Summer Nights

There’s just something about a summer night.  The sun drops slowly, and the air starts to cool, just a little.  The chorus of crickets begins to sing, orchestrated by the stars as they appear overhead.  A breeze brushes past and your skin buzzes.  Possibility fills the air.  Anything could happen.  You sit and watch dusk turn to dark and let all your secrets out.

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To me summer was always camp.  Going to camp, working at camp.  It was all the same.  A bunch of people who saw each other once a year, or maybe met once and never again, come together and share experiences that bring them together like nothing else can.  It was the place I shared things that only my journal got to hear the other 46 weeks out of the year.

This summer I did not work at camp.  I longed for just one “summer night”.  Just one night where I let my guard down and let the magic of summer envelop me and the person I was with.  I’ve had a lot of great nights this summer, dancing and laughing and having fun.  But something was missing.

This past weekend I went to visit my friend in Brooklyn.  We walked to the park and drank smoothies.  We laughed as all the owners let their dogs run free and hump one another.  We talked.  Deep.  Frustrated.  Angry.  Loving.  And when we had finished we climbed up onto her roof.  We meditated, right on the edge, floating above all the twinkling city lights.  We were filled with possibility.  Anything can happen.

It was the perfect summer night.

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Throw a Pity Party

Been learning a ton of not so fun lessons as of late.  Learning the hard way has me feeling a bit beat up, but I definitely feel I am becoming stronger and more capable than I have been for years.  

A lot of shitty stuff went down the last few months.  And I let it get to me.  There’s turning the other cheek and then there’s paying someone to punch you in the face so you can maintain the shiner.  After the first unsolicited blow, I kept going back for more.  Poking at the bruise.  Finding ways to make it all worse.  People pity you more when they can see your pain.  I throw a good pity party.  Sometimes, being the center of attention is all your bruised ego needs.  Invite some friends, complain, cry, hug it out and then let them give you the swift kick in the ass that you deserve.

After a few legit bad things happened I sort of threw in the towel for a little while.  If life was a marathon, I tripped and fell over a log, then sat down where I landed pouting and claiming that I was losing buckets of blood from the tiny scrape on my knee.  I’m not proud of my behavior.  I hope that this is not my reaction to every bump and bruise.  But I do believe the time I took to feel awful, and invite others to commiserate with me, helped to jumpstart some real growth.

During this time, I was able to identify and learn from my mistake.  However, I also really slacked off in my classes.  I was not fully planning flows or studying anything to get inspiration for themes.  (Part of me really wants to go back and erase this confession so that no one I know finds out the truth…) I was working on autopilot and my students were the ones who suffered.

I still received compliments for my classes.  No one yelled at me or stopped coming.  Still, I felt awful.  I was only half there.  I was not connecting with anyone in class and I shut myself down so that no one could possibly connect with me.  I had lost my confidence, but worse, I lost all hope of finding it by giving up.  Instead of trying to demonstrate that I was a good teacher and this was the right path, I opted to believe that because sucky things were happening, I sucked too.

Until one day when I decided to try to clean my room.  I uncovered some old Yoga Journal Magazines and flipped through the flows.  It inspired me to research alignment of Warrior I.  I sat in the middle of a ring of books and training manuals with YouTube videos on cue and really felt that spark once more.  The spark that made me want to share this practice with not only those I know and love, but with complete strangers.

The past few weeks I have been re-exploring poses and creating new flows.  I have been stockpiling intentions for those times of idea drought.  I have been giving classes, not just leading them.  I have been able to truly connect with people, and know that this is what I’m meant to be doing.  At least for now.

So go ahead.  Throw a pity party.  Make it grand.  But don’t stay too long or it will be harder to wake up from the inevitable hangover.

Getting Personal: Ready to Dance Again

*(featured image) me dancing in traditional wear in Namibia

One theme of most personal blogs is to get personal with the audience.  So here goes.

 

I don’t like to get too personal.  It has always been hard for me to share what I am truly thinking and feeling.  The closest I come to opening up is when my soul is bleeding out onto a page through my writing.  Even then it is vague.  Case and point, halfway through the first sentence of this blog I switched screens and spent an hour creating a playlist for tomorrow’s class.

I am able to share with close friends and at camp on the last day.   I am able to share in my journal.  It is scary to share.  It means someone might see you, all of you.  Even those dark and stormy parts.  The ones you’d rather let pass by like a hurricane, covering up the damage best you can when gaping holes are ripped into your heart.

I used to be good at tearing myself open and letting people see.  But gradually all those padded rooms keeping the crazy in have been wrapped and rewrapped in caution tape.  I don’t know why this is.  Experience I’m sure.  One person or another told me to keep my mouth shut, another called me crazy.  I saw others get ridiculed for their sensitivity and watched movies where I was shown it is “cool” to be mysterious and coy.

Years ago my friends and I were in the city (New York City for all those who endearingly call some lesser city “the city”) waiting for a light to change.  A little boy was dancing next to his parent, excited for a pretzel.  Overwhelmed by his cuteness we all stared and laughed with joy, maybe remembering how it felt to be so unburdened by the need to be “appropriate” and “grown-up.”  One of my friends let out a laugh that could have been heard around the world, or at least to the next block.  The little boy looked up, startled, stopped dancing and ran behind his parent.

That’s what happens to us all.  We dance and sing and squirm and cry.  Until someone tells us not to.  I’m ready to dance again.

(I realize that this doesn’t really get that personal, but I’m on my way.  Baby steps.)

Share your feelings about getting personal.  Is there a moment that you recall that made it not ok?

Take the Challenge #yoga2013

 

 

 

Day 11 of challenge.  Navasana.  Done with a little help from my friends. 
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These are my beautiful friends from Inner Spirit Studio participating in @beachyogagirl’s  January #yogachallenge Day 11 on Instagram.

Follow me @jelise22 to see more!

The Challenge is as follows.  Play along even if you don’t have Instagram.

Post your poses here if you’d like to share!

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Happy Saturday!!