Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Ironically, I did not do yoga on day 30 of this project. Yesterday was spent mostly indoors and quietly observing my feelings fall down a little. And that’s all well and good.

I started September with the intention of using yoga to find God, to somehow awaken a new fervor for a religion that I had previously abandoned, and to restore my sense of identity in spiritual terms.
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What actually happened:

The third week of this journey I crashed a little. I skipped a day and then was faced with an enormous sadness. I wrote in my journal, “I think part of this journey is letting go of a previous identity that just isn’t my own anymore. It’s a grieving process as well as an awakening. It’s deeply comforting and completely unsettling. I have work to do. I am learning so much.”

This past week has been equally as blue. I have not felt the closure that I told myself I would feel. Alas, yoga has not fixed it all. But it has made me ask more dynamic questions about my spirituality. Like, “What does God look like?”, “Who am I?” “Who is he/she?”, and “Does that matter?” And those questions rarely have answers. Yoga has not been magic, but it has helped me deal with the unknowing.

Being a seeker is not easy work. Today, I feel a little drained. Not practicing yesterday makes me also feel like a fraud. But I think yoga is in everything, kind of like God. So maybe the time spent in my dark room listening to rain “counted” for something. Who knows? I certainly don’t.

I will absolutely keep frequently practicing yoga. Moving forward, I want to be more willing to look deeper into my questions and my present instead of being so fearful of letting go of the answers I thought I knew and the past.

Thank you all for following along.
The light in me acknowledges the light in you.
Keep shining.

Namaste.

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I would run 400 miles

And I would run 400 more, just to be the girl who ran 800 miles just to make an introduction work.

Last weekend, I checked my mileage ran for this year on an app on my phone. It read 404.9 miles. I was surprised to see that number so early in the year because, believe it or not, that was my new year’s resolution: run 400 miles. That isn’t that many miles to a lot of people, but when I set that goal, it seemed like an immensely challenging number.

To mark this achievement, I want to share what running has brought me thus far:

Health as a lifestyle-at my best, I am moving towards health instead of skinny and that is liberating. When I started running in January, my body was beautiful. 400 miles later, my muscles are more defined, my legs can take me farther, and my body is beautiful.

Release-I cannot number how many times I cried during runs this year. Anxiety and sadness way heavy in me, but when I run, I fly. I am forever grateful for that.

Challenge-Amazingly, trails that seemed impossible at the beginning of this year I can now run with my eyes closed. I mean, not closed the whole time, but there are stretches of Forest Park that I can map out vividly in my mind.

Wow. 400 miles. All spent laughing, waking, limping, sprinting, crying, falling, chatting, singing, breathing, dancing, jogging, yelling, and running.

I am only thankful. As strange as it is for me to write these words, running has absolutely enhanced my life 100 times over.

P.s. I have taken a lot of unflattering and hilarious running selfies. Here’s one from my race last weekend.

Om Shanti Shanti

Week two of my thirty-day journey has come and gone. Here are a few thoughts from after today’s practice:

“Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman

Chelsea Rae read those words during shavasana this morning. Her voice with the slow sunrise moved my soul, a little. I have done some form of yoga everyday for 15 days. I feel good. My arms are are getting a little achy and I have to force myself to rest, but I feel good.

That quote has been hanging over me all day. What makes me feel alive? Yoga, running, singing, cooking, painting, sculpting, writing-all these things make me feel like a real person with a beating heart. Isn’t that the point of a spiritual life? Couldn’t salvation be found in life itself? Isn’t that why we take risks? To feel ourselves? To feel God pulsing through us? Regardless, I am grateful for yoga today. Grateful for breathing and moving and bending and breaking.

Halfway in and I know the god I am looking for is bigger than my old one. He also looks like me, though he is a loving Father he is a small Woman. Though he is the Source itself, he is a grain of sand. He is the vapor of my exhale, the oxygen of my inhale.

Namaste

(You can find my thoughts on Week One here)

Om Shanti-week one

There has been so much going on all around me (and I’m sure you, too) and I have been MIA. Wow, it is already September 7th and I am a week into a new month-long commitment. I have decided to do yoga every day for the month of September. This is not a unique challenge, by any means. However, the “why” of any task is what gives it its importance. Here are a few things I journaled after practice tonight on my “why”:

It feels a little silly to write this, but I honestly felt called to this.

For many reasons, I have not practiced the religion I grew up in for almost a year. In light of recent events and the world I live in, I felt frustrated with Christianity and hopeless in my faith. So, I said my goodbyes to my past life and escorted myself out of the culture that I had been so completely shaped by. Months passed, full of so much beauty, bitterness, anger, gratitude, and grace. Whether I liked it or not, the Divine was underscoring everything I experienced.

But I have also been empty and longing and I have recently come to terms with that. Like, tonight.

Rilke wrote that God is “the great homesickness we could never shake off” and that seems to be my truth.

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All this to say, I think I started this ritualistic practice to open myself up to that world again and to prayer again and to the idea of God again. Maybe if my breath and body are intentional, every time I unroll my mat, I will be heard by the Lord. My sweat, the result of work full of gratitude. My balance, evidence of a quiet mind. My rest, the clear presence of a searching heart.

I am unashamedly chasing God during this journey. I will let you know what I find.

Namaste.

 

Thank you

I have spent the last month listing things I am grateful for every day. Honestly, I had read accounts of this process changing people’s hearts and lifting spirits. But I was still doubtful. I am here to tell you that, although I am not a completely new person, this practice is transformative. Gratitude is like a wave, with each thankful moment folding into itself. By the end of the month, I was wading in an ocean of gratitude.

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Acknowledging all of the beauty and privilege that I experience every single day was humbling and moving. The ocean is vast and I have an incredible amount of things to be thankful for. I have kept up this practice because no matter how bad the day is, there is always something to be thankful for. It also gets me to clear my head for a few moments and get connected with the gifts that the Divine has given me.

I wanted to list everything I was thankful for this past month, but it was a very long list. So here are some of my favorites-

THANK YOU:

  • for this inkling of hope I hold on to
  • for strawberries on my salad
  • for David’s face near mine
  • for sun on my shoulders
  • for the song I sing in every darkness
  • for cold water
  • for Leon Bridges
  • for purple
  • for green smoothies
  • for feeling strong
  • for the pain that lets me know I am alive
  • for Jenny and young love
  • for forest park
  • for home made coffee
  • for my spirit being full and empty
  • for the train going by us through trees
  • for sleepy anticipation
  • for Tennessee rain
  • for flickering lights like stars or souls around us
  • for waking up at Anna’s house
  • for no more late nights
  • for intimacy at midnight
  • for sweetness at dawn
  • for You
  • for Me
  • for it All

 

 

 

Weekday Reading

Consider this a “state of the union” of sorts. At the beginning of the year, I resolved to read at least 50 books. My definition of what a “book” is is loose. I was previously writing little reports on what I liked or disliked about the book and key quotes. That hasn’t happened in a long time! I have not stopped reading, but I certainly have stopped writing about what I’ve been reading. So here is the comprehensive list (so far) with comments:

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  1. Finding Ultra by Rich Roll: This is a delightful read if you’re into ultra racing or a vegan lifestyle. 
  2. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: So so good and insightful and moving. Loved it.
  3. What do we know? by Mary Oliver: Lovely poems with a soft touch that only Mary can give.
  4. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson: Funny and informative. A must-read if you have hiked any part of the Appalachian Trail. 
  5. Three Stories by Gustave Flaubert: Short and sweet with some intricate characters. 
  6. Namaslay by Candace Moore: To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed about how much I enjoyed this book. It explains basic yoga asanas with a memoir-esque narrative sprinkled in. 
  7. Poetry Magazine “March Issue”: This issue was full of lyric poems and a selections from Max Ritvo-a poet who died before the issue was published. 
  8. What I talk about when I talk about running by Haruki Murakami: This book was a slow, meditative journey through Murakami’s experience with running. 
  9. One More Thing by BJ Novak: Such a good book to bring to work! It contains funny and engaging short stories ranging from 1-12 pages long. 
  10. Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron: This book is truly transformative. I loved it and plan to revisit often.
  11. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: A collections of essays and thoughts on writing and living a creative life. Totally motivating and encouraging and I now want to be friends with Ms. Gilbert.
  12. The Feather Room by Anis Mojgani: It’s no secret-I love this poet. This is a magical collection that will take you through mystical scenes and real feelings. Sigh.
  13. Maron by Marc Maron: Though funny, this book definitely made me feel uncomfortable at points. I’m still iffy on about liking this curmudgeon. 
  14. Botanical Color at Your Fingertips by Rebecca Desnos: A beautiful how-to on natural dyeing and harvesting materials.
  15.  20. The first six books of The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket: David and I have been reading these aloud to each other on trips and such. This is my favorite children’s book series (sorry Harry Potter people) and I forgot how fun and suspenseful it is! 

So there it is! I have 23 weeks to read 30 books. I am back on track and beyond excited. Now let’s get reading.

Warmly,

Mary Emily

Outdoors on Sundays

The morning here is cool and birds are singing (thank you, Oregon) and I’m sipping on some cold brew. I’ve waited a long time to write this post because it’s incredibly dear to me and of course, that makes me nervous to share it.

“What’s my name, what’s my stations, oh, just tell me what I should do, I don’t need to be kind to the armies of night that would do such injustice to you. Or bow down and be grateful and say “sure take all that you see” to the men who move only in dimly lit halls and determine my future for me.” -Fleet Foxes

This year has been full of changes in the world and the country and I think it is safe to say it’s got a lot of us thinking “What’s next?” For me, the shift in the US government has made me turn into a reluctant activist. I am a passive white girl who has had very little in the way of adversity in her life. But watching my friends hurt because of racial tension, people I respect make plans as if they are going to lose their jobs because they work in the arts and the administration’s blatant disrespect for the environment has ended my passivity. I can’t rely on others to protect what I hold dear. That’s my job now.  And, if I may be frank, it’s yours too. Obviously, I am not putting the pressure of saving the whole world, resolving wars and conflict, mending a broken education system, etc. on our shoulders. But I am saying this: Find what you love and fight for it.

If you know me or have seen this blog, you know that I love nature. The outdoors are my church, inspiration, and motivator. I have found myself deeply devastated at the way things are unfolding for environmental agencies. With climate change as an imminent threat, this disrespect is not only upsetting but dangerous. You, like me, may be asking “Why?” Here’s my (probably wrong) conclusion: People in general, do not care for what they do not know. That is my only way to understand most of the decisions made. So I decided to try to give those around me the opportunity to get acquainted with nature. Thus, the Outdoors on Sundays Project was born.

The idea is simple: I go outside every Sunday and invite whoever wants to come along. I have gone outside the 6 weeks and have committed to another 9 (16 weeks in all!). Rain or shine, sickness or health, I’ll be outside with whatever person I’ve managed to drag there with me. I just want people to get to know their beautiful home. I don’t want to sound too dramatic, but we don’t know how long our home will be this beautiful.

If you didn’t read any of the above and just looked at the pictures, please stop and read:

  1. I want to get the word out. If you are in the Portland, Oregon area and want to go outside with me, let me know.*
  2. If you are not in the area, commit to going outside more. Even if it’s a picnic in a park, the grass and trees will do you good. If you do go outside on a Sunday and are fond of Instagram, use #outdoorsonsundaysproject so I can see! 
  3. I am challenging myself and you to do something to help protect and preserve the world around you. I recently gave up meat because of animal agriculture’s environmental impact.  Recycle more, cut out grocery bags, get a reusable straw, sign petitions, go to rallies, etc. There are literally so many things to do. and they are all important and helpful. 

Honestly, I haven’t even said all that I wanted to about this. I know I’m not perfectly informed and I know that with everything that’s going on, it’s hard to see clearly what can be done. However, I know that nature belongs to all of us and that is a game changer.

Now, I am off to go outdoors. It’s Sunday, after all.

This is the link to my original Instagram post about this project.

*it is assumed that you aren’t a creep.

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