Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why Do I Do What I Do

My quest, to write the 'why' to actions, emotions or to our words. Why we have become the people that we are is not defined by our past, it is defined by our reason to exist. There has to be a greater force that lies behind us. For many it is money or financial gain, for others they have gone past money or material items and have a cause, something they champion every day. How we live our lives is always being redefined, that can take a lifetime to achieve one goal or by many causes that are checked off consistently. Once achieved, it is what we do after, to find it again, because the chase, the journey is truly what we all love.

Ultimately, we love struggle and pain but we want the outcomes. I find outcomes to be rewarding and anticlimactic, they are great for that moment and then, it is as if that fear, that unknown is revealed and we must redefine our cause. If we are defined by what we do, what is it that we are doing? Or is it not so much what we do but how we do it? I have yet to meet someone that was passionate about what they do (work or for fun) and did not end up being successful. Maybe not rich, or even close to it, but they accomplished what they set out to do.

Does it matter if you are first place or walking through the finish line? Apply that to your entire life, not an actual finish line in all scenarios but you get the point. If we always have to get better we are never taking time to enjoy the outcome but instead we are chasers, or for a more hot spot word, we are addicts. You are addicted to the chase, to wanting more. More money, more things, or even in the endurance sport arena, we want to be faster and we are willing to do anything to get it done.

I came from a very modest family that taught me as long as there is food on the table and a roof over my head I was not allowed to complain. I don't think I have followed that guideline very well. This blog is a check in for me, it is to share what is on my radar and what my goals are. I want to become more 'why' centered instead of 'how does it benefit me' centered. I have these goals written down, that is the easy part. Now, I am on to actually doing it.

Monday, January 5, 2015

CryBabyHouse: The Beginning

I write about big life changes as a coping mechanism to soothe me in to change. Change is necessary, it is great and makes you afraid of the unknown. I love change, being out of routine and marching to a different beat then I did yesterday. I am excited, nervous, anxious, happy and ready to go out on my own and build a space that I can call home, that I can put my fingerprint on  and fall in love with. Looking back on my past I remember a specific home that shaped me into the woman I am today.

I take you back to when I was 16 years old. I was coaching at my childhood gym, Oakland Gymnastics Training Center, working under Ruth and Chris Miller. The team of coaches were family to me, they knew more about me than my own family. They were hard on all of us, coaches and athletes, they made the best shoulders to cry upon and made my belly ache from laughing so hard. I think about each one of them often, the tough grit of Renee Henry, the teddy bear Mel Foster and the always lovable Stephanie Schmaltz were people that I looked up to, respected and one day wanted to be. Across the way, Ruth Miller would be sitting, it looked like she was doing absolutely nothing drinking her diet coke and having side conversations with other coaches. And then out of nowhere she would appear and she would correct a gymnast the only way you should ever correct someone, with tough love, usually with a stern, loud voice to match. Those years spent at Oakland would shape every part of who I am today. The personalities, the education and commitment to excellence is what I strive to create in my own studio, CryBabyHouse.

You ask, what is CryBabyHouse? It is a bring-your-bike, strength training and yoga studio. It will offer a strict policy of recognizing when you are making excuses and complaining, owning your struggle and standing up to the demons in your life. It forces you to be better, always. That your journey never stops, the struggle never gets easier and the excuses never go away. This studio is more than fitness, education or nutrition, it is about the attitude that you bring with you when you walk in the door. No matter what the day has in store, we will rise above it and do the best we can.

So with that, here's to offering a place where not all will want to stay because it makes them uncomfortable and forces us to be broken at times. This is not a studio or a place where you can hide, it is a home, my home and you better be prepared to work in this family!

Concept Art by: Eschom Nelms

Monday, December 8, 2014

For Me: Giving is Forgiving

To give is to allow someone to have. It is a choice, it is an act of putting the needs of another above your own. To forgive someone is then of the same token. It is a selfless act. So why is it so easy for us to give but it becomes so difficult for us to forgive?

As I think of resentment, anger and pain I also remember those who are no longer with me, I think of what they taught me and how they still shape every part of who I am. David, my uncle, to watch how helpless he was those last few months, made me become grateful for every muscle, tissue, fiber and breath. He died of ALS in 2004. Papa, smiled ear to ear the minute he saw me. He taught me joy, he taught me strength and perseverance. He taught me love. Died in 1992 of congestive heart failure. He made the decision to stop fighting, to stop all the surgeries and to let nature take its course. Woody, my great grandfather taught me simplicity. He loved his routine, he loved when I would sit next to him, hold his hand and not say anything at all. Died of old age you can say, at 100 years old. These men have taught me in their last days what was truly important, to see them and witness who they were near the end of their life versus who they were just years before that. When I think of forgiveness I think of death, I think of letting go, moving on and pressing forward. I believe that is where true happiness lies, is being free from that pain, that attachment to another outcome.

Each of these family members are long gone, yet the memory of their lives is forever with me, it moves me forward in my life, to look back at how they changed me, they altered my thinking in a sense, they allowed me to believe in a great many things. Each one of these men knew that they were dying, it gave them an opportunity to give, to let go of possessions that no longer seemed important and to release the pain that others had caused them. I look at my own life and understand that I have let the actions of others hurt me, so much that I have built up a wall of resentment and anger causing me stress and worry. The gift I give to myself this holiday season is forgiveness, to sit in quiet, to write letters to those that have offended and to free myself of any bad thought towards that person. I want to live a happier, cheerful life and that starts with my past pains all the way to present day. I choose this life, and to live it in the best way I know how.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Time Out

The soul within our individual souls
loves the one who runs and falls down
more than the one who sits and watches.

Our lives are made into stories over the fluctuations, proof that timing is everything and madness can strike at any moment. We have all read and heard the amazing stories of how people rose up from the ashes, how they defined a moment in time that changed them. You can see it, a child within them that once loved to be adventurous. You can see when people have experienced hardships and pain, it never dulls from their eyes. I have learned myself that it is just as great to "sit and watch"  as it is to "run and fall down." That the dark times define for us moments of reflection where you can decide to be better and produce the life you envision.

I am just a simple observer of life, but is it not relevant for adults to take time to reflect, to sit and think about their actions? As children we are reprimanded, we are scolded and put in time out. As adults, we rarely have that opportunity, we continue along a path, maybe taking a moment to recognize our wrong doings or we just keep moving. I believe that time alone is one of the keys to feeling healthy. That reflection keeps your ego in check, it allows you to see life from a different perspective and that is imperative to our evolution. 

Hiking up the canyons, enjoying the fresh air and being able to stand atop this crazy town is a feeling like nothing else. Feeling sand in between my toes, swiping my fingers through the grains, feeling the warmth of sunshine and hearing the waves rolling in allows a moment for me to feel small and yet taken care of. As I practice living off the mat, I realize there are templates for mediation. At first it is always difficult and challenging to be quiet but as time passes we start to crave those moments. I think the difference between meditation and any other form of quiet is that it is a choice, we have to choose to make it a part of our day instead of life hitting us and forcing us to take time off.

I started noticing that I loved being alone about three years ago, for some of you I know you can run circles around this but for me it was a revelation, it became time that I cherished. I devoted these moments to being quiet. It didn't matter what I did that day, all that became obvious was that I could then focus my attention better at work. I make sure to have time, even small chunks of time to write, to read, to meditate, to clean my house and light incense, to just be a girl, to be out of the chaos. That is my meditation and it is not the classic version that anyone will teach you but it allows me to calm down, to go within and reflect on my actions instead of everyone else and what they are doing wrong.

Life will fluctuate with each one of us, as the highs come it is important to maintain a consistent effort of quiet time so that when we need that solitude, we have a consistent schedule of time blocked out. Life will give you time outs regardless if you take them or not, I truly believe it is in those moments that we are capable of change. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

On visions, dreams and reality

Truth is, whatever I aim to achieve is possble. If you work hard enough, long enough and without interruption you can achieve anything. You can set any goal, even achieve it, but that doesn't mean it is supposed to be yours. I see people everyday chasing dreams, it is fascinating to take a look at what makes us drive ourselves forward, sometimes into the ground in order to check something off a list. Do we love the achievement, do we love the suffering or the high we get chasing goals or do we just love life, that being able to achieve great new heights is truly living at its fullest. 

I have been called "the walking accident," "a great athlete that never finished" and on and on it kept going through life that I was talented, I could achieve a great many things but it was always a little too high of a reach or so it seemed. My problems were never talent but on showing up on the line when it really mattered. When it came to production, to shining in the spotlight an injury would show up. Frustrated to say the least I became very bitter, angered that I could never prove myself in the right moments. Then I stopped, looked at the situation and realized that if I paid more attention to my body, my alignment and had proper coaching that I could have been more. 

Or is it really true that I learned all that I did, that my love for being active is to teach not to win. I struggle with this reality because I love being the center of attention. Through that struggle I have been forced to live my life, to find other parts of life that I enjoy. I learned the long hard road of what it feels like to heal your body, it took me almost two years to begin to feel my age again after my motorcycle accident. It taught me patience and it taught me to enjoy a simple life. To get out of bed every morning and stand up was a struggle all its own, to put on my clothes required that I sit on the floor. To drive my car I had to go slow, to turn right required that my entire body moved. I hated when people would slam on the brakes because the force required to stop my car was so painful in my body it made me crave normalcy, to just feel absent of pain in the body. So, to look at my life today, being able to run and swim, go to a yoga class and live pain free feels incredible.

Maybe my purpose is to teach, to inspire others to compete and give you the tools that will let you shine, that the reality is I can be happy doing routine work and being ordinary. Maybe your reality is that you can love something and never get recognized for how great you are and we have to be accepting of that reality first. Do I really love what I do or do I love the attention I get while I do it?

I dream of a day when I can cross a finish line, a real one or the imaginary one to the goals that I lay out for myself. I try to start small, I build up one day at a time and ultimately I write down the big goal. I would love to be the girl that gets it back and can prove talent on the line. But that will never be enough, see we are always chasing to be better in all ways. The shift that I had to make was coming down from the clouds of lofty dreams and hopes of others into the reality of what I can truthfully achieve and what my purpose ultimately is. Do I have the patience and the love for what I do to keep showing up and wanting to get better, so that it doesn't matter if I am on a sports team going for the win or just enjoying myself in a sport I am working my body with an intention that it has to be challenged and I have to know when enough is enough, when rest is needed.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Club

I started my own book club this summer and it has been a fascinating discovery. You could say I have replaced actual friendships with my books. Which in small doses works wonders. I nestle in on my couch with a large mug of whatever I am drinking that day and mull over every concept. I am intrigued to discover that what I think, what I do and what my mamma gave me are always changing, always evolving into what I am doing with my life. Every thought, every action is accounted for, it becomes recorded into my life. The more I read the more I could not stop. The first of my great reads was all about allergies, then on to skin and proper care of the biggest organ in our body and lastly I just finished reading about genetics. I can say that they all have shed light onto my old beliefs of what was good and bad. I have opened up towards the idea that even though I have a set of DNA that codes every cell of my body I am still in control of my destiny. That what I do, every single day is ultimately who I will become.

"Even long after we're gone, our bones can leave behind clues about the myriad of experiences of our lives that have been impacted by our genes. The constant use, strain and weight isn't just toning muscle, it's also setting osteoblasts and osteoclasts to work, which changes genetic expression that helps to build stronger bones. It's also weaving together an aspect of our life story that will last as long as our bones do." Even after I am gone someone can look at my bones and identify how I lived my life. They can see what I was allergic to, what my diet consisted of and the quality of life I lived.

I have recently started a new program of cardio and endurance based workouts. Sad thing is, my body is not ready for that quite yet. I need to do a few rounds of physical therapy because I have to strengthen my body to work more cohesively. And is that not the truth, looking at me you would say I am the picture of health, and while there are truths to that I have to make my muscles, my body all work together. Because it is not how I look that really matters, its that it all works together. From food to workouts to rest I have to delicately balance all of it. I have to push, pull, swing and hold my way to a better body, a more balanced body that will take me anywhere I want to go. I will not live in fear or hold back from anything because I can accomplish any task if you give me time and a little room to make mistakes. I have since ended my obsession with books and am now back on the friend market. No excuses this time!

Photo by: Patricia Pena
Quote from the book "Inheritance" by Sharon Moalem, MD, PhD

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mirror, Mirror

To hold up a standard in our lives is inevitable, we all say harsh things about our bodies, our shortcomings and failures. I feel that at times throughout my life, I come to a place where I see almost too clearly my actions and how I am in the wrong all the time, how I must come off to other people and all I can do is realize how far I have yet to go. The mirror is held up, and I know that I am not the only one. You have a chance to be better, to rise above and to change. We all have an excuse for why we act the way we do, but how we come off to others should reflect our true thoughts and actions. I usually come off stern, upset or not in the mood to talk and that is pretty accurate. But I want to be different. I want to be approachable and friendly. I want to be able to stand up for myself in the right moments and surrender in others. It is a delicate balance that comes easily very few days. Most days I struggle, I try to accept that all I can do is be open and ready for the changes that I need to make.

We need to be accountable to each other. To call out each other when someone has made a mistake and support them through it. I want people in my life like this. I aim to surround myself with individuals who are striving to be better versions of themselves, never thinking they made it. Because do we ever make it? What standard is "making" it? We are all equals in this world; rich or poor, successful or homeless, we all can be better and do better.

I recently started reading some fascinating books regarding health, allergies and genetics. One simple principle that they all speak about is taking care of our body by working with it, not against it. Our bodies send us signals (headaches, runny nose, sneezing, sore throats, acne, muscle aches and spasms, heart palpitations, etc.) and it is our duty to honor the body and discover why our bodies behave the way they do. The same is true of our behaviors. Why do we react to certain people with anger and others with kindness?

We have to be smarter than our bodies, and the only way that can happen is by being observant to our actions, our inconsistent patterns and understanding the why instead of masking over our problems with excuses. It can be external or internal, the root of the problem is what I seek to solve, to understand the why instead of just giving it a because.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Me, Me, Mine

From a place of always giving, always available and willing to help another, to do work and to be of service there comes a freedom from a space to become selfish. I find that when I am too much of one thing I have to balance it out in order to come back to a place of harmony within myself. This month has created a challenge for me with writing, I would sit down to write and have nothing, or when something did come up I felt that it was not good enough to publish. That came from me giving too much out and not putting enough back in to me. I own that. I have to work at creating a space where I can receive back and allow myself to take in all that is out there for me. Last night I went outside and sat on my patio, the clouds were rolling it and it seemed that a storm was upon us. It was beautiful and invigorating. It inspired me to go get some paper and write, I have translated it into some form of legibility below and I hope you enjoy!

Where does creativity spring forth? In the freedom of expression, the letting go of what we want into the momentary bliss of life. Creativity is our desire to express ourselves in the simplest form, ends up being the most expansive version of what we need to communicate with the world. For me, the words are not always present so actions must suffice. When colors are not available, the message should still come across. I sit and wonder how much I have walked by and missed because I was so caught up in my life and how important I thought I was. To have faith, always, that what we do here is not in vain must be accompanied by an effort of joy. That one by one we are uncovering pearls among oyster shells.

In life, sit near someone who has had the experience as well as sit under a tree with new blossoms. A great teacher, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen said that if you want something hard enough you will get it. He said "it will happen when the eye (I) becomes a we." We are here on earth to use each other, to share our lives and what goes on in them. We can try to isolate, to tell ourselves that we are better off alone but that is the biggest lie of all. I need people in my life who hold me accountable, who inspire me and teach me. I can't always be the teacher, the rule enforcer or the wise one. I must also be the student, the one that listens. That is where I sit now. That is where I am. 

Monday, May 12, 2014


you cannot find peace by avoiding life
nor can you live by never having restraint
for to truly understand life you have to know the beat of another's heart
you have to give, wholly of yourself with nothing in return
accept defeat, surrender.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Piano Man

"Are we teaching students to become like piano tuners who never experience the joy of just playing the piano? Do they know volumes about the technique, but nothing about the joy of practicing it? But if technique is all we teach, then there is no heart in our teaching."                        --Judith Lasater

Maybe one of my all-time favorite yoga teachers, rather mentor, Judith allows students to practice from a space that is rooted in tradition yet open to expression. I try to explore this space on my yoga mat. To do what I love, knowing the rules of how to play the game, and allowing variables to change, to just show up and to not feel judgement or lack of love is a beautiful place to live. Many times it is a space that is hard to recreate. So, stop trying to recreate a past memory. Start to make new ones!

Growing up one of my best friends father's was a piano tuner. He had the privilege of tuning piano's for all the great musicians that would come play in Detroit or Auburn Hills. And he would be there when they would warm up and I asked him what it was like to warm up with the "greats"? He said, "you know, nothing special. They play simple beats well." I was disappointed to say the least. But now, I get it. I love it! The excitement of practice comes from showing up, knowing how much you are capable of but allowing the beat to flow, to be uninterrupted by ego and to let your spirit flow freely.

I think yoga is like music, at times it entertains us. We go for the scene. Eventually that wears off and we are left in a space that is empty. It is like a song left on repeat. I can sing you a song, play the piano real loud. What matters is what your showing up with, an eagerness to learn, a readiness to change and an acceptance of what cannot change.

I want to be a teacher that gives cues, small cues that allow students to teach themselves. That is who I want to be known as. Students will remember how to do it right because they felt it, maybe they heard one cue, lift your gaze and it changed more than just their focus, it gave them feeling in their upper body. To be challenged, is a gift. To rise to that challenge is what changes us. Stop expecting others to do the work that you were meant to do. Because Billy said it best, "we're all in the mood for a melody, and you got us feeling alright." Someone can always make you feel alright, it is when you start making yourself feel alright.