Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Inhale. Love. Exhale. Peace.

Good morning, lovely ladies and gentlemen!

I've had a particularly unhappy string of days recently, for whatever reason, and I've been really struggling to feel at home in my own life. But, this morning, I woke up and I headed to yoga, as I have the last two mornings, but something was different. I had a headache and wasn't sure I was going to go but I was already up and dressed and my head said "go," so I did.

I got to class and there were 16 people - in a 6am class! Something felt alive in this dark, rainy morning. Something immediately spoke to me. So, I practiced, as I always do, and as we began in child's pose, I lifted my heart up and prayed for God to grant me peace. That's right, I was praying on my mat. And as we began to practice, the rotten bits of my discouraged heart started to melt away and my thoughts began to drift off and in that hour, I began to feel... peace. Just like I had asked. It was amazing.

As we came into Savasana, I let my body sink into the mat and I felt my heart sink into my chest, nestling in the joy and peace of this morning, and the collective energy of the people in the room. It was an incredible feeling, knowing that I had given myself this gift, simply by getting up, getting on my mat, and letting go of all control. In yoga, we call this relinquishing control Ishvara Pranidhana or "devotion to a higher power," and it's an integral part of the practice for me these days. It gives me the freedom to let go and to do exactly what it is that I need to do.

I am so grateful for this morning and for Kathryn and for the other students in that class and for myself; for getting up, for believing, for opening my heart and for giving up control. I. am. so. grateful.

And I hope that joy and peace that I felt this morning extends to all of you. Love love love and light. Happy Tuesday.

I love you all.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Love your enemies.

I have had the loveliest weekend. I'm not bragging, but my weekend was probably better than your weekend. :p hee hee. Just kidding. But, it was super awesome. I won't break down every little awesome facet for you but I will light on one specific bit of awesome.

This morning I went to church with my mom. Now, that may seem insignificant to you but we haven't been to church since I was a teenager. We went because we found out that our favorite minister is now preaching at a church that is no longer GUD (geographically undesirable for those not in the know) and we were thrilled. He's a master storyteller (literally) and a brilliant and compassionate man who believes in and preaches peace and love for all people. He is truly one of my biggest inspirations. So, I went two weeks ago when my mom was out of town and was so moved and she wanted to join me this week so we went together.

There are so many things about religion that trouble me and it makes it hard for me to feel compelled to go to a church service, but I could sit and listen to Rev. Michael Williams preach all day long. My mother and I both were moved to tears this morning (which, in all fairness, is not really an uncommon thing for us, but this was different.) as we sat and listened to Br. Michael speak about how we react to those who treat us poorly. He spoke of loving our enemies and of working to not multiply the hurt in the world by reacting to violence and injury with more violence and injury.

It's a beautiful lesson. We cannot extinguish our pain by inflicting pain on others. There is no relief, only more pain. And why would I condemn someone for being cruel as I perpetuate a cruelty on someone else. It just doesn't make sense. As Michael said this morning: Do we want to be the smashers or the healers? I personally hope that I can be a healer.

Granted, I do my fair share of smashing. I know that I have the ability and the occasional inclination to be unkind when I feel slighted, but I intend to treat everyone with love and respect no matter how they treat me. It's an extension of God's love for me, when you think about it. When I screw up, God does not cease loving me. When I curse him for the injustices in my life and in the world at large, he does not fight back. He extends love to me, because that's when I need it the most. And I think we, as human beings, are able and expected to do the same for one another. When people are cruel and injurious, that's when they need the most love. And it's hard to want to extend that love because we are injured and angry, but as we release for others, we feel relief and love for ourselves. And we can move on. And I think there's definitely something to be said for that.

I hope that in the week to come, we can all love each other a little bit more. And I hope that when our neighbors slip and cause us pain, that we can love them just as much and not reciprocate that injury; multiply that hurt.

I love you all.
Have a VERY happy week!
:) Hayley

Thursday, January 13, 2011

She is love.

I have a tendency sometimes to repeat patterns in my life. Especially patterns of self-deprication, self-inflicted loneliness and depression. Now, don't start to get worried. They're not self-destructive in the sense that I would physically be harmed by them, but they are destructive in that they make me sluggish and sad, angry and hurt. And, often, they make me feel this way for very little cause. Small things can bring these patterns on, like someone slighting me in some way or a relationship, romantic or not, not meeting my expectations.

So, I tend to withdraw when these feelings occur. I start to lock myself away, both literally and figuratively, and sink into this dark place in my mind. It's as if my heart, that is so powerful and full normally, decides to shrink and let my overworking mind take its place in the order of things. It's not a happy way to live.

And I honestly don't experience it super often, but when it hits it can feel overwhelming and I've had bouts of it in the last few weeks. Tonight, I had a bit of that feeling early on, and I considered wrapping myself up in blankets and hunkering down for the night, wallowing in self-defeat. But, instead, I decided that I would put on my big-girl boots and go out to see my beautiful and talented friend Megan play a set at the Tremont.

Thank goodness.

I was reminded as I arrived there of why my heart is so full and why it's so incredibly ridiculous that I ever feel anything but joy. I have some of the most wonderfully kind, beautiful, loving people in my life. Megan, Ryan, Mike and Gail are rocks in my life. They are people who make me smile. They are people who give me so much without ever having to make an effort. They are honest, they are fair, they believe in me, they believe in each other, they care, they worry, they love, they laugh. And I am better for knowing them.

I just kept thinking as I sat there that I wouldn't rather be anywhere else in those moments. I love being with those people. I love that I never have to be anyone but who I am with them. That is the mark of true friends; people who love you for who you are, flaws and all. And I am just so terribly grateful. And I am no longer of weakened heart. My heart is full and when my head hits the pillow I will sleep soundly knowing that I am so well loved and that I have so much love in return to give.

Gail, Mike, Ryan, Megan: I love you guys. Thank you for being a part of my life.
To everyone else: That goes for you too. :)
I love you all.
Happy Thursday!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Snowpocalypse, shmopocalypse... or something...

So, as for my mood at the current moment, perhaps you can decipher it from my most recent iTunes purchases:
Elton John, Norah Jones, Gillian Welch, Ingrid Michaelson, Dev feat. the Cataracs, Teitur, Parachute, Jay-Z, Rufus Wainwright, Florence and the Machine, 2Pac, Switchfoot, Ben Harper.

... maybe not.

So, Chattanooga is hunkering down and getting ready for the Snowpocalypse. I have to say, this city is slightly insane when it comes to weather guessing and preparing for the worst. My lord. I, on the other hand, would love to not have to go into work at the crack of 8am of course, BUT being snowed in means sitting on my butt all day long doing basically nothing and going completely stir crazy. So, I could really go either way. But, I am set up with about 12 pounds of hummus and all sorts of yummy fruit fit for smoothie making so I can weather out the storm if need-be.

This weather reminded me of the idea that if the weather weren't bad sometimes, we wouldn't truly be able to appreciate when it's beautiful. We would have nothing to compare it to and then would likely take it for granted, like we do with so many other things in our lives. I feel the same way about my life at the moment. There are certainly things that I am not thrilled with at the moment, but I have to appreciate even these bits of negativity and pain so that when my life is going well, I will laugh and smile and be extra grateful for every happy moment spent. Sometimes it takes something really bad to happen before you realize how wonderful your life was to begin with. I, personally, don't ever want to get to that point. I hope I can appreciate each moment of joy in my life without having to compare it with pain, but that is not always the easiest and I know that. So, tonight, if it snows and I am stuck in my house (pouting, no doubt) I will try to turn my thoughts on how lovely it will be when I get to see sunshine and walk in the outdoors without freezing my bazzinga off. And when that time comes I will smile and really be exceptionally grateful for that day and that opportunity.

"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

I hope that you can find that lightness in the dark as well. I wish it for us all.

I love you. Have a happy snow day!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Light my fire.

This week in my class I talked about fire, inspired by Brother Michael's sermon on Sunday. I've had "lighting a fire in my heart" on my mind a lot this week. Michael talked about the properties of fire: heat, light and aiding in sustenance, as well as the ability to burn. He asked how we could light a fire without burning. One of my resolutions for the new year was to do more for other people. So, my thoughts have been centered on how I can do and be more for other people without burning them or myself. I think it's an incredible symbol to meditate on. In yoga, we talk about building fire in our bodies, firing up our breath, etc. etc. We use fire as a symbol of strength and power and endurance. But, most of the time we overlook the burning, or injurious quality of fire. We have to allow ourselves the option to rest and back off; catch our breath. You may think of this as giving oxygen to the fire so that it may sustain itself. The sustainability of the fire allows us to draw on that energy without burning out or injuring ourselves. This can be applied in life, I think. I think that if we take a moment in our lives to breathe, slow down, allow ourselves some space from the things in our lives that burn us, we fan the flame that sustains our ability to help ourselves and others. We allow ourselves more energy to be a light and a source of warmth for the world around us.

So that's my goal for 2011: be a fire without being a burn. (or something. It's getting late.)

Have a beautiful Sunday! I only wish I could be at West End UMC again tomorrow, but I suppose I'll get to attend next week! I'll just hope they post the podcasts soon!

I love you all!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's the little things that make me smile

I've been caught off-guard lately at the funny little things in my life that bring me so much joy. When I think about it, some of them are really silly, but they really do make my day brighter. Maybe you feel the same way. I'm going to share a few of them here:

Pinkish, purplish sunsets.
Genuine, cuddly bear hugs.
Spontaneous and platonic kisses
90s rap songs.
Giggling with good friends about nothing in particular.
Grilled cheese sandwiches (they remind me of the Sutler and my Boompa).
Receiving flowers, especially surprise flowers.
Fresh flowers, generally.
Fake flowers, generally.
"I love you."
hello kitty anything.
Meaningful song lyrics.
Spoken good intentions.
Cuddly blankets.
Car rides.
Car dancing.
Text messages just to say "hi" and "I'm thinking about you." and "I love you."
Making plans.
Toddlers and all the silly things they come up with to tell you.
Singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" with said toddlers.
Toddler hugs.
Baby smiles.
The smell of clean skin.
The way the air smells before it snows.
Thoughtful discussions.
Any and all things ridiculous.
Family time.
Live music.

There are a million other things that make me smile, but these were on my mind today.
I love you all and hope your smile is bright always.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011: I resolve...

It's a brand new year and although it has already begun terribly and we are less than 24 hours in, I am hopeful for good things in 2011. I have grand plans of changing my life for the better and seeing light and joy in all things in this upcoming year. So, with that being said, I resolve:

1. To love. Everyone. Unconditionally.
2. To receive and embrace love.
3. To forgive.
4. To let go of all judgments and pre-conceived notions.
5. To be tolerant.
6. To fight the battles that I need to fight and not run away from things that are hard.
7. To take the GRE.
8. To consider continuing my education and decide what that means for me.
9. To set 1-year, 5-year and 10-year goals.
10. To learn to play an instrument.
11. To try to write songs.
12. To have a functional relationship.
13. To take better care of my body.
14. To quit drinking alcohol.
15. To drink more water.
16. To work harder and intentionally toward becoming a paid performer.
17. To live within my means - manage my money better, budget and pay off my credit card.
18. To do more to help others.
19. To stay in at least one night a week - clean my house and eat in.
20. To learn to cook... something.
21. To visit my best friend in Chicago.
22. To visit my friends in New York.
23. To visit my friends in Portland.
24. To visit my cousins in California.
25. To spend more time with my brother.
26. To be less reactive.
27. To love myself.
28. To be a better friend, daughter and sister.
29. To make a difference.
30. To find joy and gratitude in all things.

I wish nothing but joy and love for all of you in the coming year. I hope that you all appreciate each new day as if it were just that: a brand new day. A brand new chance to start over. A chance to remember that the past is past and that this moment is all that we have so we might as well be happy.

I love you all. Happy New Year!