Lotus Jo's Yoga

No mud no lotus.

Mud

Lisa SchuellerComment
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My daughter asked me last night why I named the yoga studio Lotus Jo’s? and did I have other back-up names?

My name is Lisa Jo. Lotus Jo’s is a play on my name. The Lotus flower is also symbolic for struggle and growth. The lotus seed is buried in the mud at the bottom of a pond in murky waters. When the seed begins to grow, it pushes through the mud and muck but is still underwater. The new plant grows through the water pushing up toward the surface and finally breaks through to the air and the sun. Once above the water’s surface, the lotus blossoms into an impossibly beautiful flower. Dozens of layers of petals unfold to open the flower until the very edges of the petals are wide, resting atop the water’s surface with comfort and ease, supported by the water that it broke through and gently riding the changes in the water’s surface.

Jo or Joe as in “the average Joe” is a term that refers to anybody. While the Jo(e) could be anybody, the Jo(e) is a specific person, maybe there are lots of Jo(e)’s we pass each day, and each is a lotus. Each has a story, each is somewhere between the mud and the sun.

I wanted to create a place where anybody could come, be at home, come into their own and feel safe and supported by a community. I wanted a pond. Not a big pond. Just a pond. Where any Joe or Jo could explore. Could be welcome. Could grow. And when the lotus lost it’s petals and returned to the depths of the pond to break back down, I wanted a place for that too. I wanted a safe place to cycle. Through sun salutations and life’s various seasons.

Finding a place to put the pond was a whole other issue. I started with teaching classes where and when I could. I was working as a professor of communication at multiple schools, raising one kid, building another one from scratch on the inside. But I knew I wanted something. I wasn’t sure what the pond would look like. In the photo at the top you can see my vision board from yoga school. I knew WHY I wanted to open a space for people. But would it be yoga? I didn’t know if I wanted a yoga studio. Would it be a community center? Would it be both? Would we have a garden? Would it be mobile? Could I function out of an airstream and thus justify buying one? Could this work?

Seven months into my pregnancy I found a building for sale around the corner from my house. I went for it. I made a business plan, I found a commercial realtor, I began work with a commercial lender, I worked with the Small Business Development Center to create financial projections and to look at the market for the surrounding area, assessing ages, annual incomes, the yoga industry itself. So many numbers. I hauled my big pregnant ass all over trying to make this happen. It looked good. The numbers looked good. The neighborhood. Everything. I kept pushing on saying I’d quit at the sign of red—crap numbers, no lending, bad inspection—but the red never came.

What did come? A cash offer. So, I don’t own a building in Alger Heights. I own a house here and I pass the building almost daily and I think how convenient it could have all been.

I was teaching yoga in something called “the ugly room” in a little conference room next door to a gym. The gig was passed along to me by a pal and basically the gym owner wanted yoga classes offered to help with strength training and to bring an option for yoga to the members of the gym.

Back to the “ugly room”. It was legit ugly. It also had a distinct smell. It was a little (really) cold, and dark, and not a place I would have ever looked at and been like “ah yes!, this is a great place to lay on the floor.” Ever.

But I loved my little group of yogi’s and I loved the class and it started to stir the need for a pond. But could I? I started small. I asked if I could leave a space heater there. Then a small table. Some blocks. Then a little letter board with my website and prices. And then I asked about the carpet. Because the smell? I had tracked down the smell to the carpet. Also, carpet and yoga?

What happened next was the curve ball. The next step was the little jolt the seed needs to begin germinating. The gym owner talked to the owner of the building and then there was some negotiating and next thing I knew the questions was “would you like to rent this space (the ugly room)?”. I wasn’t sure. It was on the side of the building and the building was a business and retail center with no foot traffic. Hard to create visible signs at the street. And, it was ugly. So, I went back to my plan and I looked at the numbers and I changed them around to accommodate the difference in rent versus a mortgage and so on and so forth. I was being smart. Taking it slow.

And then one Saturday after only one person was at yoga and he decided maybe he would just go so I wouldn’t have to teach one person, I picked at the edge of the carpet—just to see. I just wanted to know what was under there. It was cement—Duh. But for my fellow pickers out there you know, it’s not just a corner. It’s never just a corner. I ripped up as much carpet as I could (hardly any because of the devil carpet glue they used). Took a pic of my damage, sent it to the owners and said it looked like I would be renting the space.

And that kids, is the story of how Lotus Jo’s Yoga Studio went from a little dirty seed to a little dirty flower.

You can see the pictures that chronicle my months of physical labor creating what is now the yoga studio. There are so many tears and cuss words in that place. We saged—it’s ok now. But I have never worked so tirelessly on any one thing. And then, after two months of ripping and scraping and laying and painting and hanging and moving and arranging it was ready. I did a soft open and taught class three days a week. It was going ok so the question was, when was my grand open? I wrangled a staff, created some marketing materials on vistaprint, and set a date.

I’d say it’s all history now. We are open and it’s great and we are thriving. But every single day is terrifying and exhilarating and awful and wonderful and long and somehow, not long enough. Would I do it again? Yep. Would I do it different? I’d love to tell you I have some great thoughts in hindsight, but my face is still numb from it all.

This place, I love it. My work now is to help other people know the pond is ready, the water is warm (thanks space heaters), and that it is not only a safe and happy pond, it is also the most affordable pond in town.

Namaste, pals.

Optimism, diamond rings, deep wells.

Lisa Schueller1 Comment

I was at my parents' cottage a couple weeks ago walking around in the shallow water. I'd been given a task by my daughter, to find medium sized rocks. Madison, my daughter, builds these structures with a base of rocks and then drizzles wet sand on them to create these incredibly strong walls. Sometimes the structures are there for weeks and through storms, rocks from the lake and wet sand--someone should alert the little pigs of the world.

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As I walked through the water trying not to kick up too much sand and obstruct my view of the bottom of the lake, I kept feeling this little leap in my chest or throat or some undeterminable anatomical place within my chest-ish area. It was excitement. This happens to me all the time, like when I check the mailbox, or open the front door because there has been a knock on it. I was not overly excited about my incredible skill at finding uniformly sized medium rocks--I thought maybe, just MAYBE I might find a diamond ring. Not treasure, or something cool, very specifically, a diamond ring. When I check the mail I think maybe there is some kind of unexpected good fortune waiting for me there, like a big check, or an awesome package, or some amazing job offer that I have been mailed (????, yes, that's a real thing I think). 

I took off my diamond ring and placed it in the water and took a picture. I would not recommend doing this, you can just enjoy mine. It's just a Herkimer diamond (slight tangent, but if anyone wants to take me on a bucket list trip--I want to go mine for Herkimer diamonds) so it's like a fancy piece of quartz. But still, I put it there to see if I would be able to see a ring in the water. I could. I will always be looking for diamonds and waiting for million dollar checks, and thinking the person at the door is there to bring me something so spectacular that I might even wish I'd showered that day.

They tell me it's called optimism. But as I walked in the water and thought about how much I do this, a new thought popped up. Maybe it is stupidity. I don't feel disappointment in not finding these treasures, but that little leap is always there. Just maybe. Maybe today is the day. Optimism. It seems so lovely. Feeling excited and hopeful about life. But can I tell you how many times my incredible faith in "good luck is just waiting around the corner" has gotten me into some seriously crazy and dangerous situations? How many times I have been totally burned? Maybe I'm just stupid. 

I sifted through the water and thought about this. Standardized testing points in another direction for me far in the other direction from stupidity. But if I wrote a book on ridiculous situations and circumstances and choices I have made, they are all rooted in the belief that good is in there and this will work. The fact that I am still alive--apart from being a small miracle--is proof to my theory. I can just kind of leap and history is on my side when I trust that something will be at the bottom. However unpleasant the fall may be, I will stand back up and eventually walk away. Forward. I will keep on keeping on. 

I'm 31. I am on like my 95th career. I have a dozen failed friendships and cringe worthy relationship endings. I have multiple degrees and like 92 cents. I have a boat load of stories but I can't write a memoir because it would stir the pot too much. So, I come back to my new thought. Am I stupid? What am I doing wrong? How do I have all this optimism, all these degrees, all these "smarts" and still get it wrong so much? Does my optimism blind me from reality?

Which brings me to the deep well. I had to tell my daughter that not all people are good or want good things for you. It was horrible. Her complete lack of fear of others is beautiful. She believes all people are good and worth talking to and befriending. Ever since she was a small child she has chatted up anyone and everyone. So, to be practical I taught her about tricky people. How would you ever make friends if you can't talk to strangers? Or get a job? or ask for help if you're lost? Not talking to strangers is ridiculous. And really, statistically, strangers aren't really the real problem for most kids. So, I told her "Madison. Not everyone wants good things to happen to you." It turned into the longest discussion we've had aside from something about God's role in the making of babies and finally I told her you can't ever be totally sure. But the best way to tell if someone is not nice is if they are tricky. Nice people want to help and they will let you check things out, like with your mom or your sitter or whatever. If ever someone won't let you follow the rules, then they might be trying to trick you. 

This is not about parenting. It's about me and how I have never been able to tell if someone is tricky because I am completely blinded by the hope of diamonds and millions of dollars and amazing free trips because treasure is real and it could show up at any moment. 

A woman came into the studio about two weeks after I started holding summer classes and I was so excited. She wanted to feature me as the exclusive yoga studio to new home owners in the area. Put my studio on a brochure and let them know it was the top studio and the only studio endorsed by her company. I thought, THIS IS IT. I have needed so badly to jumpstart my marketing and here it is. It walked right in my door. Hello, diamond ring, I am perfect sized hand.

And then she told me it would cost $92/month and it went out in some mailer to all people that recently moved and I thought about all of those coupon mailers we use to start fires with in our Chimnea and I thought. Fuck.

I did a lot of gardening this past week. I found myself excited to dig in the dirt because you never know what you might find!! A few years back my friend was terribly concerned that she had discovered a body. It wasn't. Not like a human anyhow. But maybe there was a dead human in my garden bed wearing a beautiful diamond ring. (straight to hell, I know, I know.). And you wanna know what I found? Cement. The largest piece being so big I actually feared I might go to the bathroom in my pants from the exertion of pulling it out of the ground. So, there's that. 

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I am sometimes overcome by the well, the depth of the well, really, that is full of stupid things I have done or believed or said or participated in. I will not pretend they are all because I am optimistic and was tricked or something. But all the things that are hard and hurt. They live in this well and sometimes I sit on the side of it and peer into it and wonder if maybe it's me. I'm the common denominator between all those things in there. Me. What is it about me? And then I remind myself that I'm just not that important and the universe is not conspiring against me and I go back to sifting through rocks in the water for treasure.

Maybe next year, or tomorrow, or in 5 minutes, something completely unexpectedly spectacular will pop out from around the corner. For now, I will be content with my family and friends, random songs I love coming on the radio, wildflowers by the side of the road, and the beautiful hunk of cement in the middle of my yard that is too heavy to move so now we must just love it. I'll peek over into the well from time to time, it will no doubt just keep filling up. But that's ok. Everyone has a well of bullshit, right? Maybe there is a diamond ring somewhere down there.

#thisisyoga

Lisa SchuellerComment
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The trees were always my favorite. I loved living in an older neighborhood because of the trees. In the very back of my yard growing up was a huge weeping willow tree. I would grab handfuls of the low branches that brushed the ground below and taking a running start and lift off. It was magic, flying through the air, the tree giving way and creating bounces and twists in my ride. On more than one occasion I made a poor choice on which bundles of branches to grab or maybe the tree was just ready to rest--at any rate, the branches would break off in my hands and I'd land with a hard thud on the large root system that protruded out of the ground. As time went on my neighbors grew a large garden under the weeping willow, adding wood chips and a nice edge, and then one day they chopped the tree down all together. 

The magnolia tree was a close second to the weeping willow with the apple tree being a tie for second in my childhood backyard. The magnolia was beautiful but the blooms always went away too quickly. The apple tree was perfect for climbing. Branches were low and angular, creating a ladder like web to get lost in. The apple tree also made for a small money making opportunity. When the apples would fall off and begin to rot on the ground in the yard my dad would give us a penny for every apple we picked up. 

One year we sprayed the apple tree (I always thought it was a crab apple tree, but it wasn't). The year we sprayed the tree to keep the bugs away from the apples my dad bought a sprayer that reminded me of the tank you'd see a scuba diver strap to their back. I can't say I have any recollection of our crop that year. I was getting something in the garage on a shelf that the sprayer was on and it rolled off directly onto the hood of my dad's car. I'd later go on to drive that poor car off the road blowing out not one but all four tires, as well as hitting the yellow divider at the gas station that they have between pumps on my way to drivers training. So, anyhow, the apple tree probably cost my dad more money than he'd ever bargained on.

In college I lived in old neighborhoods. The trees felt like home. They towered high above my college campus, over my apartments, and lined the streets that I walked down. Sitting out in the sunshine with my girlfriends, day-drinking margaritas, and drawing on the sidewalk with chalk--the trees provided just the right amount of cover from the hot June sunshine and between the tree cover and the houses lined up almost on top of one another, our laughs and loud conversations echoed all around. That was the summer we decided to drink tequila exclusively, there were a lot of sombreros involved. I also came to appreciate a different type of tree-like plant--the cactus. The agave cactus in particular was there in spirit that summer. My interest in cacti has moved away from the drink form and now I love my growing collection of cacti that live in my home and studio.

On the roof of one of those tree covered college apartments there was a little door off from my second-story bedroom that went out onto a large flat area of roof. It was not a formal deck and we were discouraged from going out there. So, we sat out there all the time. We could see into the backs of a dozen different old houses just like ours that were now being used as apartment buildings. We'd sit up there and catch come rays, smoke cigs from time to time, and enjoy watching what people were up to. A little perch hidden just enough by trees that we could hangout and catch real live episodes of "rooftop cops" as the people in an adjacent house were surprised when the cops came around the back corner of the house to break-up whatever mid-day toking session they were having. I also grew a small garden of tomatoes and other things in my planters on that roof. 

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Today I sat outside my studio on a blanket on the ground working on my chalkboard sign, changing the quote out on my letter board, watering my lemon and lime trees, herbs, flowers, and ferns. The FedEx truck rolled by and the regular delivery guy chuckled and waved at me down on the ground. A reminder I'm not 11, or 21 anymore, but 31. Surrounded by buildings and trees, my own little planter garden in the city--my past experiences prepared me for the sidewalk chalk, planter garden growing, city/nature submersion lifestyle. I couldn't feel more at home anywhere doing anything than in this perfect combination of things. This, for me, is yoga. This is my lifestyle. This is ME. I am a combination of city and nature, chalk and art projects, trees and planter gardens, sunshine and sidewalks.

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Today is international yoga day as well as the summer solstice. This time of June is a culmination of all the things that I identify the most with. The things that speak to me, that sing my song, that gently rock me to sleep. June 21 is smack in the center of what makes me, me. Yoga is community. As a yoga business owner it's easy to see how people have a business that serves the yoga community and not a yoga community that utilizes their services. Earlier this week the studio that I still belong to (Yoga Fever) featured my advertisement for "Yoga on Tap" on their Instagram story. It made me feel warm and fuzzy. One, because it was one studio giving a shoutout to another, and two, because it said "support yo' girls" along the bottom. YES. YES. YES. This is yoga. What we do together, what we create, what we notice as strengths and gifts in others, we notice in ourselves. Namaste. The light in me sees and honors the light in you. My light is full of trees and chalk and planters and dirty feet and tequila. My light sometimes gets lost and sad and worried. My light sometimes flickers and even maybe goes dark for awhile. But when my community shines in my direction, they light me back up. While looking through different quotes to swap out on my letter board today I came across "It costs $0.00 to be a decent human being." I have right around zero dollars, but I'm going to try my damnedest to be a decent human being because my light is important. So is yours.

#thisisyoga

Namaste.

A Studio for Ants??

yogaLisa Schueller1 Comment
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Ever since I was a little girl I've wanted to own a business. I have dreamed of all kinds of things from design firms, boutiques with juice bars, community centers, barns for events, and the list could go on. I often drafted whole plans with "blue prints" (87 pieces of computer paper taped together and rolled into a scroll) and even built structures out of foam board to bring my ideas to life. Something about being the boss mixed with designing my destiny but mostly something that I dreamed into life. 

My journey to the big leagues (lol) has been interesting. It's actually a wonder that I ever graduated from high school. I tried to drop-out but my mother called the Truancy officer and had them come to my house and threaten me to go back to school. Yes, there is legitimately a truancy officer (in Ann Arbor) and I have no idea if my mother called them but let's be real, how many times have you heard of this person making house calls? Have you met my mother? Anyhow. Some homeschool, a move across the state, a stay with relatives, some spotty areas, and 5 years went into getting my high school diploma. I still have dreams that I didn't graduate and I am back in school like Drew Barrymore in "Never been kissed" except I never graduated and she was undercover. 

The rest is history. I went to college and graduate school and am the proud owner of 3 very expensive pieces of paper that say I am a high school, college, and graduate school graduate. Wahoo. The best thing that school ever did for me was show me that I CAN. I learned who I was and what I was made of in school because that shit is hard. School taught me balance and priorities and how to think outside the box--or how to crawl inside the box and take a nap because #selfcareeverydamnday.

The point is, I do not regret going to school forever and ever. I needed a little longer to find myself than some other people and school gave me the structure and the confidence to grow into me. And it turns out that even as a 31-year-old I still love to dream and use exacto knives and create things out of foam board.

The picture above is a (mostly) to scale model (with real cement floor) of the yoga studio I have been working to renovate and open over the past few weeks. In the weeks that the rent was in negotiations I could hardly contain my excitement and since I couldn't do anything in the actual studio, I built a tiny studio--for ants. And yeah, I went to my parents and got my old dollhouse furniture to put in it. 

I'd be a huge liar if I said I wasn't scared. I have little leaps in my heart when I think about how it's real and real costs real money and real can really fail. And I might. I might fail. I might not. I might be marginally successful. But they can never take my foam studio from me. Or my dream. And that is not nothing. 

The studio is coming along. I'll write about the journey with the carpet and the machine the man at home depot called "the bucking bronco" and my many fails and late nights and ruined clothes once I am a little further from the project. For now, I just want you to know that I am doing what I love and it's kind of horrible and scary (and I totally love it). I'm taking next week off from teaching yoga and then after Memorial Day am having a "soft open" with a partial class schedule for the summer. Then in the Fall, after Labor Day, I will have a grand open. A fricking Grand Opening. Life-sized people will be able to come to my studio and see my dream realized. And I hope they love it as much as I do.

Yoga on y'all.

 

Trigger words.

Lisa SchuellerComment
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The cover photo is a picture that I have been carrying in my wallet since 2005. The young woman in the picture is Cassie Bernall. Cassie was killed in the 1999 massacre at Columbine High school along with 11 other students and 1 teacher. I have her picture because of a song by Flyleaf called "Cassie". Cassie was the student that was reported to have been asked if she believed in God by the shooter, to which she answered yes, and was then shot. Her story was picked up as a modern day martyrdom and hence the song created in her honor. It has since been brought to light that the question was asked of a different student that was shot in the Columbine Massacre, Rachel, and not Cassie. The reason I have the picture was because I was struggling with my faith at the time and I thought that maybe by carrying this picture in my wallet it would serve as a reminder that at the end of the day, I believed in God. 

I think one of the most striking things about the picture of Cassie when I pulled her up online after hearing the Flyleaf song was how familiar she looked. Yes, she does share similarities to myself but she also looks like my camp counselor from when I was growing up. She looks like a counselor I had named Emily Eagen. I had Emily and Gilly as counselors when I was in Cabin 8 and it was really an idyllic summer. These two young women were captivating and in my preteen state, they were everything I wanted to be when I was a teenager. I was shy and covered with acne and at the all camp dance Emily let me borrow her green dress that was way too big but made me feel super cool. She danced with me and my cabin mates and really helped us to feel secure in a really insecure time in a girls life. I remember her telling us stories about her life and one stuck out. She talked about how she took her car out late one night, after she wasn't supposed to be out anymore, and she and her car turned 100,000 miles together. I just turned 100,000 with my car last year and even 18 years after I heard her tell of this exciting moment in her life, I thought about her. I took a picture of my odometer on 100,000 miles and smiled to myself in appreciation for the reminder to notice the little things. Always keep noticing.

In 2000, I came down to breakfast on a pretty typical morning and my parents had already brought the newspaper in, breakfast was set, and I sat down to quick eat and book it to the bus stop. A beautiful blue-eyed girl was pictured on the front of the newspaper and it caught my eye. "Hey" I thought, "I know that girl". It was Emily Eagen, my counselor. I scanned the news for the story to see what she was up to and it turns out she was murdered in Costa Rica. Emily was visiting her friend who was doing some mission work there and both women were driven off the road and then shot execution style. I sat still. my 11-year-old heart hadn't had to deal with anything like this and I wasn't even really sure how to react. I called my girlfriend that was in my cabin with me and told her. She quickly got off the phone. I went up and showered and I remember all the sudden I had to sit down. I sat in the shower and cried. Later on in the week our Spanish teacher mentioned how those two girls should have been more careful in Costa Rica and what did they think would happen driving a nice SUV in that area at night? Something else new introduced to me that week was the concept of victim blaming. She had it coming.

I didn't grow up with guns. My parents didn't let us play with toys like toy guns or engage in violence if they could help it. But guns still impacted my life as a youth and continue to impact my life as an adult. Columbine was the first in what is now a long history of shootings that I have memory of. They weren't far away in scary places, but right here, in towns just like where I lived happening to people that were just like me and my friends.

When I was a sophomore in high school I was riding home with my friends Jess and Eric, Eric was driving. Jess and I were in the backseat playing with toy guns. Mine was teal and hers was metallic. Then the cops pulled us over. The cops said we pointed the guns at them. I never saw the cops so I can't really say if that's something I did or not but that was why we were pulled over. They took us out of the car and asked us where the guns were. I pointed back toward my seat where I left my cap gun. The officer pulled his weapon on me and told me not to move. Another first that day, I've never had a weapon pulled or pointed at me prior to or since then. The officers took polaroid photos of us right there by the car, made us put our fingerprints along the bottom white portion of the picture of ourself, searched the car, took shotgun shells from the trunk as evidence (Eric's dad was a duck hunter), and sent us on a our traumatized way.

I used to want to go into law enforcement. Mostly I wanted to work for the FBI or Secret Service or something because I love puzzling over details of things and I thought it would be meaningful and I that I would be really good at it. It turns out you really need police or military background to get into those types of jobs so I explored. I met with an Air Force recruiter and I think my mom may have actually shit a little in her pants. You saw the part above about how I wasn't allowed to play with toy guns or violent games etc.? My parents are pacifists and very anti violence, war, weaponry, etc. Far left. Anyhow, I decided being a police officer would probably be a better gig even though I loved the idea of flying planes. Too bad I had my driver's license taken twice  before I was even 19, probably wouldn't have been a great pilot. Anyhow, I could work a desk job for the police and gain experience and maybe go to law school and work my way toward the FBI or Secret Service, I could live with that. I applied, got into, and accepted admission to Auburn in Alabama. I'd met with the criminal justice program folks and talked about their relationship with the Birmingham Secret Service and about internships and I was pumped. My senior year of high school was turbulent to say the least and after a lot of unforeseen events took place I ended up taking a year off from school after I graduated and did not move to the great state of Alabama to pursue my degree in criminal justice.

I stayed in Grand Rapids, MI after graduation and dated a guy for a while that had guns. He liked to go out to his Uncle's to shoot them. I was petrified of guns. But one day I told him I would give it a go. I went to the farm with him, held up the shot gun, someone released a clay pigeon and I fired the weapon. I did not hit the clay pigeon, I can't even say that I had my eyes open for sure. I kept the unbroken pigeon for years on my bookshelf as a reminder that I was never ever going to do that again. I was so sweaty. So sweaty. I can even remember exactly what I was wearing and what it smelled like because it was that kind of moment, huge impact.

I guess it's a good thing I didn't go into law enforcement because I'm pretty sure they would not have let me carry a slingshot instead of a gun and I would have just been sweaty all the time.You don't get promoted to the FBI and Secret Service if guns make you sweaty, it's an unwritten rule. So, I went to nursing school instead. I worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) while I was in college and loved it but I ended up changing from being a Nursing major to Communication. I graduated. Worked at the bank for a couple years. Much safer than law enforcement. Every branch I worked at (3) was held at gun point and robbed in my 1.4 year stint as a personal banker. All of my branches ended up with bullet resistant glass which none of them had when I started at any of them. But 3 times held up is safer than everyday on the job, right?

The economy was hard then and I was discouraged by all the bad news I had to deliver to my clients so as is the trend when the economy is down, I went back to school. I received my Master's Degree in 2013 and began working in higher education. I taught as a graduate assistant during graduate school and liked it and was offered a couple gigs so I stuck with it. 5 years later, I'm still teaching. I reflect back on my original interest in law enforcement and as a mother of 2 I think how that would be really hard for my husband and kids to have me go out into potential life threatening situations everyday.

Going to school is really safe.

This is the part where I have all of these websites and statistics about schools and school shootings and access to weapons. But that's not why I'm here. I don't even need to prove to you that there is a problem with increased gun violence or school shootings, or how we need to make changes. We all agree this is a problem. What we don't agree on is how to make it better.

I'm a teacher. Guns make me sweaty, a gun will never make me safe.

I'm a teacher. I begin each semester by creating a plan that puts me in between the class and the door as quickly as possible.

I'm a teacher. I memorize room numbers not so I know where they are but because I might need help in the case of an active shooter on campus and I need to know where to tell the police to go.

I'm a teacher. I flinch when someone comes to my classroom door.

I'm a teacher. I teach people and hope we don't die trying to learn.

There have been a lot of posts about how we need action and not prayers. AMEN. So take the time today to get to know the gun laws in your state. Take the time to find out where you can voice concern. Take the time today to find out if there are groups in your area working for change. Take the time today to BE the change.

Here are some links to explore and get started:

http://wagv.org/get-involved/

https://michigancoalitiontopreventgunviolence.org/

http://statelaws.findlaw.com/michigan-law/michigan-gun-control-laws.html

 

Have more links or events? Please share! I will add them here or you can add them in the comments. Email me to have me check them out and add them to this page! Lisa@lotusjos.com

Only positive discourse is encouraged. Please resist the urge to be a dick. If you have something to say, use your words and take the time to articulate your argument. Namaste.

Wigged out.

Lisa SchuellerComment
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I do this thing where when I feel like things aren't quite right and I think I want a change but I can't quite figure it out so I change something that has nothing to do with the underlying issue. Anyone else? After I had my son my change was going in for a trim and a highlight and chopping off all my hair into a little pixie instead. All of my problems were solved. 

Not. 

We can get to the joys (complete shock to the system) of going from a kid that can put herself to sleep and ride around the block on her bike alone and sleeping in to going back to baby some other time. Right now? Hair.

In the past I have been known to take the unknown state of my life out on my hair. It's been really long, really short, black, brown, blonde, blue, purple, red, I've had extensions, clip-ins, you name it. But because my hair is so thick and the only other time it was this short I was 15 and without Amazon Prime, I have never ever considered a wig. Until last week.

I was reading myself a bedtime story the other night when a beautiful mermaid wig popped up while I was cruising through the "fun gifts under $20" on Amazon (really dangerous bedtime story, fyi). I was mesmerized. Did you know you could get a wig for less than $15? Me neither. I began the search and landed on 3 different styles and colors added to cart and hit the "purchase now" button. As a fun extra, there was already a kimono in my cart from a different bedtime story on a different journey and so now I was less than 48 hours away from owning THREE wigs AND a kimono for the low low price of less than $72 (my husband just fell out of his chair--Amazon Prime? Most talked about issue in the US during couples therapy, source unsubstantiated).

The REAL luck though was that the wigs and the kimono showed up on Valentine's Day and I had plans to meet my man for lunch. My husband--luckiest man a alive. My son went down for a nap. I showered. Dried my hair, did my make-up, put on my surprise kimono and got to work wigging out. Look at the options??? I had no idea which to choose. I put on my wig cap and got to work.

If you know me then you know that I love a good mystery. I prefer my mysteries to include crime because it raises the stakes. I have gotten into so many different crime, mystery, forensic, spy shows over the years that listing them would be impossible at this point. I also regularly have daydreams of being a crime fighter, undercover agent, and having a double-life in which I am a total parkour-ing, ninja, non-gun using, bad ass that saves people and the world in my spare time. My most common double-life alter ego is Skylar Black--she kicks ass. 

Watching "The Americans" and seeing Keri Russell put her kids to bed and then throw on a wig and some glasses and become someone else entirely was honestly one of the best things about watching the show. The costumes and personas were incredible. I would sit there and think about how they would just throw on a wig and some facial hair and all the sudden they were someone else. I would also think about how they made it look so easy but really they probably spent hours in hair and make-up to make the changes they seemed to make in minutes.

As it turns out, you can throw on a wig in minutes and become someone else. You might not end up looking as incredible as Keri Russell, but that's just a truth I've had to come to grips with.

Anyhow, wig cap in place, I started with the pink bob. OMG. It was not as realistic looking as it was in the customer photos in the Amazon reviews, but holy hell was it fun. The length was incredible, I thought about how this would have been a nice step between my previous length and the pixie. The bangs were hard to sort out from the long bits of front hair and I could see that I would probably need a lot of trips to the bathroom to check on them. The pink was definitely pink but also very subtle and magical. I felt like a princess, but edgy, but feminine, but like I could probably do a lot more things now that this was on my head. The magic pink hair.

Next, it was onto the silver wig. This wig popped up alongside wigs that were made to look like Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, on "Game of Thrones". I chose to go with this flow-y version with bangs instead of the braided and pin-straight Khaleesi version. The end result made me feel a little like a Jenner trying to be a Kardashian. None-the-less, I felt like it was someone I could be. The bangs were much easier to manage than the pink wig bangs, so in my personal wig expert opinion, longer bangs for a wig are better for low maintenance. 

Finally, I went with the hair that most resembled my own hair when I had hair and it wasn't subjected to my current state of early mid-life crisis. One thing that I noted right away was that the part was hard to deal with. Now that I am a wig expert, the benefit to a wig with bangs is that the part is less noticeable. Obviously, if your wig cost more than $16 your odds are probably better or pulling off no bangs. At any rate, as fun as my other wigs are, I decided this one was going out to lunch with my husband. To counter the awful part, I went with a turban style headband. Then I heard my son start to wake-up so that was the end of my fashion sesh--back to reality. But my new reality was in a wig.

I named my new self "Claire Santoro". From the mid-west, married a foreigner so is exotic by proxy, very openly liberal, takes full fat milk in her lattes, loves the world, volunteers for everything, does yoga, pilates, and at least one 10k + race per year. Very down-to-earth, but her shoes still cost more than your mortgage.

My son took to Claire, did not seem to skip a beat when Claire got him up from his nap. Mostly, he was excited to try and eat Claire's do. To give credit to the $15.99 wig that made Claire, Claire, the wig stayed in place. I did almost ditch the idea of taking her in public though because how would I deal with having my wig ripped off by my baby at Valentine's Day lunch in public? I decided I've been through worse (over trusted gas at Lowe's with both kids in tow), packed a diaper bag, and set off to Donkey to meet the hubs. 

While I was styling myself to be one of these three women for the day I was texting back and forth with a pal. We were both very excited for my husband to see me in a wig and for the reaction. I left the house early to get to the restaurant early to set my phone up to catch his reaction. As you may have noted, there is no video in this post. The one time my husband was on time was on this day when he (unknowingly) met Claire for lunch. 

Claire and Jason saw each other on the street for the first time. Jason greeted Claire and said he was looking around and then saw me (Claire) and was like "yep, that's my wife". Of course he didn't react to the wig because he knows me and knew what he was getting into when he married me (and Claire and anybody else I decided to be). Kind of a bummer but whatever.

We went in ordered some chips and guac (right up Claire's alley), then Claire ordered a Paloma because she didn't give up sugar for Lent like an idiot (Lisa did) and Jason and Claire and Baby Sullivan had a lovely chat over chips while the other patrons ooed over the cute baby and Jason and Claire decided what to eat.

At some point between the chips, the Paloma, and the tacos, Jason pointed to Claire's head and asked, "How much did that cost?

Claire responded "$15.99".

"$15.99??????" sputtered Jason, "that seems like a lot."

"For this? That's a steal!" Claire replied.

Then, while Claire was feeding her baby guacamole off from chip spoon it dawned on her. OMG, he was referring to the headband...

He didn't notice the wig. Again, he didn't notice the wig. Scroll back up to the 4 inches of hair that I do have and then back to Claire's luscious two-feet of hair. 

He didn't notice the wig.

Just to clarify, I asked him if he noticed I was wearing a wig, and he laughed and said "nope!".

So, what did I learn on Valentine's day? Both men that encountered Claire were not phased by her and could not actually discern between Claire and Lisa. Babies like guacamole. Hipster Taco joints don't have highchairs. $15.99 is too much to pay for a headband. If you're going to change your hair, do it for yourself, your husband won't notice.

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Let me mullet it over.

Lisa SchuellerComment

I went to my hair stylist last week to basically get a game plan together for my hair. Color, length, etc. I'm not sure where I am taking my pixie but I needed a plan to get there. Anyhow, we talked the basics of growing out the pixie and she had me up until she said "...and obviously we will just keep taking up the back until the front catches up."

Hold the phone. You want to cut my mullet? Don't worry, you can exhale, as you can see from my cover photo for this post the mullet is alive and well. But I truly wish I could have captured her face when I replied, "yeah, I get that, but I am not going to cut the back."

Cut off my party? Get real. And that's when I started to think about having a mullet. I was going to have a mullet. I actually, already have a mullet--it fits in a ponytail. 

I would most likely never cut my hair into a mullet, but I feel totally fine letting my hair grow out into a mullet. From an outsider perspective it's the same difference. But for me it is totally different and I can confidently let my mullet be because I know where it's going. It's going into a ponytail the second the business and the party can come together in one ponytail holder.

Right now, my life is a mullet. It's not quite where I want it to be, but I have a long-term goal and I am getting there. As a note--I am very happy with my life and when I say it isn't where I want it to be it is because I am still in the beginning stages of so many things. So, I guess I AM right where I want to be. I am happily content with my mullet life because my mullet IS growing. I take it back. But I won't delete it. I'm right where I want to be.

I've mentioned before that as my day job I am a professor. I have been teaching for the last 6 years as a professor of communication at various places in Michigan. For 5 of those years I was at and still am at, my Alma Mater, Aquinas College. For the last 2 of those years I had a special contract where I was part-time instead of adjunct and that was amazing because I made more money and still had a lot of flexibility in my schedule. On Friday, after teaching 3 courses back-to-back and feeling really warm and fuzzy because I had multiple former students come visit with me to catch up, I got a phone call that my contract would not be possible this coming Fall. It's not because I did something wrong, or they found someone else, they just don't have the classes to create my contract again. So much ouch.

I still have the opportunity to teach one course but as an adjunct and that means I will make about half of what I make for teaching a course right now. I grew my career out and then it got cut into a mullet. I don't think people go backwards very often intentionally. But then sometimes there you are, scissors poised over your luscious locks, and snip snip. I always knew this could happen since my contract was annual and I could have it back someday. But on Friday I cried all the way home (it took me 4 minutes to get home from where I was when I got the call, so like, it wasn't that bad) and then I called my husband and he just didn't really think it was a big deal. From the outside, he still sees that my career is growing, even if I have a setback this fall.

Saturday morning I walked into my little yoga studio in the gym in the strip mall on the busy street and 10 yogis were ready for me to teach them yoga. Ten. I posted on January 10th about how I started teaching yoga again after having my son but how zero people were interested in my comeback and my first day of class that was scheduled was cancelled. Well, that was 2 weeks ago and on Thursday, 8 people came to my class and yesterday, 10 people came to my class. I am sure that I will cancel class again because people can't come, but you guys, my mullet is growing.

I'm not totally sure where I'm going with my hair or my career or my life. Isn't that fun? I have faith because my husband has faith, that I will be ok. I have been flung through the air by circumstance and my own doing enough times to know that it will be ok as evidenced by the fact that I am still alive. It's not over until it's over.

If you see me walking around town with my mullet blowing in the breeze, just know the confidence I exude has nothing to do with my mullet. I am flying through space right now, but while I am up here, there are just so many options for me to land on that I can't help but be just a little excited.

"They tried to bury us but they didn't know we were seeds."  -Dinos Christianopoulos 

Just keep growing, mullets, just keep growing.

 

When it starts to get real.

Lisa SchuellerComment

It happened. It got real. I received my first order of "studio equipment". My "studio" is a room in a gym. But there it is. Jade Studio gear.

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Let's back up. I'm a daydreamer. I also have my best nightmares during the day as well. But I love to imagine what it would be like to do so many things. Like be a spy, or have ninja powers, or be famous. What would it be like to live on a farm and live simply, or be a really talented singer (people would pay me to be quiet at my current skill level).

One dream has always been to be a business owner. I've dreamed of retail shops, coffee shops, bridal boutiques, bookstores, and combinations of all of those (multi-purpose is apparently my biggest dream). Last summer, while incredibly pregnant, my husband and I almost bought a studio space for a yoga studio. I saw the building, loved the location, and pitched my husband the idea. He's the more practical one so I thought it would be fun to talk about but that would be it. A fun daydream we could share. But he didn't stop me at the dream stage. I ended meeting with the Small Business Development Center (they are INCREDIBLE), a commercial realtor, and a commercial lender. With a ton of help I created a business plan and it looked like it would actually work. We were in the process of going through the funding aspect of things and a cash offer swooped in.

Dream crushed.

But then the cash offer fell through (because that's a thing?). Anyhow. Our realtor called us and said we had a second shot. But my due date was quickly approaching and we decided not to jump for it.

Dream actually crushed.

So, how do I have Jade Studio Gear? I had already become a studio in my mind and so I am treating my yoga venture as a business in the sense that it is fully functional and real. Because it is. But it didn't feel real until 2 lovely boxes showed up on my doorstep with 12 cork blocks and 6 studio mats. 

I was looking up different ways to create a yoga shala the other day--shala being the Sanskrit term for "home" or "abode" and is the home of yoga. I wanted some kind of Feng Shui-like guide to show me how to create a beautiful space that would somehow feel like yoga. I came across this studio in California and they have a blog (bloggers unite!) and the author mentions something beautiful. 

"I have created the space, painted the walls and given you the cubbies for your things. But you create the shala. This space is no different from your living room or a gym. There is no altar, picture of someone holy, this place has not been blessed by someone or prayed over, no magic incantations that block out the stress that we live with. You create that shala by your actions, by your conscious effort to leave the rest of your day outside." Jesselle Peña, June 29, 2016 on the Yoga Shine, Nipomo Blog

Dream not crushed.

I can create a shala anywhere, it just needs to be intentional. 

In the last two weeks since I have been back teaching 2 classes a week, I have created a space where myself and 9 other yogis have come together and created a shala in a room in a gym in a strip mall on a busy street. 

I cannot wait for more people to come to my shala--not because it is aesthetically beautiful, but because what we create there is worth showing up for.

Special shout out to Jade Yoga and Jennifer Tessicini for making my dreams come true.

I've been practicing on a Jade mat for years now and I LOVE it. So, it seemed only natural to seek out blocks for my students from the place where my mat is from. In the process I met a wonderful rep for Jade and she helped me with the process of becoming a wholesaler and also getting equipment for my studio space from the Jade Studio Program. Now my students can rent and try out my favorite mats before they choose to buy them and use Jade blocks to help deepen their practice. Or, today they used them as a weight for abs in high boat! 

Jade is an incredible company. They create eco friendly mats and products and plant a tree for every mat sold. They also are involved in donating to a ton of causes that help people all over the world. If you haven't heard of Jade Yoga, I'd encourage you to check them out. Or just come to my next yoga class and use one of my brand new Jade studio mats.

Humble warrior.

Lisa SchuellerComment
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Yesterday I met my pal out for coffee and cake. It was that kind of day, you know? Not "happy cake day", but like, "damn, I want to just be comforted by some cake and a hot beverage" day. On the way to the comfort cake and friend sesh my car became filled with the familiar smell of baby poop. Upon entering the ultra-hip coffee and wine bar ( I mean, the girl at the table next to us had a REAL camera and a white beret) I took my poopy baby to the bathroom. I moved the bowl filled with reindeer moss from the hutch and began to change my baby on my makeshift changing table. My happy boy wriggled all about, clearly exhilarated to be defiling the top of a chic hipster piece of furniture and then I stuck my thumb directly in his poop. I like to think that being a mom for 8.5 years would make me more skilled than to misjudge the folding of my wipe and to end up with the dreaded poo hand, but alas, poo-handed I was. 

I didn't eat any cake. But I did enjoy something warm and frothy with a design swirled into the foamy top. The girls next to us looked over and commented on my son's beautiful eyes but quickly went back to whatever requires berets and legit cameras at 3pm on a Tuesday. After my lovely conversation with someone that keeps my feet on the ground (as my yoga partner, this is often literal) I packed up my baby, baby gear, and decided to squeeze in one quick errand. I drove down to the potentially even more hip hair salon I go to pick up some more dry-shampoo paste. It was about a 4-minute car ride and yet...

He pooped again.

The girl at the salon oohed over how cute my son was but unless she had completely blocked nasal passages she was overwhelmed by the baby poop smell. Again, in a place that I used to feel at home in, a cool and hip salon, I was the mom with the poop baby.

Sometimes as a mom and as I get older I feel like Chris Rock in "Down to Earth". If you haven't seen it, Chris Rock dies before his time and ends up with a second chance and is in the body of a fat white dude. I'm Chris Rock but I didn't die, I'm just getting older and I felt it with my poopy baby in all the young spots. But the poopy hands keep me humble and remind me that for all the amazing points in my life, there has to be balance and that balance is that sometimes things are shitty.

I get really excited about things that I love and sometimes other people don't think they're that exciting. Example. My mom and I were in the car together a couple summers ago and we were out by their cottage in the country and it was sunny and beautiful and I was thinking about my love for nature and traveling and I blurted out about how much I would love to have a camper to take my kids camping in the summer and just truck around Michigan and maybe beyond during my summers off (#teacherlife). She turned to me and said "Where would you park it?" 

I don't have a camper but I do have a passion for yoga because it changed my outlook on life in a way that I could never actually put into words. I ski, both water and snow, and one thing that is true for both is that if you go a whole season without a good wipeout you probably aren't growing or getting any better because you're not pushing yourself to your edge. Yoga challenged my edge but not for physical performance (not always). It challenged the edge of my tolerance and my mental strength. Just one more breath. I can stay in this space for one more breath. 

Getting certified as a yoga instructor was in a lot of ways like buying the camper (that I don't have). When I told my husband that I wanted to go through the 200-hour training he said, "but you have a job?". And I do! And I love being a professor. But I also love yoga and I love teaching and I wanted to see if I could teach yoga. I do not need a camper, but I love the places it could take me to and that's why I wanted to be a yoga instructor. 

I started teaching again on Tuesday. But I didn't actually teach. I got to the place where I teach and there wasn't enough interest to run the class for the evening. It was hard. I worked on a sequence I was excited to teach, I created a playlist based off from a bunch of other playlists that I totally stole from other people but was proud of the outcome, I picked up yoga blocks from my yoga pal during the poop and coffee date, I had my new speaker, and the most important thing was that I was really looking forward to the feeling that you get after you teach a class. It's like a high. Taking in all that collective energy from the class as they breathe together and flow. It's powerful. I have had a couple of weeks where everything is totally fine but totally chaotic and thrown together and plans don't stick and I stay up late to get stuff done and then I nap when the baby naps and then I'm still behind and then I cry a little.

I teach yoga again tomorrow and maybe tomorrow there will be people to teach. Maybe not. But it reminds me of something someone told me when I was in grad school "be careful not to compare your beginning with the middle and endings of the stories of others". I mean, comparison is the stealer of joy as it is. But I am at the beginning of my yoga journey and I am having a blast. I'm in the "dream stage" where nothing is set yet and I can still have big dreams. Nothing major might seem like it's happening, but this is the beginning of something and right now I can only dream of what that might be. 

There is this teacher in a book that I am reading with my daughter, and the teacher has a third ear and the third ear can hear the thoughts of others. The teacher listens to people to find out things to use against them because she is bitter and angry and wants everyone to be angry like she is. The teacher scans the thoughts of her students in the classroom and picks up bits and pieces of things that are making the children uncomfortable, nervous, or worried. The three eared teacher gets excited and thinks how "the bad stuff always rose to the top of the brain".

I often feel discomfort in my mind in the form of chatter and busyness and overanalyzing. The bad stuff always rises to the top of the brain. Being able to breathe, focus on the present moment, and push through the initial thoughts of discomfort is a major skill. One of my favorite calls when I'm teaching yoga is when the class has been working and their heart rate is up and they're starting to get tired and they come into a warrior pose and as they plant their front foot I call "warriors, rise up!". This collective determination and strength is palpable in the room and it's contagious. I've definitely been a humble warrior the last two weeks. Life put me in my place. I have people around to laugh about it with and drink coffee with me even if my hand smells like poop after 3 washes. 

I am tired and I have been working and my heart rate is up, maybe yours is too. I hope those in your life call to you to lift you up.

Warriors, rise up. Because warriors you are.

 

Simplifying is so complicated.

Lisa SchuellerComment

I used to eagerly await the newest Eastbay catalogue as a kid. I would flip through the pages and circle which items I'd love to have. I would circle sweet t-shirts that said things like "Jesus Saves" and then had Jesus in front of a soccer goal. I was a soccer goalie and also, kids love cheesy punny stuff like that. I also would circle brightly colored Umbro shorts, goalie gloves, warm-ups, and then the best circle of all time came. I circled a beanbag chair that was designed with black and white hexagons to look like a soccer ball. So. Freaking. Cool. My mom told me that I could buy it if I saved up for it. It was $60-something + shipping. I received $3 dollars allowance a week if I made my bed everyday, kept my room clean, did the dish schedule with my brother (alternate set/clear table and wash/dry dishes) and then my special chore was wiping down bathroom mirrors, countertops, and emptying the trashcans. It would take me at least 20 weeks to save up for this seat of glory and I think my mom thought that between my regular bike trips to Arbor Drugs (Now CVS) to buy Wet'n'Wild nail polish, Lip Smackers, and Clearly Canadians that by the time I could save $60 I would have long since forgotten the soccer ball chair. 

My mother was wrong. I bought the beanbag chair from the Eastbay catalogue. It smelled of plastic and fabric preservers, it crunched, was stiff, but it was mine. There was this sense of accomplishment and pride that I had purchased this thing and it felt good. 

I have absolutely no idea whatever happened to my beanbag chair. It's long gone as are my nail polishes, lip smackers, and my over-priced sparkling beverage from heaven AKA Clearly Canadian. I can't even really say I have any memories in the chair or that it appears in a single picture from my childhood. I assume that my mother disappeared it to Purple Heart as soon as she could and since I mostly wanted it because it was this symbol of status for me as a pre-teen, the second I ordered it, the chair had already fulfilled the only function I ever really intended it to. 

Right now I am sitting on a couch while I write this that has been reupholstered three times and existed in my childhood house in the same era as the incredibly not legendary beanbag chair. This couch was a quality purchase. One that was likely well researched and thought out by my practical parents. I can attest to the quality of this couch as it has been with me not only in my childhood home but then in my first apartment, then my second, third, and then finally in my very own home. This couch was probably not purchased for status or so that my parents' friends could come over and see they had a super sweet place to sit that was all their own that they bought with their own money. I love this couch.

I mentioned a book that I was reading in my last post "The New Bohemians Handbook". One thing that I loved from the book was the initial cleaning phase of creating a space that you love. I've heard my friends talk about "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up" and how you're supposed to hold the things in your house and if they don't bring you joy then you get rid of them. I have never read that book and I get the concept but my toothbrush brings me very little joy. I suppose I enjoy the circular motion of the bristles as they gently remove the tiny sugar sweaters from my teeth after a late night of not feeding my body but feeding my feelings instead. But really, there is so much that is just practical. Anyhow. Back to the book I have read. This book gave me the permission I needed to let go of things that I was holding onto because they cost a certain amount of money, or someone gave it to me, or because there was nothing wrong with it. If I didn't love it then it was in the box and off to Goodwill--I'm not my mother because I chose a different donation site, just to clarify.

Here's the deal though. As soon as I took down things that I didn't love so that I could put out the things that were smooshed together in my bookcase because there had previously been nowhere else to put them, things that actually had meaning, I also started to do the thing I did with the beanbag chair. I wanted a certain look, a certain feel, but I'm not totally sure it was purely for my quality of life and ease of living. I started to buy things to fit this picture. The biggest bullshit? The way I want my space to feel is authentic. Authentically me. I guess in a way it truly is. When people come to my door I should greet them by saying "Welcome! This is the Amazon Prime headquarters of Southeast Grand Rapids--largest and most packed together showroom in all of West Michigan!". Authentically consumer. Authentically bullshit.

Yoga is primarily known for the physical practice. But the physical practice or "Asana" is only one of eight limbs of yoga. The other 7 limbs are barely ever talked about in your typical Western Yoga studio. The eight limbs of yoga are:

1.     Yama

2.     Niyama

3.     Asana

4.     Pranayama 

5.     Pratyahara

6.     Dharana

7.     Dhyana

8.     Samadhi

Pantanjali described the Eight Limbs of yoga or "Ashtanga" in the Yoga Sutras and they are intended to be a guide to live a purposeful and meaningful life. As I mentioned, we are all pretty familiar with the physical practice or the Asanas. Yoga retailers have become a niche boutique industry of luxury sportswear--selling yoga pants for upwards of $100 a pop. Instagram accounts are a dime a dozen these days with "Yogalebrities" or Yogis with huge followings because of their incredible physique, beautiful poses, incredible scenery, and a picture of an idyllic lifestyle. Yoga has become, in the West, my soccer ball beanbag chair. The Asanas are a way to show strength and ability and the brands show a certain kind of prestige with the price tags that accompany them. It's so easy to get caught up in it. This was totally not the point of this post. I love the yoga world. I love my Lululemon pants; Athleta clothing fits my body in a way that I can't even describe. But to look at the asana, the physical practice only, would be to paint an incomplete picture of Yoga and a Yogic lifestyle. 

If you want a straightforward summary of the eight limbs, check out this article from Yoga Journal by clicking this link. I am only really focused on one right now. It's one of the 5 Yamas and it is Aparigraha. Basically, this Yama is focused on non-greed, non-possessiveness, and non-attachment. This Yama for me, it's broken. 

I think we all get sucked down the slippery slope of using things to fill voids or to show adequacies or to try and find happiness and joy in life. Every single one of us has heard a million versions of "money doesn't buy happiness" and then there are the counter sayings like "money may not buy happiness, but it buys tacos and that's basically the same thing". 

I'm starting up teaching yoga again after a long and lovely maternity leave. I wish I had been so thoughtful to take more of a leave from my day job but I didn't and so back to work I went when my babe was a wee 3-weeks-old. In preparation for returning to my space I've thought about what I want a practice with me as a teacher to feel like, what vibe do I want to bring, what will my students get out of my classes? So, naturally I went to Best Buy and bought a new Bluetooth speaker to play my playlists during class with great clarity. It didn't hurt that the young man that helped me at Best Buy was wearing the very speaker I ended up buying on a carabineer connected to his belt loop. Sweet. I have carabineers, I can totally hook that to my bag and it will easily transport to the studio space. Never mind that I have other, subpar, means to play my music. To be an effective teacher I should have all of the things that make me look legit--like a Bluetooth speaker on a carabineer connected to my yoga pants.

I try really hard not to make hard rules for myself because rules are definitely for breaking, but I have goals and I can make tweaks. The key to any good plan for change is to start with small, manageable goals that are concrete. This is what I want; here are 2-3 things I can start to incorporate into my life to move in that direction. The first step is admitting it. I am not living my life in a way that reflects what I truly believe and value. I am placing emphasis on appearances and seeking joy in things that I believe represent the life I want people to see me living. From here I need a plan.

One of the best things I ever heard was at my best friend's wedding a few years ago. The person that was marrying them gave a piece of advice for deciding when to speak. Before you say something it should fit 3 criteria 1. Is it true? 2. Is it necessary? 3. Is it kind? This has helped me to work on growth in my communication more than anything else I've ever been taught. I am guilty regularly of saying things that are true but not necessary and definitely not kind. But I'm working on it and I try and when I  screw-up to admit my fault and truly try harder. I need to apply this to my lifestyle beyond my words.

Is it true to my character? Is it necessary for my life? Is it kind to posses this thing in light of what myself or others might be lacking?

There will be more soccer ball beanbag chairs in my life. I will still regularly order from Amazon Prime. I will also be more intentional. I will stop and take pause when making choices in my life so that what I have or don't have doesn't make me who I am. But what I have is what helps to sustain this life and to continue doing the things I love, truly love. Like, how much I love this couch that has supported my body for 15+ years. And supports my husband and my kids and has seen so many movies and snuggle sessions and spilled food and happy gatherings. This is a good couch.

These sweatpants are all that fit me right now.

Lisa SchuellerComment

When I was about 9 I was walking home from my elementary school's ice cream social. There were games, dunk tanks, and yes, a good old-fashioned cake walk. On this particular year I won a 6-pack of chocolate cupcakes. I ate one on the walk home. Then another. Then another. Then I was home and I was up in my bedroom and I remember thinking "nobody knows I have these cupcakes" and so I ate the other three. They got all backed up in my throat I ate them so fast because I was TERRIFIED my mother would walk in at any moment. You may not know my mom but we grew up with "the 2 cookie rule" amongst other things and 6 cupcakes is intervention worthy in my family. So, there I stood in my bedroom gulping and praying I wouldn't die--you know that feeling when you think your throat might burst? Usually happens to me with spoonfuls of peanut butter...but that's another story. 

My mom never found out that I ate 6 cupcakes and I did not die from choking on the last three that I stuffed into my mouth. It's been 20 years since I did that and I vividly remember it. Memory is so bizarre, I can't remember my middle-school teachers names or the capitol song we had to sing 900 times in grade school. Shoving 6 cupcakes in my mouth in less than 15 minutes? Lifelong memory.

Our whole lives we change. Change is the only thing that is constant. From our abilities, knowledge, friends, experiences, and the list goes on--we are constantly changing. But there are something’s that just keep popping up. The cupcake incident of 1995 was the beginning of something in my life that I am constantly trying to change. If left alone with a cake I will eat the whole thing. Doesn't really seem like that big of deal, we don't just have cakes beautifully displayed in our kitchen tempting me from their glass domed stands. But it does represent something about myself that bugs me more than anything. I am not always in control and sometimes I am even a little self-destructive. 

I always feel better when I eat healthy, get sleep, exercise, and do things--anything but sit and watch a screen. I always feel worse when I indulge in heavy foods, stay up too late, get lazy, and hole up in my house for days. I'm still eating, sleeping, doing activity--but I choose to do the ones that make me feel like shit automatically and have to make an effort to do the things that make me feel better. But they're the same set of things...just two choices. This absolutely baffles me. 

A couple years ago I was teaching a public speaking class and my students were filing in and taking their seats. I cheerfully asked how everyone was doing? One young woman stared at me with a blank face, pointed to the window, and said "it's raining". I was thankful for the weather update but that isn't actually what I asked. But there was the rain and rain is for staying out of and gray is for moping.

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That's why I eat the cake because the cake is there and the cake is for eating. The couch is for sitting. Shows are for binging. And whatever is available when I am hungry is for dinner. 

I've been reading this book called "The New Bohemians Handbook" by Justina Blakeney. I follow @thejungalow on Instagram and that's one of the author's accounts and where I first saw this beauty. To be honest, I bought the book because it was beautiful--great coffee table book (That's my copy on my very own coffee table, and no, I don't get anything for giving love to this author and book). I was pleasantly surprised that the contents of the book were not only useful, but written in a way that made me want to read it and I even think the author and I might be friends if we ever met--it's that kind of book.

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Anyhow, this book goes through how to curate a space that you want to be in. From cleaning, de-cluttering, to Feng Shui, and learning about crystals and your own personal style--this book is packed full of useful information. Have you ever thought about why we put couches where we do or TVs or bookcases? For function, right? The main room in our home has a TV mounted on the wall and furniture all facing in a manner to best see the TV. So, this is the TV room, not the living room, right? My point is that of course you're going to be drawn to watch the TV when it's perfectly facing toward the couch that was made for sitting and lying upon and the throw blankets that cocoon you and the coffee table that holds your snacks (or maybe they're right on top of your lap or chest). What if we changed our space to reflect the other set of options? You know, the options of food and activity that make us feel good?

This is something I'm working on. Functional space. MY functional space, not some magazine's flow, but what works for my lifestyle--the one I really want to have and not the one I sometimes fall into. I've slowly been working on moving things where I want them and having things out that I use and things stored that I don't. Like I put away my retro teal stand mixer and replaced it with my juicer. Yeah, the stand mixer is super cool and definitely a staple for wedding registries but I actually use the juicer. I tried to take down the TV in the "living room"--actually I did--but my husband was so dumbfounded I thought he might keel over. We compromised and I put it back but added some plants around it. The cat didn't give a shit as long as we don't EVER cover the heat vent. Zeus loves to have his hair blow in the gentle breeze of the dry furnace air. 

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I'm sitting here, blogging, in my sweatpants and thinking about what I've been working on with the house recently and I think I can make this work for my other habits. If I want to practice yoga everyday I need to not roll my mat up in a corner. If I don't want to eat an entire king-sized Harmony bar when I get home from celebrating NYE at 1 am then I shouldn't keep that sitting out.

I'm currently making some hemp protein squares, chia pudding, and getting my fruit ready for my morning juice. It's a choice. These sweatpants ARE incredible, but next week I have to go back to work and I have to wear pants, real pants, and I'd like to not notice them. The best pants are the kind you forget you're wearing and that is incredibly hard to do when they're riding up your crotch and digging into your gut. This is not a New Years Resolution. This is me recognizing that I know exactly what I need to do to feel good and now I need to put things in my path that fit the life I want.

87 emotions before it's time for breakfast.

Lisa SchuellerComment

Originally posted on December 18, 2017

I went to this yoga class years ago and the instructor mentioned that she was having the kind of morning where she'd already gone through 8 emotions before breakfast. Have you had one of those days? Because that statement clicked with me, I knew exactly what kind of day she was having. It's not a bad day necessarily, but there is this hyperawareness of self and your place or lack of place in everything. Winter brings this out in me. I think I sit a lot more and when you sit and are still your mind wanders and thinks and sometimes you end up on some dark and twisty trails you can't seem to find your way out of.

This year I started sitting or being less physically active about 4.5 months ago, in August, when our son was born. Seems like it should be a really busy time having a baby. It is, but it's a different kind of busy than I am used to. I was at home way more than I have been in years, and even though I was holding and feeding and changing and rocking this new baby my hands were full, but my body was relatively still and my mind was racing. When you're feeding a baby you spend a lot of time sitting on your ass doing nothing but staring at the baby, the wall, the baby, the other wall, and so on. And so that's when my winter began this year--August 1st.

Something I don't know a lot about but am fascinated by is Ayurveda. I know enough to engage in conversation and to know that I'm a Kapha Dosha (mostly) and that basically everything I regularly do and put in my body for comfort ends up dragging me down and getting me out of balance--I LOVE carbs and sugar and dairy and heavy dense foods. I've gotten way ahead of myself so let me back up. Hi, I'm Lisa and I'm a Kapha dosha...and here's why I am bringing up Ayurveda.

In Ayurveda there is a focus on the seasons. Eating for the seasons is part of it. I'm going to oversimplify the hell out of this so if you're an Ayurvedic practitioner, please excuse this explanation. The earth provides different things throughout the year. As the seasons change, so does the weather and what the earth produces as food sources. Along those same lines, our lives are broken up into the same seasons--childhood being like spring when we are growing and blossoming, as we are older we are in out summer phase (I think hot hormones here), then we move into fall, and finally winter when we return back to the earth from which we came. The day is broken up into the same four seasons, sunrise coinciding with spring and then moving all the way through sunset in the fall and winter at night while we rest. Generally speaking, the 3 seasons of growth are focused upon in Ayurveda so winter is not often mentioned and for that same reason there are 3 Dosha's or mind-body types. I mentioned I was a Kapha Dosha (mostly) and that correlates with Spring. Then there is Pitta (Summer) and Vata (Fall). 

Ok, so, I've been in "winter" mode for months. Not a ton of movement, not much growth, just static and contemplative and so many emotions and not enough outlets. I feel heavy, I am congested, I want to nap, I eat ALL the comfort foods, and I am in this wintery, dark, cold, rut. But here's the thing. I know exactly what to do to not feel this way. It's not that hard. I have access to the things I need to feel good. I know the activities and the foods to seek out. I know how to take care of my body to awaken it. All of those things are not anymore difficult than the things I am already doing--just a shift. So why the hell can't I get it together? Why can't I defrost my wintery ass and get some spices in my life and drink my ginger tea and practice daily asanas and get warm? If I had this answer, I would be rich. In money. Right now I am rich in eye bags, bloated stomach, headaches, and disappointment. Filthy rich.

So maybe Ayurveda isn't your thing. But we all know how to feel better. Or at least we know what's not making us feel better. But we hold it tight. Because sometimes even an old crappy sweatshirt brings us comfort of at least being familiar. Even when a new sweatshirt or maybe even a sweater or a crop top is just one click on Amazon prime and about 24-hours from our door-step. Depending on what time of the day it is or what part of the year it is or where you are in your life you might feel more or less motivated to change. What can you do to find balance? I go through each season everyday right now with a wave or a surge or a flutter of emotions. Because I am not where I want to be or where I feel good and my body is forcing all of that up for me to confront and I curl up on the couch with my baby and toast covered in butter and powdered sugar and cinnamon and think and think and think.

I am ready to change. I'm ready.

Curious about Ayurveda and your own mind-body Dosha? Check out some of the links below to get the deets. 

Kapha Dosha

Pitta Dosha

Vata Dosha

 

A practical guide to breathing.

Lisa SchuellerComment

Disclaimer: I am NOT a scientist or a doctor, but I am an expert at breathing—I do it all the time.

After my last post, I got a few questions about breathing. So, here’s the spiel I give to my students in public speaking class about breathing. It’s basically a crash course into calming your body down.

I’m going to get "sciency" here for a hot second—stick with me.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is responsible for all of the body functions that are automated—the functions we don’t consciously need to think about for them to occur that are either involuntarily or reflexive. Some of these functions are breathing, blood flow, digestion, and the list goes on. Within the ANS there is the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The PNS is responsible for all of the functions that return the body to a state or relaxing or equilibrium aka “rest and digest”. The SNS is responsible for fast acting responses or adrenaline responses because the adrenal gland is stimulated when this system is activated aka “fight or flight”.

Before you can understand how to calm down, you need to understand why we get worked up.

As humans we have a fear response that used to be what we needed to keep us alive. Our bodies would go into fight or flight mode when we would encounter say, lions or tigers or bears (oh my!). The fight or flight response is when the body senses danger and shuts down non-essential body functions (i.e. digestion, the immune system, blood flow to non-essential organs and functions, etc.). This is all thanks to the SNS. The problem is that we rarely encounter lions and tigers and bears in our everyday lives out in the world in 2017. Our bodies are still stuck in primal mode though and whenever we are fearful (even if it’s of something non-life-threatening such as public speaking, talking to our boss, a deadline, crowds—or whatever spikes your heart rate) our SNS is stimulated. Why is this a problem? When we have our SNS constantly stimulated we live in a state of “fight or flight” and our non-essential functions can’t happen. This is why when you are stressed out you get headaches, issues with your digestion, stomach pains, and so on. The fight or flight mode is not sustainable—our bodies will suffer and deteriorate if left in this state for too long.

The good news is that we don’t have to live in this state of fear and we can learn to stimulate our PNS and regain “rest and digest”. How? Breathing. One way out of the stress state is to breathe. By breathing we are telling our bodies that we are ok. More specifically, bringing awareness to the breath and slowing the breath down stimulates the Vagus nerve. The Vagus who?? The Vagus nerve, or wandering nerve, extends from your brainstem and goes on through your facial muscles, throat, lungs, heart, stomach, and intestines. All of those are major players in the PNS and have crossover with the SNS. So, if we stimulate the Vagus nerve with slow and controlled breathing, we can shift from a state of elevated heart rate, dilated pupils, contracted muscles, and return to lowered heart rate, relaxed muscles, saliva returns to your mouth and digestion starts back up. Cortisol (stress hormone) lowers and Ahhhhh, you can relax.

But I breathe ALL DAY LONG and I still feel stressed out. Excellent point. Here is the short practical guide to breathing for relaxation:

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Breathe in through your nose to a count of five. As you breathe in focus on your belly filling up first, then your chest expanding, and finally, your collarbones lifting and expanding.
  3. Stay full for a moment of pause and then begin to exhale to the count of 7.
  4. Release your breath through your nose in the opposite way you filled—lowering and  contracting the collarbones, then the chest, and finally the belly.
    • Pro-tip: Try constricting the back of your throat to create a noisy breath with an “hhhhh” sound—as if you were breathing to fog a mirror. In yoga, this is called the breath of  Ujjayi.
  5. Stay empty for a pause and then go back to step 2.
  6. Keep repeating these steps for a couple minutes or until you feel your body begin to return to calm.

There are many ways to reduce stress, stimulate the Vagus nerve, and to return to a state of rest and digest. Breathing is one option and it is so great because you can do it ANYWHERE. Also, this is just one of many kinds of breathing techniques—there are so many kinds of breathing but this is a great place to start. As Dory always says, “Just keep breathing”—or something like that ;-).

Resources

Stress: Fight or flight response. (2017). In Psychologist World. Retrieved from https://www.psychologistworld.com/stress/fight-or-flight-response

Hansen, F. (2017, November 17). "Fight or flight" vs. "rest and digest". In The Adrenal Fatigue Solution. Retrieved from https://adrenalfatiguesolution.com/fight-or-flight-vs-rest-and-digest/

Schwartz, A. (2015, July 19). Natural vagus nerve stimulation- Dr. Arielle Schwartz. In Dr. Arielle Schwartz. Retrieved from http://drarielleschwartz.com/natural-vagus-nerve-stimulation-dr-arielle-schwartz/#.Wi1ZoLQ-dsM

YJ Editors. (2007, August 28). Conqueror breath. In Yoga Journal. Retrieved from https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/conqueror-breath    

Expectations and the comforts of home.

Lisa SchuellerComment

Have you ever seen that episode of the X-Files where Mulder has to drive with a guy at a certain speed and they have to travel West or the man hears a piercing noise in his ear and if they stop or go a different direction his head will explode? Toward the end of my first year of grad school I developed the most awful head pain ever. I couldn't see, I couldn't think, and I couldn't get any relief--I did try to contact David Duchovny to see if he might be up for a ride. I went to the doctor and it was a tension headache. I retroactively felt incredibly horrible for every time I heard about someone missing something for a headache and thought they were a wuss. My doctor gave me some muscle relaxers and sent me on my way. But the thing is, even when I got the tension in my head and neck muscles to go away, the stress that caused the tension was still there waiting for me. One suggestion my doctor made to me was to try yoga.

Yoga? Yoga. What even is yoga? I googled it and was surprised that it was not what I saw people doing in the park growing up--that was Tai Chi (who knew?) and there was something about a mountain pose and a whole bunch of other words I couldn't say and I remember demos of men in what looked like wrestling singlets. Needless to say, I was not running out to find the closest yoga studio. But I had a friend that did yoga and I could go free to class because he was a member so, I signed up for a beginners informative class. I can't say that I had any idea what they were talking about. Something about saluting the sun and being sure to take rest and drink water. I can take rest and drink water. So, I bought the 30-day trial membership and I went to a power vinyasa class. O.M.G. Power vinyasa is the real deal, no sit and stretch and breathe and take rest here. But I was hooked. I kept going back for the physical practice and the challenge but I picked up something else that I didn't even realize until a lot later. Breath. I learned how to breathe. In 2011, at the ripe old age of 24, I finally learned how to breathe. 

I was at a yoga class the other night. It was a power vinyasa class and I was already sore so my mind was doing what it was designed to do and it was thinking and screaming and wandering and judging and thinking and wandering. My balance was off and I fell out of poses and lost my breath but I lived. I practiced my breath and regained some balance and tuned some stuff out and it was a great practice, but I also focused in on something. The instructor said more than once a phrase that stuck out to me. "It isn't easy but it's simple." 

It isn't easy, but it's simple. The physical practice of yoga is guided by breath. Just keep breathing. Simple, right? Keep breathing after 6 Sun B's that are a breath a pose each? My legs are talking, my arms are talking, my abs are like "omg, we do exist!". To not let all the noise and the chatter of life take you out of what you're doing is HARD. To keep it together after your baby had vaccines and was up 5 times in the night and you have a 7:30 am class followed by a 9:25 and 10:50 and it's snowing and you're SO hungry and you eat an almond croissant in the car that's delicious but easily outranks pasta as the worst date food ever because it was messy AF and it's all over you when you walk into class and exams are a week away and your students are practically vibrating their nerves are so fried and they need reassurance and 15 other things from you is HARD. But breathing is simple, right?

I kept going to that studio I first walked into for five years. I loved it. I often found myself running to the studio just to get it out, whatever it was. I had classes that I went to because I was excited, some I went to because I was bored, some I went to because I needed a break, and on a couple of really hard days I cried through the entire practice. I felt so at home there--I always knew what to expect and I always walked away glad I had come. Class was not always easy, it wasn't always easy to be able to make time, it wasn't always easy to fight traffic to get there, but what I needed to do was simple. Show up and breathe. 

The other day we were talking about expectations in my Nonverbal class (I finished grad school and became a professor once I learned how to breathe)--to be more specific we were talking about violations to our expectations. How do we deal with having our expectations violated? Are all expectancy violations bad? What if someone is unexpectedly wonderful? So anyhow, this led to some great conversations and of course to podcasts. (Click and listen to the intro of this podcast if you want to hear about a serious violation to expectations).

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I recently had my second child. After five wonderful years at my studio, I cancelled my membership. I couldn't regularly get there and so I decided to take a break and drop-in when I could. It was really scary. Ever since I've been practicing yoga I've been a studio member. I knew the teachers, the staff, the environment, I knew the schedule by heart--I loved it. I don't have a yoga home right now and I can feel it. 

When I was in undergrad I wrote a paper on couch surfing. If you're not sure what that is, basically a person has no address of their own and they sleep on couches of friends, family, strangers, for a period of time until they are asked to or need to move on. I am a yoga couch surfer. I do yoga where I can, when I can. Sometimes I know people and sometimes they are all strangers. Sometimes I feel welcomed and sometimes I feel like it's time to move on. I don't know what to expect when I walk into a new studio or space which is partly terrifying but also exhilarating. 

I miss my yoga "home". I miss the comfort and the familiarity. I went in search of places to pop in when I have time-deals, special events, interesting themes and so on. I was absolutely SHOCKED at how many different yoga events, studios, workshops, existed in my area. I currently have a list that I am working through. I printed a whole bunch of events off for the month of December and am exploring this brand new yoga world. I stepped out of my comfort zone and away from my home. I didn't know what to expect. I still don't. But last night I lay on my mat with a pillow and a bolster snuggled up in a blanket, the room was dark and full of people I did not know. I listened to a man chant and play singing bowls and talk me through letting each part of my body release. It was magical. I walked out into the cold, crisp air after and thought, "damn, I never thought I'd do that!". My whole body felt alive, I have never been more aware of how my body feels. I can't wait to make my way through the rest of my December yoga list.

I've got rose quartz in my pocket.

Lisa SchuellerComment

When people find out I'm a yogi I sometimes get questions about spirituality practices. For example, have I found self-enlightenment and how high can I levitate? But in all seriousness, people associate yoga with a lot of "mystical" practices. I get asked about chakras, astrology, crystals, essential oils, sage smudging, and the list could go on. To be perfectly honest, I am completely fascinated by all of these things and have had the great fortune of meeting many people who have insight into these topics from my yoga connections. I've been practicing yoga for 6 years, I am a 200-hour RYT (registered yoga teacher), and I have explored so many of these areas on my own over the years, but I have never felt like I can represent any of these things. 

I've had conversations more than once with people about feeling fraudulent in different areas of my life. In one of my many lives I was a banker and I remember that even when I would put on my business suit and sit behind the desk and manage the money and talk the talk and shmooze my clients--I kept waiting for someone to call my bluff. "Who are YOU to manage my money?" I've had these same feelings about being a parent, a wife, a professor, and basically just being an adult in general. It turns out that I am not alone in this feeling--lots of people feel like they are fake fill-in-the-blanks. The concept of faking it until you make it certainly applied to my experience as a banker, most definitely to my experience as a parent, and other areas of adulthood. 

Fake it until you make it. Interesting. So interesting that this concept was studied and explored by Amy Cuddy in a TedTalk that currently has over 44 million views (holy cow!). Do yourself a favor and watch this talk if you haven't already. We generally agree that our surroundings, people in our lives, and experiences shape who we are. Cuddy explores shaping who you are by manipulating your body language. Does looking like you are confident actually make you feel more confident? (That's the last teaser--just go watch it).

So this brings me back to my rose quartz. I was wandering around a small local shop called Spirit Dreams which is a store focusing on Holistic health, wellness, and spiritual growth. I like to look at the amethyst cathedrals, peruse the books, and read all of the descriptions of the small gem stones and crystals. I have long been fascinated with the idea that a stone can hold healing powers and have wondered for long periods about the vibrations from the earth and it's elements. Can these stones really have the effects they are claimed to have?

I recently had my second child and with a major life event come so many changes. I have not been feeling like myself, and to be quite honest--I've been getting my ass handed to me by this second-time-mother thing. This has led to a lot of questions of self doubt and the slippery slope that follows close behind questioning yourself into a pile of tears and cake crumbs on the floor with mascara running down your face.

While walking around Spirit Dreams I saw the most beautiful large raw pieces of Rose Quartz. I know I've read the cards for all of the quartzes a dozen times, but I was drawn to this different formation of Rose Quartz. The card I picked up read:

"Enhances all forms of love: mother love, caring, kindness, self-love. Soft vibration of forgiveness and compassion for self and others. Balances and cleanses heart chakra with unconditional love."

I thought, sign me up for that! I immediately went in search of a smaller stone to buy--I needed this vibration in my life ASAP. I found a small, polished sphere, about 1-inch in diameter and it was perfect. It was smooth and I liked spinning it around my fingers and in my hand. It also could go in my pocket with me and I needed some portable "self-love and love for others" vibrations with me on the go. I also bought the large raw piece of rose quartz (but it does not fit in my pocket).

I carried the rose quartz sphere for about a week. I wasn't sure how I felt about having it with me. I knew I liked it and I liked to put my hand in my pocket and spin it around. I liked that it got warm in my pocket and in my hand and stayed warm when I walked out into the cold air. But I wasn't sure that I was "allowed" to carry it. Was I spiritual enough to carry a stone for healing purposes or was I just a fraud? A "new-agey, boho wannabe, cusp of millennial generation, stone carrying" faker. Faker. Faker. Faker. There it was. The feeling of being fake again. A total fraud. 

Fraud or not, I went back and bought a smaller, natural shaped polished rose quartz. After a week of carrying the sphere around I found that the round shape bulged in pocket in a not so subtle way. So, I switched to an even more portable size of this beautiful stone that I needed in my life. I also picked up a couple others that seemed to be vibrating at a frequency that I was desperately in need of  being in tune with.

I set the stones on my desk while I was watching my students give speeches--I am a professor by day. One student walked by and said "Oh wow! Are those your crystals? Do you always carry them?" I paused and then I owned it. "Yes, they are, and yes I do." I have had them in my pocket everyday that I have had them so I was telling the truth and as I said it I also felt it. I do not care if I am a bonafide expert at everything I am interested in. My interest and curiosity makes it authentic--not my overwhelming (or in this case, incredibly underwhelming) expertise.

Am I a rose quartz carrier? Hell yes, I am.

*Originally posted on December 1, 2017