Peeping Tom #metoo

I was so scared I broke the bathroom window with my bare hands and screamed an almost un-human sound that caused my roommate to come running down the hall. With terror in her voice as she yelled “What’s wrong?!!” The guy continued to stand there, staring into the bathroom from the darkness outside. This is one of my many #metoo scenarios.

It was either late 2012 or early 2013 and one of my roommate’s and I had been talking and making dinner in the kitchen. We didn’t have curtains on the back windows of the apartment because although we were on the ground floor, we faced a creek and thick brush. No one ever walked back there. Doris and I were both cooking with oil and every now and then the heat caused the oil to pop in the pans as we sautéed vegetables for our meals. A louder popping sound caught my attention several times, and seemed to be coming from outside, but it was night and we couldn’t see out the windows. I dismissed it as just the oil and walked down the hallway to use the bathroom. There was a frosted glass window directly above the toilet and as I went about my business, I heard that same popping sound. I tried to place it. Pausing, listening, and then realizing, it was rocks. Someone was throwing rocks at the window. There were perhaps 6 – 8 rocks thrown and some were so forceful I thought the window would break, even saying so out loud. I stood up, pulled up my leggings, and turning to flush the toilet, I found a face pressed against the glass. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! I screamed with terror. With a force I didn’t know I had, I shoved both hands at the face behind the frosted glass, so much so that I broke and splintered the window. But, the face remained, peering even deeper into our apartment as I backed away, opening the bathroom door to find Doris. I breathlessly gasped out the situation and we backed up so the man couldn’t hear or see us. Through whispers we decided I would call 911 and Doris would call our neighbors and our apartment manager. No one answered her calls, her multiple calls, and I remained with the 911 dispatcher for over 20 minutes as Doris and I huddled in my room, waiting for the police to arrive. I had the blinds drawn in my room, but later we found out that the little holes through which the string sits, are just enough space for someone, close enough, to see inside. Doris and I heard the footsteps of someone on the rocks, outside my window, and as she kept calling people to come help, and I whispered what was happening to the dispatcher, the sound of feet leaving never happened.

20 some minutes later we heard a knock on the front door. Nervous we looked at each other and both went to the door to look through the peep-hole. Still on the phone with the dispatcher we saw it was the police. Opening the door, we told the officer where we believed the man to be and as the officer turned to head in that direction, we locked the door and returned to the doorway of my room. We saw the flashlights of the police and heard the words “Hey, what are you doing?” to which we heard a very straightforward reply: “Peeking.” A skirmish happened and the police took the man away.

Doris and I were asked if we wanted to see and identify him, because perhaps it was someone we knew? After some consideration, we went with the police to the car to face the guy. He was young, maybe 19, and was obviously high or tripping out on something, but not someone either of us knew. It was a sad situation, on so many levels.

In time, maintenance nailed a board over the broken bathroom window and we placed thick curtains and sheets over each and every window of the apartment. After a day or two, once we felt comfortable enough to venture behind the apartment, we found a used condom among the rocks, outside my window.

I couldn’t make this stuff up, nor would I want to.

We never found out what happened to this man. We did both receive letters in the mail that we might have to appear in court to identify him, and I was offered therapy sessions as something to consider for my personal healing from the trauma. I actually cannot remember all of the details that occurred after that night, involving his trial and the several letters we received about the hearing, our rights, lawyers documents, etc. I actually think I wanted to just forget it ever happened. What I do clearly remember though, is that for years afterwards, anytime I sat on a toilet with a window above, I would panic. Even just before I wrote this, as I opened my apartment door into the darkness of the garage, I feared for what would be there. Right now, my heart is beating a little faster and I’m sweating slightly, recalling this memory, but this is partly why I write this. I want to release the emotion. I want to let my voice and experience be heard. I want to release the energy of this and so many other violations. I want to let go of the trauma of men violating me, on an even greater level. I want to be free of the fear of men harming me, taking what doesn’t belong to them. And, I want to continue the #metoo conversation.

What I want from you: to hear me. I just want to be valued enough to be heard. I am not asking for your response or pity. Feel no pressure to have to “fix the situation.” Please, just sit with me. Sit with me long enough to feel with me…… Then, maybe, together, we can both release the damage, release the poison, that has been done to so many…..

What to wear for winter SUP and SUP Yoga

On Water Yoga February 7, 2016: OnWaterYoga.com

Here in Redding, California, I hold SUP and SUP Yoga classes year-round. The weather is pretty great, with us living in the second sunniest city in the country (according to US News), and on the days that it is cloudy or raining, I’ve got some adventurers who still want to come out, so we do! The question is then, what does one wear in the colder, wetter, fall, winter, and even spring months? Here are my suggestions:

  1. NO COTTON: if you are a hiker, backpacker, camper, or general outdoors man or woman, you probably already know this. The standard line is “cotton kills.” When cotton gets wet, it stays wet and takes a long, long time to dry. This is very unpleasant on a colder day and one where we are so close to the water. Nearly any other fabric is better: silk, wool, acrylic, linen, polyester, etc.
  2. LAYERS: wear any stretchy, non-constricting, athletic clothing, in layers. When paddling and doing yoga on a paddleboard, you will get warm, and you can always remove your hat or gloves or outer jacket and set it on top of your SUP, under the bungees, or with your lifejacket, then reapply when you need it again/cool down. Do keep in mind that when buying outer layers, you will want them large enough to accommodate all the layers you have underneath, so you may want to size up and down depending on how close to your body the layers are. Some things I suggest to bring and have with you:
    • gloves/mittens
    • beanie, ball cap, ear warmers/headband, or hat of some kind
    • surf booties, wool socks, waterproof socks, or a non-cotton slipper of some kind
    • fleece lined yoga or running pants
    • long johns to layer underneath a pair of yoga pants, or double up on your yoga pants and wear two at a time
    • rain pants (nice to have and slip off and on as needed)
    • light rain jacket (buy this in a slightly larger size so you can wear layers underneath, and for freer movement)
    • long-sleeve and/or short-sleeve shirt, or tank top
    • bikini top and bottoms (yup, with that sun, sometimes ALL the layers come off and it’s nice to soak it in!)
    • you could always get separate wetsuit pieces: top and bottoms, and wear them as needed; here in Redding, we haven’t needed it in the 5-years I’ve been teaching, but in San Francisco, they use these. All. The. Time.
    • outer layer jacket or light down jacket (one that allows movement)
    • fleece or middle layer jacket
    • vest (perhaps the best option for yoga: with the thermals and fleece underneath, the vest allows unrestricted movement for yoga and paddling!)
  3. BRING A DRY CHANGE OF CLOTHES: in 5-years, I have only had 1 student slip into the water in the winter (up to the waist), so I can’t promise it won’t happen, and even if it doesn’t, sometimes water splashes onto your SUP and you get your knees wet or you step into the water, accidentally, as you are loading your SUP and your ankles get wet. So, it’s nice to have that dry pair of clothes waiting for you in the car as you load up. OR bring a dry bag with you on your SUP and put in a few extra layers and have a dry space to put them when you take them off as you warm up.

You can get a good idea of what I and other’s have worn during SUP and SUP Yoga, in all seasons, with this video here.

Winter SUP Yoga is not only possible, it’s FUN! It’s an invigorating experience that charges you with energy and refreshment. The long winter months can get rough, but you don’t have to suffer indoors. And, perhaps my favorite thing about the cooler months on the SUPs, no one else is on the water (well, actually, yesterday during my cloudy, 50-degree On Water Yoga class, there were two fishing boats on the lake, and a ski boat with a slalom skier! He was wearing a wetsuit and we laughed as we did Acro yoga on the SUPs and said: “What we are doing is tame in comparison! That water has to be in the mid-50’s!”)

Come on out and enjoy the great outdoors with SUP and SUP Yoga, year-round. Adventure awaits those brave enough to experience it. (Stable SUPs do make a substantial difference. If you are unsure about your board or wonder which one to purchase or rent, read my blog about the different SUP styles here.)

SUPing March 27, 2016: OnWaterYoga.com

Scars and Imperfections: vulnerability and courage

ovarian cancer scars

For a long time I have been embarrassed by all the scars I have on my belly. I have actually felt shame that I didn’t have the super flat and amazing abs that I had all my life, pre-cancer and that we see in so many pictures. Last night, as I was watching a video of myself doing yoga on my paddleboard, I saw my scars and imperfections for what they truly are: beautiful, and a deeper healing is setting in.

I wouldn’t be alive today if these scars weren’t there.

These scars are an ever constant reminder of the hell I went through as a stage 3 ovarian cancer survivor, getting a 5 pound tumor removed, then 50 tumors removed, then a hysterectomy, then a hole in my colon, getting an infection, then being attached to a vacuum for 6 weeks, then a 12 hour surgery to remove more tumors and organs, then an ileostomy bag, then, and finally, freedom. These scars show the story of hardship and trials, pain, and tears of not only me, but my family and friends. I have wanted to get as far away from those memories as I could, for a long time. I have slowly faced them as I have been able. This is my next step in the journey: showing them, being vulnerable and open, facing fears, and inviting in even more healing.

I have prayed for them to dissipate. I have tried all sorts of creams and wraps and detoxes and exercise and yet, they are still there. The mountains and valleys, the craters, and holes, the lumps of fat displaced from all the surgeries, the crevices of stiff scar tissue that try to hold me back.

Today though, I am making the choice to see that these scars also tell an incredible story of hope, of courage, of the power of prayers and support of family and friends, of medical staff who were creative and revolutionary; all these people who believed. These scars do tell of the ugliness of cancer, the evilness of disease, the destruction of surgery, and yet, there is a beauty in them: the power of human ingenuity, God’s miracles through our work, that our thoughts of limitations are only in our minds, that truly anything is possible, and that there is beauty in imperfection. These scars show the story of where I have been, who I am today, and in my story, I wouldn’t be where I am, doing what I do, without them. So, I embrace them.

I know that I will continue to walk out this journey called life, every day. Today marks a new one though, and I’m setting up a marker.

Hope exists. Nothing is impossible. Keep moving forward. Fail a lot. Have the courage to stand back up again, and maybe, just maybe, we can change the world through our courage.

Thanks for reading and loving.

Namaste.

Cancer doesn’t define me

IMG_4867

This week I was featured in Redding’s local newspaper, the Record Searchlight. I’m 12 years post the ovarian cancer surgeries, chemo, and death sentence and sharing my story on a broader scale has allowed me to talk and connect with others who are either going through cancer or are post experience as well. It has been a real revelatory and profound week.

My hope has always been to use what the devil meant for evil, for Good and I’ve had the privilege to see it happen over and over again. It makes me so glad to see that the sh*t I went through isn’t for not. That the darkest places I experienced can be turned around to shine light and hope. This fuels and inspires me to keep pressing on! And yet, I am so much more than a cancer survivor. I am so much more than someone who is strong. I am so much more than a yoga instructor. I am so much more than a woman. I am so much more than someone who works hard. I am so much more than someone who inspires. I am so much more, and so are you.

There is actually a small-ness and belittling effect when we singley identify ourselves with xyz, whether it’s being a Christian, a yogi, a cancer fighter, a woman, a college grad, etc. Our identity’s are not determined by what we do, by what we say, by who we present to the world. We are so much more. I am so much greater. You are way more important. Let us rise to the calling that is from heaven. Let us explore the depths of this being (self) that we have been created to be. Let’s try and work and explore and adventure into the innermost parts of God and ourselves to turn this world upside down and let Peace and Hope and Love and Beauty prevail! It’s going to be messy and hard and fun and challenging, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Who’s with me?

You can see a video of me sharing about the benefits of yoga as a healing process here, from this interview.

Namaste. Shine on!

xoxo

La Salud Body Wrap

A few days ago a friend asked me, innocently enough, “What are you going to do about it?” referencing the sporadic recurring pain in my leg from an old skiing accident. I’ve thought about this question a lot over the past few days and wanted to share what I have been doing because, really, most people probably don’t know how one recovers from 3/4 of a broken lower leg and an ovarian cancer death sentence. I mention the cancer because they are inextricably linked to the pain and debilitation I am experiencing now and am recovering from.

We humans are interconnected in so many ways, not just spirit, soul, and body, but also with each other, God, and even further than that: the cells, muscles, ligaments, and tissues of our body’s are connected from one hip to the opposite hand, one foot to the same knee, the chest to the back, etc. Because of this beautiful dance that we have with each other, ourselves, and our Creator, there isn’t a single fix or cure-all for most people. Even the miracle stories we hear, whether they are healing, financial, or otherwise, have a backstory. For example, when the Holy Spirit fell in “tongues of fire” in Acts 2, the “and suddenly” of that miracle was preceded by “all joining together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14). Those “and suddenly” moments (Acts 2:2) happen, and they are miraculous, for sure, but there is more to the story and it usually involves patience. Patience is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and one that is hard to live through, especially in our modern world of instant everything. As I grow in fruitfulness, i.e. patience, take what I’ve learned back to your own life and be fruitful and healed.

What I am in doing to recover from cancer and a painful old skiing accident:

1. Chiropractic: I have been seeing a Network Spinal Analysis chiropractor since October and for 6 months, saw him 3 times a week. You can check out my guy and why he’s amazing, here.

2. Massage: I’ve been getting it once a week to loosen the hold that the scar tissue has from surgeries (I’ve had 12), falls, accidents, and bruises. I’ve come to think of these two health care practitioners working together like this: my chiropractor is shifting my body structurally and neurologically and my massage therapist is kneading out the bumps in the road, so-to-speak, so that the whole system works better together.

3. Foam Roller: recommended by both my massage therapist and chiropractor, this helps to continue to release the scar tissue and myofascial tissue that has been bound up from all the surgeries and injuries. I use the blue Go Fit Foam Roller and have been really happy with it. I like that it comes with a little instruction book to show how to use it.

4. Body wrap: as my body continues to shift and realign itself, toxins that have been trapped and stored in my cells from the 13 weeks of 8 hours a day chemo, CT-scan contrast, narcotic drug pain relievers, pesticides, herbicides, pollution in the air, and even toxic emotions and bad choices, need to be removed. Some of the benefits of this wrap are: detoxification, growth and regeneration of new skin cells, it’s so natural it’s edible, reduces stretch marks, scars, and cellulite, empties and destroys fat cells. This above picture is me wrapped from the chest down with the wrap.

5. Essential oils: my massage therapist gave me a therapeutic blend of oils to reduce inflammation and it is seeming to help with some of the pain. I’ve been able to get to sleep at night without taking a pain reliever, which is good.

6. Yoga: it boosts immunity, allows for better sleep, and promotes overall better health. You can read more about it here and join me for classes here.

7. R.I.C.E: R = rest, I = ice, C = compression, E = elevation (above the heart). A long standing first aid application for injuries.

8. Nutrition: I eat organic, local, and take supplements to help my body perform at it’s peak. I take a daily multi called Thrive and have added the Monatau Extreme recently to help rid my body of the stored toxins from all the new adjusting I’m receiving from my chiro and massage therapist.

9. Dry brush: Before I shower, I dry brush my skin. Some of the benefits are: increases circulation and lymphatic drainage, tightens the skin, stimulates the lymph system to drain toxins, helps muscle tone, and rejuvenates the nervous system. I use a natural boar bristle dry-brush. You can get one similar to what I use here.

10. Castor Oil Pack: I’ve been applying this directly to my old break site in my leg and I’ve used it on the ileostomy and surgical incision scars on my belly. Benefits include: relives pain, decreases inflammation, detoxifies, it’s also been said to help with infertility. I use cold pressed and cold processed castor oil so the nutrients are preserved and wool flannel to apply it. Plastic wrap will help secure it in place. Learn more about how to apply it and the benefits here.

11. Prayer: Everything is possible to those who believe (Mark 9:23). Jesus told us to pray for God’s “will (to be) done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10) and because there is no sickness or disease or pain in heaven, I am praying and asking for prayer for this to manifest in my life, and in yours. One of God’s many names is Jehovah Rapha, which means healer (Exodus 15:26).

12. Advil: when all else fails. I am not a fan of drugs, but when the pain is too incomprehensible and all my other efforts haven’t worked, I need a relief. This is a good point for many reasons: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater; God gave us pain relievers; don’t abuse, stop using them and try other things first; this is not meant to be a way of life: your body is in pain for a reason and it’s a signal that something needs to change; being in too much pain is exhausting and not good either, the body needs a reprieve in order to mend and heal.

I don’t do all these things at once or even in the same week. Too much detoxification can be dangerous as well and your body can experience a detoxification crisis. Talk to your health care practitioner and get help with your specific situation. We are all different and it helps to be in community and on a team to be the best you possible. La Salud offers a Health Coach and is a great place to start.

As with all things, go slow, take your time, and enjoy the journey. I’ll be smelling the roses, come join me!

Namaste and God bless.

Wrapping up my Bali experience

It’s over! What a trip it’s been. I am exhausted right now, understandably because Bali is 15 hours ahead of Redding, so I’m used to being asleep when I’m awake. It kind of hurts, to tell the truth, how discombobulated I feel. I was hoping to not sleep during the day so that I could reset myself, but I took a 2 hour nap yesterday and probably will do something similar today. I’ve slept for about 4 hours each night since returning. 😦

I went a little long on the video but with it being the last one, I wanted to share more of my experience and thank you for coming with me! I am still processing what happened during the 25 days in Bali. I think I will be forever processing, actually, and I will write more here about my revelations here in the future. I haven’t yet settled back in Redding life. I think that is partially why I haven’t been sleeping straight through the night either. I’m glad I took 4 days after the trip to explore Bali, relax, and reintegrate into more of a “normal” life. Four plus hours of yoga a day, on a tropical island, with no concerns other than classwork and which buffet food item to eat isn’t my normal and I’ve been doing that for 3 straight weeks from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm nearly every day. It was glorious. Now, I get to reintegrate into my normal life, and, as a new person. I am thankful for grace. Thankful that my friends, my family, my students, and my God give it to me, and that I am really learning to give it to myself. I am perfect. That is probably the biggest thing I learned while at the yoga training: that no matter how much growth I get to do, no matter how many silly mistakes I make, no matter if I offend people, no matter how happy or sad I make myself or others, I am perfect. This will be something I meditate on for years to come. I hope that you know how perfect you are as well. Just. As. You. Are. You and I couldn’t be any more perfect! Right here, right now, God doesn’t make junk. How wonderful. How mysterious. How magnificent. You and I are whole. Oh the complexity of it!!! And the simplicity.

I think I’m going to take that nap now. Bless you. Thank you. See you soon.

xoxo

Bali Yoga training: Day 17: peak

This is the final week of my yoga teacher training! I can hardly believe it, yet it does feel like it’s been a long time. I’m very, very happy to be here, in hot, humid, sweltering Bali while there is SNOW in Redding! God is so perfect. I am not opposed to snow, at all, but it does present a challenge to leading/teaching a stand up paddleboard yoga class with On Water Yoga when the lake is frozen. I actually hope that it begins to warm up for when I return! I would love to be able to take my new skills to the water, but one step at a time, which leads me to this video.

I am scheduled to teach an active Vinyasa Yoga class this Thursday morning with my group of 7 (8 total including me). We will be the last group to teach and so far we’ve seen 2 groups go already. It’s been really nice to slowly take our time, practicing, gaining insight via what other groups have done, continue to learn adjusting techniques, sequencing, alignment, etc. I am really happy with my group, our choice of poses, intention, meditation and opening, and the peak pose I picked and am leading. Each of in the group teaches 15 minutes of the 2 hour class.

A Vinyasa Yoga class is designed around a “peak” pose so that the warm up and middle of the class is designed to prepare one’s body to be ready for the most difficult, or the peak pose. I picked one we haven’t done yet here in Bali and one I have introduced to my land yoga classes in Redding, but would like more guidance and skill at teaching, particularly the modifications. When I asked my yoga instructor Gabrielle about the pose and it’s name she said, “Wow, you’re not messing around! Going straight into it!” Well, yes! Yes I am! It’s been a good challenge for me and the group to think how to structure for something we haven’t done in class and which no one in my group has ever done before, yet, it’s been easy at the same time. I am really happy with the way my group is working together, being supportive, open, and up for the challenge. There was really no questions asked, just an ok, let’s do it attitude!

There has been an overall sense of things starting to wind down and come to an end, along side the energy around us teaching classes. Today Chris, one of the co-founders of the Awakened Life School of Yoga, talked about meditation after our training is over and suggestions for how to integrate it in to our everyday lives. I have to admit that when we first started I wasn’t that interested in the meditation component as was presented in our pre-work assignments, but I can really see and feel how meditation can be used to tame the wildness of the mind and let our spirit be our guides. Before this yoga training, I had only done contemplative prayer meditation (choosing a verse, some words, or other such inspirational teaching and turning the mind repeatedly back towards it for a set amount of time) but now I’ve done several different types of meditation here, maybe 5 or 6 different ones. I’ll probably write more about this in another entry. It’s late now and I’m starting to fade, but to touch on it briefly, I am beginning to think about how I can incorporate more meditation into my life back in Redding.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for supporting me. Thanks for praying for me! I pray that you are encouraged, enlightened, and that you experience more freedom and happiness in your life from reading this.

Until next time, namaste!

Day 4 Video: Bali Yoga Teacher Training

Yes, we are doing meditation. Yes, are doing 2.5 hours of Vinyasa yoga (my intention today was joy and I had 2 significant moments while in the practice of hard to describe joy/love/ecstasy of just that!!! YEAH!). Yes, we are learning the history of yoga. Yes, we went through the sun salutes and started to break them down one pose at a time with proper form, adjustments, breath, etc. And, we also are tying it all into awareness and being present in the right here, right now. I also want to add that I came face to face with feelings of “freak out.” I’m not sure how to describe it, but one of the other students mentioned feelings of loneliness and I think it’s partly that. Do you ever feel that? For me it felt like an uncertainty, a deep longing for more than what we see/feel/smell/sense/etc. I have learned techniques through the 3 years I studied at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry to check in with God, ask Him where He is, where is Holy Spirit, where is Jesus. I did that today when I felt that “freak out” and immediately felt a great sense of calm, peace, love, acceptance, and support come to me. I became aware of the angelic world that that the Lord had placed 4 protective angels inside the room at each of the 4 corners and I relaxed. I feel so strongly that there are great tools, great experiences, great teachings, great people, great stuff in this life but there is this element of tangible love, tangible other world/heaven reality that is outside ourselves that we have to receive. I am so thankful for the Lord. I have tried so often to trust to feel safe to rest and be present on my own and it has only been through the knowledge that God is here, that He is the creator, that the Divine is bigger than me and outside of me (but yes I know, also in me), that I have come to really trust, feel safe, rest, and be present. All the other stuff are just tools. I am thankful for them both.
Namaste!

Bali Trip Day 2 Video

I’m here! It’s going to be a different place tomorrow, when I can see it, but what I can make out, this place is amazing! The people I have met already are so great. Everyone is excited to be here. This will definitely be unlike anything I have ever done before and that is exactly why I came.
I’m off to sleep now so I can start tomorrow well.
See you soon!

Travel, adventures, Bali, and yoga: Day 1

It’s happening! After all this time, preparation, anticipation, studying, packing, saving, and praying, I’m headed to Bali, Indonesia for a month long yoga training! The hardest part so far has been this blog, actually. It’s the new experience for me; one I’m happy to accept and experiment with though and at this moment, it’s helping me stay awake. I hope my $50 Mac “World Travel Adapter Kit” works or this may be the last of these videos….

Enjoy!