Anorexia, Archetypes, Asana, Bible, Bulimia, character study, Christianity, Church, Death, depression, Dharma, Dichotomies, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Facebook, Faith, Family, Fear, Health Issues, Jail, Laramie, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, mountains, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, object, poverty, PTSD, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Suicide, Universiality

song of survival

Exploring spirituality is such an intimate act and I find myself frustrated lately as I reflect on my childhood spent in Christianity.  I feel defensive because folks see it as a complete left turn when I wish I had lived with faith long enough that they thought the behaviors of the last ten years were a left turn.  But I get both sides.

Jen, you are a nerd.  Jen, you are a hustler. What are you doing exploring religion?  That’s not a thing in your life, is it?  Perhaps I have worn my cards too close to my heart and don’t want to risk being judged.  If I talk of God I become one of those crazy people at those awful meetings.  This is a safety mechanism and I act tough to be tough to survive.  Folks don’t cry in cowboy country.  Nothing is wrong.  Avoidance coping has its benefits. 

It’s hard to try to be nice all the time, to try to live by morals and codes that might not resonate with the larger universe.  Do we always speak the truth even with the knowledge the truth will seriously hurt someone?  I choose to do no harm.  I enjoy being the interpreter of moral code but see the danger in this as my compass lost its true north in the past, sometimes in the present.  We all disconnect sometimes. 

I have stories upon stories of the stuff I’ve done in the past, things that surprise even me and some of these things I speak of with a flat affect, no emotion, too much to engage.  But that’s it.  They are just stories.  Stories that have been told for ages.  Parables of life.  Sermons of the heart.  Songs of sorrow.  We all share the same underlying passions and fears. 

Each human heart a music box of life that plays a special tune.  Listen to the notes, hear them altogether and don’t get stuck on the b flat and don’t think your c sharp is somehow wrong. Sing your song, sing your life, live in a way that you stop worrying about what other folks think.  This is your song. Maybe only God can judge you, and maybe there is nothing to judge.

 

Do you know who I am?

I say “namaste” because I like what it means, not because I am Hindu.

A lot of people here think I am Christian because they think I talk about Christian values, but the truth is I am really talking about human values. 

I’ve been asked if I am a Buddhist, just because I have discovered inner peace. 

A lot of my friends are Pagans, and they think I am one, too, because I say that being in Nature is my idea of going to church.

Do you want to know what I really am?

I am awake.

Anorexia, Body Image, Bulimia, character study, depression, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Fear, Health Issues, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, Non-Fiction, poverty, PTSD, Running, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Universiality

an open letter to my body

Dear Body,

I am very sorry for the way I have treated you lately and in the past.  I want so much to have a good relationship with you but I become jealous.  I become insecure.  To come to intimacy with you I must practice unconditional love.  I’m not there yet.  I stare in the big mirror in yoga class and words HATE HATE HATE HATE just keep popping up over and over as I notice thighs like trunks of trees and flat saggy bottom pulled down by gravity.

I ask you how many squats I must do, bottom, to make you like a shelf and you say that is not how it works, you say you are like my ski slope nose and are just a part of me.  And you ask me, why must I change when this is who I am?  I turn away and avoid looking at you in the mirror but sometimes see you flopping around in my shadow as I run and I despise you for hurting my ego.

I know the shape of my skeleton is only slightly different from the shapes of bones around me but when I got a DEXA body scan and saw pillows of fat around my hips I cried.  I cried myself to sleep 30% body fat even as I restrict my diet and workout four hours a day.  Please leave my bones, fat, please go away and help me to sleep better at night with your weight lifted from my hips.

And you, small breasts, what of you?  I thought you would grow and yet you remain the same small shape, barely a handful, appearing like small bumps in comparison to my thighs. I have no trust for the man who says he likes my huge bottom and small breasts.  I cannot believe that. You are a sociopath anyway and this just compounds the problem as the external world validates what I already think—no one could possibly love this body and he is lying.

Then others speak of body acceptance and these are the same folks who have bodies of fairies or who are so obese that to continue to accept means horrible medical consequences.  It’s very hard for me to hear them say breathe, love, change your thinking, eat for nourishment.  I do these things and yet the feel of any bra or pair of pants sinking into pockets of fat is enough to drive me to punch the walls of my home. I see these holes knowing where they came from.  Self-hate. I fix the holes until the next time I become so irritable with weight gain i scream and cry and punch. Do you hear me yet, body?

I meet men who say they love me but manipulate me telling me how very unattractive my insecurities are and I sink deeper and deeper and tears become more and more frequent as I tell him I am human, we are all insecure about a few things.  He walks away saying I text too much and he has worked on himself too long that my unhappiness with my body would make him feel uncomfortable.  I know the faulty thinking in this, body.  This has gone beyond knowing and my soul is bruised.  I let my spirit become deadened by the weight of you, body.

You, body, have always been my enemy when you grew out of control when I was just a 12 year old girl.  Growing, growing, out and up over six feet tall.  And no one was like you, body, no one was as tall as you or wore the same size jeans.  The dysmorphic tendencies grew worse and worse and when I see another tall female we are strange cats.  And I feel she is always skinnier than me.

I know the faulty logic.  Skinnier is not better.  Overtraining is rough.  Counseling is to manage the myriad of problems I create for myself outside of body image (there are many) and I keep close to my heart the things I do to you in private outside of just screaming at you.  I write this public letter to you not for pity, not to be told I have a problem (this I know) but so we can begin to mend, forgive each other and grow healthy again.

I know I can love you again.  I know we can grow or shrink and that these small steps are what matter.  I took off my shirt in yoga the other day wearing a sports bra to cover my tiny breasts and pulled up my spandex over my large hips and I closed my eyes.  You, body, are the shell.  I’m fortunate to have you in the transient lifetime so let us make peace.  Let us love each other again.

Jen

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
― Mary Oliver

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a prayer

Dear sky-father, mother-earth, source, divine, that which brings us together;

Complete gratitude.  Thanks over and over for this very moment and for my connection with You.  With Me.  With Our Infinite Power.

As I type this, as I think this, as I read this—my energy, my essence, my soul, my spirit—which really we all share—attains a higher vibration, a deeper blessing that fills my cup, fills my soul, my body, my mind, my emotions.

I am You, and You are Me and I am filled with love, energy, and it is Divine.

I feel the source, the spirit, growing within me, pure, strong, unstoppable.

Limitless, love builds and builds as I train for the race of life and get stronger and stronger in heart, radiating outward, knowing that time is an illusion, this race isn’t to be won.

All fatigue, all illness, washed away a divine storm, cleansed by lighting, framed by clouds, increased vibration giving my intention the vastness of the sky.

We lift ourselves up, we are gathered together, collective, conscious, unconscious.

United with You, WE are an unstoppable force of joy!

Quantum leap into love, healing, abundance, wisdom, peace followed by miracles, surprise, belief, acceptance.

We are held in Our arms, in Your arms, as we tolerate the anxiety for growth and we feel, we feel, as we grow and transition and see the forest for the trees, the world for what it really is.

We are blissful.  We are soothed. We are comforted.  We makes choices aligned with Love.

I am drawn to the mountains, I am drawn to the sea, and I am to that which strengthens my Divine Connection with You, my life is energized with new, exciting purpose.

I wake each day in joy and authentic dedication. I radiate joy through my smile, my life, through my being.

I vibrate at the level of love and Divine Power.

My mind is clear.

I love my life, and I have abundant energy to live it.

And so it is.
Amen.

Anorexia, Archetypes, Asana, Body Image, Bulimia, depression, Dharma, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Fear, Health Issues, Laramie, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, Non-Fiction, PTSD, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Sex, Trailrunning, Universiality, Yoga

on your (my) worth

This post might resonate more with women but we are all sharing this experience, as humans, and it might ring true in any situation. Often, I hear women demean themselves in many ways, subconsciously or not. Our society is built in such a manner than anything that isn’t pleasant, immediate, and effective we dismiss. I can be any one of these traits on a good day, but most days it’s enough to wear a bra that makes its presence known, gripping and scraping the skin around my armpits because I’ve gained weight. It’s not pleasant.

I don’t think I’m fat. But I wonder. Sometimes, the universe aligns in shitty ways and the day I tell myself I’m fat is the day I’m told I’m fat. It is this perfect shitstorm of synergy and BAM I’m neither effective nor immediate. Pleasant is not in my worldview. The story starts to spin. Not in an empowering way that says “oh I wonder if I could nourish myself in different ways besides numbing myself with food” but it’s “you stupid fat fuck if you had any self-control or if anyone liked you, you might be skinny.”

This becomes my belief system and soon my vibe attracts my tribe. I begin sleeping with men who I know are no good for me. I begin to distrust everyone because I’ve let so many in and I’ve become so out of touch with my system, I don’t know what feeds me or what depletes me. I still want to assume good of people so instead of listening to the strong, beautiful, woman who says “this is not good for you” I seek to be liked no matter the cost. Here, have this body I trash anyway.

I let others deplete my energy, my life source. I create that. I’ve found that if I give myself space to forgive myself–to let myself know that I seek love just like any living being and that I will mess up–I can begin to see my worth. Okay, so I sought love. Big deal. I’m safe. We’ve all done it, and wow did I create an elaborate situation to feel loved! Isn’t that neat? I create a different narrative because I know this much to be true—I am worthwhile.

How will I respond to life now? Am I going to treat myself like the divine, wondrous, person I am so I become that person? Or am I going to create another story of lost love and addiction where the ending is always tragic? In any moment I have the choice to make my life show others what my heart has shown me—I am divine, you are divine, and we are all worth so much love.

“Cells are energy efficient because they use their energy to the fullest extent to survive. We waste our energy all the time. When we waste energy, we are throwing away life; because energy is life. That’s why, when it comes down to it…the real question is, “How do I respond to life?” Looking at how cells maneuver and live in their world supplies a template for us, teaching us how to move and live in our world. If we understand how cells do it, and then treat ourselves in the same manner, our cells are going to prosper. And if our cells prosper, then by definition we are having a rich and full life.”

Bruce H. Lipton

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the uncut hair of graves

I keep the phone squished between my shoulder and ear driving to Corona Village to pick up fajitas I had ordered before my dear friend called.  She is dead now.  She hung herself.  I wish I could say I don’t picture her body there hanging, owl tattoo on her right shoulder.  Hair blonde, maybe more brown, jutty cut she had surely given herself to frame her beautiful thinned out almond crystal eyes.  We talk about so many things on the phone.  She hears my voice for who I really am. She sees me for me.

We talk about how she will move to South Carolina soon and I watch the brightly colored tiles that decorate the walls of the restaurant nd wish she were back in Wyoming.  Phone sill squished, I drive home to eat my meal.  To talk to my friend.  To heal my soul.  I dip a chip into guacamole and taste the tiny individual pieces of salt visible on the triangles and she tells me when she admired me for talking about performing oral sex in our English capstone class.  Tells me I used the phrase “sucking dick” and that had liberated her.  I remember that self that wouldn’t wear a belt or a bra and talk frankly of sex in class because I wanted so bad to accept my body and to accept sex and to be a part of something that carries so much power.

My mind flashes back to a care package she had left at my house and I watch as a drop of runny salsa hits the floor and puddles out while I remember what was in the box.  Corsets, bras, whips, and other kinky shit she felt safe enough to give me.  I look at the spot of salsa and smile about how she thought I was something more than I think I am.  In her eyes, to her short choppy hair, I was a sex vixen.  I crouch down and wipe up the blood like salsa with a napkin and shove it back in the takeout bag.

Pushing carrots, celery, and mushrooms around in the foam container soaked in grease and dark red sauce made of chilies and cumin she tells me about how she had to cancel her Facebook account for slugging too much wine in the evenings and writing provocative shit.  That wasn’t her or mine assessments but her graduate program that had broken her down like I had been broken down in my own program.  I drop a tiny spoonful of sour cream onto beans and put them into my mouth while tears start to fall down.  She gets me.  She sees my spark and I see hers and we want to drink wine and perform oral sex on whomever or wherever we feel like.

I’ve wrapped my tortillas in foil and slopped the food from foam into plastic containers.  Organize. Compartmentalize. Anything to give myself the illusion of control.  We get ready to end the phone call and I tell her to keep pushing forward, to give her writing to the world, and I tell her I’ve saved all of her writing.  Even her e-mails.  Nothing can happen more beautiful than death for the awareness of life it gives to all who suffer its consequences.

Hey jenn,
Im getting that piece to you sunday night hell or high water.  I found this article about throwing around words to look learned n after our talky talky bout the mfa boys club n tim like people i thought u might like it too:
http://rhetoric.byu.edu/figures/groupings/Vices.htm
Im usin my phone so pardon all the grammar bad ju ju
Jodi

J. P. Corley

Anorexia, Asana, Body Image, character study, depression, Dharma, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Fear, Health Issues, Mental Health, Mindfulness, poverty, privilage, PTSD, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Universiality, Wyoming, Yoga

yoga and the wounded healer

Coming back to the subject I’ve thought about over and over. My falling outs, meltdowns, burning of bridges, loss of friends, passing the point of no return, crossing the Rubicon, nailing my colors to the mast. I’ve dealt with some shit. I’ve caused some shit. Acute conflict felt from the edges of my heart into the corners of my soul.  I caught myself in a moment with another when I began to talk about this stuff. Eyes glazed over and the gaze becomes distant like trying to talk to my father right after work, staring at the coal dust in his eyes know he might not hear me through his own clouds and questions.

I’ve sometimes heard that being a leader comes with people you love hating you a little more each day. No matter what decision is made, there will be an angry soul who is convinced the devil is running the show. Then I wonder if it’s not just my silly little ego to call myself a leader to protect me from the thought that people really don’t like me. That I’ve been banned from spaces, from hearts.  Big, universal, hurt.

I also know it takes two to tango. Yoga attracts wounded people. Every person I talk to in yoga has come to the practice because of abuse, a crappy family life as a child, their own or others’ mental illness, social isolation, family life as an adult, bereavement, life-threatening physical illness and a whole wide gambit of crap. These wounded healers, these who take issue with me, have their own wounding experiences and two wounds don’t make a healer.

I wonder, too, at the lack of integration in yoga and search for the old souls, the professionals, the ones who have spent years letting it all sink in. Then I get caught up in teach more, achieve more, get more students, buy more leggings. What if we all took a class, sat on it for a few days. See what happens. Or what if we fight, let it runs its course, and tolerate the anxiety of growing together. What if we stop being ashamed at the way we treat each other, acknowledge our wounds and evolve toward greater cohesion and solidarity.

Instead of wondering when my soul became less human or less beautiful, I can wonder how another’s wound has affected vision and perception. And through the vulnerability of suffering and universiality maybe we can self-reflect, look outward, and meltdown in a way that leave puddles of our own gorgeous human essence.

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam’s curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

T.S. Eliot “East Coker,” from *The Four Quartets*

Anorexia, Asana, Body Image, Bulimia, depression, Dharma, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Fear, Health Issues, Mental Health, Mindfulness, privilage, PTSD, Self Growth, Self Love, Universiality, Wyoming, Yoga

there is good, there is evil

I’ve been going through some stuff lately.   I feel junior high spring dance insecure—hunched in the shoulders, standing in the corner of the gym in my socks with my pants too short and my pointy bra creating uncomfortable tic tacs in my silk shirt.  I look at others hoping they will notice me for me, and stick around for the anxiety of growing with me. But, as in junior high, I don’t know who I am.

I’ve had the same situation occur twice now—I have walked away or was asked to walk away from yoga studios for reasons that won’t matter in time and that I can’t understand because the discourse, the vulnerability, the connection is gone. There is no space for reconciling, and it’s not for me to convince anyone of my worth. If I’m not seen with compassion, I am not seen. But, I can’t separate that it’s somehow me being asked to step away from yoga.

Of course I have mommy and daddy issues. We all do. Families are hard. But there is space in the family to mess up, to do crummy things, to make a mistake in earnest because the love is there. The non-judgment is par for the course. The daddy issues run deep. I miss my deceased father more than words could ever express because he really accepted me. Anger, idiot moves, and all. I miss my mother too for who she was and for her letting me grow.

It comes down to the only thing I know—my experience. I know more and more I don’t know much but I came to yoga because I was accepted. I was allowed to sweat buckets, to cry, to suck at poses, to show up a few minutes late. I don’t think everything is love and light. There is dark space in the universe, there is dark space in my heart.

To teach what I know is all I can do. And the lessons I impart in yoga aren’t how to wrench your spine in a backbend, wrench your neck in a headstand, or tear your ligaments in eagle. It’s how to sit with yourself (the self you might hate, if you are anything like me) for a few minutes without running away from your body or your breath. I can teach how to sit with the shadows, how to let emotions circulate through the system.

I am driven by ego. I am driven by compassion. I am neither compassion nor ego, I just am.

 

 

“I do a lot of crummy things, and I do a lot of beautiful things, and I am neither good nor evil, I just am. There is good, there is evil, and here I am.”

Ram Dass

Anorexia, Asana, Body Image, Bulimia, character study, depression, Dharma, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Fear, Health Issues, Higher Education, Mental Health, Mindfulness, mountains, privilage, PTSD, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Universiality, Wyoming, Yoga

pathologically indiscreet

Never underestimate the value of a candid person. So much of our time is spent trying to figure out these unwritten rules like how firmly should I shake her hand or how many sentences of small talk before I delve into an emotional topic?

I was never very good at regular rules, much less unwritten rules, and brutal honesty can catch others off guard or it can open up a space of vulnerability. If I spent time trying to understand social conventions it might take a while. While I understand the power of acting couth, I appreciate the candidness of the raw, the unfiltered.

The types of people I appreciate most are ones who dance whether anyone is watching or not, who sing whether they know the words, who make love without worrying about fat or fur, who eat with appreciation. Secrets can last for years, secrets can change the paradigm.

Imagine if we started being ourselves, if we stopped holding back or letting out too much of what is inauthentic. Imagine if we let go of social conventions just for a day, how many would become comfortable, and how many would receive a gift? Take time today to receive those in your life exactly how they are and exactly who they need to be.

I’ve always been a pretty candid person. I’m not a very secretive person; I’m not a very discreet person. One of my best friends once described me as pathologically indiscreet.

Andrew Sullivan

Anorexia, Asana, Body Image, Bulimia, character study, depression, Dharma, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Health Issues, Laramie, Mental Health, Mindfulness, privilage, PTSD, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Universiality, Wyoming, Yoga

what i can and cannot do

Untitled

Truth is, I get intimated and down on myself every day. There is a good chance I will never do a respectable yogi push up or hold pigeon on my right side again. These are because of injuries trying to press bone onto bone for bending that my body was just not meant to do. Knee and elbow out of commission for a while. Even sitting cross legged is painful. That’s the thing about yoga—it’s not until years later that you realize asana is preparation for death—the ultimate life experience. No one dies in a handstand. But sometimes when we die we are lucky enough to know that our worth didn’t come from a handstand or peacock pose, and that holding the hand of the person next to us is the most challenging, rewarding, and soul satisfying pose of all. The king pose called #gratitude.

#yoga #selflove #love #loveyourself #mindfulness #beyourself #asana #Ustrasana #Gomukhasana #PinchaMayurasana #death #EkaPadaRajakapotasana #bodylove #practicenotperfect #iamenough #MeatlessMonday #pilates #contrology #infinitebalancelaramie

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big gulp breath

I’ve started to do things I like because I like myself more and more each day. I run–not lose a billion million calories but because I love feeling the sun on my skin midday. I don’t worry about walking either and stop to gulp breath like diet soda which I also drink because I like the way it feels and tastes.

I love my job. I don’t try too hard because I don’t have to. Part of the love is that I can just be myself. I do yoga with weights because I favor strength over flexibility and I like the way my arms are starting to take shape again.

I go out every now and again and hang out with the people I choose. Ones who I can be my complete and utter self around—no matter how that self may feel. I still get defensive and worry about others approval but I like that I’m working on that too.

I listen to all kinds of music because I can. I don’t care if there are cuss words in a class. I listen to what moves me. The word fuck sometimes moves. I don’t go to live shows as much as I used to. I’m okay with that, too.

I love teaching yoga because its more about being with people than alignment. Its more about being humble together than showing off a handstand. Its more about loving yourself than loving the illusion in the mirror. Its more about seeing your true self, rather than what the world has tried to create.

The moment you over think how someone sees you, is the moment you stopped being true to yourself.