Yesterday I taught yoga at a different studio for the first time. I was really nervous and didn’t feel comfortable at all. I saw myself revert back to when I first began teaching elsewhere. The word vomit kept coming up, and I couldn’t stop it.

Afterward I went to the community garden in my neighborhood. When I first found the garden (as cheesy as this sounds) – it was magical. I couldn’t believe this calm, beautiful oasis, full of life, existed, so close to my tiny box of a condo in the overwhelming, ancient 1930’s high-rise (all 6 stories – I was never meant for city living). The community garden gives me hope, makes me feel sane.

So I went to the garden, wandered into the woods, sat on a tree trunk, wrote in my journal and cried. Super emo I know. When I told my friend Maddie about this, she asked “what, is this some kind of scene from a movie?” That made me laugh. No, I just legit need a lot of alone time.

After crying awhile and wondering if maybe I shouldn’t teach yoga at all, I finally felt like I had let something out.

For fun I love to find old furniture, pieces of wood, things other people are throwing out or selling, and fix them up. When I told one friend about this, he called me “Bretton the scavenger”. Awesome. Call it what you want, I enjoy it.

Lately I’ve been on a pallet furniture kick, so naturally I’ve been on the prowl, looking for old crates and such. At the garden entrance, I noticed a roped-off pile of wood pieces and other trash. The old wood was pretty wet and dilapidated, but a couple interesting-looking pieces of what might have once been a ladder caught my eye. I began sifting through the pile, creating my own little hoard of items for which I saw potential.

It didn’t occur to me till later how ridiculous I must have looked – Saturday evening, yoga clothes, tear-stained face, holding my journal, legit going through somebody’s pile of trash.

After a few minutes, I heard a voice. Looking up, I noticed a man standing on the other side of a fence, in his garden plot. He asked me what I was going to make. I responded I didn’t know, maybe some shelves. Was just going to see what I ended up with. He asked if I had a plot in the garden. I said no. It occurred to me that maybe this wasn’t actually trash – maybe these were materials for garden members’ projects. He answered my un-asked question, “you can have those.” Okay, I was right about it being a throw-away. Gee – thank you sir, for allowing me to have your trash.

He watched as I went about my business of scavenging, and then he fiddled with something in his garden. “Here” – he passed me a couple wood slabs over the fence – “these are good”. I said thank you, and began to move the wood to my car, piece by piece.

Before long the man had joined me – helping carry a busted bamboo ladder that my dad told me today was probably better left in the trash. I guess at this point he felt invested in my activities. After we moved the last of it, he told me his name was Dino. I found out through our small talk exchange he has gardened there for 30 years; is in charge of the whole operation. I asked him how someone becomes a member and he said, “you send me an application, but it’s a 3-4 year wait list”. I told him I can’t imagine where I’ll be living in 3-4 years, to which he replied “ah, but that’s most people’s mistake”. I’m now convinced Dino may be the wisest person I know.

I decided no harm in applying, and followed Dino into his plot. It was magical. Rows upon rows of plants. I could tell he put his heart into cultivating this space.

After giving me spare wood, leftover trash, and now an application, Dino was clearly on a roll. He grabbed a plastic bag and began pulling plants here and there – Greek basil, Japanese onion, lettuce, fresh herbs, tomatoes. By now, I was beyond touched. Everything from earlier had melted away.

Today I thought about Dino, and how you never know the potential impact one small act of kindness can have. It may totally turn somebody’s day around. I want to be like Dino – aware of those around, willing and able to reach out with a gesture of kindness.

Yesterday, teaching somewhere new, it became apparent how uncomfortable I feel about space. Yoga has a way of bringing to light what I most need to work on. Right now, carving out space for myself certainly falls into this bucket.

I could be off base, but it seemed apparent that Dino has spent a lot of time working on his garden, which he clearly loves. Because he has carved out that time and space, he now has an abundant supply to share.

I need to get comfortable with space, so I’ve decided to give myself more space each day. Lately, my meditation practice has felt rushed – most days I barely get in 10 minutes in the morning, before rushing around all day, into the night. I’m embarrassed to say it’s rare for me to eat dinner before 9 pm. I cannot control what goes on in my daily life, or how many emails, phone calls, etc. I get (i.e., filter through – majority is junk anyway). But I can dedicate more time to letting myself just be, without external stimulation or action. So I plan to meditate for at least 25 minutes, twice a day, for the next 25 days. I chose the number 25 because I turned 25 on Friday. And I’m writing about this idea here to hold myself accountable.

I’m ready to see what happens when I give myself a little more space. Thanks Dino, for sharing a snippet of your space with me yesterday, and allowing me to see the inherent beauty.

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