magic.

Magic.

*I feel it to be my civic duty to warn you that this post contains excessive use of the word “and”.


When I was in college, I had this amazing professor, the Dumbledore to my HP if you will, and she taught one of the best classes I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing: Rhetoric & Style.* We did so many unexpected things in this class, and while we learned a lot about Rhetoric and a lot about Style, I feel that what we learned the most about was our place in the universe.

I remember one day she got carried away on what seemed like a tangent, which generally would give my sweet little structure-craving temperament a bout of the anxieties, but on this particular occasion I still remember feeling drawn to the dialoguelike something inside of me was reaching out for something else, like part of me was already expecting it. She went along this path that transitioned from English majors to journaling to list-making to poem writing to sound and color observing to rhetoric to our creative muses to unity within the universe. (this same teacher who in another class that same semester would settle in with “The center cannot hold/ all things fall apart” as our lens for analyzing all the works we studies those 4 months) Later we watched Elizabeth Gilbert deliver this amazing Ted Talk about all the things we had been discussing and I teared up as I felt myself recognizing the magic that lies in being present to all the things that are endlessly working together to create…magic. Then we walked with the Victorians as they struggled to understand how and why the center cannot hold; we sat in the sadness that their revelations mandated. Then we in our present day held their works to the light and saw the beauty they held, and suddenly there it was again, that magic—that stuff that presented itself in the midst of seeming dichotomies and sadness and pieces of a fragmented humanity. Peace-bringing, soul-shaping, life-giving magic.

And then the semester ended and I didn’t feel the magic any more. So, I chalked it up to superlative teaching and mutability and carried on.


Fast forward to a while back when I started going to therapy and doing yoga and meditating, all things that force you to look inward and be present to what’s going on. One day I saw this phrase “create space for magic” that someone had put on their yoga mat, and while what they meant by “magic” probably had more to do with executing a solid King Dancer pose, I decided to adopt the phrase as my mantra. I wrote it down and began to use it to set my intention for my yoga practices; then I found myself referencing it during trying times at work; before long I realized this wasn’t just some trite phrase, it was a way of living, it was the way back to that wonderful indescribable soul medicine I experienced that first time with Rhetoric & Style.

Recently I’ve been listening to some new podcasts, reading some new authors, and I swear for every single thing that has made me say “YES!” or “Me too!” there’s been a reference or tie to another thing that also made me say “YES!” or “Me too!”. I’ve started listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s new podcast titled “Big Magic” (right?!) and in the first episode I stepped into, she had Rob Bell (episode #4) on who talked about living as though “the action is here” and being present for what’s already happening in us and through us and around us. Just today I had an issue with my library account, so I called them and had the loveliest conversation with the lady working the circulation desk who said it was a system error then remarked on one of the books I had checked out (which is a phenomenal book about a certain personality trait that apparently we both have), and we bonded briefly in solidarity over our DNA-based compositions. Then she, without any prompting from me, remarked on how our conversation must be why the system gave me an error message even though it was working.

It would take me days to tell you all the ways everything is cross-referencing and things from one area keep filling in the blanks for things happening in other areas and everything is clicking together and connecting and making sense and it’s wonderful. That semester in college, I recognized that something was speaking to my soul. Somehow deep down I knew a part of the core of who I am had been reached and its thirst had been quenched, but when I lost it I failed to relegate any responsibility to myself.

Now, I know that it’s up to me, and you, dear friends, to create the space for the magic in our lives. If you create space, if you show up, if you truly believe that the action is here, with you, right where you are when you are where you are, then magic will find you. And man, it’s something spectacular to behold.

*I know I’ve talked about her and probably this class before, but this my friends was a game-changer, a turning-point, one of those people-shaper things we all have along the way.

yoga.

Camel Pose

(Credit Unknown)

So in yoga there’s this pose called Camel Pose. It looks easy enough, but it’s actually super hard. And honestly, it’s more mental than physical. I’m pretty sure every instructor I’ve ever been with during this pose has said something along the lines of, “don’t give in and come out of the pose early; stick with it”. Not coincidence. While your body is probably muttering something like, “this is kind of weird…hmmn” your head is SCREAMING, “STOP THIS MADNESS; RUN LIKE THE WIND BULLSEYE; GET OUT LEST YOU PERISH”. When you’re in Camel, your heart is exposed, your throat is exposed, your hands and feet are cut off from your core, your shoulders and hips are open, you’re helpless. And most people’s brains just literally can’t even. And people who’ve been there and passed that, try to encourage others by telling them that if they don’t run from all those emotions that come bubbling up from the deep recesses that no longer have sturdy walls to hide them from everything, then they’ll make it to the other side -the rainbows and butterflies side-of Camel Pose. But here’s why I’m pretty sure the difficulty is more mental than physical: if you don’t quit the pose, all those feelings are still there waiting for you.

At first I couldn’t even do Camel Pose, tilting my head back was the most I could muster, but then I advanced a little to being able to do a slight backbend with my hands on my lower back. Basically this stage looks like you’re not doing anything at all, but let me tell you that stage is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There’s this panic that creeps over you with each millisecond that passes. You start feeling a little fight or flight, but the panic intensifies so much your brain forgets what fight even means. Then as soon as you come out of the pose there’s a wave of dizziness, along with all the emotions the panic was shielding. I came out of it crying every time I did it. Then I progressed and was able to do a full expression, and still the panic, still the emotions, still some tears. Until one day (and kudos to all the instructors, because they all said this would happen) it WAS rainbows and butterflies. I came out of a full expression feeling invincible, feeling happy, feeling strong. But not because the emotions and panic and vulnerability stopped. Somewhere along the way I became more mentally strong, my heart more open to facing the fear and the rejection and the hurt and the sadness, and once you name your fear, you steal its power. It’s still there, yes, but you can see it for what it is, breathe in its existence, breathe out its importance. It no longer serves you, so you let it go. Until today I have been quite pleased with that progress and those realizations, but tonight we did a partner Camel Pose, and something clicked for me.

In an attempt to make sure we were using core strength and our legs rather than abusing our spine we partnered up, one person practicing Camel, the other supporting. It’s a little weird to have a stranger touch you at all, and to intentionally push your hip bones into their hands seems even weirder, but it wasn’t. It definitely felt better doing the posture correctly, but after completing a full expression and coming out of the pose I realized, it felt better mentally too. Tonight I didn’t experience even one second of panic. Not one second of confusion. Not one second of convincing myself to overcome and reminding myself it’s worth fighting for. Because I was supported; I knew someone was there (literally touching me) and I wasn’t alone. My Enneathought the other day said that I “tend to cope with problems by being competent” and that my message to others is “There are a number of hidden issues here: let me think about it.” And it’s spot on. But it also challenged me to ‘expand my coping skills by expressing my feelings and adopting a positive outlook’. I like living in my head; it’s safe in there. But I have seen and experienced the joy that can come from leaning on others and practicing the same things with a positive community. Every time I go to yoga class I’m reminded to be mindfully meditative about what it is to be part of a gracious and growing community that encourages me to open my heart and live with gratitude, but tonight I got a physical reminder that I need others. And I guess I wanted to share my positive outlook and feelings. LOOK HOW MUCH MY COPING SKILLS ARE GROWING ENNEAGRAM! Life is hard; be kind to yourself. And each other. And also do yoga.

(P.S. this is an old post i never posted [when i figure out what’s wrong with me i’ll let you know], but i still believe in all these words 1 million percent.)

photobomb love.

i know this sort of post is a little weird and a lot lacking in content, but i think this knowledge is something you need in your quest to truly know me.

this is maybe my favorite picture ever. when i tutored in college (on days when i had students like this), i would look at it before and after each appointment just to keep smiling. i’m not even kidding-every. single. time. i look at this picture it slays me.

also, if we’re friends, i know what you’re thinking. and i’m totes okay with the fact that me and that seal are the same piece of work.