A request. A prayer. A plea.

In 3 days time my sweet brother, Luke will be having hip replacement surgery. He is only 26 years old and yet arthritis has crippled him with pain and stolen joy from even the simplest activities. You may be thinking 26 years old…he is too young to have arthritis! Well, Luke also has Trisomy 21, better known as Down Syndrome. Individuals with Down Syndrome are at higher risk for various musculoskeletal conditions and autoimmune diseases which can lead to the development of arthritis. What started out as an occasional complaint of leg pain and a slight limp, quickly progressed into debilitating pain and physical disability for Luke. Despite Luke’s inability to clearly articulate what he is feeling, his tears and noticeable distress say more than words could ever express to us. For when Luke cannot get out of bed to go to the YMCA (his favourite activity of the week), it is clear that something is not ok.

Following a very difficult pre-operative appointment on New Year’s Eve, my parents brought Luke back home feeling unsupported and apprehensive after being told to reconsider their decision to have the surgery by hospital staff. Yes, Luke is stubborn and strong-willed…It took half an hour to take his blood pressure and his blood work could not be completed even after an hour of trying. However, how can we let him live in pain, on 8 pills of Tylenol #3 a day for the rest of his life when there is the possibility of fixing his hip? As a healthcare professional myself, it is frustrating to hear how quickly the nurses and doctors want to give up. Luke cannot advocate for himself. He has not been given a voice to stand up for himself. Luckily, both of us have been blessed with strong, smart, and brave parents who will carry him through the adversity.

Being so far away at this time is heartbreaking. Through all the doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, and tests that my family have endured, I have anxiously awaited updates from 4000 km away. Even now as I type, I must fight a lump in my throat and the tears that cloud my vision. I wish I could stand alongside my parents at this time, carry some of the burden, and ease my brother’s pain. Yet in this moment all I can do is pray, surrender my guilt, and trust in the community of love all around us. Therefore, I ask for your prayers, positivity, and healing intentions. “A miracle is a shift in thinking, a shift from fear to love” (Marianne Williamson). Help us pull Luke through the negativity and fear. Help us surround him with love.

Photo courtesy of Iron & Bragg Photography

http://www.ironbragg.com/

New Year’s Resolution

I would like to meet someone who has actually kept a New Year’s resolution. For in my experience, we usually choose something that involves cultivating a whole new habit and then expect it to be well established by magic at the stroke of midnight. This year I will eat healthier, I will exercise everyday, I will drink less alcohol, I will cut out coffee and drink more green tea, I will…I will…I will…starting at 12:01 am on January 1st!

Tonight at the yoga studio where I work, the owner told us to get ready for the onslaught of mayhem that happens like clock work every year. New practitioners pile in, an idea that they’ve all been toying with since July, and then January 1st is the day! However, he assured us that there was no need to fear; all will return to normal by February, as their resolutions fall by the wayside and old routines will make this upcoming year just like the last.

The problem with resolutions is that there is a disconnect with the present. It is merely an expectation that things will be different just because it is a new year. Unfortunately, we cannot simply will a reality to happen. The only reality that we can create is the perception we have in the present moment.

I’ve been doing it for years as well… making and breaking resolutions. However, I have finally realized that there is no magic day where change is made easier. The trick is to start in the present, this second, right now. Be patient and kind to yourself. You are enough in this moment. Make that your resolution and by January 1st, all your goals will be well on their way.

The Power of Words

I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.

– Florence Nightingale

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On a day to day basis I speak many words to my colleagues, clients, friends and family, and have many more come right back at me. Most of the time, my ability to communicate takes very little thought or effort. Words flow easily from my consciousness and then impact the world as they may. But really, how many of us actually take the time to really think about our choice of words before they escape from our lips? And what is the effect of all this chatter around us?

I’ve gotten so caught up in life over the past few months that I haven’t been able to prioritize time for meditation and prayer. My only time for quiet reflection has been during my weekly yoga class, during which I realize how affected I truly am by all the noise coming at me – gossip, complaining, negativity. In many yogic traditions, the mantra Om is employed as a mystical connection to the Divine. In church, we sing and pray with words that connect us to our Creator. No matter how we connect, words are a powerful way of coming to understand our humanity. However, I believe we need to be careful how we use their power. Letting our negative thoughts slip out can be a danger that only breeds more negativity, It is an easy release in the moment that usually feels good…we all love a good vent! But without action, our words lose their meaning and start to work against us.

I invite you to join me during this busy season to take some time to reflect on the chatter – what you say and what you hear. Even a few minutes of meditation a day can start to change the way you think and respond to the crazy world around you. Peace, love and happiness result from actions which, are born from words spoken with intention.

The grass is always greener…

What is it about the things that we don’t have that make them so damn desirable? If only I had a bigger house, a better body, more money, a vacation booked next week…then I’d be happy. It’s a funny thing that we humans do, always looking around at what we don’t have and worrying about what is to come. With all the change and excitement that I’ve experienced over the past few months, you would think that I wouldn’t have time to look around at what colour the grass is on the other side. But that is the problem with our “monkey minds,” the natural state of the mind is to be unsettled and restless. These uncontrollable thoughts create fear, which is at the core of most unhappiness we may experience. There are some days when the most difficult part of a yoga class is just quieting my mind of all the chatter: the should’ves, could’ves and would’ves.

However, the truth is, there is no perfection, only peace that comes with acceptance of the process. Life is not about having every single thing that we desire to create happiness. It is about work, growth, trust, and practice; for the monkey in our minds cannot be caged, but rather tamed. All the should’ves, could’ves and would’ves are not real. What is real is that you are in the right place, at the right time, exactly as you are. Let your own monkey out to play on the grass that you have the privilege of standing on at this very moment. That is the practice of mindfulness and the art of happiness.

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light”

Moving to a brand new place where you know hardly anyone is a humbling and enlightening experience. I have been so blessed my whole life to be surrounded by an abundance of family and friends who have always been there for me no matter what. Now this is still true, I have not actually lost these valued family members and friends. The difference now is that we are separated by many provinces and time zones. It makes me realize how much I had relied on the knowledge that the people I love were just a short drive or subway ride away. Perhaps I have taken my loved ones for granted over the years, not really knowing how much I have needed my community until they were no longer as accessible. Thank goodness for technology! I have been glued to my phone, texting and calling in order to stay connected and updated on all the happenings back home.

One of the first things I did once I got to BC was join a yoga community, and almost immediately started to work and practice at the local studio. I could have just as easily busted out one of my many yoga DVDs and simply holed up at home on my mat. However, I never get the same experience at home as when I’m in a class where I can feel and use the energy from all the other yogis around me. There’s a component of accountability, encouragement, and motivation that comes from practicing with others. The same is true outside the studio as well, life becomes so much more meaningful when there are others around to share our everyday experiences with. The quote above by Helen Keller says it all, I would much rather walk with a friend in the dark than on my own in the light. Thank you to all my family and friends who continue to walk alongside me, even from 4,000 km away. I love you.

“Don’t compare your inside to someone else’s outside”

This is a quote that comes back to me time and time again. Now I’m not sure who said it first, Oprah perhaps. Well, whoever it was, they hit the nail right on the head and I’ll tell you why…

I am three days into my new job as a Public Health Nurse in British Columbia, and once again I am the new girl who doesn’t know what she is doing. It is an awful and awkward position to be in. It is a time of focusing on all of the things you do NOT know in an effort to help your supervisors focus your training and make it more efficient. The problem is that the whole self-assessment process makes you realize just how MUCH everyone else knows in comparison to you. As I mentioned above, I’ve been through this before, and it was only about a year ago. But it’s funny how quickly the memory fades once you are comfortable and competent in your skills, and you have good friends to talk and laugh with at work. However, when you are smack dab in the middle of the whole new employee-orientation process, it feels like you will never get back to that place of comfort.

It is a truly humbling experience and one that I am ever grateful for. I get to learn, grow and do what I love to do every single day (well…very soon). So in order to get through the uncomfortable part, I am using the image of a butterfly as my inspiration. It was once a caterpillar: the newbie who hadn’t yet earned her wings. But what if the caterpillar, feeling unsure and different, let the external image of the butterfly let her feel less than she was worth? The problem with using others’ outsides as our point of reference, is that there is no context to how they got there. The truth is, the butterfly was once a caterpillar.

The same is true in yoga, which is why I am so in love with the practice. The only way to truly improve is to look within and believe in what your mind, body and soul is capable of…absolutely anything! It is not about looking around the room to see what everyone else is doing on their mat (no matter how tempting it may be). Each are on their own journey, whether they have been practicing for 10 years, 10 days, or it is their first class. No amount of comparing or emulating is going to get you anywhere faster than your own journey will allow, and chances are your destination is not the same as that other person’s anyway. Rather be grateful for the guidance and inspiration that others provide. But always let your final resting place be in your own story, not on another’s passing cover.

“Do one thing everyday that scares you”

Eleanor Roosevelt said these famous words: Do one thing everyday that scares you.

Well, for the past 2 months I’ve been taking that advice to heart: Getting married, driving across the country, moving to a brand new city and in with my new husband for the first time, getting used to new city, finding a new job.

I just said the word new a lot back there, and with a lot of new, usually means that there is a lot of change as well. I didn’t really anticipate the amount of emotional energy that all this change was going to  take on me and on those I love. It’s like deciding to get on a roller coaster. You see it from a distance and it all makes sense, the hills and the loops. But actually taking off is a whole other experience that you can’t even imagine when you’re standing on the ground.  I planned and anticipated what is was going to be like, the wedding and the move. But actually doing it all was a whole other thing!

I’ve started this blog so that over time I can share my thoughts, reflections, and experiences. It has been the adventure of a lifetime and I want to tell you all about it. I know the title is deceiving since it won’t be all about yoga…well sort of. The definition of yoga is actually to yoke together. In the practice of yoga, it is the yoking together of the body with the breath. I hope to use this blog as a platform to yoke together my thoughts on life, love, adventure, change, work…and find balance in it all. Yoga is a practice, not perfection. And as a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I struggle with that sometimes. The same can be said about life. It is a practice. Not perfection. So here we go…

All my love, L