Creating Connection

Hi, my name is Kyra. I am 10.3 pounds over weight. I am addicted to all forms of social media. I am also addicted to yoga, Green and Black’s 85% dark chocolate and to micromanaging every emotion. I am single and hate it, but its better than sacrificing personal growth and communication for empty companionship.  I avoid my Mother because she always asks me to brush my hair. I realized just last week that I have something to share, that I have lived and worked and always followed my heart even into the darkest of places. I am ashamed that I think so little of myself.

So here’s the solution:

Since the death of my Father, I have had a really hard time holding it together. I’ve spent many hours alone, sad and feeling terrible for not appreciating how long I did have him. In my grief, I beat myself up about wanting more of him. He was 91! He lived an amazing life, but I want more.  Then I feel bad for feeling bad.

Immediately after he died, I got on my yoga mat looking for comfort. I am forever grateful for my teachers and students who let me slip in and slip out of classes. They gave me space to be as raw as I needed to be without interruption. But, I needed more. I am so blessed to have Rolf Gates as a dear friend, an amazing teacher and a true mentor. He called often to check in with me after Dad died. Many times I would see his call coming in and cry because of his kindness yet I couldn’t bring myself to answer the phone.

He mentioned a meditation retreat and it felt like the right answer. Sun, silence, yoga and someone else to do the cooking and cleaning. An escape to paradise but with a noble purpose. Just before I left, my dear sweet Haley mentioned reading Brene Brown “The Gifts of Imperfection.” I’ve been a fan for years. We watch her TED talk in my teacher trainings. Recently I had even seen her Super Soul Sunday talk on trust. It was powerful stuff. Watch it here

I don’t even think Haley had finished reading the book before I swiped it out of her hands and hit the road to the airport. I started it on the plane. Yes!!! This was just what I needed. On both legs of my flight there was no one sitting next to me. The old me would have been delighted! The new me felt like the Universe was conspiring against me to force me out of my shell. I was really craving connection!! I wanted to share with someone anyone. I wanted to practice connecting before I got home so I wouldn’t screw it up and you know embarrass myself (sound familiar)?

I have realized that I am sick and tired of carrying around this image of perfection. Yes, I am blonde (or used to be..). Yes, I can be thinner than average(but not now). Yes, I was a ballerina. Yes. Yes. Yes. But how about the fact that I have so little value for who I am and what experience I carry in my whole being?  There are days that I cannot possibly think of one kind word to say about myself. And then there is my shame and fear of being found a phony. How about owning my story and sharing it? How about using all of the work that I have done throughout my life to help others feel more at ease in their own skin? How about, as my dear friend Nadia said one day long long ago “Let us see you cry. Stop pretending. Be real.”

I have spent the last week contemplating how to create connection. The conclusion I’ve come to is this: I cannot waste anymore of my life and energy hiding. It’s time to love myself with all my warts and wrinkles and open up to the real joy that is found in connection. I am running a year of creating connection on my Instagram. I would love for you to join me in connecting and sharing anything that moves you.

So here goes:                                                                                                                                                  Hi, my name is Kyra. I am 10.3 pounds over weight. I am addicted to all forms of social media. I am also addicted to yoga, Green and Black’s 85% dark chocolate and to micromanaging every emotion. I am single and hate it, but will never sacrifice myself again. I avoid my Mother because she always asks me to brush my hair. I realized just last week that I have something to share, that I have lived and worked and always followed my heart even into the darkest of places. My spirit animal is a sea turtle. I love all the people that practice yoga with me. They are brave and fearless. I experience real joy when they move on to other cities. My heart breaks a little when they leave but then grows bigger. It hurts but its a good hurt, like growing pains. I also talk too much………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do the One Thing

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My New Years intention has been to do just one thing at a time. As a Mother that is next to impossible. Throw on top of that owning a business with 2 locations, having children in 2 different schools with 2 different start times, an 89 year old Mother in mourning and one crazy beagle/pit mix! Oh yeah, and I’m single!

When my Father died, I became paralyzed as did all of us. There was this emptiness that pervaded everything. Where there were phone calls and text messages about this diagnosis and that doctors appointment there was silence. In the space of one breath we all had more time on our hands. I personally didn’t know what to do. It took me by surprise. I had not planned on it being so final and I am a planner. In the days and weeks immediately after he left us, I could only do the one thing. I was no where near able to teach. To guide others into a felt experience that is meant to be healing was off the table. All I could do was put clothes in the wash, make a cup of tea and hug everyone who stumbled onto my path. That was it.

As New Years approached, I realized that in my stunned and slow existence, my one thing at a time actually felt good. There was a sense of accomplishment because something was getting done and yet there was no anxiety swirling around me about needing to get it ALL done. In this semi concious state, less was most certainly more. It made sense. I was enjoying the small victories. I got dressed! I washed my hair! I folded laundry!

My Father spoiled all of us with his time. He always took the time to talk to us about anything we needed. When I was younger I used to say “I don’t want to talk about it now.” Of course now all I can think of is how much I would give for one more conversation. As I got older I would spend hours talking to him about politics, the value of a good liberal arts education, religion and dreams. I can’t thank him enough for the steadiness of his listening ear and open heart. As the dialysis strip mined his body our conversations lagged. He was exhausted after each skirmish with Fresenius. He could only do one thing at at time and he did it with his whole being. Some days we talked, others he slept. He did what he needed to do, one thing at a time.

As a ballerina I danced with my whole heart. To honor my Father and everyone in my life, I intend to continue this practice. This way of being. When we do the one thing we are committing to the moment and connecting to ourselves and others with our whole hearts. Since Life is one big beautiful dance, it’s time for me to start dancing again. Dancing with my whole heart.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the beauty and challenges of doing one thing at a time….


The Heart

The heart is the muscle that runs the whole organism. It beats, we beat. It stops, we stop. Is that why we use the shape of the heart to equate love? Is it because love is the “heartbeat” of life? Is it that without love we have no life, no breath, no way to live?

There are many types of love. I love them all. My precious daughters whose smiles, innocent remarks and hugs slay me. The love I have for my brothers who are forever surprising me as our relationships unfold with age. My Mother, my sweet little Mother who’s devotion to my Father was and is the greatest love I have ever witnessed. My friends whose love I feel across oceans and continents and their uncanny knack of knowing despite distance and years just when to reach out that hand to hold.

 

I loved a man recently.We seemed to have it all. Same age, children, passionate about work, creative, intellectual, respectful, devoted, worldly and between us enough scars and warts to humble us both. When my Father died my world was shattered and I ran. First I begged then I ran. I begged for arms to circle the God awful hole that was in my heart. When that didn’t work I pushed him away. He saw it and tried to stop it but I was already onto the next dance. I needed to feel my way into being me without my Father. I needed to heal. I needed all the love I could gather from the corners of the earth to hold me up. I needed the huge tapestry woven from the old friends compassion to hold me together until I could hold myself. The love I felt from so many people was the nourishment I needed. It gave me strength to grow roots into the soil of my new world.

Sitting by the shore I see repeatedly with imperfect precision the oceans unwavering love of the sand. The waves return again and again. Each time just a little different from the last. A dance like no other. A dance of steadfast commitment.

 

 

As a ballerina I was always changing roles. Just when something got comfortable it was on to the next. Our repetoire was ever changing and it was often years before we were given another chance at the same role. It seems I love that way too. Just when things get comfortable, I fall apart. I push them away. In lasting relationships you can’t do that. My friends, my brothers and my parents all managed to be like the ocean. Returning again and again. When my heart is heavy and sad I run to the ocean for its steady beat. Maybe I need to dive in………

What is love? How do you define love? Where does it begin and where does it end? How does it start? And does it ever really end? Would you share your thoughts on love?

 


Care to share the exhaustion?

We all have “those days” and today was one of them for me. I woke up exhausted. I dragged my children out of bed. Had  a silent ride to school. I slogged my way into a useless 8:45 meeting counting down the minutes until I was free. Lost my cool with a class of very brave souls who didn’t bother to tell me for a week that they hadn’t been able to complete an assignment. They forgot to “email” me about it. I somnambulated my way thru 2 ballet classes. Almost fell asleep behind the wheel picking the kids up from school. During the flute lesson I napped as always and still, all I wanted to do was cry.

Tiredness is in my bones. My soul needs a day off. I looked to everything in the universe for an answer. For acceptance. For someone to say

“Enough! This ones had enough! She deserves it.”

Well that is never going to happen. No one is going to come to my rescue. No one except me. It’s my choice to over do, over spend, over think and over green tea.

Tea

“In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.”  ~Deepak Chopra

 

Tonight I messaged a friend who’s a doctor. I asked if even the good doc needs a good cry. The answer was a simple yes. We all do. What struck me about his response was the common thread. We all have hard days, weeks, months and even years when we feel so alone. It was comforting for me to hear that even Dr. Perfect wants a shoulder to cry on and sometimes for the smallest of things. I’m tired because I can’t do it all and I want to so badly. I’m tired because I reached out to help someone I care about very deeply and they bit me. I can’t help them until they want to help themselves. I’m tired because I don’t listen to my heart and get stuck in my head and try to keep going.

I’m tired because I’m trying for the impossible: I want it all to be perfect.

I am so clearly not perfect and yet I keep banging my head against the same perfectly hard wall. I read last night about kindness. It is the most noble of traits. They say the only way we can truly experience kindness is by first being kind to ourselves. I am going to try this one. I am going to bed now because I want to be kind and in order to be kind I must be awake and in order to be awake, I must get some sleep. May we all find a little more kindness in our lives tomorrow. I’ll probably dance in my sleep, but until then,

Namaste and good night.


Healing

It has been exactly 41 days since my sweet Father put on his wings and flew away. The world feels so empty and lonely. It’s strange I know, but everything he ever touched feels lifeless and cold right now. Even me. I feel as though I am here, but not here. Like everyone, I long for that last conversation. That last I love you. That long goodbye.

I have been reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead and it is helping put things in perspective for me. A little. In my own selfish need for him to stay alive, I forgot that he was dealing with a little bit of his own personal hell. How would you feel if you heard the words that there was an end in sight? We all glamorize and dramatize what we would do. The trips we’d take, the people we would forgive, the grand gestures we’d make. In truth though, I think it is much much simpler. Yes, we would love up all those we love. Give hugs and kisses and I love you’s and thank you’s. The bigger question to ponder becomes really about “me.”

How would you feel if you were told this is it. If it were me, how would I feel knowing the end was there? Looming like a distant wave that will come, sooner than later, to shore and crash leaving nothing in its wake because it is all dissolved and swallowed up by the vastness of the ever changing. The truth is, that this is it. Any moment could be my last and what am I doing with the few precious moments I have?

 

Me and Dad

Now and again I have these “ah ha” moments that whisper to me of the big as hell space that is within and without. The heaven above, around and inside of me and each one of us. I am so busy grasping to this life that I am eternally fearful of the next. What would you do if you were handed that sentence?

In hindsight, I think I did it all wrong. I kept hoping and trying to have conversations with my Father about he felt about dying. We never had a single one. I never told him of my fear of life without him. I wanted him to tell me how he was feeling and all he wanted was to feel all the love of his family. He gave up his independence to be dialyzed 3 days a week so he could feel our love. So he could bask in the love and togetherness his illness created. As he got weaker, we got stronger and we didn’t even know it but he did.

I had a year and almost 2 months to say everything and I didn’t. My fear of death paralyzed me. He had a year to absorb the love and support of his children and beloved Mary. He had a year to look death in the face and say not yet. It took him that long to be ready for the great journey home. I hope in some small measure our love gave him the strength to wear those wings with pride.

My lesson in this: My Father always listened to everyone. He always put others first. I know this big cold empty hole in my life will never be filled, but it can be the fertile ground from which compassion can grow. His life and legacy can be the soil that feeds the bodhisattva in me. The one whose arms are open for all to find kindness. My fears have kept me selfish. His death has unlocked my heart.

I love you. I miss you. Thank you.

 


I am wrong (alot)

I discovered something interesting. It’s nothing new, but it’s the steadfast practice of yoga and meditation that has created this new “awareness” for me.

Whenever I let my ego out of the gate first, well, I am wrong. Yep. Plain and simple. The epiphany came to me as I was brushing my teeth tonight. I have this horrible shameful secret. I am so insecure that when I am faced with new situations, new people, or just about anything that makes me feel uncomfortable, I pre-judge and I am always wrong. Somehow my ego thinks that everyone is out to get me. Me. Me. Me and only me. Right? Because that is how big my small self feels it is. Can any of you relate to this? When someone approaches me about something that my ego isn’t prepared for, the moat fills, the gates draw down fast and the archers are ready in the turrets. I cannot possibly deign to help you or anyone else until I know all the facts. Let’s not forget that before I can consider answering, I must have time to contemplate the outcome for me. Me.

I keep having this theme run over and over in my Life. I am always wrong in my prejudgement. The person rarely if ever has it in for me. What could have been simple gets turned into an epic the likes of the Twilight Saga. Wasted time, wasted energy and “bad seeds” that will take a lot of good seeds to stop from germinating. One would think that after all these years I would get it. I don’t. I keep sitting on my cushion. I keep practicing my yoga. I keep teaching yoga. I keep on because that is what I must do. I have to learn this strange dance I have choreographed and change the beginning. The end is always better than my small self could have imagined. It’s time for me to start with the first step. As they say in the ballet world, “it’s how you start and how you finish.” What happens in between the audience will forget if you don’t start strong and finish solid. I love to dance. It is in my blood and bones (and bunions). It’s my passion. What I need to learn is that passion is fueled by love. What would happen if in all those ego-driven moments I went back to love………. after all that is what dancing is actually that’s what Life is.


Alvin: What a man, what a name! Is 90 today

Alvin. With a name like that you have to be pretty special. He is and so are all the other Alvin’s in my Life.

Some days Life just catches you off guard. You are expecting an easy  ride through the day and then something takes a hold of your heart and sends you somewhere you never dreamed. Today is one of those for me.

I have a big family and I love them all dearly. Three brothers, rockstar sisters-in-law, six pack plus of trouble (that’s the nieces and nephews). All unique and incredible in so many ways. My youngest brother is quite generous and allows me to use his elliptical at a moments notice. So kind. As I dropped in unexpectedly this morning, he casually tossed some photos my way as he left for work. They were precious shots of his daughter, who is expecting the 1st great grandchild in our family!! At the bottom of the stack was this:

 

Dad and rach

 

 

My Father with Rachael some 20+ years ago. It stopped me dead. It slayed me. In one instant I recalled all of my days just like this one with my Dad.  When he carried me to the ocean after my foot surgery. When he helped assuage my fears of big waves and floated me out past the breakers. All the feelings of love and support he has given over the years. The unwavering strength and gentleness. What really knocked me off my feet was the time. Time has gone by so quickly. He is 90 today. I am still his little girl but now with grown up challenges. And yet, he is still seems quite captivated by my Life. He still listens closely and tries to advise when needed. We have both grown and changed. Life has presented each of us with new challenges. Our time is limited. It never seemed that way before. This photo reminds me of that so clearly. It stabbed me in the heart. It woke me up. Words can’t express the feelings that wash over me when I look at this picture. But somehow I need to find them and tell him. Maybe it won’t be with words. maybe something like this:

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Those hands that have held mine through love and fear, pain and hope. Those hands that packed the car so expertly. Those hands that landed the bomber with one engine. Those hands that spanked me that one time! Those big warm hands that hold all of me with unconditional love at any moment. Those hands that have never denied me the encouragement I needed to carry on when all seemed lost. Those unbelievably strong  90 year old hands that will always keep a hold of my heart. Happy Birthday Dad. I am so blessed to have you as my hero.