oklahoma

Yoga Jams

First off, thanks so much for all the support, comments, shares, and feedback on my previous post: Lessons Learned from NEDA Awareness Week. It has been one of my most popular posts of the year(along with my Whole 30 post)! After my last post I kept thinking about what to write. I have so many ideas but none of them seem right to write at this very moment or they need more time to hash out in my journal. There has been so much going on in the Insta IG World and in my own personal life that I’ve been overwhelmed on where to go. I have had a rough week, and I almost decided not to write a post. But then I remembered my intention to blog every other week–so here I am.

If you know me or come to my classes you know that music plays a huge role in my approach. I love creating playlists or let my students choose the music in case I don’t have a playlist curated. I firmly believe that music can enhance a yoga class and can make people feel comfortable in a setting that can be intimidated. If I can do anything to make a yoga class less intimidating and more relaxing I’ll do it! Music can also  make one work harder, focus better, or turn a bad mood into a good one. So here are some of my top playlists:

 

 

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Body Positivity/Feel Good Playlist

*songs guaranteed to turn your frown upside and make you feel good about your body*

Feeling Good, Nina Simone
Video, India.Arie
Backwoods Barbie, Dolly Parton
Hey Girl, Lady Gaga & Florence Welch
Proud Mary, Tina Turner
Straight Up, Paula Abdul
I Got You (I Feel Good), James Brown
I’m Every Woman, Chaka Khan
The Glory of Love, Nina Simone
Brave, Sara Bareilles
These Boots Are Made For Walking, Loretta Lynn
Beautiful, Christina Aguilera
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Carole King
Lady, Stevie Nicks
Greatest Love of All, Whitney Houston

I Believe in Love and Jam Bands

*songs by your favorite jam bands that will open that heart chakra and let love flow*

Appalachia Waltz, Yo-Yo Ma/Mark O’Connor/Edgar Meyer
Tennessee Waltz, Appalachian Pickers
Soulshine,Gov’t Mule
Prickly Pear, Bela Fleck
Last Chance to Dance Trance, Medeski, Martin, & Wood
Jessica, Allman Brothers
Free, Phish
Everyday, Dave Matthews Band
Don’t Stop Believing, Vitamin String Quartet
I Believe In A Thing Called Love, Vitamin String Quartet
Simple Gifts, Yo-Yo Ma & Alison Krauss
Spiegel im Spiegel, Angele Dubeau
Breath, Helen Jane Long

Electric Flow

*for all my electronica yogis out there, get your flow on with these electronic tracks*

Moonbeams, MC Yogi & East Forest
Awake, Tycho
Ghost, Kiln
Dictaphone’s Lament, Tycho
Yellow Bird (Michal Menert Remix), Pretty Lights
White Lies, Odesza & Jenni Potts
Finally Moving, Pretty Lights
Innocence, Madeon
Bass Head, Bassnectar
You, Gold Panda
Love & Feeling, Chet Faker
Gooey, Glass Animals
Drift Away, Pretty Lights
Part Two-In My Own Way, Ray LaMontagne

Dedicated to Tom Petty

*I made this playlist after Tom Petty died, 45 minutes of some Tom Petty classics and deep cuts*

Dreamville
You Don’t Know How It Feels
You Wreck Me
Don’t Do Me Like That
American Girl
Free Fallin’
I Won’t Back Down
Turn This Car Around
Here Comes My Girl
Insider
Wildflowers

I Love the 70s

*quintessential classics that will make you take out your lighter while holding Chair Pose*

Junk, Paul McCartney
Baby, I Love Your Way, Peter Frampton
More Than A Woman, Bee Gees
I’ve Got A Feeling, The Beatles
Sugar Magnolia, The Grateful Dead
Learning to Fly, Pink Floyd
Spirit In The Sky, Norman Greenbaum
Dreams, Fleetwood Mac
Heart of Gold, Neil Young
Romeo and Juliet, Dire Straits
Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, Elton John
Into the Mystic, Van Morrison
My Melancholy Blues, Queen

The Go-To

*this playlist is good for any yoga class and suits all musical tastes, my go-to when I or my students can’t decide on what to play*

All The Wild Horses, Ray LaMontagne
Heart Is A Drum, Beck
Queen of California, John Mayer
Girl, Beck
All I Ever Wonder, St.Paul & the Broken Bones
Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter, Nina Simone
Sugar Never Tasted So Good (Acoustic), Jack White
Hit ‘Em Up Style, Carolina Chocolate Drops
Take a Walk, Passion Pit
Lovely Day, Bill Withers
What is Life, George Harrison
Can’t You See, Marshall Tucker Band
Souls Like the Wheels, Avett Brothers
Let’s Be Still, The Head and the Heart

My Favorite Pre-Made Playlists (Apple Music): Classic Acoustic, Relaxed/Remixed, Pure Yoga, Essential 70s Soft Rock, 80s Smash Hits, Today’s Chill, Rock Hits: 1973, The Beatles: Best Pop Songs

My Favorite Pre-Made Playlists (Amazon): Chill Indie for Yoga, Coffee Shop Electric, Mellow 70s Gold, 50 Great Beatles Songs, Classical for Yoga, Alt Pop for Yoga

Blog Posts about Music: That’s My Jam!, O, listen to the music, Say it in Song   

 

What are some of your favorite yoga jams? What artists help you get your flow on? What has been the most bizarre song you’ve heard or put on a playlist?

 

 

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Lessons From NEDA Awareness Week 2018

Each year I participate in the National Eating Disorder Association’s (NEDA) Awareness Week. I have done something for it every year since I began recovery, roughly six years ago-I honestly can’t remember. Is that bad? Each year I have done more and more to raise awareness and try to make each year bigger, better, and more impactful. I am passionate about NEDA Awareness Week because to me it reminds me so much of the 12th Step, “having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we carry this message to other(s) {insert addiction} and practice these principles in all our affairs”.  I use this to educate others, draw awareness to this deadly disease, and also use this week to focus on full support for others who have been through this. Even providing them a platform to share their stories and perspectives. This year I took the last step and took twelve ginormous steps and went all out for this week.

 

 

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What did I do? One of the many things I did was host an Instagram challenge. I partnered with my recovery and yoga soul sister in Tulsa, Cassandra McCoy, to start a challenge. Then Cassandra and I got a sponsor (who turned out to be a new friend!), Jamie at Evolve Fitness OKC. We wanted a challenge that was accessible to everyone and be more than crazy yoga poses. Our challenge was, Spread ED Awareness. Each day we would provide either a statistic or blurb about eating disorders. Then we had a word that was inspired by the post with a corresponding challenge. Challenges were:

  1. A yoga pose that makes you feel confident
  2. What activity did you do that you “failed ” at? Did you try it again?
  3. How have you been resourceful in your workout(s)/Got creative with them
  4. What activity or life event has made you feel strong?
  5. What is something that you have done that made you feel uneasy and vulnerable?
  6. Who supported you during recovery? Maybe you supported someone, who were they?
  7. Last but not least, share your story!

 

 

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I’m not going to lie, I thought this would be “successful” (you’ll see why I use quotes around that). I thought people would be down to participate, especially since we had some cool prizes lined up and it was for a cause. However, I came to realize this wasn’t the case. People “liked” the idea but only a handful of people participated. I was hurt. I was sad. I was disappointed. Cassandra, Jamie, and myself had put so much time into these posts, deciding what to present, etc…and the turn out was low. Somedays I didn’t want to participate in my own challenge. I thought to myself, “if this was a handstand IG challenge or an inversion challenge more people would do this“.

 

Then I saw a post from someone I follow on IG (Justin Wolfer) talking about how it doesn’t matter the size of your following or audience, it’s what you do with it. Talk about a perspective change! I realized my ego was in the way and it was hidden by good intentions. I lost sight of the twelfth step. I told myself, ” It’s not about participants its about spreading awareness and educating”. I then began to focus on all the engagements my posts were getting, the people who were commenting on them, or reaching out to me. That right there is what #NEDAAwarenessWeek is all about.

 

 

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My donation class at Evolve Fitness

 

 

In addition to this challenge I wanted to host a clothing drive. Clothing drives are a great way to practice yoga because it is yoga. Donating clothes is a practice of:

  1. Brahmacharya (non-excess)
  2. Aparigraha (non-greed, non-possessiveness)
  3. Saucha (purity, cleanliness)
  4. Karma (action, generating)

 

I didn’t want just one clothing drive and for me to be the only one participating (which would have a limited reach). I wanted the whole community to get involved. So I decided to reach out to all the fellow yoga teachers and ask if anyone wanted to host a clothing drive for our local YWCA. Much to my surprise I got three other studios involved! Cycle 3Sixty wanted to host a clothing drive/free class AND they did a #WearYourPurple day-every tag/person who wore purple they matched one dollar and donated to NEDA. My pals at Hidden Dragon Yoga in Edmond wanted to have a box for a week. Evolve Fitness, the sponsor for the IG challenge, had a day of free classes for clothes. Then I had my class at Core Nutrition.  When the week had come to a close I counted over 50 bags of clothes!

 

 

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It touched my heart to see so many people come together and do something for other people. To clean out their closets and their hearts, to make space for love. To build community and unite for a cause–being close to Spring and the itch to spring clean doesn’t hurt either….Sometimes it is hard to see the goodness in people, especially in our social media and headline driven world.

 

In addition to having my faith restored in people, seeing the light, and changing my perspective about Instagram (for the one billionth time hah!) this was the biggest thing I learned: Something Small Can Have a Big Impact. I guess I always knew that but it wasn’t till this week and reflecting upon these lessons did I really see it/understand it.  Not only is this shown through the clothing drives–these clothes will go to our local chapter of the YWCA– but I saw it through my friend, recovery warrior,  only participant, and winner: Nikki. Nikki pledged to do this challenge about a month ago then her son died. She almost didn’t participate but decided to anyway. I told her I hoped she found some healing and used this as a way to deal with her grief. Nikki told me that it did help her. That right there is more than enough. That statement is why I did what did and made it all worth it. She got what she needed to go on and live life.

 

What did you do for NEDA Awareness Week? Share below!

 

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Setbacks and Pushes Forward

The beauty of life is that it constantly ebbs and flows. There is a quote that I love from my EDA Big Book, “life is not static and neither are we”. That easily applies to all facets of life–from the spiritual to professional. We are constantly in flux. Which can be a good thing. Sometimes it’s annoying. I know I’m not the only one who gets tired of life constantly changing, throwing things at you, jobs falling through, blowing you around like the wind during Oklahoma tornado season. You’re so topsy turvy that you don’t know which way is up and which is down, but you’re good at going side to side…or barely moving. The wind sets us back a few steps but if we turn the other direction that same wind pushes us forward.

 

Ever since I’ve moved to OKC my life has been filled with these set backs and forward pushes. Sometimes it is a lot to take in. There have been days I want to give up and just chuck it all out with the trash. Not the recyclables, the trash.  It has been disappointing to say the least when you hit your stride and all seems to be going well then life throws you a curveball. Jobs fall through. People let you down. You become confused on what you are supposed to be doing with your life. Nothing seems to go right. You face major set backs. You begin to wonder if you’ve been confusing life callings with selfish desires. You realize that you’ve been lying to yourself while holding on to a “dream“. To cope you begin to count calories, obsess over good and bad foods, regret switching up your workout routine, and spend WAY too much time on social media wishing you could switch feeds with those you follow. Sound familiar?

 

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However, just like the Oklahoma wind that never goes away, a change of direction happens. The winds get so blustery that you have to turn around and find a new route to your destination. Along that new route you encounter new people and opportunities. These winds push you forward into an unknown territory. You are slightly scared because no one likes wondering in to the unknown. It is rough, dark, scary, and difficult. You keep pushing forward because deep down you know something good will happen–I mean that’s what they tell you right?

 

Eventually you arrive at this new destination–or maybe it’s where you were heading. The point is you get there. This new direction hopefully added a new perspective to life. Maybe you realized something about yourself along the way, like you are quick to anger/jump off the deep end, talk to much, and may be a tad bit of an aggressive perfectionist. Knowing these insights will help you when you make the trip again. You won’t have that drastic of a set back and you can push forward with more gusto.

 

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Home

This past week I finally got to go home. My bestie, Jenni, was getting hitched and of course I had to be there–I was in the wedding party after all. Even if I wasn’t in the bridal party, nothing would keep me away! One of OK’s severe storms  could hit and that wouldn’t keep me from missing one of the biggest events of her life. As I wrote in my previous post, this summer was rough. There were days I wanted to go home but after rededicating my yoga practice, the 12 Steps, and making a few friends, I became ok with where I am. Then I realized I was a month from the wedding. Meaning one month from being home!!! That really changed my perspective and gave me the extra oomph I needed to get over this hurdle.

 

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Every day I counted down the days till I was to go home. I don’t know who was more excited for the week of October 14th, me or Jenni. Ha! Well, we were both excited for different reasons. When the hubs and I began to pack our bags the nerves and elation began to soar as high as the Appalachian Mountains I would be seeing. Before I knew what hit me it was 10 AM and I was in Will Rogers airport on vacation and letting “vacation Leslie” loose. I was living life and having new experiences like drinking beer in an airport before ten, drinking more beer and smoking a cigar in a Terrapin Smoke Lounge in the ATL airport, walked on moving sidewalks (I seriously looked like Elf when he did a split on the escalator), and I even got the joy to run into my brother in law.

 

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Jenni and I

 

Two flights and a three hour layover later I was back home. Wrapped up in a comfy, cozy, Appalachian blanket. I saw trees, mountains, hills, and curvy roads–o how I  missed driving on those roads.  It felt so good to be surrounded my family and all things familiar. The wedding celebrations began and it was time to eat, drink, and be married. Jenni was beautiful and the ceremony was gorgeous. I made new friends at this wedding and am excited that we are both married to great guys and we can continue to got through life together.

 

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Our Picture for the Year

 

After a few days of wedding celebrations I was able to “go on tour” with Jeremy. I called it “our tour” because it reminded me of the Netflix show, The Crown where the Queen and Philip go around to their nations to visit with everyone. It was a blast seeing our friends while drinking mimosas at brunch or hibachi for dinner. I loved being able to have a tangible moment with my friends and not just look at their lives from the smartphone looking in.  There is nothing like being able to connect on a personal level…sorry Facebook. Those moments of connection was enough to ground me and root me to the earth; to help me bring back a stable foundation back to OKC.

 

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Bogie is the Family Dog. He was also our Dog of Honor at our Wedding.

 

While I enjoyed my time back home I was also as excited to come back to OKC. I shared with my husband on our Uber ride back from the airport that while I just went home, I am still home. I have two homes now, not one. I have my home home in Tennessee but I also have a home here in Oklahoma. It made me really think about what home means and is. Home isn’t just a place where you eat, sleep, drink, and watch Project Runway marathons. Home doesn’t have to be physical like mountains, hills, valleys, or flat lands. Home isn’t if you have a husband, wife, brother, sister, or extra family members. Home is your soul. Home is where your heart beats. My soul has somehow began to melt into the metro that surrounds me. The hustle and bustle, the sixty mph winds, even the crazy traffic, has begun to become one with these great plains. My soul has began to pick up the spirit that is Oklahoma. I guess the saying is true…home is where the heart is.

6 Months and I’m Still Here

I was making an after dinner snack on Tuesday and while I was chopping bananas and making my protein yogurt sundae all pretty, I realized something. I looked at the hubs and said, “Guess what!? We’ve been in Oklahoma six months!”. “O, yeah. We have” the hubs replied. We couldn’t believe how time has passed. Time has moved slow and fast at the same time. Some days and weeks seem to drag, while others move as quick as The Doctor’s TARDIS through space.

Life in OKC has been a learning experience to say the least. Each day has presented a unique challenge and struggles that I thought wouldn’t end. There have been situations where things fell through and people turned out to be not what I expected. Opportunities have arose that were better than I could imagine. I have battled anxiety, fear, and my eating disorder. I have lost touch with who I am, my essence, to slowly start to find it again. Oklahoma life isn’t like Tennessee life.

 

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Wildflowers Outside My House Before a Storm

 

While I grew up moving around frequently, it was the main reason why I developed an eating disorder, this move was unlike the others (for more on that check out an older blog post). At sometimes I didn’t think I’d make it. People had said I’d be back home within a month or two but I wanted to prove them wrong– even though I was sad, depressed, and missed my old life. There were a few times I almost booked a flight home when I saw the fun that was happening back home, life was batshit crazy, or just because I wanted to escape the infamous Oklahoma winds.

I never booked a flight though because I wanted to show to myself and others that I could stay here. I truly loved it here even though sometimes my actions and words said otherwise. I began to make friends and meet people. I began to teach more yoga. I even got a job in a dance studio (something I had sorely missed). I received my HFS books and study guides. Therapy was going well and I had decided to recommit to the 12 Steps. Life was looking up so I saw no reason to go back home till my bestie’s wedding. Guess what, I am so glad I did.

 

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Oklahoma Skyline at Dusk on the Bricktown Water Taxi

 

So besides learning how to deal with a new landscape, people, jobs, loneliness, etc…here are a few other things I have learned:

  • In OKC the Northwest Expressway is the biggest lie I have ever encountered. You are not an “expressway”. The speed limit on an “expressway” shouldn’t be 55 mph and have a red light every block.
  • Keeping with the traffic (pun intended), in OKC people love to go five to ten miles under the speed limit unless they are in a parking lot or school zone.
  • Every  mile here is equivalent to two/three minutes approx.
  • When you let go of attachment to certain outcomes and titles, the things you want to happen actually happen.
  • Keeping an open heart when you feel like closing off can lead to some great experiences.
  • A “short trip” to the liquor store turns into an hour experience because you stock up on everything alcohol related due to some wonderful antiquated liquor laws.
  • If you ever decide to get a mani/pedi but don’t know where to go, just find a salon on the road closest to you, as there are as many salons as gas stations.
  • Trader Joe’s is amazing and I love being less than fifteen minutes from one. #worhtthedrive
  • Oklahoma has the best sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen.
  • In Oklahoma roads don’t twist and wind, they veer. So you can be going straight for sometime then you have to veer slightly right or left. If you don’t pay attention you will end up in the wrong lane.
  • Metro-life is awesome.

 

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Portion of the Boomer Sooner Sculpture at Dusk on the Bricktown Water Taxi Ride

 

 

*photos by me*

Happy One Month

I have been in Oklahoma City a little over a month. It is crazy how quickly time flies. It feels just like yesterday that we were living in hotel rooms and waiting for our furniture to arrive. It feels just like yesterday that I experienced my first hail storm. I am halfway through tornado season and I might just make it…maybe, that is if I don’t get bulldozed and blown away by OKC’s sixty mph winds.

Being here the past month I have learned so much. It is just like the quote we see on all those reclaimed wood pieces, you never know how strong you are until you have to be. While I have moved a lot during my life, it is one reason why I developed my eating disorder, I never did it as an adult. I was always with my family. With this move I only had my husband and my dog. Even the feel of the move is different when you are an adult. As an adult you actually comprehend what is happening and it is harder to say goodbye, especially when you have roots. While I enjoy being nomadic (growing up I wanted nothing more than to travel the world, not staying in one place for to long, experiencing new things–which I still do) it is different when you have roots. People you care about it. Emotional ties. Family. Being uprooted is almost death, but like vegetables that you can replant from roots-avocados, celery-you can be brought back to life, sometimes even stronger than before.

 

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One of My Favorite Bronze Sculptures in Downtown Edmond

 

As I mentioned in my previous post, this move has been triggering. With each passing day I am getting acclimated to this region (even though all this wind is aggravating my dosha! #vataproblems) and I’m working on managing my eating disorder/anxiety. I am becoming more grounded and setting up a routine that I desperately need to keep my ED and anxiety at bay ( I’m even starting therapy again-beginning today). While I am making a daily schedule I am learning to block time for fun and exploration. This move is teaching me to find balance and resiliency, a quality I don’t have that I hope I can learn.

On a spiritual note, this move helped me get back to praying. From the moment Jere told me the good news fear and anxiety set in. I knew this was a big shift and needed support. So I began to pray. I prayed that we would be safe, find a place where we would fit in/community. I also began to pray that He would open doors for me that weren’t available where I was. I began to grow weary of the freelance life and longed for something more stable. I prayed that He would help bring the right yoga studio and opportunities my way. He moved a lot sooner than I expected and within two weeks I was working in a studio that reminded me of my home studio. I began to volunteer with Yoga in the Park and meet people. I’m still praying and jumping on opportunities that present themselves. some workout, some don’t, and that’s OK. At the end of the day I’m thankful for His guidance and the discernment He has given me.

 

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This Fun Mural is in Downtown Edmond Outside the Shoppe, Summit, a Wilderness Store.

 

Each day I wake up in OKC, look at the beautiful sunrise as I take Winston out for a walk and I can’t believe I am here. Each Wednesday when I drive into the city (Midtown) with the skyline and skyscrapers in my eyesight, I get excited. I can’t believe that I’m finally living the Metro life. Everything I have ever wanted is ten to twenty minutes away. Any experience I have missed out on is here. The people that I meet daily and/or work with are unlike anyone I’ve met. Opportunities abound and I can’t help but dance in my heart.

If this first month in OKC has been this eventful I can’t imagine what will happen next month, the third month, or the month after that. Where will I be by Christmas? How about this time next year? I can’t wait.

 

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An Oklahoma Sunrise