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.
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.
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.