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Blossoming: A meditation on connecting with radiant joy.

I’ve been contemplating the idea of blossoming for the past few days. Blossoming, Blossomingunfolding, opening to the light, to your own radiant spirit, to new experiences, to a greater understanding of yourself and how that leads to a deeper compassion for others. I’ve been nurturing my garden, really it consists of a few potted plants and very dry dirt with some brave plants on our back patio, but they are blossoming. They are receiving loving attention, water, air, sunlight, shade, touch; yes I touch and talk to my plants, encouraging them to grow, bloom, and not wilt and crumble under the bight Central Valley sun. Two of my potted plants are Gerber Daises; one orange, one purple. When I brought them to my garden, they both had robust, beautiful blooms, and then the sun scorched them, I didn’t yet know what I needed to provide to them so that they could thrive. Careful attention and a little TLC has them blooming again, I’m so excited that my brown thumb is slowly turning green.

Last Friday, at my Nia class, one of the Nia tribe approached me and said “Edie, I have to tell you, when I take this class I am so happy. It’s perhaps the happiest I’ve felt in 50 years.” Needless to say I crushed this man in a hug. I was so touched, tickled that the joy of movement connected him more fully to himself, opening this space in his mind, body and spirit, allowing him to connect with his radiant joy. Blooming, I keep thinking about it. How my spirit felt like it was blooming with each Nia class I took. How my soul feels like it is blooming with each Nia class I guide. And how elated I feel to hear that this space I am so fortunate to share with the Modesto Nia tribe is allowing each student to bloom in their own way.

Nia is this amazing mind, body, spirit movement technique, I know it’s not for everyone, but for the people who connect with it, allow their childlike curiosity to open, it is a gift, it is a moment to be, truly in their body’s way. They come to class as they are that day emotionally, physically, spiritually, and begin to move. Movement shifts our emotions, it shifts our thoughts, it allows us to let go and be; to connect with something greater than ourselves, to be in the flow of life. It unlocks something primordial, held deep within the body or right on the surface. It allows us the opportunity to truly be present with ourselves, and each other, in the moment, moving from the inside out or sensing from the outside in. Feeling our feet connect to the earth, our hearts connect to our Nia tribe and the greater community, and our eyes looking around, seeing. Perhaps catching our own reflection in the mirror and noticing our spirit dancing, eyes shining, celebrating life.

Connecting with the radiant joy within our beings, blooming, this is often the focus and intention of my class. Connect with radiant joy, a true sense of happiness, I believe this stems from the sensation of experiencing love, divine love, pulsing though ones system. The heart blossoms, blooms, and unfolds as we dance the joy of life.

You have the best crows feet!

Smile lines“You have the best crow’s feet!”

Not what you typically hear from your friends. The friend who exclaimed this, oh so purely and honestly, was a 20 something Yoga buddy from my Yoga Teacher Training. Seeing the look on my face, I think he realized that this took me a bit off guard. He continued to say, “Your crow’s feet are your smile lines, each time you smile your eyes smile with them”. We laughed. As I laughed I thought, there I go, etching another smile into the frame surrounding my eyes.

This morning, as I applied eye serum, to soften fine lines around the eyes, I smiled at this memory. Then I realized that I also have these super cool wisdom lines. Wisdom lines are the fine lines that swoop up from my eyelids to my eyebrows. I’m not sure if I made this term up or if I heard it somewhere, but I remember thinking that these were cool and beautiful on my friends who were older. And now, there they are, feathering up to my eyebrows.

My face telling the story of my life. A life filled with joy, and many, many moments that caused me to smile. A seeker of wisdom, I love learning, studying and sharing sage advice to bring unity, empowerment, a deeper sense of self and self-love.

Another dear friend of mine was talking about the lines she is beginning to see around her lips. She said it’s because she’s a kisser, always kissing her girls, her hubby, and loved ones. Look, she said and puckers up to show me the exaggerated lines. Well, of course you’ll see them if you pucker up, we can’t help but laugh, and those fine lines disappear into a smile. I guess I’m a bit of a kisser too as I’m starting to notice those fine lines. What shall we call them, love-bug lines? If I think about those lines as a remembrance of all of the embraces over the years of my loved ones, I’ll take them and however many more are to come.

Love your face; love-bug lines, smile lines, wisdom lines, and all. I’ll continue to use potions to soften the lines, but I won’t be upset about the lines setting in as they will serve as reminder of all that has become a part of me.

Admit & Commit

Wanderlust

I was afraid to run. It was really hard to recognize, admit to myself, and then say out loud. Afraid to run for various reasons, physical mostly, but also just afraid of not being able to run, and how that would feel emotionally. I’ve secretly wanted to run for a long time and have quietly attempted to run on the tread mill at the gym, or when I’m walking I’ll add a little jog, but the fear kept me stuck to the earth. Self-judgement made me feel heavy and awkward. I’ve had a few moments on the tread mill where I felt buoyancy in my steps, and understood for a nanosecond what people love about running. I’ve envied the sense of freedom and accomplishment I imagine it brings.

My husband, Danny, is a runner. He loves running. He loves the sense of community, the camaraderie, he gets out of his mind when he runs and finds clarity in his being. This is what I feel like when I practice Yoga and Nia. Danny suggested that we sign up for Wanderlust 108, a mindfulness triathlon. We both committed to stepping out of our comfort zones to do something different together. The day started with a 5k, MC Yogi kicked off the event with a blessing for our hearts to be filled with peace and gratitude as we moved as a community through the streets of Sacramento. Post run, after a little break, we settled onto our Yoga mats surrounded by Yogi’s of all ages, and MC Yogi led the group in a warm-up dance and Yoga practice. The final stage of the mindfulness triathlon was a 30 minute meditation led by Vinnie Ferraro from Dharma Punx.

As the event day approached, the 5k would pop into my mind every now and then, a little voice of concern. Would I walk? Would I run? Would I skip it? Not literally skip, but just not do that segment of the event? The day of the event, as we stood with the Wanderlust 108 tribe, arms linked in a collective blessing, I nervously admitted to myself that I wanted to run. Phew, that was scary. How would I run? My mind started to calmly process how I would run. I knew lifting my knees high would be important to clear the ground with my left foot. I knew that I wanted to feel light and buoyant. I knew that I wanted to run it. Danny and I wished each other a fun 5k; we’d see each other at the finish line.

The pack began to move. Danny comfortable running in a large group wove his way to the front. I moved with the larger field of runners, making our way through the starting point, bouncing on the balls of my feet as I started to jog. We hit the pavement and I found my own space, my rhythm, and I started to feel a bit of freedom in my movement. My legs feeling comfortable as they pumped up and down, my hands loose as my elbows swung back and forth, my breath easy and comfortable. Simultaneously a sensation of elation and calm filling my heart as I realized I was running!

Gentle thoughts moved through my mind, keeping my breathing easy, committing to keeping my legs moving, my shoulders relaxed and attention focused as I ran alongside people keeping pace as my body allowed. Moving in my body’s way without judgement or fear, and responding to the sensations in my body making minor adjustments as I settled into my stride.

Not knowing the course, I had no idea how much longer I had to run, so I quietly called on my breath and enjoyed the energy of running in community. Amazed by the desire to just keep running, the image of Forest Gump flitted through my mind.  We came to a small downhill and the desire to run wildly down the hill, like a 5 year old girl, feeling the freedom of going super-fast filled me. I kept that image in my mind as I continued my mindful pace, movement as meditation. This is what I teach in Nia and Yoga, linking breath to movement, remaining fully present with one’s body and at the same time responsive to and aware of your surroundings.

And suddenly the finish line was in sight. I couldn’t suppress the smile leaping to my lips and my heart. I had run a 5k! I had run a 5k and enjoyed it, A LOT. I was so excited, so proud, so happy that I admitted to myself that I wanted to run and then committed to doing it. Committed to taking it one step at a time, using all of the resources and knowledge I had within myself at that moment, and then stepped in.

Post mindfulness triathlon, I realized that in recognizing and admitting that I was afraid, it allowed me to acknowledge the emotions surrounding the fear, offering more compassion and understanding to myself, so that when I stepped into the commitment, I was gentler with myself, fully present, and responsive. Acknowledging the fear allowed me to release it and truly be, it changed my perspective and provided another opportunity for expansion.

Elation, gratitude, pride

Last Friday, during a Yoga class in Costa Rica, as I stood balancing on my left leg in standing splits, a sensation filled my entire being; a deep sense of elation, of confidence, and of pride. In this moment, I had the realization that I am proud of my body. For me this is not easy to say as it comes with worries that it might sounds egotistical, boastful or vain.

Balancing on my left leg, hips open, it was the first time I’d ever enjoyed this posture. Balancing on my left leg, right leg extended behind me, reaching towards the sky, crown of my head to the earth. My right hand grasping my left ankle, feeling the muscles and tendons working to maintain my balance. My left leg feeling strong, stable, grounded, like a tree. Balancing on my left leg.

Ten years ago I was preparing for a total hip replacement of my right hip. My left hip had been replaced four months earlier and had resulted in nerve damage causing paresis in my left leg from the knee down. Ten years ago I wore a brace on my left leg to hold my foot in place so that it would not flop and drag as I walked. I used a cane to help me balance. Ten years ago the nerve in my left leg began its healing process, beginning to speak to the muscles and tendons again, quietly sending signals of how to move, circulate blood, feel sensations. It slowed me down. It gave me time to think, to listen and ultimately revealed to me the path I am now on.

Ten years later, I have regained the strength in my leg, gaining a nice amount of movement in my foot, the muscles and tendons in my calf becoming stronger, and it’s really hard to tell, at least in my mind, that I have modified my walk to accommodate my slightly droopy foot.

And on that Friday morning, it all hit me. There I was, balancing on my left leg, my hip replacements solid, the muscles in my leg quivering, my foot rooting down into the earth, lifting me up to try to touch the sky with my right toes. I am proud of my body for its resilience, strength and ability to heal. We are so fortunate to live in these magnificent bodies. Take a moment to connect with your body and enjoy that sensation of pride, satisfaction, gratitude for your body and all that it does for you each day.

Perhaps if we allow ourselves to feel and express this we won’t focus on all of the things that we are told to believe “wrong” with our bodies.

Scents in the air

As I left my home this morning, the smell of roses and manure mixed in the air. My first thought, wow, what an interesting combination. In a weird way, and I know I’m going to seem gross right now, it wasn’t unpleasant. The wind moving quick enough that the scent didn’t linger, it merely whirled around, offering wafts of each scent. As I got in my car, it occurred to me that the roses must be blooming right now, and a lot of them, for the scent to carry that way. And the scent of the manure, well, I’ve been thinking a lot about agriculture and all that is involved in producing the fruits, vegetable, nuts, meats, cheeses, the food that if we are fortunate enough, enjoy each day. The manure was a reminder of the efforts to produce the foods that grace our table. All of these thoughts swirling around my mind as I drove to teach a Yoga class, and as I pulled in the parking lot and got out of my car, the scent of jasmine. One of my favorites, I always consider it a blessing to smell. And I walked into the studio, where I am fortunate to share my love of Yoga, I felt incredibly loved, inspired and grateful to be leading this life where there is so much abundance surrounding us each day, offering the opportunity to open to new possibilities if we allow ourselves experience it.

Settling into a new home

This past September I moved to Modesto, CA in the Central Valley. Leaving behind a career in non-profit arts administration, I embarked on a new journey, a journey that has been calling me for many years, to be a full-time Nia and Yoga instructor and to focus on my Ministry. I am thrilled to be teaching Nia and Yoga at three wonderful studios in Modesto, the Village Yoga Center, The Yoga Loft and NTouch BodyWork & Healing Arts. All of my classes focus on moving in your body’s way and connecting with radiant joy for health and well-being.

As the New Year quickly approaches, I am eager to continue to expand my practice and deepen my connection with those in the Central Valley. As an Ordained Interfaith Minister, I love being a part of life celebrations and am excited to begin to meet with couples planning their weddings.

What is Journey for Joy?

Journey for Joy is an expression of my heart’s passion. It combines three disciplines that I have been honored and privileged to study and I am committed to continuing to study; The Nia Technique, Intuitive  Energetic Work and Interfaith Ministry. Journey for Joy is about exploring the connectivity between all beings and the world that we inhabit through dance, meditation, celebrating life’s moments and connecting to the Universal Source. It is being open to life and what is encountered along the way, approaching the beauty of life and the perceived challenges with courage, passion, peace, love and joy.  Through the practice and study of these three mind, body, spirit modalities, I have found ways of opening to new pathways of understanding and new ways of being. This allows for a deeper connection and conversation with myself and others which leads to a more balanced and peaceful way of being. I feel blessed to be able to share these practices with you. Experiencing the joy of the dance of life with my friends and clients is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.