Category Archives: Blog

My musings.

The Tongue: Intention Matters

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This is Bella. Without the love and training of her owner, Alex, she would still be wild and undisciplined. But with his love and training, she is now an equine therapist that helps people overcome trauma. She, herself, was traumatized but is now using her own trauma INTENTIONALLY. You see here that I was able to do yoga with her near me and she was FREE of a bridle. This is because of an extended time of training beforehand. You see here that I am pointing one way and she another. But…there is no fear in that because we are BOTH self- controlled. SHE could have hurt me, but because I trusted her trainer, I trusted her.

This whole idea that Jesus spoke about in bridling one’s tongue…..
When we put a bit in a horses mouth, it doesn’t prevent the horse from opening it’s mouth, it prevents the horse from going wild in a direction it isn’t intended to go. Using our tongues with INTENTION and FOCUS doesn’t ever mean we don’t speak up or out. It means we direct our whole being in the direction we WANT to go for ourselves AND with others. It’s self- control not self- stifling. It’s self- growth not self -ish. It’s a way to be mature rather than hot headed. It’s a good thing. Alex had to FIRST earn her trust because of her trauma, and she had to learn to trust HIM, because of his trauma. TRUST means a lot. But, when LOVE and growth are the motives and intentions, a wonderful thing can happen in our REALationships.
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Words To Live By….

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Contemplative prayer is not just a request FOR something outside oneself, but actually it takes an opportunity line by line to read something such as this Serenity Prayer of St. Francis ( below) and digest it fully, taking it into the body, breathing it and allowing it to breathe you. It is taking it into the eyes, allowing you to see it, and to be seen. It is taking it into the depths of the soul, and line by line, as if it were your only food, to be eaten and digested one morsel at a time, and to become you. A prayer so deep that you are compelled to make it personal, to make it a living word that cannot help but spill out to the World around you. It will affect every thought you think, every word you say, and every life you touch. For it is not a powerless prayer, rather it is the kind of prayer that invites you to the depth of your own being and changes you there , if you will have it. It is a deep listening at the very heart of God

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What I intend to be a 14 day journey, may actually turn into more, but  I will go line by line and share what this stillness that speaks, speaks to me about being an instrument of peace, not only to others, but to myself as well.

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.”
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The questions I asked myself were: ” What kind of peace does God have?
What does it mean to be an instrument in the hands of God?
How do I breathe this portion of this prayer and how do I allow it to breathe me?
As soon as I asked these questions with a full intention of hearing God speak,  six words came to me instantly. ” Take the dogs for a walk.” Someone might say, ” God had to tell you to take your dogs for a walk?” Well, the last two weeks we have been house-bound because my dog became suddenly ill with valley fever. I was to go on vacation but had to cancel because of all the med needs as well as my personal attention. He’s one of my kids! I’m his human and I couldn’t give this job to someone else. So, he was to get no excersize at all which was fine with me because it’s hot outside.

I’m not a good dog walker in the summer and I’m not a good morning walker at all though it’s the best time. The reason being is that I get up, have coffee, and read , study , and pray for a few hours and I feel like I NEED that space for myself. SO, today, as I asked that question, ” How can I be an instrument of your peace?” The words came easily and as soon as I heard them, my dog Jake came right up to me and just stared me in the eye as if saying, ” Really? You are taking us for a walk?”

Now, mind you, I hadn’t said anything out-loud. But, Jake is my very in-tune dog. He senses stuff immediately that might be going on in others so it was funny to me as well as just being amazed that God would hold me accountable through the eyes of my Jake. It would bring me peace to the guilt I had for not allowing him to get out and run, and it would bring him peace ( and Jude as well because he has SO much energy that has been stifled ) because he loves to get out and walk.

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During our walk, I was reminded of what I read before taking off in my Deep Yoga book.
” Take time to be thankful for the sunrise, the air you breathe, the mountains, the sky, everything around you.” This walk afforded me all that and also to pray for others who came to mind that were struggling.

I thought of another prayer that would go with the first line of making me an instrument of God’s peace:
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I can’t change that my dog has valley fever right now, but I can change how much joy I can give to him when he feels lousy.

I may not be able to change what my friends are going through, but I can hold space for them and their suffering through prayer, and just maybe I will come to sense there is something practical I can do for them too.

I may not have wisdom in everything I seek, but I can have the courage to seek changes in what I can.

It isn’t the  Earth shattering things that we might expect prayer to be. It’s the simplicity of just being with ourselves, with our God, and allowing that still small voice to give us even the smallest direction for the moment. The simple little things done on a daily basis add up, and with all that is going on in the World today, each of us can be an instrument of peace and it begins with us asking, ” HOW?”

Namaste’

In The Letting Go..

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“If you want a happy ending, that depends of course, on where you stop your story” Orson Wells
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“Unless I go away”, He said….
Reading where Jesus was telling His followers that He was going away . He understood how sorrowful they would be. They were “familiar” with this Jesus of flesh and bones. Someone they could touch and have face to face when telling their adventures. Jesus knew that it would be harder to “get” Him when all they had to depend on was the “Spirit” who would come afterwards. He has to “ascend” and change form for their lives to move forward. God knows that people get stuck while trying to hold on to that which is no longer is going to serve them or His purposes.
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Letting go of this Jesus of flesh and bones is the only real way to see Him as He is.
Isn’t it that way with others as well? We want to hold on to a fantasy of who we thought they were or weren’t , but only in the letting go can we really see someone as they really are. We can only see ourselves that way too. It’s in the “revealing” that we either learn to love others as they are, or continue to hold on to the fantasies of what we “thought” they were. People don’t often change quickly, it’s just that we didn’t see every side. Mary didn’t recognize Jesus in the garden. He had SUDDENLY changed. The thing is, He had been telling them who He was for a long time beforehand. They had only forgotten or seen what they “wanted” to see, good or bad. Even at the tomb, they still expected to see Him as He was in some way.
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Unless I go away the Spirit of truth will not come”…..
The Spirit of truth HAD to come. To gain one, we often have to lose the other.
“Having eyes, they see not. Having ears, they hear not..”
The Spirit of truth WILL come in that answer you need. It will not “leave you as an orphan.”
Love will reveal it.
Truth is never too late…
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The Journey to contemplative prayer is often one of sitting and waiting. Not waiting for nothing, but waiting for what comes when we’ve let go of that which was illusive.
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie : though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Hab 2:3
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Namaste’

Trauma Sensitive Calming Yoga Practice

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Yoga for trauma is somewhat different than a regular practice is that your intention is very focused on feeling safe, even with your self. Certain positions can trigger emotional responses in the tissues of the body and that feeling of safety can be hindered.  This particular set is for people who are wanting the Biblical emphasis in their work.

The very first thing I would do is create a safe space where you will not become distracted easily. If you are dealing with obsessive thoughts from the get go, bring yourself as you normally would to attend to your breath. maybe even the cleansing alternate nostril breathing while you are seated. When you are ready, you can move into three part breath while still focusing on the breath. When you picture the 3 part breath as a glass of water being poured on the inhale, you are also interacting with the imagination. First, the top of the glass of water is poured out into the belly or bottom of the glass so to speak. It then fills up the ribs or side body, moving into the upper chest and clavicle. When you are exhaling, you are pouring water back into the glass and so you pour it from the clavicle, then empty the ribs and side body, then the belly is last. While you are focusing on this breath, you can have a spiritual impact on the mind as well as you invasion what you want to take in ( maybe love, acceptance, forgiveness, lightheartedness, whatever it is) and take it though your whole being, then upon that exhale, you breathe or pour out those thoughts that make you suffer ( anger, self loathing, heavy heartedness etc…).
I love the phrase, ” Energy flows where attention goes”, so focus your energy and attention on that which you want to take in and that which you want to release.
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2. It’s best to have only one affirmation at a time that you want to focus on for each practice. If you are feeling weak, your affirmation ma be, ” I am strong and resilient”, or I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Other ideas are, ” I am worthy of love, I release shame.” I am hopeful and faithful”. etc etc… You can come up with your own SHORT one liners. For twists, ” Everywhere I turn, I see joy.” Everywhere I turn, God is with me.” Etc….

3. When the obsessive thoughts try to return, use your very short one liners to return with your focus on the breath. You can even use a portion of the one liners, ” Faith.” Hope”, Resilient, etc…. just to make it more simple and forthright and easier to focus on the breath.
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4.  Calming Asanas and ideas for wordings if wanted. Each of these movements can be as long as you would like to make them.
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1. Seated Mountain. ” I am seated with Christ in love.”
2. Seated alternate nostril breathing. ” I am a sweet fragrance.”
3. 3 part breath. ” I am filled with divine love.” I inhale…. I release……”
4. Seated Sun breaths A.  Left hand rested in your lap with palm up, right hand about height of your sternum palm facing down. As you inhale, allow your right hand to move with the breath upwards but no further than the throat. As you exhale,  allow the right hand to descend to the left palm SLOWLY with the breath. Invite the hand to go with the breath, not the breath with the hand. And slow it down and stay focused. You are allowing  the energy to flow aligned with the chakras above the  the root and below the crown. Notice that it involves your throat chakra, which symbolizes your voice. So much trauma involves not feeling like we have a say or a voice. You are also engaging the heart chakra as well more specifically in this breath practice. Do this for as long as you fill the need to create the breath and movement connection. Keep your hands soft.
  Variation B..Sun breaths …with palms together at the heart. On the inhale, open the hands as far as you can inhale the breath, even out to stretching them as far as they will go, then on the exhale, bring them back in towards the heart space.
Variation c sun breaths… hands at heart,  inhale raise them up and out and upon exhale, draw them back in to the heart and slightly bowing your head to your hands.
Variation D... same as above but sitting on your heels and beginning with hands softly on thighs palms down, ad raising up on inhale and setting palms back on the thighs upon exhale…
All of these movements are YOUR choice to empower you to have a choice and say in your practice.
5. Seated neck and shoulder rolls
6. Table top for cat cow or taking hips back to right heel, up to hands, back to left heel, opening the spine.
7. Childs pose variations. knees together, knees wide as the mat.
8. Childs pose stretch with hands to=both sides.
9. Down dog. Alternate calf stretching ( I will run and not be weary, I will walk and not faith)
10. Tadasana. ” I am strong and resilient”
11. Tree. “” I am steady and flexible”.
12.  Standing Fwd Fold. ” You are my hiding place. Whenever I am afraid I will trust in You.”
13. Lunge . ” I can run through a troop and leap over a wall.”
14. Crescent. ” I am strong in the Lord.”
15. Step up to mountain. Hands at heart
16. Fwd Fold
17. Lunge other side
18. Crescent
19. Step up to mountain. ” I am strong and resilient.”
20. Tree other side.” I am steady and flexible.”
21. Chair. ” I am seated with Christ.”
22. Fwd Fold, with staff pose or  one leg in, one straight. Whatever is comfy for you.
23. Seated twists ” Everywhere I turn, I see…joy, peace, life etc.. YOUR choice.
24. Bridge. ” He will lift me up”
25.  Seated Hugging knees. ” I am deeply loved, completely acceptable, I am enough.”
26. Boat with outstretched hands. ” My heart is open”..
27. Reclining twists.” Everywhere I turn, I …..”
28. Savasana. ” I am deeply loved, completely acceptable, I am enough.”
29. Notice your breath and repeat this as many times as you need to.
30. Notice your energetic space. How do you feel in your body?
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IN any of these asanas YOU choosier phrases. Sit down and come up with some of your ow ideas of scriptures, words or phrases that help YOU feel peaceful and safe.

IF you move into a more energetic practice such as sun salutes, use phrases that build on strength and resilience, maybe the opposite of what you are feeling in the trauma.
Since trauma involves anxiety or fear of what’s next, try to stay in the known focus on sayings that help you feel a sense of trust and hope.
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Remember that it is a PRACTICE, one step, one day, one breath…at a time.
Each affirmation or asana is a space for you to use your breath for freedom.
Step out of the mold that others have placed you in, or that you have placed yourself in, one step at a time. Each little pice is unloaded and before you know it, you will be on the other side. Have patience with yourself. Do the work. Let God do his.
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IS. WITH. YOU.

Holding Life. Holding Space. Holding Me.

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” Changing brings questions, and questions bring change.” Anonymous
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We are each on a trip, a journey, and sometimes we don’t know where we are going, and other times we know, but we don’t know how it will be along the way. When we lose control of the journey, ( because often the journey takes US) what have we left? When we have exhausted all answers, all methodology, all that we know to do, what have we got to hold onto? All we know to do is to BE who we are, to hold space for ourselves and what we believe at the very core of our Being. It must become ever so simple, brought down to the minutest moment of each day, savoring it, holding it, gazing at it with respect and reverence. This is such a sacred life we bear. I am brought more and more to a realization that it needs to be… that even the smallest moments must be held as sacred. I’m praying for someone who the Docs have told that the medicine isn’t working anymore. My heart is broken, but there is still something, someone I hold so tightly to. 11118471_469960799820494_1621642713765572935_n

The ONE THING that can be shaken, but not dislodged within me. My belief that God is not only alongside and within us NOW, but to the very moment that Gods presence will change shape and meet us at the end of the road. And that Presence will meet all that hold space for us as well, because that space is HOLY, and it is SACRED, and God dwells within the Holy and the Sacred, no matter how messy it appears. To hold faith, I don’t tell it what it do, neither do I command IT to obey me any longer. Faith is much bigger than I, much wiser than I. I embrace it and it encompasses me.

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I have come to place of peace with faith. I have consented to accept the things I cannot change and to change the things I can, and to somehow come to a place where I can discern which is which at any given moment. What I want to remember is that I can stay away from creating more stories around the story that I have. To remain in a state of trust, I can allow the questions without building a story that will cause suffering, and I don’t have to be afraid of the questions, but I can refuse that those questions will often offer me “assumed” answers that will make me suffer. To be comfortable when the questions come rather than to feel like I need to have the answer, is a peaceful place to be for me. The minute I go to all the other thoughts around the issue, my heart begins to fear and suffer, because the stories that come are usually infused with fear and suffering. Vain imaginations , so to speak.

So… I have come to know that when I am bowed over, I am not alone. When I open my eyes after the tears, there is someone bigger than I that has their eye on ME. And that eye is on the smallest sparrow as well.

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And so today, this moment, is the only moment I or anyone else has. I hold it close. I call it HOLY. I honor it as SACRED. And the moment holds me intact, unscathed, and I BREATHE. ❤

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Namaste’

Trauma Sensitive Yoga: What’s The Big Deal?

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The more I study about trauma, the more I realize that Yoga can actually be a trigger in trauma victims UNLESS…. it is Trauma Sensitive YOGA. This is because TSY focuses on reconnecting the mind and body, using mindfulness and NOT disassociating from the body. There are so many different types of Yoga classes, and for the student looking to reconnect with their body and themselves, or for coming to trust their bodies and themselves, some classes that coerce one to “push further” or hold longer” and can instill the idea that their body doesn’t know what it needs and therefore once again, to ignore it. This can lead to further injury somatically, mentally, and physically. This yoga can actually  traumatize the student further because they aren’t being taught to “listen” to their bodies and process what they are feeling. TSY teaches the student to bring what they have to their practice, and in that offering, dismantle their powerlessness and learn to use their breath to listen to their bodies and to make choices that involve taking care of themselves.( adapted from Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga, Reclaiming The Body : David Emerson)

BFKH6dUFwBKDIwvgfab0JEN1ysYXBGAj43xhvRnw2vMEven the use of props can be unwise thing for many, especially in recovery yoga. Some people have used “props” all their lives to “avoid” certain emotions and situations, so using props can actually be a detriment to their moving forward and realizing their body can  do much for them itself without using a prop unless ABSOLUTELY needed.( 12 Step Recovery Yoga). Straps can be a huge trigger for those who have suffered sexual assaults. Even Power and Vinyasa, ( my FAVORITE) can get the student moving so fast that they can actually “check out” rather than “check in” to their body. This, though they may love it, is actually not a good thing for those students who are trying to get back in touch with themselves. They can rotely push through the practice, without a body, mind, spirit connection, which is the goal of TSY. This can actually keep the body closed to healing because it doesn’t allow the student to experience what’s there underneath the trauma.AqV-mCqc28atvhAIQsJQAQhXTvj6-sbOfXWe5Qci-D8

Being open to experience the bodily sensations is the beginning to opening the eyes of the heart once again. Once the heart begins to open, healing can begin infiltrating those spaces where trauma has controlled the emotional, physical, and spiritual body.sSSnNRxUEy06l-MbA55bWhTRF_PMHx3L3HxSJqFpkK8

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MUSIC can also be something that triggers past trauma. Certain songs might have been on while the student was experiencing trauma. That “song” or certain types of music can deter that student from progressing, and may even deter them from coming back to yoga. LOUD music, where instructions cannot be heard, or even certain types of acoustics can be a hindrance and be interpreted as chaotic, as the person traumatized has different issues going on in their brains and body than those who have not been traumatized.

Hot Yoga can also be a huge trigger for those who have had traumatic sexual abuse. The sweating and even the structural and strong sounding “commands” can trigger the student back to that place where they are not in charge of their own body but must “submit” to their “leader”. In TSY, it is imperative that “assists” are not incorporated unless they are in a “workshop” model where they have come for that reason and are informed beforehand what they are going to encounter. The “alignment” focus can deter a student or trigger shame because they are “not doing it right” once again in their lives. The “perfection” idea of alignment is fine for regular classes, but in the TS class, that same perfection often is interpreted as “conform or leave.”

These are very sensitive issues the Yoga teacher needs to understand if they are going to reach people with trauma. It’s not for everyone. Each type of Yoga I’ve mentioned is wonderful in and of themselves, but when it comes to trauma, they need to be mindful that TSY is different and the reasons why are documented and tested.

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TSY is a RE-LEARNING how to teach Yoga to a specific population that has learned in life to NOT connect, confront, relate, and check IN to their lives. This is not to say that any of these methods I’ve mentioned are not adaptable for the student with trauma. But, many trauma survivors have stated that yoga has been just another condition that set them up for failure, disappointment, and pain. The point of TSY is reconnection, reintegration, healing, and RE- STORING the students ability to live life IN their body, to FEEL their body once again, and to TRUST their bodies and themselves, aligning with THEMSELVES themselves on a deeper level, and LOVING themselves once again. Therefore, Yoga that draws the student to these specific things will enable the student to live life rather than withdraw from it, feel their bodies, rather than numb it, and confront the ego rather than allow it to continue it’s destructive course towards burying the trauma deeper.

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Another interesting thing is when TSY is used for those with Religious abuse. Those who have been taught that their body is “evil” or purely “sexual”, have learned to cover it up or hide it and not consider their body sacred. Reaching this type of student is crucial in order to reconnect them to this vital understanding that if the belief is there that God created their body, then God also claimed it was GOOD, and not evil. This is also an important place where teaching the student to THINK and LISTEN to their own hearts rather than a dictator or guru who taught them NOT to trust them, and only trust others to LEAD them. TSY is just that: Trauma SENSITIVE. It’s different. It takes MINDFULNESS TRAINING and a specific type of teacher that is also a STUDENT, willing to learn something outside of what they have learned before in a different model. Yoga can be the vehicle to restore loving your body and appreciating it, regarding it as sacred and worthy.

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IF you are seeking to become a TSY teacher…look deeply into what it entails, study everything you can about it, and get whatever CRUCIAL instruction and certification that is RECOGNIZED and trained THEMSELVES, not just through “book learning” they have gotten  from other sources, but from actual experience from teaching TSY themselves.

The TEACHER is always a STUDENT first and foremost.  Be a student of others who have been there, done that, not in head knowledge only but in experience.

Some of my teachers below.
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All things written here are from different sources: Overcoming Trauma through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body, (by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper , PhD) Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD Give Back Yoga : Mindful Yoga Therapy Trauma Sensitive Yoga For Veterans And First Responders with PTSD Yoga For First Responders 12 Step Yoga For Recovery Bootstrap Stress Management Through Yoga and more….

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Contact me for upcoming classes and workshops @ 602-460-3987
Yoga & Oils

Journey’s End…my 43 day journey into inhabiting my own life..

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It was Saturday, April 29th. The clouds were heavy with moisture for the second day in a row and I was full of joy. The day began with finishing up some work I started about ten days ago. Work that prepared my house with new carpet, meaning EVERYTHING had to be moved out into the kitchen and for the first time in my life, I had to admit it: I was a hoarder of fun and interesting STUFF. Seeing it all in my large kitchen was daunting, in fact, it didn’t even fit into my kitchen. Some of the collection of furniture and STUFF had to be moved outside. I couldn’t even inhabit my own kitchen for most of these days.

I came across a book intitiled: ” the life-changing magic of tidying up”, by marie kondo. She has the title and her name un- capitalized so that is why I did it as well. The “gyst” as my friend coins (getyourshittogether) of the book is to rid yourself of anything that no longer speaks to your heart or gives you joy. Since yesterday was “May Day”, I celebrated wholeheartedly all the work I had done. I still have a few things to go through but in 10 days, my life has been transformed. When I began this journey, I wasn’t planning on re-doing my WHOLE house or life. I was just going to start new things. Marie’s book is the Japanese Art of de-cluttering and organizing. She says if you do her method, EVERYTHING in your life will change and you will never again collect anything that doesn’t speak to your heart or bring you joy. She even mentioned that new relationships will open up and old ones will end up either transforming or walking away.  Today, May 2, goodwill is coming and carrying all those burdens away. What became a heavy weight in my own home, will bring joy to another, and I couldn’t be happier. And it’s true what she said about other things. Relationships changed overnight. WOW! That’s pretty fast! I knew all along that something was going to take place in my life with this reorganization of priorities but I didn’t think it would be so quick. It’s true though, when you get rid of “clutter”, things that hold you back from inhabiting and living your own life, those who try to invade it or manipulate it have nothing else to do for you or against you.

Reading back over my prior days, I didn’t know what changes would take place in my heart. I thought I might be more creative, more present to my life, more in-tune with things. I started off by intending to being EARLY to work rather than rushing and get there right on time. Nine out of ten days, it happened! I didn’t blog after my last entry because I really wanted to be present to the process of it all. Of course it’s not over. I’ve continued the journey of tidying up in all things. My home is peaceful, my heart is full, and I’m looking for all the new possibilities ready to meet me. During this time, a great friend also approached me about an employment opportunity that I am taking seriously. This opportunity would free me up even more for what passions serve my highest purpose.

Do dreams comes true? I’m betting on the idea that the “life- changing magic of tidying up” will open up some magical spaces for where the untidy things held me bound. In my home, in my heart, and in my mind. In the book, she encourages this process to be done in a style of meditation, actually showing gratitude one by one to the things you are discarding by holding them and then letting them go. Saying “thank-you” to stuff for serving you for however long you had them, and then releasing them to serve others. I loved that idea! And so…I did it. And it does work! Some things were hard to say goodbye to and others , not so much. Below are the pictures of my beginning this process and it began if you remember by my trip to the Sedona Yoga Festival and holding a ceremony for myself by committing to myself to always love, cherish, and honor my own self. That paved the way for everything to change for me. I divorced my old ways and entered in to a new relationship with myself, my God, and with others.

Take a peek at my transformation…

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Taking a closer look…
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Reaching for what I wanted..
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Speaking my truth without backing down..
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th-13
Everything moved in to the kitchen that could fit.
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The Family Room before the transformation with paint and re-rooming.
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these have sense been cleaned out again and neatly placed in an old redone armoir.
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Refurbished and re-roomed a piece I was tired of..
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Got rid of lots of desks and made a nursery for my loves..

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chillin’ before and after the transformation.
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Saying goodbye TODAY..with gratitude, and moving on for something NEW. I’m excited to see what comes along..and I’m so much freer in mind, body, and spirit, as well as in my own home!
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I’m not done yet……g_p87NPOwDiUd-YPkOjfkI6t41LwkG19TkR9M0WDJJj5xuaEeab_Q85W7ixMpsCATzD7AjrzSshz_A=w1195-h672-no