that I want to keep sharing with you. I hope by hearing my journey, you will realize you’re not alone.

So what are my Power Thoughts for this Thursday:

  1. Help is always there if you can ask for it – ask God, ask your friends, ask your family. Ask and be open to all of the teachers who come into your lives.
  2. Money is not the only currency available to us. You have many skills that could help others who in return have products/services that you need. Be willing to give to others and you’ll be surprised at how much you receive.
  3. Speak your truth. Always. Silencing your voice hurts you physically and mentally. Speaking your truth gives YOU the power.

So friends, what is it that inspires you?

What do you want from 2014?

What can I do to help you?

Let’s make it happen – life is too short not to wear fabulous shoes or eat dessert.

Much love to you all!

2013 – The Year of Yes that Really IS My Neck

yes this really is my neck

yes this really is my neck

This is the time of year when many of us like to review the past year and take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going. Then we get depressed, drink a bottle of wine and call it a day. Ha!

I wanted to share with you my journey of 2013, not because it was the best year ever – it wasn’t. It was probably one of my worst years, which is why it’s important to share. I am hoping that by knowing about my journey, it might help one of you with yours. This crazy planet provides us all with lessons to learn. It’s like one big petri dish of spiritual growth opportunities.

My plans for 2013 were to build off of the great momentum I achieved in 2012. I lost a lot of weight, more than 40 pounds, and started dating a wonderful man, G, who I am still dating. Thank you baby!

But the Universe had another plan in store for me and as it often happens, it had to use pain – both physical and emotional – to drive me to where I needed to be to move along in my growth. As winter turned into spring, the pain in my neck, the home of the throat chakra, became worse. I was getting terrible headaches, numbness in both of my hands, sharp & shooting pain in both of my arms and was having a very difficult time concentrating and even speaking. In addition to the severe spinal stenosis I suffered from, my neurosurgeon diagnosed me with a very rare disease called OPLL. It’s so rare in fact that the National Institute of Health (NIH) has it listed as a rare disease, meaning fewer than 200,000 people in the US have this condition. I’d like to post a link to this but WordPress is not playing nicely, so here is the link: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/medical/opll.htm.

In September, I had a 6+ hour long surgery to rebuild my neck. I had 4 procedures done during that one surgery, including C5-6 corpectomy, anterior fusion of C3-4, laminectomy and mass lateral fusion of C3-7. I now have 14 screws, 2 rods, and a metal plate holding my neck together. The titanium in my neck is worth more than my overall net worth. The first night after this lengthy procedure I spent in the most excruciating pain of my entire life because I didn’t receive the pain pump that was ordered in my record. Apparently, I found out 2 days later, there had been a death on my floor and everyone was busy with that patient. I went from approximately 11 PM to 8 AM, without adequate pain medication  despite the order for the pain pump in my record. When my surgeon’s resident came in to check on me and found me with bloody palms from digging my nails into my hands and crying hysterically, the nurse finally gave me a shot of morphine and hooked up my pain pump.

Next, I was diagnosed with a condition called C5 Palsy, extreme weakness in the deltoid, bicep and/or tricep, in my right arm – the dominant one of course. This condition prompted my surgeon to consider doing a second surgery, which I eventually talked him out of doing. I told him unless he could find concrete proof, through MRI or CT Scan that this weakness was being caused from something other than C5 palsy, that I wasn’t going to agree to a second, exploratory procedure. After my first round of inadequate pain management, I was NOT going to allow this to happen again. I seriously think I have PTSD of surgery. I’m afraid now to even go to the dentist to get a cavity filled.

So I went home with a neck brace, 2 different pain prescriptions and no working right arm. Luckily, I had the help and support of many wonderful friends and family to get me through this. A few weeks after my surgery, I was diagnosed with depression, which is common after a massive surgical procedure. Apparently telling your PCP that you’re upset because you can’t even kill yourself because your stupid dominant arm isn’t working is cause for alarm and an anti-depressant instead of a testimony to my remarkably dark sense of humor.

In the first 6 weeks following my surgery, because this was not enough to prepare me for 2014 according to the Universe, I found out that my very estranged father died and that I would lose my job at year’s end. Combine this with the fact that my greatest source of support, my BF, is in the military, stationed 5 hours away from me, my whole world literally came crashing down on me.

But you know what, I AM STILL HERE. I am here to share my story with you, to hopefully inspire you. Sometimes life really sucks. And it’s OK to get mad at God, Creator, Goddess, whatever you call the Divine Spirit or Divine Order in the world. Trust me, I’m still grumbling to Creator about my right arm, like when I drop a heavy skillet on my foot because my nerves decide to spasm at that moment I’m washing it. I really do need a dishwasher.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that all of this happened now. I was in a place in my life where I wanted more but my forward momentum had stopped. I was stuck in a rut which happens to so many of us. I also was not voicing and/or expressing my needs, my truth, my desires. I really had shut up my voice, which is why I believe this manifested as pain in my neck, home of my vocal cords and throat chakra.

So how have I made it through? With the support of so many wonderful friends, too many to name here, but I hope to thank you all through some gesture soon. Also through the lessons I’ve learned from Yoga, most importantly self compassion and letting go.

I’m a big WHY person. I kept asking God “why me?” What have I done to deserve this suffering? Well, I haven’t learned the lessons the Universe needed me to learn so I could achieve greatness in 2014. And that’s exactly what I plan to do. This blog is just one of MANY plans I am making to make 2014 the best year ever for me. At least until 2015, because I want every year to be better than the last.

Thank you again all for your support. Sending you all love and light.

Namaste- Kris

I’m Back

I’m back – well, blogging that is.  I missed you!

No one lives in a vacuum and no one is as put together or as sane as you might think they are. I’m hoping that by sharing my journey, what I’ve learned from MANY great gurus and my experiences, along with some craziness; we can ALL achieve the joy and health we deserve.

What are we going to share on this blog space? Lots of information that is meant to help each of you on your journey on this planet. It is NOT intended to replace medical advice. I’m no expert. I’m just a girl trying to find her way through this crazy maze. So as always, please listen to your physician/healthcare provider first and foremost.

So take what makes sense to you. And remind yourself that I’m bat-poo crazy on what doesn’t resonate with you. Most importantly, please SHARE what you’ve experienced here and know that you can do so without being judged or mocked.

Let’s all make 2014 the best year ever!

Namaste –
Kris