Thursday, July 5, 2018

Yoga Flowing

Once upon a time, there was a new mom. And with a new chapter in her hands, and a day no longer scheduled or time blocked with a business agenda, she found herself relearning the every day with their little baby boy, whom she and her husband loved so dearly.

New routines meant new experiences. And once she recovered from her delivery, she noticed a new class at the gym. She'd never attended a class. She'd never really needed to. But this class was offered at a great time for her and her baby and it seemed intriguing. It was a "mom and me" class - she could bring her baby with her, keep him in his car seat and do a class with other moms.

Since he was so little, and since she had no clue of how he would be in that type of setting, she gave it a whirl.

And then the toughest moment of the journey came.

She had to walk through the door for the very first time. Step into a space she knew nothing about, meet people she'd never known, and allow herself to learn new things.

She paused. A spark of fear of the unknown surged through her body.

And then took a deep breath of courage. Because courage is not the absence of fear, but the action through fear.

She relaxed her shoulders, hooked the car seat on her forearm, pulled the diaper bag over the older shoulder and walked in.

This journey took her so many amazing places. From two mentors who empowered her not only to attend classes, but to take courses to begin teaching classes, and then who taught her how to practice and refine her skill. They motivated her to learn how to teach other formats and truly step into any room with an open heart and mind ready to connect with whomever joined her.

She found herself teaching at multiple gyms. Classes grew and grew. New faces became regular faces. Connections were made. Friendships blossomed.

And while she loved the flexibility and variety of all the classes - she loved the power she felt and taught in strength classes, the movement and dancelike motions of a step class, the precision of a strong pilates mat class, the sound and rhythm of a powerful spin class - she found that her heart, soul and mind truly sang with yoga.

Over the years, as her and her husband grew their family and moved from state to state, she continued to cultivate her love for yoga. She studied topics, went to trainings, mentored under incredible teachers and read books. She wrote classes in her spare time, found unique music, and would take notes of things she loved from any class she took.

Over time, she found herself not only teaching yoga, but striving to live the principles of yoga. She and her husband found themselves applying the principles of the yamas and niyamas in intentional ways: they spent a year only spending money on absolute essentials, they cultivated contentment through date nights after the young children were in bed, they chose one word to focus on each month, and then for an entire year, they found themselves letting go of comparisons, competitions and judgements, they practiced listening to their thoughts and discerning truth. They looked for moments to be mindful of, and strove to choose experiences over things. Above all, these practices strengthened their connection to God and empowered them see and embrace the beauty of their religion on a much deeper level.

Again they moved to a new state, and teaching group fitness became a source of connection in an otherwise unfamiliar place. She loved the new friendships, and looked forward to teaching yoga each week. And her love for the practice grew and grew. She moved from teaching in a small room, to teaching in the biggest room the facility could offer to create space for all those who chose to be there with her. It was beautiful.

Knowing she wanted to continue cultivating her skill, she chose to sign up for a series of trainings that would help her "complete" her 200 hours of yoga training. It would require travel and time away from home, but she felt ready, and her husband was so supportive.

But then a big choice came into her life. A new direction.

As much as she wanted to learn and grow as a teacher, it paled in comparison to the desire she had for adding another baby into their young family. And together, she and her husband moved forward with faith.

Knowing what mattered most outweighed what mattered much, she found herself letting go of one thing to further embrace another. And as her belly grew, and she later held this beautiful angel, she felt peace in her heart.

She took this brand new bundle in her arms as they moved to the next state. And this little bundle was a light for her as she navigated new terrain and a new chapter as a family. This little soul spoke light into her heart and helped her focus more deeply on the beautiful gift of motherhood.

She found herself wanting to teach and embrace these spirits she and her husband had been entrusted with. She knew her best use of time during this season was with them.

But her love for yoga and empowering other women remained strong. She found herself creating a whole new way of teaching. The words "strong and mindful" spoke to her as a way to serve and be mindful of those she connected with. To remember that we all have a story and we are all in this together. From her home in the early morning hours during the summer months she started things she had never thought of before. She made dear friendships and together they wrote a yoga series centering on self-love and connection. The next year, she wrote an entirely new curriculum, and did it again the third year.

Each curriculum she wrote and taught she continually strived to live. And the journey was beautiful.

Shortly after she started that third summer, it was time again for their family to embrace another move across the country. And while she knew it would be so hard to leave something she had created and loved, she knew what mattered most mattered more than what mattered much. And what mattered most was the experiences and learning and growth that would come to their family with this new chapter.

But before she left, she knew it was time to create something beautiful. A retreat for women. In the mountains. To center. To empower. To connect. But she couldn't do it alone. And God knew who to place in her path to guide her and together they created something beautiful.

As much as she loved those experiences and knew they were good, she also knew it was not sustainable. It was pulling her in too many directions and was stretching her too thin. She couldn't give her very best to those little souls who mattered most.

And as they moved across the country, she let it go. She let go of her business. Social media. She let go of the retreats. She let go of the classes.

She was lonely yet free.

Sad yet at peace.

Less than yet enough.

Heartbroken yet loved.

The pendulum of emotions confused her. She didn't know which ones were true, so she created space to simply feel them. To honor them.

And over time, she discovered something beautiful.

The times and seasons led her to her exact spot. All things were for her good, and for the good of those she was around. They were part of a plan and path that she needed to walk. They helped mold and shape her into who she was at this very moment. But they did not define her. She could continue to write her story. To change. To learn and grow in new ways. And as she continued with faith, she would be led to do good continually and to strive to serve with all of her heart, might mind and strength.

As she soaked in this peace, she honored the past, present and future of her love for yoga one evening with three of her darling angels. One whose energy is like the sunshine. Bright and warm. One whose energy is like a calm quaking aspen. Strong and steady. And one whose energy is like the ocean. Determined to continually flow beyond what the eye can see.

The things that mattered most mattered more than what mattered much.

It was not a big audience. Nor was it the perfect yoga studio setting. But they connected together. And in the moments, between the breathing and flowing movements, she strove to teach them to love and honor their bodies and the gifts that they are. To love and honor their minds and all the good they can do in the world. To honor their hearts for all the love and light they can give. And to honor their spirit - to hear the soft, calming voice above any noise.  Because the light within her, she wants to share with the light within them.

And she had peace in her heart as she discovered the true gift of yoga wasn't in the destination. It is in the journey. And so she moves forward with hope. Not knowing the road ahead, but trusting in the One who guides her.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

June Little Things

I find myself getting excited as the school year ends and we approach summer. We always need a bit of transition time to settle into a new routine, but the daily outings, time spent learning in creative ways, and simplicity of summer are such a breath of fresh air.

A few things from June:

We love having the missionaries over for dinner and getting to know them. We love to soak in their light!

 Tayler had a blast at a friend bday pool party. These girls are darling together!
 The girls LOVE playing at the park. It's too hot for parks right now (and this photo was actually in May), but we'll be circling back to them once it cools off again!
 It's so rare to find this girl taking a nap, so when she does I can't help but drop whatever I'm doing and just soak her in. The cheeks, the softness of her skin. She is so determined and so strong willed to learn and grow, and while we love those characteristics of her, it's the moments when she is asleep that I really see her softness and "littleness" still there.

 This was actually in May too but we popped over for a park/basketball trip one evening.


 We love visitors!! We loved having the Roheads over for dinner while they were in town! This was back in February (late post!).
 Abby finishing up swim lessons with preschool! She is now swimming a decent distance - needs to work on taking a breath while swimming and just started diving for rings last week! She LOVES diving!!
 Sunday card games!

 I needed an oil change. This girl was a rockstar hanging out at the dealership with me!
 Soaking in our last bike ride to pick up the girls this year. So grateful for the time together. She hops on her bike and loves going. I love the moments of connecting, feeling the breeze, and the sound of the pedaling!


And here's another one from May - our monthly 2:1 date - this time it was with Tayler! It was pouring rain but we had such a fun time going out for ice cream and jumping in ALL of the puddles together! So grateful.




Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Gator!

See the alligator in this photo?




What about this one?

Me neither. But there's such a great story behind these photos, I had to write it!

We were driving home from our Saturday night dinner out as a family, and one of our favorite games while we drive this particular road is to count all of the iguanas we spot. They are so colorful and I feel like I'm looking at miniature dinosaurs every time we see them.

But on this night, as we were looking out, Mike said "Look! Gator!!" and sure enough, there was a HUGE alligator on lying on the grassy slope. He had clearly just come up from the canal and head to tail tip was easily 12-13 feet. His width was unbelievable and he was black as black!

Abby missed him, and I wanted to get a photo (yes, those amazing shots above), and you can't really pull over, so Mike made a u-turn and we went back around for a second look.

Just as we made it back around, we were chatting how uncommon it is to see a gator so far from the water, and on a slope that is that steep (gators don't like to work if they don't absolutely have to!). Then we look over and the gator was fully up, walking/moving so quickly up the slope and into the green behind (that area actually goes right into another lake)! We couldn't believe we were seeing him MOVE so quickly and right in front of us!

So of course, I thought, I want to get this on video! But we were driving, and my fumbling excitement of enjoying the moment turned into me taking to photos nowhere near the gator, and not even switching it over to video!

Oh well.

It was still awesome.


Mom's Day May 2018

 I awoke one morning, very early before the sun came up, and the clearest thought came to mind "embrace where you live." It was the first part of May, we'd been in the routine of school, end of year testing, and all kinds of projects. We'd been strengthening friendships in our community, and the kiddos were enjoying their activities. I was about to start up on the bedroom reorganization/painting projects. In many ways, we were embracing where we lived, but I knew what that thought meant - it meant get out and embrace the nature of where we live.

My first thought went to the beach! But a combination of commitments and people needing to be different places, I realized fulfilling that trip to the beach wasn't going to be as easy as I'd initially hoped.

So I created a solution.

We had our first (of what I hope will become an annual tradition) of "Mom's Day." The kiddos woke up one Friday morning, ready to get going with the routine of the day only to discover that they were all going to spend the day with me...at the beach! It was so fun to surprise them in a small way! Mike was traveling at the time, but as he'd helped me plan the day, made sure to leave them a sweet Marco Polo that they'd hear from him telling them to have an awesome time and enjoy their day. I'm so grateful for his support and true partnership in ALL things - even if he's not physically there for it!

The weather, sand, sun, water was AUH-mazing. A little dreamy and completely magical. I truly believe moments in nature - are gifts that breath peace into our hearts, light into our minds and connects to the very fiber of our souls.

The recharge was spontaneous. Fun. Simple. The only money we spent was on parking, and as we drove home, it aligned with Mike coming back into town so we all met up together for an ice cream cone.

It was a beautiful day.

A few takeaways from this experience I want to remember:

1. Sometimes it is so much easier to sit in a problem. Or think there isn't a way to make things work. But that noise in our minds is full of distraction. Pulling us away from what matters most. I believe these moments of clarity come as a way to empower us to create something beautiful, no matter the chapter of life we are in.

2. Use the time we have deliberately. Peak family moments don't just "happen."

3. Flow. All adventures have highs and lows. Someone couldn't find their swimsuit. Everyone ate way more than I expected at the beach and were all hungry. And someone didn't want to share her sand toys. But I truly believe that is the magic in the adventure. Problem solving (wearing a different swimsuit), being flexible (hungry tummies and stopping on the way home for ice cream), and letting people have their space and time (and looking for seashells until she was ready to share), are essential parts of what made the adventure so magical. And then riding those waves of joyful giggles, smiles and moments of peace together. FLOW with it! We could look back on it knowing we'd weathered the whole road together and came out of it a little more connected, happy, tired, and well, sandy. Lots of sand.







Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Holiday weekend adventures

These pics are a bit belated, but we had a fun Memorial Day weekend exploring a beautiful preserve near our home. It was a bit rainy, but the temps felt awesome to be out on the trails.

We toured the nature center and learned new facts about some of the spiders, birds and fish native to the area. And it has been so cool learning about the Seminole’s and how they lived and used the land in so many amazing ways!






This was such a beautiful spot!!

We loved watching these birds walk along the lily pads!







We really had to watch our step on the trail - not in looking down, but up! There were giant spiders all over the trail with webs strung from one side to the other! Some were as big as our hand!! It was beautiful to see so many webs, and how some of them were gathered in a family-like setting. And we were soooo glad we walked through the nature center to learn that while these spiders were HUGE, they weren’t aggressive biters or anything!






We stopped by the Ft. Lauderdale Temple - a place Mike and I cherish - and talked about family - what it means, what the purpose is, and how much gratitude we have for them! 










Friday, June 8, 2018

Birthday

We are so grateful to be parents to this kiddo and be on the front row seats of his learning and growth. He chose root beer floats (his favorite bday treat for a few years now!), and his birthday has become a bit of a scattered celebration. His bday adventure was a bball game with Mike, and we all went to his favorite New York pizza place for his dinner out. 










Thursday, June 7, 2018

A beautiful sky

We're in the chapter of life where some days are pretty filled up with commitments across the family. And while we are striving to let go of things where we can, some days are long. Mike was traveling, and I had taken Max to a church activity, and needed to pick up something for some school thing the next day (I've already forgotten what it was). As we were walking out of the parking lot, the sky was full of the most beautiful colors! We all stopped and simply soaked in the masterpiece. It was a beautiful, natural conversation full of gratitude for the Creation and how awesome it is that we get to enjoy it.

I write this because I want to keep remembering within the "every day" to embrace those simple moments. To stop and soak in the beauty that surrounds us. So much wisdom in nature.



 Max caught this photo on the car ride home. He's getting good at humoring my excitement for nature and the sky when driving by being the front seat photographer!