It was . . . so real

Dreaming of my old neighborhood(s) in New York City. Rolling over the past in my sleep, unconsciously in(ter)jecting new thoughts and experiences. In my dreams there is less concrete and more wood. The decay is still abundant.

After all the haze and horror of the 80s, the 90s was a time of hope, even among the rubble. Music, art, creativity, yoga and spirituality merged and emerged from the grayness and dust of the city, of the darkest places. It was like swimming, like falling, in a deep pool of inspiration, so many ageless children diving down and willingly sharing, exchanging, the pearls we’d found at the murky bottom.

It was a time.

I remember Jeff Buckley surfacing.

Yoga, Work, Love, and Breathing

I was blessed and honored to have a class tonight with not only a fellow Sivananda yoga teacher, but a truly lovely, kind, generous, compassionate human being. I feel the molecules in the air buzzing while at the same time feeling content and grounded.

Om. Sat Chit Ananda.

Sometimes I forget how soothing yoga is. Which brings me to my job. Work has been tense lately, and not just for me, but for my colleagues, too. Though I can’t control what is going on around me, I can check my own response and attitude toward my environment. The good thing about this stress is that it is giving me clarity on things I’d like to be, do, or have. I’ve been making a conscious effort to shift the strain at my job, and I think it is working – not only in terms of being calm, but in being more productive.

Here is what I do:

Rather than thinking bad thoughts about work on my way there, I “send my love before me.” I send loving thoughts ahead of me—I imagine love is like liquid light—flooding my office, getting into the cracks and crevices, the carpet, the computers, the equipment, the toilets—all of it—and I see it surrounding the people there. As my thoughts travel, I find that I love exactly where I am in thon the way home (c) 2014 holly troye moment and in space—my legs pushing my bike pedals, the air moving past me, the trees, the sky. Even if it lasts for 15 minutes in my imagination, my day is already better for it.

I set a timer for every 45 minutes to stop what I am doing to focus on my breath for at least three breaths (no matter how much of an “emergency”other people are experiencing —and believe me—I don’t work in a hospital so nothing is really that much of an emergency).

Review my dreams upon waking – rather than looking at my computer.

Get up early enough to write for at least five minutes every morning after meditating for 5 to 10 minutes. I review what I’ve written at least once a week.

Take at least one small (sometimes super tiny) action everyday that moves me toward changes I’d like to see in my life.

* * * * *

I am posting the article below for inspiration. It is written by Swami Sitaramananda and was posted on the Yoga Farm blog. Here’s the post (see it in full here):

29 Tips to Deal With Stress

Modern Life is full of stress and strains and demands on our system. Stress comes from the inability or difficulty to adapt due to habits, ego, attachments and fears. Stress can also be the result of not having enough Prana (energy) to cope with the demands or pressure. When we are stressed, we develop negative feelings and lose even more Prana. It can snowball into a big problem.

Here are a few tips to unblock energy and turn around the stress drain:

  1. Breathe consciously and rhythmically; inhale to the count of three, exhale to the count of three. This will synchronize your brain waves and your heart rhythm.
  2. Move calmly. Best is to regularly practice yoga postures or asanas which gently move the body, stretch the muscles and turn the mind inward to more awareness. Asanas performed consciously in the right sequence—with proper holding, concentration, breathing and relaxation—release blockages of energy and recharge you with new vitality.
  3. Resist spending too much effort, no matter what you are doing. Effort needs to be balanced with relaxation.
  4. Take time alone to find yourself. Constantly being in a network of relationships is very draining.
  5. Slow down. Be aware not to be trapped in the Maya (illusion) of your challenging situation.
  6. Do one thing at a time. This is the principle of Raja Yoga. Stress can come from too much happening at the same time, so slow down and focus on one thing at a time.
  7. Focus on a positive object such as the sun.
  8. Meditate to have the direct experience of the Self.
  9. Detach! Keep yourself calm and do not buy into the drama that the mind creates.
  10. See the big picture. Change your perspective.
  11. Connect with Nature. Take a walk; look at trees, the sky, flowers, stars or the moon.
  12. Remember your Immortal Self. Experience beingness and oneness.
  13. Use your senses to bring you back to positivity. For instance, listen to nice music, get a therapeutic massage, practice aromatherapy, contemplate beautiful images or taste delicate food.
  14. Be grateful. Count your blessings.
  15. Be content. Tell yourself, “I already have enough.”
  16. Surrender. What is happening may not be what you want, but it may be what you need. Know that everything happens for a reason.
  17. Acceptance. It is not my will; it is God’s will.
  18. Balance your energy by doing different activities than usual.
  19. Tell yourself. “This too shall pass.”
  20. Tell yourself, “God loves me no matter what.”
  21. Withdraw the attention within and cease comparing.
  22. Refrain from judging yourself and others.
  23. Tell yourself, “This is my opportunity to learn.
  24. Realize that you are only the witness of whatever is happening.
  25. Affirm to do the best you can and let go of the results, good or bad.
  26. Avoid extremes of love and hate.
  27. Come back to the present.
  28. Rest.
  29. Keep trust and faith.

For me – #30. Ride your bicycle – even if you are feeling lazy!

Thanks for reading!

Peace ~ Holly

Born on a Thursday #57 – I Am Happy

After an introspective year, and an especially introspective winter looking at my relationships and at my relationship with Flagstaff and with nature, I have come to the conclusion that I am happy. I made the conscious decision to let go of old responses and compromises and am experiencing presence and trust and love.

I appreciate my life and those who are in it.

I am also riding bicycles! Oh, riding is so much fun!

meadowlands (c) 2009 Holly TroyLast night I had a dream that I was visiting my mother and step-father. It was somewhere in New Jersey – where I grew up but not where I grew up. I was afraid to visit because I knew the house they lived in was haunted. When I arrived, I walked up a pathway through a glorious garden. When I opened the front door, I was greeted by a black cat, which I had to pass in order to step into the house. In my dream I thought, “This is an omen.”

I was afraid of the ghosts in the house, but I managed to train one of them. I told my parents the house was haunted, and proved it by telling Morris, the ghost I trained, to open and close the door, which he did. My parents told me I should stay even though passing through weehawken (c) Holly Troy 2009the place was haunted. I said, “These ghosts are yours, not mine.” I had to leave.

I left the house and walked out beyond their garden and into the vast wasteland of highways and progress. New York City no longer interested me, and the roads were littered with beer cans and road kill. Plastic bags and papers blew around in the breeze.

sunset (c) Holly Troy 2013When I awoke, I realized I let go of the ghosts. I was in a place where I felt absolutely safe, happy, and loved, and it was a place I chose to be. Outside the sun was rising and the air was fresh. Pine. Big blue sky. The entire day ahead of me, and all I had to do was notice.

All I have to do is notice.

Thanks for reading! Have a great week.

 

 

 

Born on a Thursday #56 – Rebirth, Bike Love, and Playing the Fool

Thanks to all who voted! The Fort Tuthill bike park won the $30,000 grant! Flagstaff just keeps getting more amazing for cycling.

Spring is blowing in fresh air here in the mountains. And with it, new thoughts, new feelings, new hopes. Playing the Fool (see April’s challenge) has been difficult, but somewhere in this last month, there’s been a shift. I’m not exactly sure when I became so serious – it crept up on me – I have had to shake the seriousness off my back.

pines! (C) 2014 Holly TroyThe children I live with are obsessed with the soundtrack to the Disney movie Frozen, which means they play it repeatedly upon waking every morning. There is one song where the chorus is “Let it go, let it go . . . ” with predictable ascending key changes. Of course, I am singing the songs along with the household now, and when Let it Go comes on, there is much gesturing, dancing and agreement from the adults (Martine and me). Honestly, so much shit has been happening that to be cheesy for five minutes is a great way to wake up – and the kids love it.

Letting go has been the theme of the winter. In fact, it’s just been a good way to be. If we can’t move forward with love, if we are taking actions out of fear or low self-esteem or anger, then it is time to just stop. I feel fortunate that I had the ability to slow down and recalibrate, shift direction, and relate to the natural world.

This morning I am sitting outside on a patio, the temperature is 66 degrees and it’s breezy.  I can hear ravens clucking and cawing, the higher music of smaller birds rounding out the concert of sound in this back yard. The sun is shining and the wind in the pines sounds like ocean waves crashing on the surf.

There is no pressure to do anything today. The plan for the day is to enjoy good company, bicycle into town entirely on 13 miles of back trails, go grocery shopping, ride back and make dinner. Enjoy the meal with friends.

It’s a perfect day.

Tell me everything you know for sure about your life.

I don’t know where I got this writing prompt from. Maybe it was from the amazing poet, teacher, and adventuress, Maya Stein. (Even if it wasn’t, check out her site and see what she is up to. Her undertakings are inspiring, surprising and fun).

The prompt is this:

Free-write on – Tell me everything you know for sure about your life.

Blue in Red (c) Holly Troy 2014

I know for sure that I have to move my body in order to keep from getting lost in my mind.

I know that there is something special about living in this small mountain town.

I get that I can’t go back in time and experience New York in the 90s over again. I realize now that I can’t even imagine living in the city again – although for a few moments a few months ago, I did imagine it with ardor.

I know I need beauty and fresh air and birds singing and to stop looking at the fucking internet.

I want to remember life before the internet, life before wifi. I want old school – I want pay phones, I want paper letters that arrive in the mail. Wait, I don’t miss pay phones – I am forever repulsed by the surprise of picking up a handset covered in an unidentified, thick, sticky substance.

Fuck public phones – but I do love public transportation when it is not rush hour.

What I love more is riding my bicycle where I need to go. I know for sure I love my bicycle. It keeps me moving.

I know I need the earth, to experience my physicality as much as possible everyday. I know that after 20 years of looking hard for beauty, and sometimes only finding it in the smallest cracks in the sidewalk – I don’t want to look that hard anymore.

I know for sure that I want to have fun, but I don’t want to play games – unless they are volleyball or hockey or scrabble.

I know for sure that I love sex, really good sex, and that I will not put up with bad sex – or be in a relationship with scarce sex or no sex. Fuck that.

I know for sure that I can see bullshit coming from miles away but that I don’t always dodge it very well.

I know I like to put my tongue on smooth stones, to taste their chalkiness and feel the moisture being sucked from my tongue.

I know that I say I want to be near the beach but I keep staying in the high desert because I like to choose when I am around lots of people.

I know I need to visit the ocean soon.

I know that I like to see softness in things that are hard.

I know that I am glad to be a woman, that I love having the body that I have even though I am not always satisfied with it.

What do I know for sure?

I know for sure that I could not have said no to save my life.

Born on a Thursday #34: I <3 My Bike

Late Fall in Flagstaff Town
Hotel Monte Vista (c) 2013 Holly TroyWhile riding my bike to meet my sweetheart at Madrid (a Spanish tapas restaurant here in Flagstaff), I noticed the orange of the Hotel Monte Vista sign glowing against turquoise blue sky.

I was waiting for the train to pass, and hoped to snap a picture while traffic was stopped. Of course, that required removing my gloves (which is no small feat with my broken pinky and fitting a glove around the splint), and then getting my phone and trying to see the image on the screen clearly (I smashed my phone a few months back, had initially decided to upgrade and haven’t done it yet for two reasons: financially I don’t have $100 to spare, and, now it has almost become an experiment to see how long I can use a broken phone), opening the camera and snapping the image.

No go! There was no way to get the gloves off quickly enough. So I took this pic as I got to Aspen and San Francisco. The light had changed a tad, but still a magical glow.

I <3 my Bike! (c) Holly TroyI am grateful the weather has been gorgeous this week! More beautiful days of cycling around town. I admit I am a little nervous about cycling in the winter, but, as I love cycling AND it’s my only mode of transportation, winter on bicycle is an adventure to be had!!

Ride

He smelled good to me, so I wanted to taste,
put him in my mouth,
while light softly glowed through green curtains
then, his moss eyes. He didn’t know what I was thinking.
It was Sunday, so time was short.
Soon I would be thinking about Monday
and my lousy job.

I played lotto and lost again.
If I had money, I’d own my own parking spot,
a driveway. I didn’t think I could be so selfish
but I really like space.

I could just leave the city and look at the sky.
I could ride a red bicycle with recycled
plastic ribbons on the handlebars
and not think of people as I watch
treetops and clouds cutting through blue.

If I turned up at your door with a long
but true story
Would you invite me in?
Or would you notice I’d lost my childhood fat
like our friendship, and block the threshold
thinking you know all about
my skin and bones

© 2005