Life List.

The first time I witnessed death, I was in Alaska.
A bear came close to digging his claws into a man.
Right before my eyes.
But before he could, his body became one with the earth, and silence filled the air.
And silence filled my spirit.

The second time I witnessed death, I was in India.
A young man floating down the river.
The water carrying his crippled legs towards the setting sun.
A mystery then.
A mystery now.

I saw death for the third time on Sunday afternoon.
A quiet summer day.
Birds conversing.
Wind whipping through their feathered breasts.
And all the while a woman, struck by a car, laid in the sun on the corner of my yard.

And at night I see her face.
But it is bruised and broken, semi-hidden from my sight.
Nameless and shattered.
And at night I see her body, deflated and lifeless.
This is the truth that I have created.
My mind wanders through the depths of haunted images.
And I am left debilitated and cold.

But in the morning I wake to find peace.
I see her in her vessel.
The vessel called her body.
Dancing with life.
Her soul carried by happiness and ease.
Warmth and gratitude.
This is the real truth that I have created.
And I will hold this in my heart.
My mind wanders and finds acceptance.
And I am left in the light of life.

"Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”
-Kahlil Gibran


The Life List

1. Breathe love.
2. Surrender to impermanence.
3. Be okay with the unknown.
4. Cherish positive thoughts.
5. Let it go.
6. Believe in yourself, and in others.
7. Explore.
8. Do not fear.
9. Get creative.
10. Find gratitude.

Morning in July
Afternoon in July
Take care.

And so this is for you.

For the little boy running down the street.

But don’t run too fast, little one.

And if you do, if you fall, if hands scrape against the unforgiving ground

Don’t you worry little one.

You’ll get back up.

And you’ll learn to do this well.

Your independent stride may take you down dangerous roads, through chaos and confusion.

But what’s life without curves and turns?

Bumps and Band-Aids?

Have no fear, little one.

For bruised knees are just as quick to disappear as the grass stains on your jeans.

And those genes. Strong body, big heart.

And like a seed you grow.

Grow little one, grow into that young man you always dreamt of being.

Remember those dreams?

Did you ever think you’d fly away from the mountains?

Over the hills, and under the sea?

And sure those dreams may have danced to the beat of their own drum.

But young man, you kept dancing.

And sure you spun. Sometimes out of control.

But such is life.

And so you tapped your feet, and snapped your fingers.

This was life as you knew it.

Even when you felt the infamous wrath of fear.

The hand that conquered your soul.

But not forever.

Nothing is forever, young man.

But you knew that.

The All American.

Invincible and sturdy.

And with every pass, with every blow of the whistle, with every 10 yards, your strength surpassed the deep dark recollections resting heavy in your heart.

And as strong as you were, nothing could prepare you for love.

True love, as true as it can be when you’re young and innocent.

Walking on a beach, staring in the eyes of another being.

And you loved her.

For at least a while. 

Remember, as I told you young man, nothing is forever.

But how could you have known that love could perish?

Before you knew it, you were swept away and carried to sea.

And although love sailed through the depths of your heart, you were underwater.

Inhale.

And you dove.

Exhale

And you resurfaced.

And you synced your breath with every passing wave.

And you sat watch as your little ones grew on the shore.

But you were never too far away. I can promise you that.

And every night, when you looked up at the moon, so did I.

We saw the same man in the sky. You and I.

You.

And.

I.

And just as the waters carried you away, it brought you back to the sand.

Where we built castles and you held me, sunburned skin and salty hair.

And you built that swing out of an old tire. Do you remember that?

And you were there to catch us when our training wheels did not.

And at night you’d tell us stories, as our eyes became blankets.

And the blankets kept us warm as we wandered through our minds.

He was just a little boy, but he dreamt of far away lands.

And yes.

She.

Me.

I was just a little girl.

Smiling in my sleep to see if something so simple as a grin that stretched from ear to ear could perhaps grow a mermaid’s tail.

Hey, a girl can dream.

And I dreamt.

I dreamt of you.

The little boy.

The young man.

The All American.

The Sailor.

My father.

And before we knew it, our blankets became light.

As light as the morning sun.

"You are my sunshine, You make me happy when skies are gray…."

And we could hear you singing from the bunk bed, our dream basin.

But just as the record stops, so did Sunday morning garage sales and movie nights.

Remember young man, nothing is forever.

And when the house became empty, so did we.

Bodies floating in a chamber of debilitating silence.

And although heartache knocked on the door a few times, lessons were woven in the wood, and stained with a layer of memories both good, and bad.

And so here we are.

And we are both good, and we are both bad.

And forgiveness and acceptance will create the bridge between stale thoughts and fresh memories.

And I remind you of her.

And I know that drives you crazy.

But remember her as she was.

Courageous in her own creative way.

A constant reminder of home.

When home was a hard chair on the bow, far far away.

And these days, your vessel is on a road, on a corner, with four walls and floorboards.

Pictures line the halls, frozen smiles in frames remind you of souls you’ve touched and places you’ve seen.

But insulation and carpets can only create space for boxes, blinds and books.

Love is home.

And I am your home.

And I promise my door is always open.

And now your scars match your wrinkles.

Memories are hidden deep within the crevices of years spent smiling.

And frowning.

A rollercoaster of unforeseen mistakes.

A ride just as surprising as it is beautiful.

Someone once told me, we’re all on a train.

And we never know which stop will be ours.

So we mine as well enjoy the ride.

And although the puzzle is not yet complete, the pieces are all in the right place.

They’ve come together to form the brilliant man that you have become.

Here.

And Now.

The Feast In The Fast

It was the first day of spring. I packed away the last of my sweaters and scarves in the boxes labeled, “stuff to wear when it’s too cold to do anything.” Cleaning my apartment, I noticed dust in the corners of my kitchen floor and piles of stuff I hadn’t bothered to look at in months. When I opened my refrigerator, empty containers and a carton of expired milk stared back at me. It was time to dig deeper and continue my spring cleaning beyond my floors and countertops. It was time to cleanse my body.

I wanted a fast approach, of course, and I wanted something a little more approachable than lemon water with maple syrup for seven days. Scanning the pages of a book written by a popular yoga teacher, while thinking of what margarita I was going to order that night, I came across something that was not too harsh and not too delicate. I found the three-day fruit fast. It sounded like the perfect way to start spring.

A fast can be scary. It can be hard and, yes, unappetizing. But sometimes in life, especially when the snow melts and the flowers bloom, change is necessary and surprisingly satisfying.

My first step was to take an hour and examine what I had been eating. I had a journal handy, and I wrote down what I ate on a day-to-day basis for at least a week. This step was perhaps the hardest because I began to realize how much was actually weighing me down, both mentally and physically. Rightfully so, I began with honesty.

The second step was to promise myself that I would be OK without that triple chocolate cupcake, that warm cup of locally brewed coffee and that first, refreshing sip of cider. In order to reduce headaches while on the fast, I began to phase out refined sugar, alcohol, wheat, dairy and caffeine. This step brought on a sense of letting go and moving forward. It’s about putting down that sugary drink after work and progressing with courage.

The third step was to take take a giant leap of sweet faith and enjoy three full days of just fresh fruit. On a typical day, I would drink hot water with lemon, lots of coconut water and peppermint tea. I’d eat a carton of strawberries, bananas, avocados and tomatoes.

With only a few days of cleansing my body, I felt a somewhat surprising increase in energy, a clearer mind and less tension. You’d be amazed, but everything seems to work better without large portions and empty calories. Colors were looking brighter, smells more intense, feelings of curiosity and clarity felt stronger. And after it was all said and done, and once I noticed how my life can improve by taking the time to detox, I then returned to my normal habits, with balance and fresh perspective. Because it’s not about giving up the cookies or promising yourself that you’ll never have bread again. It’s about understanding what it is you truly desire with food and in all aspects of your life.

And so now I’m free to walk the streets of downtown Asheville, enjoy the warmth of the sun and spend evenings down by the French Broad River.  After all, I still needed to unpack those boxes labeled, “stuff to wear when it’s too nice out to do anything but smile at the sky and enjoy a burger and a beer.”

Within the fast, there lies a feast. Tis’ the season to dig in!

Love, Light & Yoga

On a cold day in 2009, with a broken heart, and a paper due for cognitive psychology, I was searching for a way to decompress. I googled this very foreign word, “yoga”, and Tara Stiles popped up on youtube. After a few sun salutations I had a grin slapped across my face, and a sudden burst of energy for life, that led me on a train trip across the country. It was then I knew that I could really indulge in this beautiful practice. It was then I knew I needed yoga in my life, forever. After studying Power Yoga in Newport, Rhode Island, and falling in love with my practice, I traveled to Alaska, India, and a few places in between. Throughout my post-college journey, I have relied on yoga as a way to lift my heart, clear my mind, and ground my body, even when I am searching the world for adventure. I graduated from Go Yoga’s teacher training in 2014, and received my 230-hour teacher certification.