The Trust Challenge

When I had nothing left, no more ideas, no more options, no way out of the current situation. The only thing I could do was trust in the present moment. Trust that my current situation would pass. This trust allowed me to surrender fully. I released all worry and doubt.

It was on a trip back from The Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation in northern California to my home in Iowa City, IA that I hit a massive snow storm that seemed to appear out of nowhere. I had just driven across Wyoming; the vast skyline views, mountains, and the open road when the weather quickly changed to cloudy and cool. Rain began to fall. I was only a couple of hours from the Nebraska border when the rain turned to sleet and finally snow. The view of the open road became more and more limited to the space directly in front of my vehicle. I chose to get off the interstate and take highways. I often choose to do this when the weather gets bad as I can drive significantly slower and not have semis whizzing by.

Taken during my drive through Wyoming.

It didn’t take long for a thick, slippery blanket of white to cover the beautiful scenery and the road. I was moving along at a mere 25 mph and sliding around like a monkey in socks on an ice rink. I had watched the weather progress as I had watched my anxiety and worry gain traction while my tires could not. I couldn’t pull over on these back roads as I would not be able to drive forward if I stopped, and even if I chose to stop it was freezing outside so I’d need to leave my car running. How long would this storm continue? Would I have enough gas to get me through the night and the next day? Choosing to take highway over interstate may have been safer but I was driving through a Native American Reservation area and there were no hotels or gas stations. On top of all of this my cell phone lost signal, so IF I did stop I’d have no way to let anyone know where I was. I was out of options. I was out of ideas. Like time ticking forward, I continued to inch along.

There were two ways I could continue. I could allow my worry and anxiety to consume me or I could surrender to the moment. Although at a slow crawl, I was still moving forward. I am an optimist at heart, sometimes to my own foolishness. Having just spent a month at yoga school I was well practiced in not allowing my feelings to get the best of me. Ever the observer. Instead of choosing to press onward in a space of worry and fear I chose to press onward from a place of calmness and trust in the powers that be. To help me along with this, I prayed out loud and proud. I told my higher power that I needed a way out. I needed somewhere safe that I could park and somewhere warm I could sleep for the night. I needed to know it when I saw it AND I only had fifty dollars to spare, so if it was a hotel it’d need to be cost effective. I laid it out and let it go and then just kept moving forward, inch-by-inch. I focused on the few feet in front of me that I could see, and I breathed deeply and audibly, releasing my tension as I went. This wasn’t easy, but still I pressed onwards.

Image taken from my room window.

Two hours later…. out of the blank white canvas, twinkling lights began to appear. It was a sign. Not just a figurative sign, but a literal sign. It was a casino sign with flashing lights. “THANK YOU DIVINE MOTHER!” Relief filled my body and I hollered as loud as I could as I pulled into the packed parking lot. One way or another I was going to stay here. I parked and headed inside through the brutal winds. The man at the front desk informed me the rooms were a minimum of $175 a night, but unfortunately they were all booked. I took a long, deep breath. This didn’t make sense. I was fully trusting and I felt deeply that this was where I was supposed to be. I asked, “Do you have any rooms available? Perhaps one that is under repair? I don’t need much. I’d sleep in the lobby if you’d let me.” The man sighed and gave a kind, pitying smile. He searched on his computer. Lo and behold! “I do have a king bed room but the TV isn’t working.”

“I’ll take it!” I exclaimed, but a moment of concern passed through me. “How much?”

“I’ll discount it due to the TV, so that’d bring it to $54 after taxes and fees.”

Grateful, grateful, grateful.

If you’re going to live your life based on delusions (and you are, because we all do), then why not at least select a delusion that is helpful.

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

This story is entirely true and is a reminder to me to trust and surrender to the flow of life. I may not always know the why or how of a situation, but with trust none of that matters. With trust I am able to surrender to my higher power. Maybe for you that is God or the natural flow of the Universe; for me it is the energy that lives inside me and the energy that lives all around. This energy is the comforting embrace of my Divine Mother and the steadfast power of my Divine Father.

Surrender is the most powerful feeling I have ever experienced. There is love in surrender, and there is peace and stillness too. So I remind myself to trust in my beliefs, to trust in my experiences, and to trust in my own intuition.

Part V of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is Trust. Trust in your creativity, your inspiration. Trust in your higher power, your belief system, yourself. Trust in your practices, your body, your mind. Trust in time. This too shall pass. You will come out the other side a new version of yourself. More resilient, stronger, and with a new level of faith in the powers that be.

What other option do we have? Succumb to the worry and anxiety which only create more worry and anxiety? Which only lead to clouded judgement, unease, and uncertainty? Pardon my language, but FUCK THAT.

Parvatasana (Seated Mountain Pose) “My thoughts and energy rise up to touch the sky.”

The last couple of days have been very difficult for me. I’m sure many of you can relate. I have passed through waves of contentment and waves of worry and angst during this strange new world. It has been painful and dark, but I refuse to give into it. Yes it’s there. Yes it doesn’t feel good. Yes I wish it wasn’t there, but how do I continue? I return to what I have been practicing. My yoga and meditation practice isn’t just for the good times. The times where my life is going smoothly and I have Peace in my heart. I practice at these contented times so that when shit hits the fan I have something that will anchor me. So I practice. I put my body into postures that will relieve physical tension thus releasing mental tension. I chant or sing. I pray and speak to my higher power throughout the day conversationally. The way I see it is that in my dark times I wish to feel my higher power at all times, so I talk casually to It keeping it around, keeping It near. I meditate and create deep levels of stillness that I fill, later, with Divine Joy and Peace through expansion practices and joy practices.



Positive Thinking
A wise dog will forever remind me to think positively ❤

I found this section of the book to come at the perfect time. Reading about trust in my creative process helped me to explore trust in all aspects of my life. Things are uncertain, and now more than ever we must trust in the process. We don’t get to know why this is happening or exactly how it is happening. To trust in these circumstances we must surrender. Cease resistance. I understand this is difficult, but breathe into the experience of what is. Stay present in the discomfort. It does not control you. YOU control you. You are the observer of the self. Your body may go through phases of releasing chemicals in your brain that make you feel anxious, worried, and afraid. You are not these feelings. You are the observer of them. Remain steadfast in this knowledge and trust in the process that is happening.

Here are some resources to assist you in surrender, trust, and expansion.

Surrender Practice: Please enjoy this practice with Betsy Rippentrop, owner of Heartland Yoga in Iowa City, IA on Lessening Anxiety Through Surrender.

Trust Practice: This chant has been one that I have been returning to again and again over the last couple of days: “From Joy I came, from Joy I live, in sacred Joy I melt again.” If you would like to learn about how to chant effectively click here.

Expansion Practice:

Expanding Circles


The Sky and Earth Touched Me

  1. Find a quiet place to sit where you have a panoramic view and also an interesting foreground. For example, sit where there are flowers and grasses and perhaps a shrub close by, trees a little farther away, and a hill, mountain ridge, or expansive prairie in the distance.
  2. Sitting comfortably, close the eyes and become aware of your body. Listen to the sounds of life around you- far away- and nearby
  3. Open your eyes and extend your awareness just a few feet beyond your body to the nearby grasses, pebbles, and insects. Try to feel that you are in everything you see as much as you are in your own body. Feel yourself moving in and becoming alive in the natural world around you. Continue this for a minute or so. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring it back to what is before you.
  4. Extend your awareness farther to include the nearby shrubs and trees- twenty to thirty feet away. Breathe and relax. Allow your attention to flow spontaneously, from the closest grasses and pebbles to the nearest trees. Feel that everything you see is part of you.
  5. Continue expanding your visual awareness in gradual stages. Fifty yards- a hundred yards- to the distant scenery- into the vast blue sky. All the while, keep the awareness of yourself in what is closest to you, as well as all the way out to the distant view and sky. Let your awareness flow freely and naturally to whatever interests you. Feel inside yourself the sky, trees and waving grasses.

Practice Expanding Circles for as long as you feel inspired. For your first time, try the exercise for 10-15 minutes.

Don’t rush through the experiences and circumstances that have the most capacity to transform you.

-Pastor Rob Bell

I recognize the discomfort within myself and the similar discomfort in all of us. In that sense, we are in this together. This isn’t happening to us, this is happening for us. Don’t surrender to the darkness: anxiety, worry, dread. Surrender to the light: trust, joy, peace, and love. Breathe deep and know this truth. Time is ticking by, this too shall pass. Accept this experience for what it is and grow into it. Just like in that snow storm, I could only focus on the few feet in front of me. We all must focus on what is directly in front of us, inching along, until we get to safety. Breathe.

May you always see the Light within,


Persist, Devote, Keep at it: Bhakti Bird

On a sunny day in April 2015 I was sitting in a Pranayama (life-force control) class my first time at The Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation. I had been meditating and deepening my practice for two weeks and had another two to go. I was working towards my 200-hour Yoga Certification. In this moment my attention was on my breath. As I inhaled I observed my belly expand and as I exhaled I kept my attention on my belly relaxing back into my body. My mind was quiet, my body was still. Tap, Tap, Tap, my focused-mind softened. Tap, Tap, Tap. I was becoming distracted. Tap, Tap, Tap. I couldn’t take it anymore. I opened my eyes and looked to where the noise was coming from. I noticed a couple of other students do the same. What we saw was a robin sitting on the outside window sill. Tap, Tap, Tap. He was tapping his little beak against the window pane and pulling us away from our breathing techniques. Tap, Tap, Tap. Before long everyone and the teacher were looking toward the window. The teacher walked to the window and tapped back trying to shoo the bird away. It left only for a moment and returned just as the teacher walked back to the front of the class. Tap, Tap, Tap. “It seems you will all be challenged today; devote to your practice no matter the outside circumstance,” our teacher said. For days this sweet bird returned again and again during our class time. The second day I made a joke about how Bhakti (Sanskrit for Devotion) Bird was there to help us all gain mental strength over distraction.

Garudasana 2015
Garudasana (Eagle Pose) at Crystal Hermitage Gardens in Ananda Village 2015. “At the center of life’s storms I stand serene.”

I still think of Bhakti Bird whenever I am faced with distraction or resistance. That first day that I was distracted by this small creature and its small sound, I had allowed that sound to cause resistance (lack of focus) during my meditation. The responsibility does not lie on the bird. I am the only one responsible for my mind, my thoughts, and where they go. The second day, the day our feathery friend received its name, I discovered that by switching my perspective I could own my responsibility. That sound wasn’t happening to my meditation. It was happening for my meditation. Anytime I heard the Tap, Tap, Tap I was reminded to stay devoted to the present, to my practice. I swear that bird was a Yogi reincarnated and an intuitive one at that! Every time my mind wandered good ol’ Bhakti Bird would get me back to the task at hand.

Part IV of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, is Persistence. Take a moment to remember a time when you persisted on something. Perhaps it was in high school striving for a certain grade or athletic standing. Maybe a time at work when you were focused on getting that promotion or raise. Perhaps in meditation, returning to the practice again and again. This past week I persisted to clean up our yard by raking the leaves. A minor comparison, but it took me 8 hours. I don’t think it had been raked in years! (We rent.)

Once you’ve thought about that moment of persistence hold onto the feeling. You were focused on a goal and you worked at it until you either accomplished it, lost interest, or did not succeed. Notice I do not say failed here, because there is no failure in devoting yourself to something. Dedicate yourself to the creative process not the creative product. I would argue that your creativity is in everything you do, but if you disagree then look at it as dedicating yourself to the process not the product.

When we persist at anything we will always find resistance. Think back to that same memory of persistence. What circumstances or people did you have to overcome? Those moments of resistance are where you were able to practice persistence. For my example of raking the leaves the wind was my biggest foe, but don’t worry I overcame and completed my task!

Paschimotanasana- Posterior Stretching Pose “I am safe. I am sound. All good things come to me; they give me peace!”

Let’s take resistance more literal. Have a seat on the floor and put your legs out in front of you. Inhale and draw the hands out and around and up over head. As you exhale slowly bring the hands to the top of the legs and begin to bend forward. Stop at the first point of resistance. Now breathe into it and experience the physical sensation of resistance. Inhale and visualize space in the area that is resisting, and exhale try to relax that area and move deeper into the stretch. Persist for 1-3 minutes, moving deeper through relaxation not through force.

We can apply this persistence/ resistance to current events. This, for many, is a stressful time. Stress is resistance. Think back to that distracting Bhakti Bird. I changed my perspective and it made all the difference. If you are finding yourself in a dark place and feeling overwhelmed by stress try changing your perspective. A TedTalk changed my entire outlook on stress. Check it out here. Joy practices are another great way to get you out of a funk and in a better headspace. Joy practices are anything that makes you feel joyful and peaceful. Examples include: nature walks, physical exercise, dancing, laughing, gardening, cooking, cleaning, fishing, etc. Try to do one a day! If you’d like a fun nature exercise suitable for children, adults, solo, or for the family check out Journey to the Heart of Nature, click here.

Persistence is a relatable topic in our everyday lives, in our creative lives, and in our spiritual lives (remember this is a yoga blog 😉 So whatever your facing today, in this moment, remember the wise words of Ms. Gilbert:

..devotional discipline is the best approach. Do what you love to do, and do it with both seriousness and lightness. At least then you will know that you have tried and that– whatever the outcome– you have traveled a noble path.

Affirmation for Perseverance; AKA persistence

As I mentioned before, Bhakti is Sanskrit for Devotion. I think devotion and persistence are one in the same. I have found, in these trying times, that keeping myself focused on something, anything, helps me feel sane. I have devoted myself to this blog, to raking the leaves, to my daily yoga and meditation practice. I have persisted to keep my space, our home, tidy as this helps me to have a tidy mind. I have devoted myself to exploring my spiritual practice through lots of nature adventures, new yoga practices, and reading yoga related books and materials. I strive everyday to see my God reflected in everything that I do and every creature that I see. This has been the deepest practice of all. If I can love my Higher Power through my loved ones then I am not only connecting to the deepest part of them but I am also connecting to the deepest part of my own reality. Above all I have been trying to devote myself to the light within. That light is in every living thing and finding it outside of myself only adds to my spiritual experience. Am I trying to reach enlightenment? Perhaps in some lifetime. For now, I am more focused on my current well-being and the well-being of the people around me.

Devotion is not mere sentiment; it is heartfelt commitment to something or someone.

-Ananda Sangha Worldwide

No matter what your devotion or persistence is directed towards; opening your heart center or chest can help you to open to your practice of devotion. Try this Heart Opening Yoga Routine with Melody, one of my teachers from The Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation.

Another way to encourage the center of feeling is through chanting. Check out four chants here. I especially enjoy “When I Awake” sung in the recording by Swami Kriyananda, founder of the Ananda Village and my yoga school.

Having an alter helps me to have a space dedicated to my meditation and prayer practice. I like using candles, inspiring photos, chimes, and things I find on my nature adventures.

One final way to cultivate loving energy for a positive mindset and concentration is through prayer. You do not need to be religious for prayer and there is no wrong way to do it. There is power in affirming out loud or to yourself the things you are grateful for, the things you are seeking guidance with, and for visualizing the health and well-being of yourself and others. Personally, when I pray for others I visualize them surrounded by a warm-glowing light. I see them happy, healthy, and laughing. I feel that this strengthens the vibration that is sent out and the vibration I feel inside.

Many of us have been overcoming our fear of the unknown. Below is a prayer from Whispers from Eternity by Paramhansa Yogananda:

Demand to be able to Conquer Fear

Infinite Spirit, teach me to comprehend the utter uselessness of being afraid. Help me to keep in mind that even death, since come it must, at least comes only once and need not be suffered a thousand times, beforehand, through fear! When death does come it will be by Nature’s mercy. When it comes, I will welcome it in my soul, for I will understand that it is time for me to move on, lowering the curtain on this life’s drama, but traveling, perhaps, to something new and equally interesting. Let me not be a “psychological antique,” fearing change.

Teach me not to paralyze my nerves daily with the dread of some future, imaginary accident. Such dread may only invite the accident to happen!

Bless me, that I not let fear anesthetize my mind and shut off my unlimited power, as Thy child, to overcome all tests and trials. Help me to realize that, whether I am awake or asleep, alert or dreaming, Thine all-protecting presence encircles me always.

Help me to see that neither mighty fortress nor the wealth of Croesus could protect me from disease, earthquakes, and all kinds of accidents, that Thou alone art my protector, and that, though I walk where bullets fly or where swarms of bacteria abound, I am ever safe, enhaloed in Thy all-sheltering light.

Aum, Peace, Amen

Stay home, stay safe, and if you must venture out do so wisely. Persist in a positive state of mind. Focus your attention on uplifting tasks and responsibilities. Do a daily practice of Joy and meditation. We will get through this together.

Tap, Tap, Tap. Bhakti Bird is calling.

With Devoted Light,


Permission to Be

Part 3 of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, is permission. Permission to create, permission to explore one’s own interests, permission to be. You exist, and because you exist you have the right to find the things in this life that ignite your joy and create the things, moments, and experiences that feed that joy. You do not need a permission slip from me or anyone else, but in this section of the book, and in this blog, you are given one.

 Defending yourself as a creative person begins by defining yourself.

Perhaps you are a lucky one that already has found the magical things in this life that give you joy. Great! Even still, it is always good practice for all of us, even for these lucky individual’s, to continue to explore and find new ways that we can find our joy. I find the first step to finding my own joy is quieting my monkey mind. (The term monkey mind is often used in yoga to refer to the rambunctious chattering and thinking of the mind, like a monkey jumping from branch to branch.) I use meditation, and better still is a daily practice of meditation. Try this practice with one of my spiritual teachers, Diksha McCord, from The Ananda School of Yoga & Meditation.

After I’ve calmed my playful monkey mind down I like to fill it with positivity. This would be step two in exploring your joy. I do this through chanting(try this one) or through affirmation. This is how I personally use and teach affirmations:

  1. Affirmation for InspirationRepeat the affirmation LOUDLY. I find that this helps to silence any lingering mental chatter. Just like you would get the attention of a child, so too can you snag the
    attention of the mind.
  2. Repeat the affirmation in a normal speaking voice. This, I find, helps me to maintain my mind’s attention and draws the words a little deeper into my conciousness.
  3. Repeat the affirmation in a whisper. This step always feels like magic. Whispers are precious and it captivates my mind in the meaning of the affirmation.
  4. Close the eyes and lift the gaze as though looking at distant tree tops. Continue to repeat the affirmation silently to yourself and feel as though you are drawing the words inwards and upwards toward your lifted gaze.

Finally once the mind is calm and joyful I am ready for step three. I simply ask myself and my higher power, “What shall we do today?” I listen and wait in my peaceful stillness until something catches my fancy. Over the past week I have baked, danced, sunbathed, read books, took baths, and enjoyed a documentary. Some days I physically create something, like a yummy in the kitchen, a blog post, or capture a photograph, and other days I have simply found that my body wants to relax and rest.

As a living being you have divine permission to follow your bliss in difficult times and in smooth sailing. During these strange times I have found that I have a responsibility to myself to take time out everyday to further discover my joy practice. And to be totally honest, sometimes my joy practice is my yoga and meditation practice. dawgs Sometimes it’s a delicious bubble bath, and sometimes it’s a run with one of our daawgs. These long days with minimal responsibilities is a blessing for discovering my own joy practices.

This section of the book got me thinking about how important it is during this time to pursue our natural creative tendencies, but it is just as important to listen to what the body, mind, and spirit are craving. Most of us have had our lives completely changed in a short couple of weeks and that is stressful. Being away from your family and friends is stressful. Feeling consumed by worry and dread for yourself and the people around you is stressful. Feeling like you are stuck on house arrest is stressful. It doesn’t have to be.

…it is ultimately entirely up to you

Here’s a challenge for the days ahead. Spend 10 minutes a day sitting quietly with your attention drawn inwards. Once again, I recommend finding a meditation technique that speaks to you. At the conclusion of the ten minutes ask yourself, “How am I feeling?” Listen, listen, listen to your heart’s song, and do your best to be there for youTake sweet, gentle care of yourself in the coming days and weeks. Find ways to share your joy with others by creating something and sharing it. The internet is a blessed gift during this isolation period. Maybe you still have work and kiddos to see to and responsibilities up the wazoo. Take a breath. Take ten minutes just for you. You have permission and you have the responsibility to your own well-being to take care during this time and all times.

You already have permission to live your life however you choose. You already have permission to explore and find your joy practice. You already have permission to share that joy with the world however you see fit. Now is the time to make the space to explore your joy and make it a daily practice.

I hope these words find you well and that you feel encouraged and inspired to take some time for you.

With Divine Love,


P.S.- Needing a boost of hope? Checkout this video from one of my favorite yoga instructors, Betsy Rippentrop, from Heartland Yoga in Iowa City, IA.



What Else Do You Have Going On Right Now?

Here I am. The fridge and pantry are fully stocked. Social Distancing practices are under way, and I have started a Self-Isolation Resolution List to keep me focused.
When I first heard about the Coronavirus or COVID-19 I thought like many. I thought people were overreacting, over-buying, and full of it. Here we are only one week later and everyone’s day-to-day has changed for at least two weeks. Schools are cancelled, gyms and libraries are closed, and social distancing is in full effect.
BUT WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MYSELF FOR THE COMING WEEKS? Within two days all three of my jobs were dismissed due to closures. After filing for temporary unemployment and watching a movie I was already bored. Due to the library closing quicker than I anticipated, I was unable to check out any new reading material, so I poked around my bookshelves and had a jolt of inspiration. Only yesterday I recommended a book to an old college friend. My favorite book. That conversation and seeing the book sitting there on my bookshelf sparked big magic in my brain. 😉 So without further ado…..

Inspired by a dear friend, I have decided to re-read my favorite book, written by Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic. I have read this book at least 3 times all the way through. My copy is filled with post-its, bookmarks, and notes I’ve scribbled in on the margins. Every time I read this book I learn something new, I find a new inspiration, and I feel uplifted and encouraged to create something unique.

DSC_0770_1Over the next couple of weeks I will finish this book yet again. Only this time I will be making posts covering the six sections of the book: Courage; Enchantment; Permission; Persistence; Trust; Divinity. Each blog post I do will not only relate to the section in the book, but also relate to yoga and meditation teachings I have discovered along the way.

I am leaving my inspiration open for now. Meaning, with the upcoming blog posts I may also include pictures, affirmations, and videos where you can practice yoga and meditation right along with me.

DSC_0771_1Life is weird right now, and the stress you may be feeling is relatable. The more goodness , Joy, and Love we can inject into the world right now the better. I wish to provide my services as a teacher and a human being to all of you. Please join me in contributing positivity into this uncertain world.

Here’s your invitation.

I cordially invite you to join me however you’d like in the coming weeks. You’re invited to enjoy this excellent book along with me, to check in on this blog, and to become inspired by the world around us and the world within us. What else do you have going on right now? 

With Love,



P.S.- You can find the e-book here (price $12.99):

Finding Love on the Mat

It has been six months since I last taught yoga in a studio. I moved three hours north here in the great state of Iowa. It’s ten degrees colder, at least; it’s much more rural, and I moved here with only knowing ONE other person. His name is John and he has upturned my life in the best way. Some people thought I was crazy for moving, but my heart was sure. I could feel it’s confidence in my decision through every step of the way. I still feel that loving confidence. I know I am where I belong. That feeling that I have, that confidence, THAT is how I would describe love.

Love is a topic that meets us on the mat. Perhaps at home or maybe in a room filled with other people. I know on my mat I have had moments of pure self-love. Moments where I didn’t feel ashamed or not enough. I am not alone in this experience of self-acceptance. It happens when you’re 40 minutes in on a flow class or deep in the stillness of meditation. Love comes to us in other ways during the practice. I have felt Love for the people around me, sometimes strangers. Appreciating and accepting their existence, their significance, their power. In classes I teach I often have students use a mantra, or repeating phrase, during meditation. One of these mantras is “I am Love.”

Try it now, as you sit here. Close your eyes, lift your gaze just slightly, and breath smoothly and naturally. As you inhale repeat “I am” and as you exhale repeat “Love”. Inhale, “I am”. Exhale, “Love’. Continue this as long as you’d like.

This practice is powerful, because we are not focusing our attention on the things that we love and we are not focusing on the way that we love. We are focusing on the experience of Love itself. Love is confident in itself and so it gives us confidence in ourselves. You are enough. You are meant to be here. You have within you the power to love and be loved. You are Love. Through this practice we can identify with the strongest experience that creatures of this planet have: LOVE.

Happy Velentine’s Day.