premature nostalgia, and living in the present.

premature nostalgia, and living in the present.

In life there come times and places for change and transformation to occur, often cyclically. My life so far has been a whirlwind of such cycles of change, and as I find myself facing an upcoming journey, I have been preparing for yet another move, per usual to an eventual destination unknown. I believe plans to be overrated. Personally I find the more I try to force a happening as a piece of an idea my brain has decided should happen, the more it doesn’t feel like a fit. I much prefer to set clear intentions for how I want to live my life, and then allow the universe to present the opportunities to me in the right moments.

Last week as I cleared a bookshelf in the hopes of removing it and all the books I had hoped I would read, I came across old journals, which I began flipping through out of curiosity for what I might find.

I landed on pages from a few years ago, when I spent my days at my possible height of whimsical creativity, writing fairy tales every day and scribbling messy maps of each story beforehand outside the lines of my notebook, in my style, which is mostly indecipherable to nearly everyone else. My mind immediately traveled back to that point in time—how alive and free I felt, how bright-eyed and full of hope.

There’s this funny thing about nostalgia. It never exists in the present. Except for the present form of premature nostalgia I am currently experiencing, on the brinks of leaving this city I have grown to love and dislike in the same exact breath. My mind has already transported itself to a future state, one in which my present is past. I watch through the futuristic lenses I have taken to wearing, absorbing bits and pieces of a landscape I know I will feel nostalgic for down the road. The anticipation of nostalgia is enough to drive anyone wistfully crazy.

I love walking through my neighborhood in the sunny evenings, meeting new puppies with crystal blue eyes and watching children riding on the backs of tandem bicycles with orange tutus flying in the wind. I love climbing the hill that I can see from my window, watching as it turns different shades depending on the time of year. Green to brown to red to gold to brownish-green again.

I love the cafés, farmers markets, healing avenues, friends, teachers, and community I have found here. I feel as though I’m already watching my life in this place through a microscope of reminiscent remorse—remember when? And that one time, how we (fill in the blank)? Living in the space where beauty and growth and so-much-else happened?

The funny thing about nostalgia is she firmly resolves not to give the slightest bit of notice to anything less than the level of goodness she wants to believe. Her rose-colored lenses block out the heartbreak I was unknowingly experiencing, as well as a toxic learning experience I skipped right into, wearing a berry jacket with the hood up, emanating the innocence of Little Red Riding Hood in more ways than one during the peak of my fairy tale days years ago. Premature nostalgia is quick to forget about how I cried at least daily, for a year here. How within this city I found myself wishing, desperately, I could disappear.

I’m discovering nostalgia doesn’t only exist as past remembrance. It also happens in the present, particularly on the brinks of future change. It reminds us of why we may not truly want to change, because we kind of like our lives as-is for xyz reasons.  Anticipated nostalgia keeps us resistant to both moving forward and truly embracing the moment we are in.

These prematurely nostalgic thoughts do not serve me. It’s like when we’re about to leave a job that we’ve complained about for years, but suddenly the boss doesn’t seem so bad and the perks appear to outweigh the cons.

Any kind of change is scary, particularly one that clears out all things from our lives—both what we love and what we don’t love so much. But we can take the aspects we love, such as the feeling of walking up the hill at sunset, or the discovery of lying in a luscious patch of green grass in the late-summer sun. We can hold these bits of time in a pocket in our hearts, to return to whenever our memories recall the feeling of it. And I believe we can do so without nostalgic remorse, but from a place of loving understanding that the exact state of being we recall, while beautiful, can be beautifully remembered in the present, rather than with longing to return to a time passed.

Because the point of life is to stay present to it. And through the melancholy of my nostalgia, both from a time long-gone and the anticipation of it, I lose the ability to be present, as well as to embrace my life in its current form.

Now that I recognize the premature nostalgia standing on my reluctant shoulders, I can turn my head and give her a light smile and a nod. She understands the meaning, and already knows it’s time to leave. She’s clouding my ability to fully enjoy my last few weeks here. The seeds she scatters do not allow me to step, fully, into this moment and the place of change happening.

And so, moment by moment, I can choose to be presently involved again, living free of nostalgia for the past or even the future-past present.  

 

dream to write, or write to dream?

dream to write, or write to dream?

Today was one of those days.

You know the type.

The kind where your mind floated away just as fast as the sun, and somehow you found yourself walking home along lamp lit, cobbled streets, one earbud in place and the other construing sounds of all the people you’ll never meet.

And suddenly you found yourself back in the kitchen with shoes kicked off, and just as you drifted through the world of all-the-things you need to write, dinner was burnt and the room filled with smoke. Dry, hazy remnant sifting through the curtained close of today’s story.

You sprinkle half-cooked carrots, as the stinging discovery of the true meaning of a salt licked wound burns from above.

And in this instant, you want to give up.

You want to stop the madness.

Let go of the despair.

The ache, the itch, the crawling skin. Shed it all till it’s gone, so you can live the rest of your days in peace.

Because what’s the point of all the trouble?

Why the angst? Why the fear? Why the disillusioned hope that one day all of this will matter?

All you hear now is silence.

Crickets.

A dog yapping in the distance.

And you realize his voice is really just jibberish, anyhow. You feel annoyed at him. Just as you do the people on your path, today. Because when you stop feeling lifted up or pushed along by their cheers and their doubts, their yips and their yaps, you realize what you must have always known.

That behind every voice that tells you ‘you can’t,’ is really just your own.

Every naysayer and ‘get-a-real-job’-er moves from puppeted strings directed by an unsteady hand that jerks, twists, and turns.

Every disbeliever and believer alike dance to the same exact song whispered from your very lips.

Each and every one of them a smoky figment.

Each one a dream as still unborn.

And in this moment, you realize, you can let go of the dream.

Because dreams are meant to be held loosely, anyway.

And these dreams built on sandcastles have no lasting value, swept away by the shore. On this very shoreline, you begin to walk.

First one foot, and then another.

And as the waves wash away every print, the steps begin to mean less and less.

Just as each one carries all the weight of the world.

the fairy tale we dream of is now

the fairy tale we dream of is now

Sometimes you need to meditate; sometimes you need to cry.

Sometimes your thoughts and feelings will pour out of your fingers, and sometimes they sit in the dark, stalking through shadows while you peer into the eerie pools of shimmery gray water that rest on the stone-cold floor, trying to make sense of the shapes you see.

In Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says to never write on a Monday in December. Mondays in December, draped in the dreariness of post-freedom chains, are simply impossible for writing.

So now here I sit at my computer in the still-dark morning of the last Monday in December, allowing the words to catch the tears as they stream, effortlessly, down my cheeks.

Sometimes it’s meditation, and sometimes it’s Yoga practice, and sometimes it’s a salt-bath pool made up of those very same tears. Sometimes its music, and sometimes it’s the latest trend of an adult coloring book.

December, with all of her Mondays, has got me in the spirit of reflection, contemplating the past year and where it’s taken me. All of the battles and hard-fought lessons and, time and time again, returning to the love that makes up the core of it all. Because nine times out of ten the battle is with myself.

Last year, around this time, I set a New Year’s intention. We were in a cabin in the snowy mountains, and someone brought wishing paper. So we wrote our New Year’s wishes on slips of bright red and lit each of them, one by one, allowing the sparkling embers to fly away into the cold, dark unknown.

Because that’s what you do with wishes. You hear their whispers from the center of your heart and then stir them up with your breath, giving them meaning and form to release those whispered wishes into the ether, where a magical spirit of the Universe, the ruler of desire, transforms them into reality.

At least, that’s what I believed.

Last year, I set my New Year’s intention to fall in love. Maybe fall is the wrong word. I didn’t want some kind of damsel swept up by a horseback-riding prince scenario. I was in the process of getting over someone, and I was hurting a lot more than I allowed myself, at the time, to feel.

I came face to face with the reality that you can grow, slowly, bit by bit, one word at a time, in love with someone, and because of something as trivial as timing, it will never work out.

I had to face the cold, harsh reality that sometimes the sparks stemming from my intuition lead me toward certain individuals not because we are going to be together in any of the traditional senses of that notion, but because, for whatever unseen reason, in that moment of time, we were right for each other.

And then, just like my wish, any inkling of the two of us must be burnt to a crisp, and set free to float away into the night sky. The moment will last forever, but the two of us will not.

So I, all high-hopes and fantasies, set my intention. I felt confident that I was ready. I was done with the learning experiences, the pain of unresolved issues working themselves out. I was ready for the real deal. Someone who addresses his own shortcomings and humanity in general, and wants to go deep.

Someone who wants to feel.

At the time, too, I had all the other pieces seemingly in place. My living situation was ideal, and I was about to embark on what I considered my dream career as well. The missing piece to the puzzle seemed to be, quite simply, love.

What I learned, pretty quick, is that no career is perfect and sometimes the devil comes disguised as a fairy tale. To live in what appears to be paradise, you must swap blood with the gruesome, control-gripping monster that reigns over those very lands. And the learning experiences, they never end. Nor do we want them to.

Because as soon as you stop learning, you die.

As soon as you stop growing, you wither.

As soon as you stop carving through the caverns of your soul, trying to find something more, the world, and all of its high hopes and searches for meaning, will simply cease to exist. We will walk around, empty shells under the palm trees of delusion that this picture of paradise is all we have to live for.

Needless to say, this year, my New Year’s intention did not come true. I did not fall in love. What I did do, instead, was begin a Mysore-style Ashtanga practice. I learned to stand with my legs straight. I learned to keep moving to my own internal rhythm. I learned to balance my soul’s work with intelligently-sequenced days of rest.

And most of all, I learned that each of the spiritual disciplines that I engage in, whether it’s Yoga, meditation, reading ancient texts, or journaling, is a means to an end. And as soon as I begin worshiping the act, well, then, I have completely missed the point.

So now I sit, as light dances off white-brick walls and the tips of green begin to show themselves out my window, swaying ever so slightly until I feel the itch of invitation to join in their wind-drawn movement, and realize that I am no further along than the starry-eyed child who daydreamed her way through each and every day.

I am no readier than she for some kind of happily-ever-after ending, nor will I ever be. I have never stopped daydreaming, nor will I ever stop. There is no such thing as ready. There is only right here and now. And right here, and now, I am alive.

I breathe one cold, December breath at a time, and my fingers continue to make their way through raw, wildly beating canals. And that sense of aliveness is the only fairy tale that I will ever need.

This article was published on Rebelle Society.

IMG_2331

learning to hold hands with myself

IMG_5489Right now I’m in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. Every morning, I practice in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Out on the deck, facing the ocean. Open air above me, I make shapes and play amidst the salty breeze. I gaze forward and witness the horizon extending out into infinity directly to my front.

Yet this morning, I had a visitor join me on my mat. A black fly, just like the biting pests who nearly forced me off the beach our first day here with their relentless stings.

And as I moved through the practice, the more frustrated I became with this uninvited visitor. Although he was somewhat courteous in that he did not bite me directly, he continued to skirt around my body, traipsing through the open-faced poison ivy wounds on my arms.

I began to stomp and cry out. Tears forming at the corners of my eyes, I shouted, “Fuck you fly, get off!” So yogic of me, right? But one thing I’ve found in my years of practice is yoga is nothing like the cover of a magazine. It is a messy, salty, sweaty, living beast that changes shapes and form as consistently as the changing tide, and all too often involves curse words and the occasional toddler-reminiscent temper tantrum. Because that is real life.

And then I remembered where I was. I realized the fly was taking me out of the experience of the ocean, the natural beauty all around me. I blew my nose to find a passage to breath again and then allowed the air to carry me, returning within and moving forward despite the distractions.

There will always be a fly. The flies are the doubters, the disbelievers, the ones who nag at you and tell you that you’re not good enough, just as you are, in this moment. The flies are the ones who don’t understand what it’s like to be in your body, your soul, your spirit. So they attempt to take you out of yourself. They don’t understand, so they continue to swarm, possibly catching a glimpse of the light that you emit from within, and craving more. They come ever closer, yet they do not stop their incessant buzzing.

Just the other day, I asked my family members to read a story that I worked on for the past two months. This morning one of my family members told me he had finished it. He told me he liked it, and then told me no less than twenty things I need to change about it.

It’s important to have people who push you forward, toward growth. But from where I stand, it feels like there are twenty things I need to change about myself, in order to be able to communicate with other people. And that’s the part that hurts, deeply. I could not convey this feeling to my family member in words, so I just began to cry. He responded by saying it makes him uncomfortable when I “get emotional” about things that are simple. But it’s not simple. It never has felt simple to me. It feels overwhelming, like I don’t know where to begin, and words don’t even begin to capture what I feel inside. It’s like the ocean. I can try however I might to put words to the vastness and the beauty, the ethereal existence. But the written description always seems to fall short.

Right now in practice, marichyasana b has been the bane of my existence for a few weeks. I struggle with the bind. My teacher tells me I have the strength and the flexibility; I just need to learn how to hold hands with myself. I believe it’s all connected. Practice, life, writing, love. All intertwined and maybe my hands don’t quite reach yet, but I can continue to wrap around in whatever way I can, and try my best to take things one at a time. Learning to hold hands with myself.

resistance

resistance

Sometimes, life gets real uncomfortable. In my experience, the peak of the discomfort often happens right before a major shift. The challenge lies in learning to stay through the resistance.

One time, I was in a group meditation sit, when I suddenly had the overwhelming urge to get up and walk out of the room. This had never happened to me before. Sure, I get uncomfortable, fidgety, and want to move, frequently during meditation – all part of the practice. But this time, I visualized myself getting up, rolling up my mat, walking away, and driving home. Leaving made complete sense to me in that moment. However, instead of actually following my urge to leave, I sat with it. I allowed the urge to pass, and a breakthrough happened. Something shifted.

Around the same time, last summer, I was “stuck” in a job that was not a good fit, in which I was no longer growing. I knew this, yet I had no clue how to change the situation. I spent hours aimlessly google searching things like “jobs in california” (no job-type or even area of “california” designated). I read pretty much every article out there about “finding your purpose” and “making your dreams come true”. Eventually, I came across a website where people posted yoga-related work and volunteer opportunities, and found a listing for a one-month volunteer position as an organic gardener in Belize. I applied, and got it. That day, I remember feeling this sense of disbelief and happiness. It was over. I was leaving.

I called my dad to tell him the good news (not to ask for his advice). They wanted me in Belize in just a few weeks. I was going to go and learn how to garden and teach yoga to children there. My dad, naturally, asked all the right questions – like what was I planning on doing with my condo, what would I do after the month volunteering was over, etc. I had no solid answers other than “figure it out”. And then he threw me for a loop. Rained all over my near-sighted parade. The words he said, I will never forget – “You’re headed in the right direction, this just isn’t it.”

In that moment, I felt overcome with anger, frustration, and sadness. I was talking to him on the phone in the hallway of my old office, completely visible and populated with coworkers, yet I could not stop myself from crying. I hid behind some kind of potted plant as the tears rolled down my face, nodding and telling him okay, I wouldn’t go to Belize. I cried because I knew he was right. If this were the right opportunity for me, I would have gone, regardless of what my dad said.

I went back to my desk, feeling defeated. The very next day, my breakthrough came. I had a conversation with my manager, and it became clear that due to circumstances outside my control, I no longer had the option of staying in this particular job. I was ready to move, and so I did. And as I moved, the right opportunities appeared in front of me. Everything fell into place, naturally.

I could not have planned any of the events that transpired last summer and fall more beautifully. They occurred as a result of the universe in action. All I did was show up each day for the ride. That is how change happens. Out of my control. The difficulty for me has been learning to let go of the need to make something happen, and to just appreciate the opportunities as they arise. Life offers exactly what each of us needs for our own personal growth. With growth, there is always going to be discomfort. Naturally, we tend to resist the discomfort, and consequently, the growth. It is much easier to stay in our comfortable patterns. One of the sneakiest patterns out there is the tempting desire to run away from the approaching storm. Staying on a rocking boat is tough – it requires a gritty core to stand upright in the tremble. But when you can stay through the discomfort and accept it for what it is, resistance in the form of sensation, well then, that is when change flows.

new year’s meditation

intentions blog

I am fortunate to have been spending the new year’s holiday with family and friends in the winter wonderland of Breckenridge, Colorado. Each morning, I’ve been leading various family members and friends through guided meditations. Today, I wanted to create a special intention-setting meditation for the new year. So I wrote something out and just led a group through it. Sharing this meditation with them was such a meaningful experience for me. Afterward, their reactions and feedback inspired me to put it up here. This new year, I am grateful to be surrounded by so much love and abundance in my life, and to be able to share that love and abundance with those around me.

Prior to the guided meditation, we used essential oils (a blend of peppermint and wild sweet orange) to awaken the senses, did a few (6) rounds of alternate nostril breathing, and sat in quiet meditation for a couple of minutes, focusing on the breath. Because mantra can be an incredibly powerful form of meditation, especially for beginners, I offered the option to inhale and think “calm”, exhale “stress”, inhale “energy”, exhale “negativity”. After a few minutes of centering ourselves through pranayama and quiet seated meditation, I read the following:

New Year’s Day Meditation:

Now start to meditate on what you want to manifest in the new year. This can appear as a concrete set of goals, or perhaps it shows up simply as a word or two. The new year offers us opportunity for new beginnings and recreation of self. 

First, consider what you will let go of, in order to carve out space for your new intention in 2015. Letting go of what no longer serves us is a powerful exercise. Bringing to your mind’s eye what you will let go of, notice how the released energy feels in your body. Do you feel any freeing sensations? Perhaps it shows up as a newfound lightness somewhere along your spine. Maybe your heart can lift a bit and your shoulders can drop, no longer clutching unnecessary tensions amid your heart center. Maybe your face softens and your mind’s eye begins to smile, extending the smile throughout the rest of your body. 

As we let go of the old, feel the space now available within. Allow yourself to be filled up with space — a blank slate of full potential. Now, as you continue to breathe in deeply – long, calm inhales and exhales, envision the empty space filling up with light energy. As the light extends from the crown of your head, through your neck and shoulders, to your heart, down to your belly and your gut, through your pelvis and hips, out through your extremities – your arms and legs, fingertips and toe tips, start to contemplate what it is that you want to create for yourself. Perhaps you want to establish strong roots, or cultivate your relationships, with self or others. Maybe you want to stand in your own power and open yourself to transformation. Or perhaps you want to create an environment of self-acceptance and self-love, so you can extend that love to the world around you. Maybe you want to establish freedom of expression and open creativity. Or possibly you want to tap into deeper intuitive power through cultivating listening to your self and the universe around you.

As you sit in contemplation of what you want most for yourself in the new year, consider how your manifestation connects to your deeper sense of purpose. You can ask yourself the question: “What is my service to the world, and how can I best do this?”*

Think about your natural talents and innate abilities. How can you cultivate your deep-seeded strengths? How can you leave your mark, directing your energy into a positive imprint? This imprint need not be far-reaching to be powerful. Some of the most powerful action steps we can take begin with changing our own, personal, internal energy. Continuing to focus on acceptance and love of self. By filling your own cup first, you will then have the ability to help fill the cups of others. Breathe a long breath directly to your deepest desires of what you want to create for yourself. And know that whatever your new year’s intention is, it is completely perfect. 

As you sit with your manifestation intention for the new year, now imagine yourself on the other side of this intention. How do you feel after you have fulfilled everything that you want for yourself? What emotions come up? What physical sensations arise in your body, as you envision the end result of creating the life that you desire?

Any emotions or sensations from your manifestation are not distant or separated. They are always within you. You always have the ability to come back to the feeling you have right now. Know that you always carry this within you. It is part of you. You are connected. 

***Now take a few minutes to write freely about your intentions for the new year. This writing can be stream-of-conscious – it does not need to fit any specific format. You can write about your manifestations, your new year’s mantra, what you want to create or let go of. You can also write about how your intention makes you feel.***

After writing your intentions out, return to your comfortable, upright, seated position. Now that we have envisioned, written, and sat with our 2015 intentions – the next step is perhaps the most freeing piece of manifestation. Let go of whatever it is that you want to happen. Trust that simply setting the intention is enough. The intention lies deeply rooted within your being. You have written out exactly what you want, and made your intention known to the universe. Have faith that the universe will create the circumstances for your intentions to happen. All you need to do is show up, moment by moment, and stay present to whatever arises for you. There is no need to force or cause anything to happen — trust that your own, inner will is enough. You are enough. You are already whole and complete, just as you are in this moment. Each and every moment offers opportunity to remember that sense of wholeness, completeness, and connection. To reconnect to self and the universe. Everything is already happening, right on time. 

Begin to come back to your breath, to this room, to the here and now. Take a deep inhale and exhale. And say to yourself “I am ready”. You are ready, for this moment and whatever it brings.

Personal intention-setting story:

In my experience, the most powerful piece of intention-setting is letting go of the end result and having faith that it will work out. A couple of years ago, I set intentions for 2013. I had my intentions written down on a card that I hung next to my fridge, where I would see it every day, to remind myself of what I hoped to accomplish that year. For the first half of the year or so, I worked really hard to make one goal in particular happen. And I kept getting rejected, over and over again. Finally, sometime probably around August, I remember telling myself – “Ok, it looks like it might not happen this year after all. Maybe this just isn’t the right time for me. And that is okay.” Less than a month later, I got a phone call from an acquaintance, and everything fell into place so beautifully, I did not need to try to make it happen at all. This demonstrated to me the power of the universe. When something is meant to happen, it will just flow. All I needed to do to create this intention for myself, and continue to show up, practice, and have faith.

More recently – last spring I had a Vedic reading done, which ended up being an amazingly powerful session in which I deepened my understanding of myself and practiced life-coaching type skills. Prior to the session, I was asked to set goals: three 6-month goals, three 1-year goals, and three 5-year goals. I wrote them down, sent them in, and then totally forgot what they were or that I had even written them down. Five months later, I was doing a 40-day detox program at Spark Yoga. As part of the program, we set goals and journaled about them. When it came time for me to do my journaling, I (looking to cut corners) thought to myself – “wait, I already have goals! I’ll just recycle” (way easier than putting forth the effort of writing all new goals, right?!) So I found the document in an old email, re-opened and read my goals. I was shocked. In only 5 months, every one of my 6-month and 1-year goals had happened. Without me trying or even focusing on them, whatsoever.

So, in my experience, this stuff works. The workings of the universe flow together in a far more intelligent, seamlessly constructed manner than we can even imagine.

Thank you for reading. This 2015 I am grateful for each of you. This year, I want to manifest love, acceptance, and freedom. I want to let go of fear and attachment. What do you hope to manifest and create in 2015? I would love to connect with you if you want to share!

*Question from Wheels of Life by Anodea Judith, Ph.D.

Dino

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.