Celebrating 10 Years of Bloom

On the first Tuesday in May of 2011 I taught my first yoga class. I had completed my initial teacher training the previous month, and Jim and I had decided that I’d teach in our living room. We moved all the furniture into the basement (home of the current Bloom studio), and I sent an email to friends who had helped me as my “guinea pigs” during my training and a few others who had mentioned they might be interested in trying a class. When people showed up for class, my heart was full of joy and terror. Who was I to think I could do this—teach a practice I had barely begun to scratch the surface of?

Well, you lovely people kept showing up and I kept teaching, and it turned into the most beautiful, wonderful thing—a community in which we could trust the wisdom of, “Practice and all is coming.” We learned and grew together; we laughed a lot, cried some, explored the edges of our inner worlds, opened our bodies and quieted our minds. We went upside down for the first time and celebrated each other for facing fears with equanimity and without judgment. We planted roots together on our mats and in our relationships with each other and with yoga. And it has continued each year since. If I could, I’d love nothing more than to throw us all a big party to celebrate!

This practice and all of you have been incredible blessings in my life. Yoga has opened my heart and helped me be a kinder, gentler mom; a strong, steady, loving partner; a compassionate leader; a loving friend, sister, daughter. It has helped me to better understand my unique place in the universe. Each one of you reading this, and all those who have practiced with me over the years, you have been the greatest gifts. You inspire me, encourage me, hold me in your hearts, and trust me to hold space for you. We have seen each other through dark days of grief (individually and collectively) and celebrated the joys that come with being alive. My life is so much richer because of YOU. Because of YOGA. Because of the UNITY we have created in this corner of the world. Thank you to yoga for the incredible journey and all the lessons, and a heart full of thanks to each of you for walking the path with me.

With a decade of teaching and practicing behind me, I have been reflecting on how I want to evolve in my practice, my life, and my offering to my community and the wider world. Change is in the air (always), and I am tuning in. Our time of hunkering down in quarantine is coming to a close, and I am considering how to re-enter my life as it opens up slowly like a beautiful blossom in springtime. Like me, you may be feeling some mix of joy, anxiety, and confusion too.

A dear friend and colleague introduced to me to one of his former writing teachers, Margaret Whalen, whom I now follow. Recently she shared this:

So I was wondering if you, too, are finding yourself thinking back over this year, wondering exactly what you DID with this time. This is a question that is a luxury, I know, limited perhaps to those of us who did not suffer heart-stopping losses of income or the deaths or illnesses of loved ones. But it’s a question I often circle back to; I think of it as the Mary Oliver Question. She ends her poem “The Summer Day” with this question: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” It’s a question that has always spoken to me, and it speaks especially loudly now.

I think of it in two parts: What did I do with my year of living alone? What will I do going forward? I think of the past year and think, Well, I got through it. Oh, I did try to nurture my mind and my spirit—my body, not so much… I told stories to friends, who offered me kindness and comfort and stories of their own. I listened to a lot of music, some of it new, all of it a gift. I’ve spent almost all of the last year-and-a-month in my own hermitage–my own little house–and in the gardens that surround it. While it has often been hard, I have also found steadying comfort in the gardens, watching the changes of the seasons unfold, tending to plants that feed my spirit and my body, taking in the sounds of the mockingbirds that live in the honeysuckle out back and the oak tree in front. I’ve learned the sound of the song of the red-whiskered bulbuls, and on some days, that has been enough. But, lest I spin too far into romanticizing, I didn’t read as much as I thought I would. On some days, I ugly cried. I also re-watched more seasons than I care to admit of Psych, Frankie and Grace, and New Tricks. (Okay: I watched all of them. All the seasons.)

A more daunting question for me right now is the going forward question. What is it I plan to do? That part is harder for me. The world feels changed and hard and uncertain. What is the path? Can I even conceive of my life as “wild and precious”? I dunno, my friends. There’s just part of me that feels we have been given an opportunity to press the “re-set” button, and I’m hoping that I—that we—will choose wisely.

I’ve got my finger hovering over the reset button. I’m thinking, praying, planning, and staying open to possibilities. I’m thinking of new ways to serve. So watch this space in the weeks and months ahead!

I would love to hear from you. What are you thinking, feeling, planning, hoping, dreaming?

Thank you from the bottom of my grateful heart for your friendship, your trust, your love, and 10 years of Bloom.

In the End

by Tara Mohr

In the end
you won’t be known
for the things you did,
or what you built,
or what you said.
 
You won’t even be known
for the love given
or the hearts saved,
 
because in the end you won’t be known.
 
You won’t be asked, by a vast creator full of light:
What did you do to be known?
 
You will be asked: Did you know it,
this place, this journey?
 
What there is to know can’t be written.
Something between the crispness of air
and the glint in her eye
and the texture of the orange peel.
 
What you’ll want a thousand years from now is this:
a memory that beats like a heart–
a travel memory, of what it was to walk here,
alive and warm and textured within.
 
Sweet brightness, aliveness, take-me-now-ness that is life.
 
You are here to pay attention. That is enough.

The importance of doing nothing

Chiuso. Closed.

In Italy, riposo, or daily rest, is a thing—a beautiful thing. Many Italians close their shops at midday, and in the mornings on Sundays and Mondays, to be home, cook a meal, have time with family and rest a little.  

Daily rest is not a thing for most of us here in the good old USA. We have too much to do, too many commitments, too much forward thrust to bring our lives to a halt to refresh body, mind, and spirit. If we tune in, our bodies will tell us when we need to rest each day. Yet, instead of listening, often we reach for that afternoon cup of coffee or tea to keep us going.

Judith Hanson Lasater, who has crusaded for restorative yoga for more than 40 years now, is now on a mission to teach people that daily rest is essential to our overall health—just as diet, exercise and proper amounts of sleep are. And studies show that all we need is 20 minutes. Lasater explains,

“For the average person, it takes the body 15 minutes to relax. The next stage is when we move into our body clock—our body time—allowing for re-programming of our parasympathetic nervous system. This shift into the parasympathetic system is important because it helps stabilize and improve our long-term functions, such as our immune system, our circulatory system, our digestive system and our hormones, including fertility. After 20 minutes of rest, your mind goes into an empty state, similar to wiping a chalkboard clean, giving us the ability to think more clearly and reframe our focus.”  

When I led my most recent bi-annual yoga retreat in Italy, I rested each day. It felt wonderful—actually, it felt luxurious. Which made me stop and think—why does this pause in my day feel so unattainable in my normal life?

So, I’ve challenged myself to building 20 minutes of rest into every day. I’ve also challenged myself to committing to a full day of rest at least three Sundays this month. Yesterday was my first one. I found myself feeling guilty for not going to the grocery store to do meal prep for the week and all the other things I do to “catch up” from the previous week. But I just gave myself a little pep talk to let that %&*# go, and I rested. All day. It was awesome.

I invite you to join me in this challenge! Can you find 20 minutes each day to simply rest?

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