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Posts from the ‘Love’ Category

Inspiration: My Husband

I woke up this morning, feeling terribly sheepish of the way I behaved during our “fight” yesterday. It took me a long time to finally even accept that “fights” were normal in a relationship and a necessary evil to wake up, to push the reset button, to grow, evolve, learn, love, breakthrough and keep moving. I used to think that these “fights” were preludes, signs if you will, of inevitable relationship disintegration, but I stand corrected. Fight dirty, and it may well be. Fight fair and you may have the golden ticket to your one true love story.

Truth be told, I don’t always fight fair. It is however, in the moments where my ego takes over that I’m grateful to this wonderful man who I proudly call my husband. If it weren’t for him, I’d be regressing and becoming a less-than version of me. That wouldn’t be fun.

I am grateful every single day that he IS the person in my life who keeps me in check and who weathers my blows without condemning me and instead sheds light on what I need to work on. He shines a mirror to my face every single day and while my ego cringes when he does, my soul appreciates it from the depths of my heart. It’s what people who care about each other should be doing for each other and I wouldn’t be where I am today without that damn mirror and the goodness of the man holding it.

My husband inspires me to be more, and he holds me accountable for when I fall short. He leads by example both in his personal and professional life and is quite frankly, the best man I know. You can imagine how grateful I feel to have this anchor, this solid, awesome hunk of a human being standing by my side each and every day.

So today, give a little thanks. Or a lot of thanks to those in your life doing the dirty deed of shining brightness to your “areas of opportunity”. It certainly isn’t an easy task for anyone especially if you have a roaring ego like mine that gets blinded sometimes by its own grandiose sense of self. The good thing is, I’m getting better and better at pushing my ego into the backseat and shushing it with sincere humility.

A swift little reminder for when you find yourself in your own tiff…

“We don’t see things the way they are. We see them the way WE are.” ~ Talmud

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Me: The Torch Bearer

First and foremost, Happy Chinese New Year! This year celebrates the year of the Snake. You can read more about it here.

It is the second day of the lunar new year and a full 16 years + a day of my favorite person’s passing. My grandfather was, in a way, someone who held the family together. My grandfather was the man in my life, my role model, and someone who took care of me from the day I was born till the day of his passing on February 10, 1997.

As a child, Chinese New Year was a big deal. It involved days of preparation, with the women in the house prepping and cleaning all the nooks and crannies to insure that as the big day approached, the house, as well as all the food were in order and ready to go. My grandmother was the master dumpling, or aka Jiao-zi maker. My mother was her sous chef. I, with my pigtails, was the sous sous chef. Giant platters of fresh dumplings were hand made from scratch, days before the big celebration, with each dumpling carrying finger imprints from one of the many female helping hands. The family altar was carefully set up, with “seats” for both of my grandparents’ ancestors. One for my grandmother’s family, the Chen’s, and one for my grandfather’s family, the Wang’s, which I fall under. The altar was the focal point of the house. Fish, meat, chicken, platters of whole fruit, dim sum goodies, wine, tea, crackers, cookies…anything to offer our ancestors for 3 days were laid out in grand style on top of a giant festive red cloth that covered the altar table.

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(Our little altar)

Red. It seemed like everything was suddenly cloaked in an auspicious red tone. Incense. The smell of chinese incense filled the house for days on end. It is a fragrance that is still etched deep in my heart and my soul…

My favorite part of Chinese New Year preparations was the final moment where everything was laid out, ready to go and my grandfather would begin counting the incense sticks. 7. 8. The number is foggy to me now. He’d give me 2 or 3 of my own and I’d follow him out into our backyard at dusk, on new year’s eve, mimicking everything he did. We lit our incense sticks with the tops pointing down, so the flames would rise up in an effort to make sure each stick was lit. He kneeled, I kneeled. He raised the incense sticks to the sky, I did the same. He asked for our ancestors to come join us in celebration of Chinese New Years, I muttered the same words under my breath. We would bow 3 times, forehead to earth and then I’d get up with him, giddy with excitement that our ancestors were coming with us back into the house. I would ask him how he knew they were following us and he would ask me if I could see the smoke from the incense. Yes, grandpa, I see the smoke, I would say. He would confirm that those in fact, were our ancestors in smoke form, joining us, ready to feast. I was maybe 6 years old. We did this for many many years…

I loved Chinese New Year. I loved everything it represented: family, hearth, celebration, and the receiving of those awesome little red envelopes filled with money even before I knew what money truly was. It was a time where family reigned king…when young and old came together, 4 generations under one roof…AND it was a time of the year when we each made out like a bandit, hundreds of dollars richer, for simply kow-towing to the elders. Mom would secretly pull us aside and ask us how much we got from this auntie and that uncle, simply so she can make sure to return the same when she gifted their children with their own red envelopes.

As we got older with each year’s passing, the festivities began to shorten in duration. The preparation time began later and later, right up until the day before the new year, and the celebration time also seemingly got cut short. Perhaps it was the natural course for an immigrant family assimilating into Western society that caused these cultural traditions to subside, or perhaps the torch bearers who carried these traditions from the old country into the new country began to age…or perhaps it was a combination of both. Or, maybe it was a combination of us children growing up, having our own social calendars to tend to, and not being so interested in our heritage anymore as we tried to become more and more western in an effort to fit in.

Through the years, traditions began to wane until they were no longer. This made me sad. My grandparents, who were the primary driving force behind these celebrations, simply couldn’t keep up. Both were getting older, and without the excitement from family and extended family, it is tough to keep the traditions going themselves. I can understand that.

Then my grandfather passed away. He was 86 years old. With his passing, almost all of our family and our cultural traditions went along with him to the grave. The only practice that has stayed within the family is the yearly visit to clean his grave on Qingming Jie, and the yearly half hour visit to burn paper and bring food in “celebration” of Chinese New Year.

This is hardly a celebration in my book.

I asked my mom whether or not they set up the family altar this year. She said they haven’t for many, many years. A couple of days ago, the day before Chinese New Year’s eve, I got a sudden wave of nostalgia. Visions of what this special time was in our lives kept flashing page, after page through my mind. I missed those days. I missed my grandfather. I missed the incense. I missed the color red. I missed everything so much that I decided I was going to begin what is to become my own family tradition with my new little family…my husband, myself, and our two little furry kids, Jaxxon and Shiva.

You see, we are a bi-racial couple, married less than a year, trying to find our own footing in what is important to us and what “family” truly means. For me, family is about honoring roots. It is about embracing heritage and celebrating our beautiful cultures blending together. My husband is a gem. At first I felt sheepish, a little embarrassed at what I was going to be setting up in our house. I spent the morning of new year’s eve, bed-head, unbrushed teeth and all, sprawled out at the dining room table, practicing my chinese calligraphy, something my grandfather taught me before I even knew how to hold a pencil. I wanted to calligraphy the name cards of my ancestors, just like what my grandfather used to do, except my calligraphy is a joke. It is an effort of the 6 year old, trapped in this 34 year old’s body, trying to re-create the beautiful words that my grandfather, in his own effortless, magestic way used to create. These name cards are really like giant place cards. Taped to a stick. In my case, it was taped to a chopstick and stuck in a little bowl of rice so the rice can hold the chopstick up with the red paper “name card” taped to it. What was my husband going to think of my crazy rendition of my family altar? How do I explain to him that my ancestors were going to “sit” and “feast” with us, in our living room for three days straight? Would he be grossed out at my plans to lay out a whole fish with the head still firmly attached? And what about the chicken? The whole chicken with the neck and head and the gizzards still intact? Sticky rice gow? Turnip cake? A giant meat steak, blanched only in hot water?

My husband’s pretty great. I married him for good reason. He not only didn’t think it was weird, he fully loved and supported me as I went out on a crazy limb to reclaim my lineage. After I invited the ancestor spirits into our house, he even took part in honoring my ancestors with lighting his own incense, bowing, and paying his respects. It was really cute. Really sweet.

This year, as I resurrect what I think is a dying cultural practice within my generation and move forward as my family’s torch bearer of my ancestral customs and traditions, it makes me proud to embrace my heritage. I hope our future children will also embrace theirs proudly as well. It is what makes us unique and special. I want my family to have strong roots, and I want my children to know where they came from. As a future parent, I believe it is my responsibility to pass on as much as I know, as much as I remember, so my children are firmly anchored in their culture and understand what it means to honor family and traditions.

This year is special…Chinese New Year fell on the day of my Grandfather’s passing…16 years ago yesterday. Happy New Year, Grandpa and happy Chinese New Year to everyone, with a big toast to those born in the year of the Snake!

To Do: Setting morning intentions

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Intentions are a simple exercise that can dramatically shift your day as you shift your mind.

I’ve been taking time out every morning to set my intentions for the day. It isn’t a big exercise, just a quiet moment where I breathe and sit, get grounded, and visualize what I would like my day to look like, including how I would like to feel for the day. Sometimes I journal for a moment and write it down, sometimes it’s simply a moment to connect with myself on a deep emotional level minus the paper and pen.

The mental shift which I consciously choose to partake in every morning has drastically improved my daily interactions with people, my inner dialogue with myself and has brought me an overall sense of balance and ease. That ease is also something others can pick up on, usually at a subconscious level. When I am grounded, I meet other grounded individuals. My relationships flourish and my world becomes more accessible. When I am at peace with myself, I draw peace into my life. It’s a beautiful cycle that brings so much joy into my life.

Want to try?

Grab your journal. If you don’t have one, it’s a sweet little thing to invest in. I like Moleskins.

Find a quiet place in your abode, and sit comfortably. Sit tall, with integrity, but soften your belly, your eyes, your jaw muscles, your tongue.

Breathe in deep, exhale deep. Do this a few times until you feel your skin settle. Literally.

Visualize, with wild abandon what your day looks like, what you want it to look like. You’ll know you hit the jackpot when your heart lights up and a smile creeps on your face.

Hold on to that thought. Let it creep into all the crevices in your body, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Bask. Revel. Roll around in it. Repeat it in your mind, in your heart.

If you’d like, write it down.

Carry it with you.

Do this everyday, but don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two. Just try to be more consistent with it, rather than not.

Would love to hear thoughts as you adopt this simple way of being into your life.

Love, Grace

Life: Are you a REAL yogi?

Yogis are aware.

Sure, I am aware when I get on top of my sticky mat for 90 minutes.

Yogis practice conscious breath.

Yeah, I breathe. I even ujjayi breathe. Take that.

Yogis practice non-judgment.

Okay, I DO try and practice this, but I’m so bad at it I don’t even want to try sometimes.

Yogis are spiritual.

Hey, I checked the box, “spiritual but not religious”. That totally describes me in one sentence.

Yogis never get angry.

(S)he’s such an ass. Deep breath, deep breath, I’m going to f*ing kill you, deep breath, deep breath..

Yogis see the glass as half full all the time.

Even when it is empty.

Yogis are patient.

Especially when you are already late for class and can’t find your car keys.

Yogis emanate LOVE out of their pores.

Especially when your lover cheats on you. That’s the true test, right?

Yogis, if you are a real yogi at least, can all balance on their heads, hands and fingertips.

If you can’t, who are you kidding? You aren’t a true yogi.

Who is a REAL yogi?

A REAL Yogi employs the discipline to practice awareness, consciousness, non-judgment, self-acceptance, patience and love as often as s/he can so as to arrive in a deep place within themselves.

But you know what?

True yogic knowledge encourages you to face your shortcomings, live with integrity, take responsibility, but above all, realize that you are human too. Wounds attract wounds, scars are a plenty. That’s the beauty of being human. If we can only remind ourselves that suffering and pain is universal, that the person you just hurt or who just hurt you bleed the same, we can begin to tap into our well of tenderness to close the gap between our Self and the Other.

REAL yogis will always have the courage to strive for perfection until the day they pass, but already know that perfection does not exist.

Life: Monday Morning Musings

Good morning Yogis,

In recent months, as some of you may have taken notice, I’ve been on a hiatus with teaching, consenting to Life’s twists and turns and working on letting myself enjoy the ride. Personally, I’ve never been good with surprises, or unplanned events, happenings, you name it. In other words, I am yes, sort of a control freak who’s obnoxious control tendencies have been tempered over the years by the practice of yoga.

If I may, the last few months of my Life has surpassed my wildest expectations.

Wait.

Pardon, I should really replace “expectations” with the words, “dreams and aspirations”.

Life has really decided to show up. She bypassed knocking gingerly on my front door hoping that I’d open it and welcome her in, instead, she bulldozed in, hands and her waist, foot-a-tapping, stared me down and gave voice to what has been aggravatingly been in the back of my mind…”Well, what now? What are you going to do with such blessings you’ve received in your Life so far? Time to get off your ass, perhaps?”

No, thank you.

I was in a very comfortable, (some may define it as complacent, perhaps), goooooood space. There were no extreme highs, there were no unanticipated severe lows. My ride was smooth as a baby’s bum.

Translation: Truly a scary place to be, having resorted myself to mediocrity, but the mind has convinced me that this is where I should be because it was “comfortable”.

Most of us have experienced and fundamentally know that growth arises from restless uncomfortableness. I had no idea that I was on the brink of extraordinary change.

As I am navigating through uncharted waters, it became obvious that the timing was perfect. (It always is, isn’t it?) My days as a yoga facilitator has taken a sabbatical and my journey as a student of yoga once again took prescendence. I leaped right back in to practicing, learning, studying the art, the practice, the philosopy of yoga, hoping that the yoga, MY yoga would provide me, the sense of grounding, the quiet all-knowing, the courage I would need to successfully steer myself in the right direction. The gentle currents are carrying me along and I no longer feel as if I am swimming upstream.

Over the weekend, I attended a workshop on finding courage through fear. Through meditation and movement, asana, we explored journeying first, TO that which we fear, and second, journeying THRU, while exploring breath, awareness and courage as we collectively experienced our practice together, with each other.

And now, it is on to our glorious Monday morning. As I sit here, typing my invocation to the week of my thoughts gathered last night post workshop, it is my hope that whatever appears on this little piece of cyberspace note contains perhaps just one thing that resonates with you. Whether it is a thought that pops up, a color, a word, a phrase, an inspiration, something forgotten, please give yourself that extra minute for YOU to just sit with it in stillness without the need to make it perfect…without the need to attach more to it than necessary.

Here we go.

Questions to ponder as you go about your day, your practice, your whatever…

What is my fear? What is something that has been holding me back? Is it a thought? Is it something tangible?

How do I tap into Courage to walk through, take that extra one step towards my fears, my hesitations?

May I set aside expectations, old patterns of seeing, of breathing, of believing for one second and give myself the opportunity to inch closer to the edge?

May I have faith in knowing that true courage rests within? It is always there, unwavering, ready to be excavated, ready to be reborn, waiting for the layers to be peeled off, one by one, skin back, truth exposed.

May I permit myself to stand there in nakedness?

May I stand there vulnerable, wanting to flee, but allowing myself to just accept myself as I am? (even just for a second.)

May I give myself the same compassion, the same empathy that I give to others, allowing myself the same sensitive freedom that allows us all to truly thrive, to truly live?

Instead of asking why, ask how?

How may I be of service today?

How may I allow myself the joy of living in the present moment, through breath, through awareness, through letting our mind explore stillness while training it, re-learning, that TRUTH exists in its natural state outside the confines of the cerebral, logic-inspired world that we live in which ultimately should be a feeling-inspired world?

May I just for a moment today, give myself the gift of setting aside my fears and feel that sense of immediate, soft-spoken sensation of peace creep into my physical body, my mental sphere, my emotional reservoir and my spiritual universe?

May I allow that feeling to slowly envelope my senses while reveling in the simple joys, the peace of just being?

Just for a moment, just for today, just for now, let go of what you think you should be doing, where you think you should be, what others have told you you should do and just be. Feel for the breath traveling up to the crown of the head as you inhale and allow your exhale to infuse the body and your spirit with the sensation of grounding.

Love,

Grace

“Let your love flow outward through the universe, to its height, its depth, its broad extent, a limitless love, without hatred or enmity. Then as you stand or walk, sit or lie down, as long as you are awake, strive for this with a one-pointed mind; Your life will bring heaven to earth.” ~~~ Sutta Nipata

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