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Category Archives: health

a word on Truth speaking | fort worth yoga teacher


I watched Oprah speak at the Golden Globes about how speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all own. And, I agree. I was mad at Oprah when I watched that speech. Her Weight Watchers commercials have irritated me. Here are some things I’d like to hear Oprah speak about, other than becoming smaller in body:

  • How she overcame abuse and trauma to become the most successful woman of my lifetime
  • How white women can be better allies to women of color in the movement toward equality
  • What motivated her to start a school in Africa
  • How she’s maintained healthy long term relationships with people like Gayle and Stedman in spite of her busy, public career

Those are just a few that come to mind. When I saw her eating tacos, I thought, “Come on, Sister, really?” I realize so many probably thought nothing of this commercial. My eyes have only recently been opened to the way our society’s food and water is poisoned by the corporations who seek to keep women small in body and, ultimately, smaller in power.

Nobody’s perfect.

I forgive you, Oprah.

Indeed, watching her speech, I set aside my resentment and raised a fist in solidarity time and again. My blood began to quicken, as I know happens when Truth speaks.

Part of the reason I don’t write much here (about myself) any more is I don’t always know which truths are mine to own and share.

One of the wisest things the owner of Karmany Yoga (may he rest in peace) ever told me was that once the toothpaste is out of the tube, you can’t put it back in. He was referring specifically to writing and speaking truth. That line still comes to me sometimes before I hit send or publish.

So many of us whose truths have been swallowed or stifled or shut down – when we begin to speak again, what we say and how we say it is in need of some refining (to say the least); otherwise, it projectile vomits like victimized hate speech. I’ve written things I regret in the name of speaking truth. And, I’ve read things others have written about me that hurt and weren’t true. A Course in Miracles tells me that “In my defenselessness, my safety lies.” I have this written on an altar in my home. It reminds me that haters gonna hate, and I need not always shout louder than the haters.

The Yoga Sutra explains that often our truth is colored by the veil of our ignorance, or false understanding (avidya). Within the mind of each of us are habits of thinking (samskaras and vasana) so embedded in the mind that they shape our inner world and mold our personality, which, in turn, creates the lens through which we view reality.

It’s why I try not to write too in depth about what I’m experiencing currently. Through the lens of time and spiritual practice and reflection, truth unfolds infinitely. More will always be revealed.

I think that’s what my mentor meant with his toothpaste analogy. When it comes to speaking truth, I operate by a few questions: Who will it help? Who could it hurt? And, what can I live with?

Sometimes, with the truth it’s as Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” Sometimes, with the truth it’s as Anne Lamott said, “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

And sometimes, I still believe the details are better left unsaid. I might as well quote another woman I admire – Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.”

I strive to go high.

And, you know, that means operating by what my momma taught me as a young girl, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I mean, some would say that’s not a way to raise our females up, but on the other hand, I don’t want to add to the aggression in our world. And, knowing my mom, I think it was Texas speak for “In my defenselessness, my safety lies.”

Over the past few years, I’ve sought to refine what’s capital-T True. There’s an exercise I do where I write down all of my attack thoughts, and then I rewrite them using the prompt: “Another way I could choose to see this is…”

For example,

Donald Trump is the worst thing to happen to the United States.

When I say this, I feel judgmental, disconnected and hopeless – disempowered.

[If you voted for Trump, I’m surprised to find you here but not too shocked because you were in good company. Feel free to substitute “Obama” or whichever political figure felt like doomsday to you.]

Another way I could choose to see this is that Donald Trump is the end of the world as we know it.

Much the same effect. I never said this exercise was easy. Examining our beliefs never is. It’s like the adage: the truth will set you free, but first it’ll piss you off. It’s hard at first, which is why I always keep going until I can find something that feels true and hopeful…

Another way I could choose to see this is that Donald Trump is exposing our country’s deeply rooted shadow of racism and greed.

Another way I could choose to see this is that Donald Trump will be the impetus for widespread political, global, and economic change.

Another way I could choose to see this is that Donald Trump is inspiring Americans to become involved in the political processes we’ve long taken for granted.

Another way I could choose to see this is that Donald Trump will give rise to the strongest, most powerful group of women and the Divine Feminine found in all of us.

Another way I could choose to see this is that Donald Trump is one man with tremendous power, and I am one woman with a daily opportunity and moral obligation to step into mine.

Now, I’m starting to feel inspired – or at the very least, Vital.

Before I taught yoga, I taught public school. Before that, I waited tables in nightclubs. Before that, I worked in a cubicle in insurance.

And you know where I’ve found the most pain: in spiritual communities. Herein, I’ve found some of the most judgmental, unethical, bullying, narcissistic folks I’ve ever met. Herein, I’ve also found some of the most generous, compassionate, empathetic, people I’ve ever met.
I mean, the yoga community is just a microcosm of our world, you know? That was news to me. I thought at first everyone was happy.

There’s a reason we were all led to this practice. Life wasn’t perfect…just sayin’ 😉

Saying this out loud, on the page, feels kinda icky. So much so, that I almost left. More than once. Because, as Pema Chodron says, “Nothing goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” I had to learn from a few people, painfully a few times. Years of growth.

So, once upon a time, the truth was:

She took advantage of my kindness. She stole from me. She chose business over friendship. She grew envious and vengeful when I became the top producing teacher. She verbally abused me. She spoke lies about me.

These were a number of she’s. I may have had a slight problem with laying down and letting people walk all over me.

And, with boundaries and (sometimes) walls, therapy and reframing journaling exercises, and the gift of time, another way I can see this is:

These experiences have propelled me to remain even closer to my own spiritual practices (yoga, dhyana), motivating me to examine the ways in which I am allowing ego to obscure Truth. I thank these people who’ve masqueraded as the light for reflecting back to me who I am when all facades fall away. I thank you for encouraging me to do my part to include everyone and exclude nobody. Because of your influence, I understand that friendship, for me, is about wanting the best for a person and expecting nothing out of the person in return. I thank you for teaching me to love the people close to me without condition, giving generously without harming myself in any way. I thank you for pointing me away from greed and in the direction of faith (shraddha). I thank you for showing me what not to do so that I may operate my businesses in a way that aligns with my ethical principles (yamas). I thank you for showing me how to set healthy boundaries which protect my heart and my life’s work (niyamas). I do not seek to share this physical space with you – in asana or otherwise. And, in the same breath, I wish the best for you – the same happiness and success I wish for myself and my closest friends and family (mudita).

This Truth has set me free.

Life Vessel Fort Worth at the Center for Healing Arts

I’ve been going to this magnificent place for around ten years – since I was trying to quit smoking if that gives you any indication. I’ve long loved acupuncture and all the healing modalities that Kim Perrone offers at the Center for Healing Arts. One year it was my new years resolution to receive acupuncture every 6 weeks. Sometimes the date would come and I would think, “I don’t need it,” but I’d go anyway and always feel better.

2017-07-28_0001.jpgFort Worth is now privileged to have the Life Vessel relaxation therapy here. I tried it – four times as is suggested – and fell in love. As a teenager, I loved tanning beds, and the life vessel kind of reminds me of a tanning bed in size (a bit larger) without the heat. You recline in comfortable clothing on a memoryfoamish mattress. Infrared lights shine above you. Sound waves vibrate beneath you. I had some interesting experiences in the vessel. I can’t really put words to many of them. You know how you feel after a good massage or gong bath or savasana? Well, it was much like all of those combined.


I like intensity, you know? And, when I find something good, I want everyone to know. On my fourth day, I asked if I could come back the next day, and the sweet lady in charge explained that this isn’t one of those “more is better” things. I was sad to give up my one hour of relaxation in the vessel. I’ll be first in line to return in three weeks for some maintenance.

Here are some of the benefits I’ve received:

  • central nervous system reset (i.e., I can rest well. I can digest my food efficiently.)
  • improved circulation (i.e., the tension in my forearms, wrists, and hands has disappeared)
  • less tension (i.e., I am not grinding my jaw at night).
  • better sleep (i.e., I wake just before dawn often without an alarm).
  • less obsession with sugar (i.e., I don’t know that this is related to the life vessel, but I know that when I sit down to eat, I no longer feel I’m in a competitive contest 😉

Read more about the life vessel here: lifevesselfw.com

I think when I do it in a few weeks, I’ll hire a driver.

when you pursue the Path, the Path pursues you.

Most of the time, when I tell people what I do, they find it intriguing. Sometimes these same people have succumbed to a job with a stable income while their dream career haunts them as they lay sleepless on expensive mattresses and high thread count sheets at night. And they say, “that inspires me,” or “I’m trying to figure out how I can do what I love.”

Often, it seems, I have these conversations in the studio bathroom. Typically as I’m changing clothes from a yoga class to a sunset shoot. Perhaps the bathroom is safe sacred space to ask the yoga teacher / artist how she manifested her dreams. Or, at the very least, as I wash my hands and inspect my teeth, I’m a captive audience for someone who’s inevitably changing from their work to yoga clothes.

Occasionally, when I tell people what I do, however, they look at me with pity. it’s not compassion – there’s a difference. the “oh you poor thing” look. I assume – though I don’t know – it’s: “oh you poor thing, you have to teach yoga / take photographs / write / sell essential oils just to make ends meet.”

And that’s ok. Maybe I’m emitting a frequency of poverty. The first year or so, it certainly was touch and go.

Indeed, I occasionally have to pull back the reigns when my boundaries get lax and remember that I am one person with the same 40 hour work week as everyone else. I used to pride myself on working 60-80 hours per week. But, why? Is busyness in business what I seek to teach?


Busyness distracts me from my Path.

But, I will say this for my friends in the bathroom who are looking for a way to pursue their passions: multiple revenue streams are helpful, if not absolutely necessary, to loving what you do in times of both busy and slow, in sickness and in health, for as long as you shall seek to work happily.

When I have felt that I *must* pick up another class / take a job I don’t want / undersell myself / forego vacation in order to make ends meet, this work – as much as I love it – ceases to be my passion. So, my point is this: seek your Path – your dharma. Your dharma might be to teach yoga. Your dharma might be to create art. But, if you’re a single parent or the primary breadwinner or would like to retire in this lifetime, your dharma might be to have a well-paying job that requires minimal brain power so you can spend the remaining waking hours pursuing whatever lights you up inside.

With my upcoming yoga teacher training, prospective students want to know, “Will I see a return on my investment?”

I’m the same way. I own $50,000 in photography equipment and would wager to guess I have spent at least that in yoga trainings over the past 5 years. and, I invested in a graduate counseling degree that I’m going to pay for monthly, for at least 5 more years. And with each course and camera, website upgrade and training trip, I’ve wanted to know “will I see a return on my investment?”

“You have a degree you don’t use,” my now wife who once helped me start my business, said to me when I was working my magic on our budget a while back. She’s kinda right and kinda wrong. If not for that decision to finish that degree, I’d not have pursued yoga teaching as a part time, temporary thing. I wouldn’t have met the friends I did – one soul brother who married us nearly a year ago. I don’t think I’d draw the private clients I do. I don’t think I’d know how to get the people I photograph to open up to me and my lens.

This I know: when you pursue your Path, your Path pursues you. So I’ve stopped asking, “Will I see a return on my investment” and I’ve started asking myself, “Will this propel me on my Path?” And then I get quiet and listen for the wisdom within. In August that wisdom led me to turn down job after job after job in favor of a foray in film where I took photos mostly of the ground and the sky and when I could catch them off guard – my Dana and Cash Diehl. And this time allowed me the space and dedication to get outside help for an eating disorder that’s plagued me off and on – mostly on – for years. I can’t pursue my Path if I’m starving myself. And, I can’t write much about this part of my journey just yet.

Seeking the Wisdom within has yet to steer me wrong. Yoga helps me tap into it. May you – all of you…those who meet me with curiosity and pity alike – have the courage to follow the Path which lights you up inside. With or without a financial return, your soul will be fuller for it. And all we take with us when we leave here is the light we garner in this life.

how I’ve realized my childhood career dreams

My father sits across from me, only a gear shift away. We are outside of my grandmother’s apartment. I want to live in an apartment. Like the last complex in the bad neighborhood where she lived before. The one with the courtyard and the peacock and Myrtle. Myrtle is 90. I am just 4 years old, as this is one of my earliest childhood memories. I wonder if I’ll live to be 90. And she is tall, unlike my grandmother who’s crippled. Grandma walks with a crutch under one arm, and her fingers are tangled like tree limbs.

But, we have a house which is supposedly better somehow. We live next door to a bad man. He poisoned our puppy.  This apartment has a basketball court, and I’d like to practice, but Grandma says it’s unsafe to play by myself. She worries all the time and always locks the top lock. In the summer, she watches me and we watch The Young and the Restless by day and WWF by night. Sometimes she calls Myrtle to see if the wrestler’s blood is real or fake. “Do you think that’s ketchup?” And Nicky and Victor are getting divorced. I wonder if my parents will get divorced.

My father rewinds the cassette tape once again, and we sing, “What a Wonderful World.” And it still is. And he asks me what I want to be when I grow up. And I don’t really know. Probably not a pool man like him. (He’s hardly ever home.) “A singer!” I exclaim.


Long ago, I cast that little girl out. At once, she is wise and innocent, confident and shy, sensitive and bold. She knows who she is and what she wants. She sees others’ fears as irrational and has not yet developed her own. She knows she’s here with a big voice and something special to share.

In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions:

When did you stop dancing?

When did you stop singing?

When did you stop being enchanted by stories?

When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?

Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul.

Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.

On my recent retreat, we sang each day. Through the chakras we journeyed holding space for others’ joy and sorrow, and everything in between. And the sound moved all the emotion. Each time I’d lead the chanting, I felt so vulnerable. At one point, I admitted it – out loud. “I chant every day, but to lead chanting makes me feel vulnerable.”

Don’t.” One said.

She sings. Professionally. She’s given me voice lessons when I was losing my voice each week. Her single word of caution affirmed me.

Someone I trusted taught me to speak from somewhere deep inside of me. I’m grateful for the teaching. Yet, like so many other new things, I misunderstood. I thought deep inside me meant low and baritone. And speaking in that more “masculine” octave all of the time was causing me pain in my throat. I now understand that deep inside me is that young carefree girl who wanted to sing. And her voice was not deep nor low.

Through chanting, I’ve found a way to sing. And through chanting, I can sit afterward in the silence held by the Sacred. I am doing my best to bring the young girl inside of me home. I broke 2 malas this week. Some say this is good luck. Some say my intention has come to being. I know I cursed a phrase I’m not proud of when it happened – more vehemently the second time. Sometimes the Divine shows off.

What we say vibrates in the world. The sacred mantras vibrate at a frequency far higher than four-letter expletives.

I know how to connect to my lower consciousness. I can stare blindly at my phone and social media for a couple hours. That’s always a great start. Haha. Haha but it’s only funny because it’s true.

Chanting helps me access my higher consciousness. Thank you to the teachers – past and present, seen and unseen, the kind and even the unkind – who’ve helped me find this Way. And to the sweet, brave girl inside my heart, I bow. The way she sees the world – her curiosity and tenacity – continues to astound me. Sometimes life, should we choose to pay attention, is far more beautiful than we ever could have dreamed.


photo by Susan Ross on the beach at Prana del Mar

a passionate story

One night this week, I didn’t sleep. I’d been to the doctor that day and received some medication for an upper respiratory infection. And, I am really sensitive to drugs these days. So, I embraced the time awake. Reading. Writing. Editing photos. Watching documentaries on Netflix. And before the day break, I decided to go scope out a spot for a sunrise shoot I have scheduled in the coming week. Because my self-dedicated and ambitious spouse had already left for the gym, I took the dog with me.

As we loaded the car, the rain fell steady on the pavement. And so I knew there would be no sunrise. Well, there would be. The sun rises every day. But the clouds and rain would leave it concealed. I’d have to rely on a compass and my imagination to see where the sunrise might take place.

Occasionally, we parked at gates and took 90 steps – fewer for Cash Diehl’s long strides – to plant our feet on what appeared higher ground. For about 30 minutes we drove. At some point I found myself driving on a main street where I saw a jogger out of the corner of my eye. She wore black runners shorts and a neon green rain jacket. Had it not been for her jacket that announced her presence at the the crosswalk long before she set foot in the street, I might not have seen her.

And as she jogged across the bridge of my Jeep, I thought with some distinction, “She must be crazy.” To run in this rain like this, she must be crazy?! And the thought occurred to me that though the Cowtown Marathon just occurred, she might still be training for the next race. An amateur she was not.

And, then, it hit me: passion. She was running – rain or shine, dawn or dusk. Because running was her passion.

And I was driving around scouting locations – in the dark, recovering from illness, at a severe lack of rest – for my latest art escapade. Because art is my passion.

By the time the woman had made it across the street – which was mere seconds due to her skilled gait – I realized the essence of every spiritual teaching: the other person is you.

She is I. I am she. Both possessed with a fair degree of crazy – a little spark of madness…the Divine substance which causes our hearts to beat and our hair to grow. Both dedicated to our respective passions.

The word passion connotes two things for me:

  1. a thing that rouses enthusiasm. Writing, yoga, nature, taking portraits – these activities rouse enthusiasm for me. Enthusiasm stems from the Latin root, enthousiasmos, or “possessed by a god.” Enthusiasm means you’ve got the Spirit inside of you. You feel It.
  2. suffering. Passion takes its origins from the Greek or Latin word, passio, which at one time meant “suffering.” Later it evolved to mean a strong emotional desire.

When I am living my life from a place of passion, I experience a connection to Spirit that once completely eluded me. Connection to Spirit, I’ve realized is not static. Feeling it hungover from steroids and a lack of sleep is more challenging than it is on a day when I feel vibrant and at ease.

And when I am living my life from a place of passion, inevitably I still experience suffering. Now let me just say that, in a literal sense, I rarely run – unless someone’s chasing me…or I’m paying the trainer to make me. Figuratively, however, over the past five years as an entrepreneur and artist chasing my dreams, I’ve run many a rainy day. Some days I wanted to run. Some days I didn’t. Dread all too often places a stumbling block before my quick feet.

I was supposed to present at a middle school career day this week. “What should I tell them?” I had scoffed when they initially asked me. I make it a point not to give advice. I mean, quitting my day job to teach yoga and take photographs has worked out for me. But, I had help. Financial. Emotional. Spiritual. I didn’t have other mouths to feed. I wouldn’t suggest my path to everyone. And I think of all of those young kids who want to be famous athletes. I was once one. But, hello, I’m 5’3″. When I get off the plane to teach an out of town workshop, it never fails, the studio liaison says, “I thought you’d be bigger.” Some dreams we must let die. And even still, passion – more passion, other passion, better passion – remains. 

“Follow your passion?” Yes. That’s what I would tell them, if I had a voice to speak. I’d say: Find what you’re crazy about. And follow it. Follow your passion like your life depends on it. Even when you’re sick. Even when you’re tired. When it’s raining. When you’re crying. When you feel as though what you’re doing is a waste of time and it would be much easier to play it safe – especially then – follow your passion. Your soul did not incarnate for any other reason than to follow your passion and encourage others to do the same. And, by the same token, give up the stuff which doesn’t bring you closer to your passion. “Stuff” might include self-limiting beliefs, negative thought patterns, self-destructive behaviors, substances, and people. 

“But I don’t have a passion,” I can hear the choir sing. “I don’t know what it is.” People write to me all of the time about this.

Not to worry. Immerse yourself in serving others. Even if you don’t find your passion, you’ll forget to pity yourself for not having any passion. You’ll feel fulfilled. And connected to Spirit. So you arrive at the same destination with different transportation. You can drive. You can run…walk…crawl. The transportation is always up to you. But whatever path you choose, take it enthusiastically.

why I use chanting in meditation | live your truth malas

People ask me almost daily if I design jewelry. Honestly, I’ve never had the aspiration. People ask me because every single day, I’m adorned in at least one mala / bracelet / earring / crystal from Live Your Truth Malas. I use a mala every day in my chanting practice. And I photograph these malas and inevitably one always “calls to me” as the very first one pictured did last year. For my wedding, I had the multi-talented momma / yoga goddess / studio owner / effortless fashionista / friend / fellow Buddhist soul, Lauren Dashiell Wessinger, create one for me to wear through the weekend to remind me to stay where my hands and feet were. That one is unpictured but absolutely gorgeous.

A mala has 108 beads and is used in Japa Meditation where you chant a mantra 108 times. It is one of my favorite meditations – often the only one that truly quiets my mind. There are days when I simply cannot sit still without twitching and itching and climbing out of the present moment to plan my busy day. And these are the moments when I know I need the meditation most. So, I started chanting. 108 times with my middle finger and thumb stringing each bead toward my heart. And then sitting for several minutes in the silence.

After you chant the Gayatri mantra (seen below + hear it here) 108 times,

om bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ

tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ

bhárgo devásya dhīmahi

dhíyo yó naḥ prachodáyāt

there is a deafening and beautiful silence that only the Divine can break. I’ve not been so consistent with the aforementioned Gayatri mantra because it takes around 45 minutes to chant. However, “Oṃ Maṇi Padme Hūṃ” for compassion and “Om Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha” for abundance take around 8 mintues. Both of these mantras I chanted (separately) for 40 days straight. I chanted Lakshmiyei leading up to SoulSpace Yoga Community’s opening when I knew I needed a change. I didn’t have enough time, strength, money, etc. Lakshmi changed me daily. And, om mani padme hum helped me in the realm of forgiveness like no therapist ever could.

People say, “Why chant sanskrit?”

I’m sure there are a number of reasons but for me there are two main reasons:

  1. Sanskrit vibrates at a beautiful frequency that actually raises my own vibration. it’s not unlike the way the National Anthem feels or a beautiful rendition of Silent Night or Ave Maria. The words move me beyond the translation.
  2. My mind cannot compete with sanskrit. When I chant “I am peace” more stuff slips in between. I meditate to calm the bad neighborhood that is my mind. I don’t go in alone. I always take a mantra or a spiritual friend to help me hash through the stuff inside there.

You can find Live Your Truth Malas on Instagram and purchase these beauties at the website here.

live your truth malas

  live your truth malas live your truth malas live your truth malas live your truth malas live your truth malas

live your truth malas

Fort Worth Power Yoga | SoulSpace Yoga Community

I had the privilege to photograph Elizabeth Daigle’s SoulPower class on Saturday. She is one of three owners at SoulSpace Yoga Community, soulspaceyc.com. Her style is nontraditional and traditional, powerful and alignment based Ashtanga yoga. Man, even my cameras were sweatin’. On the first Saturday in April, in correlation with Lululemon Athletica Fort Worth, she’s offering a free class from 9:30 – 11 am.

Occasionally, people send me a note and ask me where I’m teaching, if I’m an owner, when I’m going to start a teacher training program. For now, I’m focusing on creating beautiful images, teaching plenty of private sessions each week in addition to a handful of well crafted group classes at SSYC, and bringing to birth two books that have been stirring in my bones. I’ve got a couple online offerings in the works, too 😉

Not long after SoulSpace opened I wrote 10 stream of conscience reasons why I love it so. Read them below. And, if you’ve yet to check the studio out, find the schedule online here: soulspaceyc.com

10 reasons I already love SoulSpace Yoga Community :

1. It’s clean. Organically. Professionally. I typed some unkind and gross things I’ve experienced in yoga studios over the last 12 years but have elected to sweep my side of the street, spare you the disgusting details, and delete them.

2. The expertise and professionality of the teachers. Their willingness to share what they know with each other, to tailor their teaching to meet the needs of the students in the room, to remain authentic to who they are.

3. Compassionate collaboration. Everybody’s got my back. No doubt. I don’t have to hold the vision and mission alone. We all do our part and support each other.

4. A beautiful private room with an Iyengar rope wall in which to camp out and teach individualized sessions.

5. Infrared heat. When I set the temperature to 85, it’s 85 and breathable. The sweat comes from the inside, out.

6. Enthusiasm of the students. They’re up for anything and everything. Eager beginners looking to learn. Intermediate students ready to take their practice to the next level. Advanced students who realize a beginner mentality is the way to progress. All seeking to breathe fresh life into their lives.

7. Saunas + showers. Better products in the bathroom than the ones I own at home. I look for more opportunities to bathe here.

8. Variety on the schedule. Within these four walls, I can find Ashtanga, yin + restorative, hatha, vinyasa, and magical spiritual substance I can really sink my teeth in.

9. Rich relationships. My friends are there. Teachers I’ve known, respected and loved for years. Students who’ve followed me from my Azle living room to Karmany to my South Main loft to here: 3425 W. 7th, aka home.

10. How it feels. Brimming with possibility. How blessed am I for this opportunity. The Universe whispers that to me each time I enter or leave. The best feeling in the world is to know that the best is yet to come.

#gratitude #gratitudeallyear #noneedtowaitfornovember #thankyouthankyouthankyou

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straight outta meditation

My morning meditation is the time when I get real with my Self. I once thought meditation was all about returning to the breath. “When a thought arises, return to the breath.” This is a great strategy for mindfulness. However, after working with Gabrielle Douglas in meditation over the past month I’ve realized that I am ready to go deeper. “Allow yourself to think the nagging thought,” she’s encouraged. and in doing so, I’ve realized how many of my thoughts are (still) rooted in fear. fear blocks us from our True nature, which I believe to be Love. and the only way to overcome fear, I feel, is to go in and touch it – with breath, with compassion, and with confidence that it’s likely not real. this morning, I realized it was February 22nd, that we’re in the 8th week of the new year, that I’m not gaining much traction in my writing and that I’ve lost the balance in a few realms. And, I’ve got legitimate and noble reasons, of course.

meditation web dream hotel

According to the Handel Group, there are 3 voices of self-sabotage: the weather reporter, the inner brat, and the chicken. The weather reporter objectively reports a sad state of affairs as a meteorologist does the weather. “You are spending 42 hours each week teaching yoga or holding a camera, just slightly below average this time of year. A change is not forecasted. If you’re looking to find time for writing in this season of your life, don’t expect to find it in the morning. You are not a morning person. Never have been, never will be.” The inner brat says, “I’m too tired to write…I can’t get up any earlier than 6 am…I’m working so hard…and I deserve my sleep.” The chicken says, “I’m afraid. I’m afraid to write. I’m afraid to publish anything longer than a Facebook status.”

And while the weather reporter and the inner brat have some merit, it’s the chicken who keeps clucking me over. Every. Single. Time.

But the thing is, there’s another voice within each of us. It’s the voice of love. And s/he might not be as loud as the chicken, as ostentatious as the bratty kid, or as matter-of-fact as the weather man. But s/he’s Real. Velveteen Rabbit real. And the only way I get to Real is through meditation. Because routine meditation is the only practice I’ve found that quiets the other three down. If you’re looking to begin a meditation practice or to take your established sitting practice to the next level, join us for SoulSit, a series in meditation Tuesday’s at noon in March at SoulSpace Yoga Community. 


Kila Rennaker | Fort Worth Yoga Teacher

She brought her sweet daughter to the shoot. And it was briskly cold that morning so we stood in the kitchen drinking coffee and chatted. There are people whose very presence leaves you feeling brighter, and Kila is one of those people. Her talents are many. She’s mother to 3 beautiful children, a Great Dane, and at least a horse or two. She brought me cowboy boots her daughter had outgrown. “You’ll have to come ride horses soon,” she said later.

She’s also a nutrition health coach extraordinaire and my go-to gal for all essential oils questions. And, uh, yeah – she teaches an amazing yoga class too.

What I love about the creation process is how fun and easy going it can be. And that always makes for the best imagery.

To find out more about Kila, visit her classes in Weatherford and at The Sanctuary Yoga Room.

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how I’m recovering from an addiction to sugar

My ego leads me to believe that I’m all alone in my struggles. I’ve been amazed by the messages and questions I’ve received about cutting sugar from my diet. I’m not an expert. I’m not eliminating it perfectly nor entirely, I’m sure. And I don’t really care if other people eat sugar – even around me. Live and let live…do what works for you. It wasn’t working for me. To those of you who can eat half a piece of cake, I salute you. I can’t. I want the whole cake. And then another. A half a piece of cake is too much for me and every cake in the world is never enough. But, I’ve been leery of telling people about this change I’ve made in my life – because I’m afraid I’ll fail / look stupid / be ridiculed. This is what ego does…out of concern for herself, she rehearses all that could go wrong to keep me from stepping out and showing up authentically in the world. I love my life – all of it…I certainly know this is not the case for everyone. And I’ve had my share of years and probably lifetimes where I didn’t. But now I do. So when I don’t wake excited about the day, I know the problem is within me.

And sugar was a problem for me. It had become one more way not to feel anything. Bored? Frustrated? Celebrating? Tired? Anxious? Sad? Empty? The answer was always sugar. Through this process I’ve been reminded of something Judith Lasater said to me a few years ago, “We mistake agitation for energy.”

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To sober up from sugar wasn’t a decision I made with vanity in mind. In an effort to fit back into my jeans this summer, I abandoned meals in favor of sugar. It was reminiscent of the way I used to starve myself and drink my calories in the evening. So basically, for a while now, I’ve eaten one meal a day (dinner) plus a steady stream of coffee and sugary snacks throughout the day. With this decision, I’ve not wished to lose weight. A former (not sure always if former is true) anorexic, I don’t get on the scale. Now on the other side of the withdrawals and mood swings, I feel amazing. I can sleep. I wake before the alarm. And my skin – it’s cleared up. My eyes are bright. Maybe because I’m sleeping each night which is amazing – a miracle, really. I emerged from the womb colicky, and not that much has changed – until the past 22 days. I can sit in meditation again without wanting to climb out of my skin. I can see auras and energy.

People keep asking me how long I’m going to do this, and I haven’t thought about it really…the future…because the only real success I’ve ever had has come one day at a time. So, I woke this morning and committed that I am not going to eat sugar today. For the first few days, I actually included this humble request and affirmation in my prayers:

Ahem, “God, humbly and gratefully, I thank you. For all that I have and all that I am, I owe to you. Please help me to act as you would have me act today. Deliver me from the prideful bondage of ego and help me to be of service to others, to you and Your will. Where I am judgmental, open me to compassion. And as I inevitably falter today, please help remind me of this prayer. I ask that you make me willing to eliminate sugar because the dependency, I know, is making my connection to You hazy. Should my car magically arrive at Starbucks at 3 pm or Melt at 9, I ask that you keep me away from the first cake ball / scone / cupcake / waffle cone. You’ve got your work cut out for you today, you hear? Amen.”

I added this sweet footnote for the first several days to my typical morning prayer because I cannot do hard things, alone. It doesn’t matter that I was raised to be independent, that I’m a self-employed Taurus with willpower for days. I am an addict. And I need help. And yes, I felt a little ridiculous. I’m talking about sugar not intravenous drugs. But Gabrielle Bernstein encouraged me to pray, and she’s been sugar sober for over 2 years. 2 years without sugar sounded absolutely impossible to me.

But I felt that way about alcohol too. I remember when I couldn’t string together 2 sober days. When someone had 2 years, I thought they were crazy.

They probably kinda were. As I am. We all are a little crazy. A crazy sliding scale. And sugar was making me insane. It had escalated to the point that I needed it. A few hours without it and I had a headache. And the shame. Oh the shame. The tired tape about how I’m a yoga teacher and should be healthier. It’s been around for me since the substance was cigarettes.

I recall a year or so ago, the woman at Central Market saying of the cupcakes in my cart “It’s not like you’re riding around in a chair or anything…you’re not even overweight.” These comments were enough to make me think I was managing it. But I was out of control even then. I didn’t know it yet.

Sugar was the first drug I ever abused. I remember being 4 the first time. I wanted to change the lonely abandoned feeling I felt. And what do you know a whole package of cookies worked?!

I abandoned sugar for years in favor of alcohol and prescription pills. And when I cleaned up those behaviors, my sweet tooth returned. Alcohol metabolizes as sugar. In the olden days, they actually fed alcoholics cake to get them through withdrawals.

And for a couple years I embraced sugar like a long lost friend. Because between alcohol and sugar – sugar was the lesser of the two evils. My sobriety depended on it, I feel. My life, really. Because when I drink, I want to die. Even though I have so many reasons to live.

But, there came a day a little over 3 weeks ago when I was done. I was done just as I had been done with drinking…and smoking. I didn’t blow it out for one last bender with all my favorite desserts. I just woke up one morning and said, “I’m done” followed by the prayer. Because though I felt done, I didn’t know what to do differently instead.

So in addition to the prayer, here’s what I’ve done. It’s helped me. It’s my experience. May it give you hope. Five people told me yesterday that I’ve inspired them. And I think it’s because they know I was really badly addicted and if I can do it, there’s hope for you, too.

  1. Water. Water moves the sugar out. It keeps you full. Start with warm lemon water in the morning. If lemon is too hard on your teeth or stomach, maybe mint. Drink water all day.
  1. Prep meals. Set yourself up so you have food to eat. I leave the house in the morning for a 10 hour day with:  homemade granola + yogurt or almond milk, a smoothie with greens and low glycemic fruit, cashew butter + rice cakes, eggs + sweet potatoes + avocado, and a salad. If you don’t cook, check out my friend Claudia’s made-to-order food service company, My Sweet Roots. She delivers.  
  1. Do something different. Especially at peak craving times. At 3 pm, instead of eating a cupcake and a latte during my break, I took the dog for a walk, practiced legs up the wall, read a few inspiring pages from a book, called a friend, drank hot tea, wrote handwritten thank you notes.
  1. Find a decadent substitute. For me it’s cashew butter and rice cakes. I don’t know how this dish is not sugary. My brain thinks it is. I love it.
  1. Prepare an evening ritual. I began drinking golden milk and returned to taking epsom salt baths. I had aches and pains from the withdrawals. I thought I was getting sick. I took essential oils for that. Around day 5, right as I was about to throw the white flag, I turned a corner. Sometimes the miracle comes on the heels of total surrender. Depending on how strict you are, reduce or remove the honey.
  1. Close the day in gratitude. I began writing in my gratitude journal again. I mean, just the fact that I’m writing a blog post about sugar should tell you how much I have to be grateful for. This is a “problem” some would dream of. This practice, especially putting the pen to paper, helped me to get over the obsession.

This is how I feel. Revived. Excited about life. And this is how I want to feel always, one day at a time.

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