21 days to make a habit

88784.originalThey say that it typically takes 21 days to make something a habit.  So imagine how I felt after 365 days…of writing…every.day. writing.  To say that it’s been a weird month since meeting my 365 day goal would be an understatement.

On one hand it was nice to not be so raw and exposed…always processing information and shifting through emotions.

On the other hand, though, I felt like everything just stopped. All of the sudden, I wasn’t processing the way I had been…through my writing.  All the sudden, I felt like I wasn’t moving forward…like everything just stopped.

When I wrote my last entry on Day 365, I told myself I needed a much deserved break.  That for one month, I wouldn’t do any writing.  I didn’t want to be tempted to continue forward simply out of habit.  If I continued…and at whatever frequency…I wanted it to be because I wanted to.  Not because I felt like I had to or was compelled to.

One of the interesting things I noticed during this 30 day writing fast, was that even after I stopped writing the daily blog my thoughts still continued to sound like I was putting together a post. I noticed myself fixating on particular topics or subjects that would have made good writing fodder. I would watch my thoughts form around a topic and noticed how my thinking had morphed.

Gone were random, disconnected, popcorn thoughts.  Each thought was mentally tested as a possible blog topic…even though I was no longer writing.  I could hear my thoughts, and they sounded like a story.  I’ve spent the past month trying to re-train myself how to think like a normal person…without subtext or context.

I think the biggest fear in walking away from the daily blog was how…if…I’d be able to continue manifesting my dreams.  So much energy went into writing…so many emotions were released…so many hopes and dreams set free into the Universe.  I worried that writing was my “magic”…and without it, everything would stop…or worse, disappear.

And for a while it felt like it did…stop, that is.  But that’s because it needed to.  The blog consumed quite a bit of energy on a daily basis and now that energy was free to be reassigned to something else.  It took me a while to settle into the energy and absorb the extra capacity.

Initially I filled it with busy work because it just needed to be filled.  My shamans recognized this and gave me the business.  Reminding me that more than anything, I needed to slow down. I needed to simply be with myself…with nature.  I didn’t always need to be doing or thinking about something.  Boy, that was hard to wrap my mind around.

But once I did…whoa.  I felt a huge weight lift.  Everything immediately became still…quiet…calm.  All the noise stopped…even the thoughts quieted.  It was amazing.

For probably the fourth time I’ve had a healer tell me I need to meditate.  That my angels and guides are trying to connect but I’m not sitting still long enough to allow them to.  Ok…ok…I’ll work on it!

It’s almost shameful to acknowledge that I have to “work on” slowing down.  That I need to “work on” making time for myself…for meditation.

But in this Yang world, we’re programmed to go, Go, GO, GO!!!!  And stopping…or even slowing down to a certain degree…is seen as lazy.  Also shameful!  I teach Yin.  I love Yin yoga and I know the power of slowing down.  I’ve seen it in my life and others.  Yet, if I take my eye off the ball, everything just speeds back up.

I guess my challenge for the next 30 days…besides resisting the urge to start writing more frequently…is to try to make it a habit to s…l…o…w…..d…o…w…n.  Taking a vacation at the beginning of May will certainly help.  🙂

I’ll let you know how it goes.  xoxo

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Day 365: A life of abundance and gratitude

IMG_5325Well, here I am.  The last day of my blog.  Talk about pressure to be prophetic…

I’ve had friends ask me what I was going to write about on the last day.  If I already had it written.  If I was going to reveal everyone’s real names…

Right or wrong, I’m approaching this last post just like I have all the others.  Sitting down at the computer…taking a deep breath…and letting whatever is in my heart spill out.  Sure sometimes something would settle in and I’d know today what I wanted to write about tomorrow.  I think on one or two occasions I was so moved by something that I sat down and wrote my blog the night before it was due.  But that was rare.

When I first started, I kept a page of ideas and notes out of fear the day would come when I wouldn’t have anything to write about.  When my heart wouldn’t have anything it wanted to share.  I’m happy to report that day never came.  Some days there was more to say than others, but each day there was something.

For 365 days I’ve shared my struggles…successes…fears…and dreams.  I’ve exposed some of my darkest secrets and shined a light on some of my biggest hopes.  When I started this journey, the goal was simple.  Write every day for a year.

I’d read someplace that to be a writer, you had to write everyday.  That it needed to be a part of who you are…a passion that drives you to do it, even when you might not want to.  I thought I wanted to be a writer so I set the goal.  And to make sure I didn’t shortcut myself, I decided to make it a public goal by posting each day to this blog.

Once I started, I realized I had a lot of shit I needed to say.  There was so much I’d been carrying around in my heart…and for so long.  Things I’d pushed down…or away…in an attempt to bury shame and turn a blind eye to the things I didn’t like about myself.

Those were some of the first things that bubbled to the surface.  The very things I didn’t want to share were the words I needed to release most.  And so I did.  What did I have to lose?  I honestly didn’t think people would spend much time reading what I wrote.  If they did, I thought it would be a novelty that would quickly wear off.  Why would anyone want to listen to what I had to say?

And then I realized, people were reading…a lot of people were reading…and they could relate.  So many messages from people – some I knew, some I didn’t – thanking me for sharing my soul.  For putting a voice to what they were feeling.  For letting them know they weren’t alone in their struggles.  All the sudden, my blog wasn’t just about me.  I was connecting to people.

Ahhhh, connection.  We all crave it in some form or fashion.  I know I craved it deeply, especially at first.  Despite all the friends and family that surrounded me, I quickly opened my eyes to the fact that I was living a very lonely life.  By my own doing, of course.  I only allowed my connections with folks to go so deep.  The few that I had let in deeply seemed to bring more pain than pleasure.

Gradually over time, though, I started to tear down those walls.  Much of the demolition coincided with the removal of my masks…of letting go of personas.  Stripping down to a much more authentic…raw…exposed…honest version of myself.  Ironically, the more I let go…the more naked I got…the more comfortable I became in my own skin.  The more confident I became in speaking my truth.  The less I fell prey to the social pressures of doing what others tried to impose as “right”.

I had found my path…I had stepped into my truth.

I’m not the same person that logged her first post on Day 0, March 26, 2014.  I thought about going back and reading all my old posts in preparation for this final one.  I mean, so much has happened that it’s hard to remember all the details.  But I don’t really know that person anymore.  I’m not connected to her.  I feel like it would almost be like reading someone else’s words.

Plus, I don’t want to look backward.  I spent a great deal of time purging when I started the blog…letting go of old shit…freeing myself of burdens that only weighed me down.  At some point, I felt the shift.  My perspective moved from one of past reflection to being present and sometimes pondering the future.

When I started this journey, my dream was to find a partner.  Someone that complimented me and challenged me.  Someone that loved and supported me but also pushed me to continue growing.  I wanted to find a man with some pretty specifics qualities….and I did.

I honestly thought that process would take the majority of the year.  That a good many of my posts would be about my dating follies.  But that wasn’t how it went down.  Within days of posting what I was looking for, I met Mr. Universe.  I guess I can say that the rest is history.  We’re happily married with two puppies and a motorcycle.  Living a life very much like what I dreamed…and wrote about.

IMG_1601And that might be one of the biggest lessons I learned this past year….the power of manifesting your dreams.  Thoughts…words…they mean something.  They are energy fueled with your emotions and intentions.  I used to discount the power of words.  And in doing so, I probably stunted my own growth for many years.

But once I started writing….I could look back and see how my words…how my emotions and intentions…began to become my reality.  How the act of writing focused my attention on what I wanted to accomplish…allowing me to move in the direction that I wanted my life to go.

Even when I was releasing all that shit…it was with the intention to fill myself back up with love…compassion…kindness…forgiveness.  It was with the momentum to move forward and not stay stuck in what was.

319477If I could offer one piece of advice, write.

Doesn’t have to be a public blog.  Start a journal.  Write down your heart’s desires…dreams…passions.  Release onto paper all the junk that you don’t want to carry around anymore.  Write your goodbyes…letters of forgiveness.  If you can’t quit that job, quit it on paper and write an acceptance letter for the job you want.  Write.  Write.  Write.  And then see what happens.

I truly believe the Universe wants to support us in achieving all that will make us happy.  But we have to remember that she hears everything.  All that we say…that we think…that we write.  With everything we do, we are sending her messages…making requests…asking for help.

So my second piece of advice, focus on the positive.  Dream of what you want, not of what you don’t want.  Talk in terms of affirmations and resist using negative connotations.

Simple put:  remember words matter.

It’s in that vein that I share what I’ve learned about myself since starting this journey…what I’ve learned my soul’s gifts are:  I’m a teacher.  I’m a healer.  I’m a coach.  I’m kind and compassionate and driven and organized.  I’m adept at building connections.  And I’m a writer.

I’m whatever speaks to my soul…moves me to take action…makes my heart smile.  I’m incredibly lucky to be living a life of abundance…of forging my way in a nontraditional fashion surrounded by people that support and love me.

I’m so incredibly grateful to so many…for so much love…and so many lessons.  (Roll the credits)

My Mom
Mr. Universe
Sheba & Solomon & Puzzle (RIP sweet cat)
Princess Grace
Kilo
Moon Pie
Yinny
Man of the Year
Chapper
Alaskan Root
Smiles
Redheaded Gypsy
Jedi
Amicus
Mama J
GG
Coach K
LL
Starbucks Steve
Rogue Robot
Eli’s Mom
Mr. & Mrs. Neighbor
terryshen
snakesinthegrass2014
IreneC
Big Daddy
BossMan
Thing 1
Thing 2
The Taste

I think Jackson Kiddard said it best when he wrote…
“Anything that annoys you is for teaching you patience.
Anyone who abandons you is for teaching you how to stand up on your own two feet.
Anything that angers you is for teaching you forgiveness and compassion.
Anything that has power over you is for teaching you how to take your power back.
Anything you hate is for teaching you unconditional love.
Anything you fear is for teaching you courage to overcome your fear.
Anything you can’t control is for teaching you how to let go and trust the Universe.”

For all that and so much more, thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Oh, and the biggest question that I know everyone wants to know the answer to…The Taste is….

tumblr_mtshv56HqZ1reqb81o1_500

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Day 364: Hoosier hospitality

IMG_5917On the eve of my last post, my heart is a bit heavy.  I’m sad for all the arguments that are ensuing between friends, family, and fellow citizens because of the need to legislate bigotry in the state I’ve called home my entire life.

That’s right.  I’ve never lived anywhere else but Indiana.  Not because I didn’t want to or wasn’t willing, but mainly because I didn’t need to.  Everything I needed…everything I wanted…I found right here.  In a state that many have never visited.  In a state folks refer to as “a fly over state”, meaning you don’t go there to visit…you fly over it on your way to someplace else.  In a state with so many hidden gems we kinda liked keeping it all to ourselves.

While we don’t have mountains or the ocean, we do get to experience the four seasons in all their glory thanks to so many different variety of trees and flowers and vegetation.  We love our sports…especially watching them.  And welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors every year for some of the greatest spectacles in sports you’ll ever see.

We’re such gracious hosts there’s a name for it, “Hoosier Hospitality”.  Yet, we’ve come to a point where we’ve lost sight of how to be hospitable to our neighbors.  The very people that choose to live next to us.  To raise their families here.  To stimulate the economy on a daily basis.  To give back to communities that give to them…until yesterday.

For some reason, our legislators felt the need to legislate the right for a business to refuse service to someone due to their religious beliefs.  Who is “their” in that sentence…doesn’t matter.  If the business claims one set of beliefs and the customer claims another, well, it’s anyone’s guess if you’ll be welcomed.

Here’s the thing that stuck me last night.  Some have decided to take the Bible and throw it on the ground so they can use to stand on.  To feel a little taller…a little more superior…than someone else.  If it’s so clear that the Bible doesn’t support gay marriage, then why are there some religious people that accept it?  Why are there religious people that are actually gay?  Why isn’t this a black and white debate?  And by black and white, I mean why doesn’t everyone that claims to read the same Bible feel that it says the same thing?

I’ll tell you why.  Because the Bible is a collection of stories that use an old language we don’t use anymore filled with metaphors that we don’t necessarily understand or interpret the same way.  Think about your every day dealings with the people around you.  How many times have you walked away from a discussion with someone and each of you has a different interpretation of what happened?  Ever hear the saying “There are three sides to every story.  Your side, my side, and the truth.”?

That’s what we do when we start talking about beliefs and interpretations of the Scriptures.  We believe that what and how we read something will be the same for everyone reading the Book.  But that isn’t the case.  Every person reads…hears…sees…from their perspective.  That perspective is clouded with what they carry in their heart….fear…hate….love…compassion….indifference…

The fact that we’ve arrived at a place in time that as a state we feel we need to legislate based on religious bigotries breaks my heart.  I’ve never called myself a religious person because there’s always seemed to be more fear and hate around the word than I was comfortable with.

I prefer to call myself spiritual.  I prefer to believe in a loving God that wants the best for his flock…that loves and is compassionate.  That challenges us to be better people…people that respect each and every human.  People that believe we are all made in the image of God – regardless of our shortcomings or differences or mistakes.  None of us are expected to be perfect or fit into a specific mold.  We are simply expected to do our best and live a life of compassion for all things around us.  I guess I’ve adopted a bit of a Buddhist philosophy to my spiritual beliefs.

I’ll never understand why a human would want to live their life denying another human of anything.  We are all connected.  We are all of one consciousness.  When you deny another, you are really denying yourself.

I don’t understand why we can’t simply be kind to strangers…to loved ones…and most importantly, ourselves…

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Day 363: It’s time to be a bit more tolerant

IMG_6188My New Year’s Resolution for 2014 was to stop judging so much.  As a result, I coined the phrase #factnotjudging, because sometimes you just have to be able to call a spade a spade.  And that’s what I feel like doing today.

I’m not judging…there’s plenty of people doing that these days…no, I feel the need to call a spade a spade.  Specifically, some narrow-minded, scared, uneducated, backwood Indiana legislators and the ignorant people they represent.  Because whether I’m allowing myself the leeway to judge someone or something, doesn’t mean I have the right to…in any way…impose limits on their rights…on their rights as humans.

Whether I believe in gay marriage…whether I believe in inter-racial marriage…whether I believe in the right for someone to alter their gender in name, dress, or even surgically…which I do!…doesn’t matter.

Whether I believe that everyone should have the religious freedom to pray to whatever makes them a better person…whether I think the assumption that a man should be paid more has anything to do with the fact that men are making the rules and are scared of how smart we women really are…whether I think the color of a person’s skin doesn’t make them more or less likely to commit a crime – that it’s their socioeconomic status that most likely does…whether or not I think your judgement of another human is because you secretly hate some part – or all – of yourself…which I do!…doesn’t matter.

It simply.doesn’t.matter.

It doesn’t matter what I carry in my heart any more than it matters what you carry in your heart.  It only matters what you think or how you judge when your beliefs start limiting someone else’s rights.  When your beliefs start to position one type of person as better than another.  When your beliefs give you rights and benefits and advantages that are purposely withheld from another.   That is when it matters.

When that starts to happen, someone needs to start asking why?  How are any of us that different from one another?  Why should the color of someone’s skin…the amount of cash in their bank account…the god they pray to…the person they love…who or how they have sex…matter????

Why do YOU give a shit about any of that?  Are you really that scared???  Do you think you’re going to “catch” being black…or poor…or a member of some other faith…or gay???  Are you really that stupid?  (#factnotjudging)

The people that claim they have the right to judge because of their religious beliefs…the people that claim they have a right to refuse service to someone or discriminate because of religious beliefs…the people that do anything to limit, hurt, or stand above another human being and do so in the name of a religious belief…To those people I would like to politely remind that it’s not your job to judge another human’s worth.  It’s not your God given right to decide who is good…worthy…better.

You weren’t nominated by God…or whoever you believe in…to make any of those decisions.  That’s way beyond your pay grade, even if you’re a man making a higher wage than me.  You still didn’t qualify for that promotion.

If you want to talk to people to find out why they act, feel, love the way they do, fantastic.  I’ll even go so far as to say that I’m ok if you want to try and talk someone out of acting, feeling, loving a certain way.  I think debate is healthy.  I think arguing your point…making your voice heard…is your right.

But when you retaliate against someone that isn’t exactly like you…or exactly like you want them to be…or exactly that you wish you were (because we all know you aren’t perfect either), that’s when you’ve crossed the line.  When you start to treat others differently than how you expect to be treated, that’s when you’ve placed yourself…your needs…your wants…your fears…above those of another human.  And that’s when I have a problem with you.

I’m not a socialist.  I don’t think everyone should be rich. I do think, though, that everyone…every single person in the entire world…should have the right to be rich.  Whatever “rich” means to them.  I think that every single person in the entire world has the right to be free…to love…to worship…to marry…to shop…to [fill in the blank] because like me…like you…they are human.  And that makes every single one of us equal.

It’s time we stop hating so much and learn to be a bit more tolerant of things we don’t understand.  Different does not equal bad, people.  #factnotjudging

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Day 362: Today was a good day

IMG_6104Today nesha had a booth at the 317 Bridal Show.  Big shout out to Man of the Year and Chapper for doing such a fantastic job.  It was Chapper’s dream and he orchestrated a lovely event…the first, I hope, of many to come…and Man of the Year deserves best supporting actor.  So much love for you both…and for allowing nesha to be a part of it.

We thought it might be a long shot, but what do brides need to do more than anything?  Slow down…find their center…relax…trust their instincts…just be.  All the noise swirling around is just that…noise.  What matters is that quiet voice inside.  The one that resides in the heart.  That’s the voice she can trust…but she needs to be able to hear it.

So we decided to approach this opportunity with that in mind by offering free 15 minute Reiki sessions.  It was a great way to introduce Reiki to nearly everyone that walked by.  Altogether we did Reiki on nearly 20 brides and their friends…none of which had experienced Reiki before.  It was amazing!

The look on every single one of their faces was priceless.  You could see the skepticism as they walked to the table…and then the pure joy and serenity when they got off it.  Their faces when they walked out of the room was the best marketing.  Everyone could see the difference.  And then we’d hear, “Me next.”

It wasn’t a completely selfless act, though.  I mean, sharing the beauty of Reiki with people is awesome but it was a good way to start building some brand awareness.  We had over 20 people sign up for our newsletter…talked with quite a few about our upcoming workshops…and had several inquire about whether we could do Reiki at bridal showers.  The best word to sum up the day is “YES.”  YES…YES…YES….YES…YES.

For me today was a way to also build up my posse of guides and angels.  For each person you do Reiki on, you usually attract one or two guides.  Because I haven’t been as active with my practice, I needed more guides to progress my abilities.  I think I did Reiki on 10 folks?  I don’t know, I lost count.  They just kept coming one after the other after another.  For two straight hours I didn’t even have a chance to take a drink of water.  It was awesome!  And exhausting.

By the time I got home, I could feel the aches and tension settling in.  I headed straight up to the bath to wash away the connections and any energetic remnants from folks I touched.  While I’m still tired, the aches are all gone.

This shit works.  It really works.  I know I shouldn’t still be amazed by it, but I can’t help it.  Today was a good day…a very, very, very good day.

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Day 361: It’s all situational

IMG_6241The other day a photo popped up on my Facebook feed. I knew everyone in the photo but not everyone was tagged.  It didn’t make sense that everyone would get tagged but one and then it struck me that maybe we weren’t friends anymore.  So I popped over to that person’s page to see.

Sure enough, we weren’t.  I’d been unfriended.  It’s not the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last.  For a brief moment I felt myself taking the unfriending personally.  Feeling defensive…a little angry…and then I stopped myself.

I paused and thought about my relationship with this person.  I remembered when I’d first met them…I didn’t necessarily like them.  Nor did I necessarily dislike them.  It was more that there was no real reason for us to get to know each…no real reason to be friends.

Over time, the situation changed and our paths began to cross more regularly.  Eventually, we found ourselves in the same circle and we forced to get to know each other.  To my surprise, I found that I liked the person.  I enjoyed their sense of humor, which I hadn’t really understood before.  I found them to be incredibly smart and a gifted leader.  I enjoyed being around them.

Now that I find myself out of the mix…having moved into different circles…I can see why we might not be Facebook friends anymore.  Once again, our situation has changed.  I don’t know the struggles they are dealing with anymore than they know my struggles (I mean, beyond what I share in the blog…if they even read it).

And because our situations have changed, so has our understanding of each other.  No longer are we interacting.  No longer sharing stories.  No longer understanding one another’s motivations.  Essentially, we are more like strangers now.

A part of me finds the thought that someone I used to know is now a stranger, sad.  Another part of me finds that thought exhilarating.  Knowing that if I bumped into them, we would recognize each other’s face but we’d basically be starting from scratch getting to know one another.

Maybe we’d like each other.  Maybe we wouldn’t.  That’s really neither here nor there.  The point is that neither of us are the exact same person we were a year ago…or however long ago a decision was made to stop being Facebook friends.  I don’t know the person’s motivation and it doesn’t matter.  When I objectively look at the situation, there’s no real reason for us to remain friends if we weren’t both finding value in doing so.

See, I believe that everyone comes into our lives for a reason.  To serve a purpose.  Either I’m learning from you…or you’re learning from me…or we’re learning from each other.  But there’s no accidents.  Each and every human I interact with I 100% believe there’s a reason for.  That interaction could be 30 seconds or 30 years.  It lasts as long as it needs to.  As long as it takes for something in one or both of us to shift….even if that shift is just a smile.

And that’s how I chose to look at this unfriending.  It doesn’t have to be something ugly.  Our time influencing each other has merely come to an end.  The purpose has been served.  Perhaps someday the situation will change again.

Until then, much love and kindness as you travel your path, old friend.

Namaste

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Day 360: What is your gift

IMG_6101This was the question that used to drive me crazy.  I’d be talking about trying to figure out what I should be doing with my life and someone would inevitable ask me what my gift was.  And then follow up the question with a directive that I needed to figure it out…because that would unlock the key to everything.

It was frustrating because it seemed like such a big question.  Like there should be one obvious answer…and from that answer, my life’s purpose would be unveiled.  But I could never land on one answer…most likely because I was asking the wrong question.

When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a teacher.  Well, actually, I dreamed of being a teacher and a supermodel, but even as a child I knew the latter was a long shot.  I would play with tucking my hair up…wearing a sweater…put on fake glasses.  I had a chalk board and used to make my little sister play “school” all the time.  I even went so far as to give her homework assignments.  I really wanted to be a teacher.

But then I got older and started hearing how teaching didn’t pay the bills.  How it was a lot of work for little money.  That it could be rewarding but often equally – or moreso – frustrating.  It was actually my teachers that attempted to dissuade me.  Telling me I should be a lawyer or something that would make lots of money.

So I lost touch with that original dream…because jaded adults tried to protect me by projecting their frustrations on my dream.  By the time I reached high school and was considering college, teaching never even entered the equation.  And I in fact applied to college for Pre-Law.  Man, am I glad that didn’t work out.

Occasionally throughout my career, a random thought of teaching would pop into my head.  It never stayed long because I knew how politically charged the environment had become.  I had too many friends that were disgruntled teachers or had already left the system out of frustration.

At one point I even signed up to go into schools and teach through Girls, Inc as a volunteer.  I had arranged it through work…and then that damn PA project happened that put me on the road for 17 weeks and I had to back out…before I even got started.

What I know now that I’ve had a chance to objectively look back, is that even though I wasn’t a teacher in the traditional sense, I spent most of my career teaching.  It was what I loved doing…helping people to learn…to grow.

And now that I’m retired and have the ability to do anything — or nothing — what am I doing?  I’m teaching.  I’m teaching yoga.  I’m teaching through coaching.  I’m teaching by being a business owner.  I’m teaching through writing.  I’m teaching by living my life on my own terms.  I.am.a.teacher.

If you’re wondering what you should be doing, I don’t think you need to ask yourself what your gift is.  Ask yourself what you wanted to be when you were little.  Remember the games you used to play.  Recall who you used to pretend you were.  That’s where you’ll find your answers…or at least some very good clues.

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