Big Sur Heart

September 20, 2011

When I head north to Big Sur my heart swells knowing that I’ll be rhythmically winding around the edges of cliffs that drop off into a rocky mountain landscape. Around each bend an enchanting view reveals itself without noise. No imagery shouts at you, it just welcomes you. The water’s edge invites you to breathe, the mountains remind you of your size, and redwoods create a canopy of protection that keep out any agendas you brought with you. Big Sur is a place that calls me when I need healing.

Some days the morning fog settles over your soul and gives your heart a new story to tell. Seeing landscapes in layers can mimic the complex layers that we carry within us. When nature reveals her layers to us, bathed in morning light and dripping in heavy fog, the contrast of emotions can leave us breathless for a moment. For me, this is a moment of meditation that breaks through all our layers of  emotional crust. This is how I heal. It may only be a brief glimpse of a ray of sun casting light off the mountain and into the sea but it can change something in us.

This summer has been really hard. I’ve struggled creatively, professionally, and personally. I can feel paralyzed when all three circles overlap and show signs of stress. I think most people experience this feeling at one time or another. The pressure to have a career is intense. It’s double  intense when you haven’t a clue what you’d like to do in life. It’s triple intense when you’re 35 yrs old and everyone you know is a success. It weighs heavy on my heart. This summer I felt like it was the heaviest it’s ever been. It became near debilitating.

My creative life has suffered for a while. In my current job I teach art. I teach kids to trust themselves and their creative choices. I teach them to own their art and create with confidence. I then come home with great ideas and no action. Sometimes there are obstacles blocking my path that just need money and time. Other times it’s just me blocking my path. The more unhappy I am in other aspects of my life the more my creative life suffers. When that outlet closes up, I close up. I think this is true for many artists and creative types. It’s our life blood. Work is just a means to support creative life. It gets tricky sometimes because if that work drains us it can affect our creative life. For me, the two circles have lots of overlap.

My personal life overlaps with both of the other circles all the time . It’s been stressful. On the one hand, I have the greatest husband, friend, and supporter. I’m so lucky in that department.  I’m grateful every day that I get to wake up next to him. For everything that I’ve done wrong in my life, this was the one thing I did right! He knows me at my deepest core. On the other hand, I’m just pretty miserable with other aspects of my life now. I don’t like living in the valley. I hate my commute. I’m pretty stressed everyday . It’s taxing for everybody and on my body. Getting older isn’t easy. I’ve spent tons of time at the doctor getting poked and prodded and having tests done. This has added a whole new layer of anxiety to everything.

I know I’m not the only one out there that feels the heaviness of these three  areas of life overlapping and making life hard at times.  I do yoga, I meditate, exercise, eat right, and try to land on the side of optimism. Sometimes, it’s not enough to break through our layers. The healing process is different for everyone. For me, it was nice to hit the road with friends and wind through redwoods and listen to water crash on rocks. I may not have broken through all the layers but I was able to start cracking them open.

My suggestion for anyone needing a reboot ni life is to take a road trip. It would be awesome if you could go by yourself or with a trusted partner. Unfold into nature and peel back the layers of anxiety and stress. A great place to  start is in Big Sur, Ca. Drive up Highway 1 and visit the elephant seals in Sam Simeon. If they don’t make you laugh you’re not human. Continue on up to Big Sur and go camping in the redwoods. Take day trips to all the beaches and visit local businesses. Have a drink at Nepenthe and a coffee and pastry at Big Sur Bakery. Take photos, write, draw, paint or just look out into the sea. As Big Sur reveals itself to you, you will recover a piece of yourself in the process.

Happy travels!

Back on the Mat

August 14, 2008

i walked in the room after months of being away. comfort settled in immediately. i felt like  i was home. my own home doesn’t always give me comfort the way this room does. i took my shoes off stretched out toes and let my feet breathe after a day of standing  on them at work. i took a deep breath, found a quiet back row corner and rolled out my mat.

the hardest part was over. i got myself there. for me, that is the hardest part. it is so easy to make excuses for not having a daily practice. too tired, too busy, too happy, too sad, hungry, full, sick, too tired, too injured…the list is easy to lengthen. usually, if its been over four months without attending my favorite yoga classes i know i am in trouble. i know i am in danger of losing my practice to the elements.  returning to the mat is harder on me emotionally than physically. I have a strong connection to my practice. in short, it is very personal.

the moment that i roll out that mat everything comes back. my sense of calm, my integrity, my passions and my gentleness take over. i become more open and connected to everything around me. i try to explain that feeling to friends who’ve never been to yoga. every class is like coming home. it’s something that does not translate unless it’s a shared experience.

i have always said that I am closer and more open with my friends who have a practice. i guess it is because we are able to share thoughts about our practice. it is such a personal experience  to share insights about breakthroughs, fears, feelings and healing with others. it’s so private and emotional to share these moments with supportive people.

all this comes back when you get back on the mat. when i saw the long dreads that my favorite teacher was now sporting, I realized how much time had gone by. we chanted and entered into our slow and deep hatha practice. i could feel the back of my legs waking up and energy moving into areas that had been stagnant for months.  we had some independent flow time and some freestyle cool down time. before i knew it and hour and a half had passed.

i rolled up my mat feeling renewed, emotional and committed.  all i could think was “i am yoga” .  i think it was my new mantra. we are all victim to saying things to ourselves like ” i wish.. i hope.”  how about “i am”. i am happy. i am creative. i am love. i am freedom.

i can’t wait to go to later this week.