Details coming soon!
We did it again! We filled up my 200 + square foot garage with loads of donated treasures from friends and, neighbors, relatives, and aquaintences and then woke up at the foggy crack of dawn to drag them out on into the driveway and we sold ‘em off!
We raised over $600 for AYP!
Thanks to all who donated to the 2nd Annual AYP Benefit Yard Sale!
Thanks to Amyi, for being my partner in a most treasure-ful yard sale!
Thanks to the shoppers (except for a couple of you, you were very polite and welbehaved and barely stepped on any flowers in my garden!
Thanks to Riddell Roper and Mike Lockwood for helping to clean up, being good company, and for the post sale yoga antics (Extreme Chair Yoga!)
Thanks to Scott for being patient, generous, and kind. Giving up your space, putting up signs and keeping Amy and I fed and properly caffinated!
Thanks to Africa Yoga Project for inspiring me to be a better, more giving, generous person.
I am trying to focus.
All the time I tell my first graders that they need to do this very same thing. I need to take my own advice.
Amy asked me recently if I want to go to Haiti for another yoga seva trip. My answer was of course, “Of course!” But then my focus re-sharpened and I remembered that just the very day before I had Decided. Decided has a capital D because it was a big Decision that I made.
This summer I will work on me.
Much as I love the idea of working to make extra money and then spending every last cent of money I make (and in the case of last summer… every last cent and then some on) on trips that simultaneously fill me up and leave me hungry for more, this summer will be different.
Here are my goals. I am publicly stating them and invite anyone who reads this to hold me accountable.
- Asana. Nuff said.
- The vast majority of my adult YTT will be done when I return to first grade in the fall.
- I will read every day. Something for the pure pleasure of it and something in the personal growth department. I will not let the juicy novel take my life over completely!
- I will work in my garden every day. Or at least pull a bucket full of weeds.
- I will walk the dog alot. And pet my cats…and snuggle Scott too!
Summer of me. Summer Self Seva. But not with the intention of selfishness, with the intention that I can be so much more available and joyful if commit to doing this work and focusing.
So Africa…Haiti…India…you’ll just have to wait your turn. I love you and I’ll visit soon.
I just put together and ordered this photo book (Thanks Groupon and Shutterfly!)
I love having this book to carry with me so that when people ask about Africa I can show and tell them!
I just discovered that you can also share the book electronically…
so here you go. A glimpse at AYP and Africa!
Love From Kenya,
Disclaimer: I am a bit of a cheater! This post wasn’t really written for this blog (as you’ll notice when you begin to read.) It was written to be a talk given to the Kindergarten-8th graders plus the facutly, staff, and parents at my school for our first Friday community gathering. I haven’t posted for a while, but felt like I could recycle this post here succesfully! Enjoy!
First Friday Talk: October, 6, 201
Given to the Gateway School Community
I had so many different ideas about what to talk to you about today, it was really hard to settle on one! I considered topics like mindfulness, peace and plenty, and leading the change in your community, whether that’s your classroom, neighborhood, or town. None of these felt quite right to me though. I contemplated talking about Africa, because I spent the summer traveling there with my friend Amy. We visited many communities and neighborhoods in Nairobi, Kenya teaching and taking yoga classes as volunteers for the Africa Yoga Project, but somehow that wasn’t quite right either. I kept thinking, the ideas sailing through my mind like boats in the harbor, the wind catching in their sails and carrying each idea away. Finally though, one thought-boat set its anchor in the ocean of my mind! Happiness.
I want to talk about happiness. I want to be clear, that I don’t mean happiness like when you get a new lego set, or a new ipod, or a new pair of shoes, (which is something I get excited about!) It’s not wrong to feel excited or pleased about having new stuff, it’s just that it’s not the sort of happiness that lasts. Even though you might be really excited about the legos, the ipod, or the shoes at some point they won’t be new any longer. You’ll lose a piece of the lego set, a new, more awesome, model of ipod will come out, and the shoes will get dirty or worn out, or go out of style.
The happiness that I want to talk about comes not from things or items, but from actions. Actions like nurturing friendships, whether they are new friends living far away in Africa in homes made of mud and sticks like my friend Jacob, or old friends like my childhood best friend Jen, who I’ve known since the 5th grade and still keep in touch with. Jacob is a Massai Warrior who teaches yoga to the school children in his village, his Boma. Jacob and I had long conversations comparing the Maasi way of life in the desert to my American way of life. We talked about collecting water from the pump, protecting cows and goats from lions and hyenas, and he showed me how to tie on a Shuka, which is the cloth that Maasai warriors wear. I met his wives and children. He sang Maasia songs for me, and I helped him with English words that he wondered about and told him about my life in Santa Cruz. I can’t talk to Jacob often, but he’s in my heart and knowing him has expanded my understanding of the world. Sharing a friendship with someone who seems so different from me has been a joyful experience.
The happiness I am talking about can come from physical actions like dancing, running, swimming, soccer, or yoga. Finding some physical practice that you love can be the reset button when things are not going your way. Imagine this, which is something that happened to me recently. I had a bad day. A really bad day. You might know the feeling…I woke up late. We were out of coffee. My puppy, Oli, peed on the floor and I stepped in it. I had an argument with my boyfriend. I used my whole lunch time up on a boring adult meeting and didn’t get to eat my lunch. By the end of the day I was grumpy and tired from not eating. I went home and had a snack and played with Oli but neither of those things worked to make me feel better. Part of me felt like I wanted to just lay down for a nap, another part of me felt like I wanted to cry. Instead, I decided to go to dance class. By the time the second song came on my day had been erased. Moving, dancing, doing something that I love really hit my happiness reset button. I left feeling energized and ready for the rest of my evening. What physical activity is your reset button?
There are so many ways we can tap into our happiness, so that it flows thick and sweet right from the heart of us all, just like maple syrup from the heart of a the tree. Our families, our pets, having a good belly laugh with a friend…there are so many ways to cultivate happiness, to nurture it, to seek it out, or to simply notice it. I just have one final example for today though.
Happiness of the sort that I’m talking about comes from sharing your gifts with others. This summer in Africa I took yoga classes from many amazing teachers who come from difficult places. Places where one might look and initially not see much happiness. Neighborhoods without indoor plumbing, clean water, or enough food. These teachers are sharing a gift with their communities by bringing people together to do yoga. Sharing your gifts might mean telling a joke to a friend who needs the opportunity to smile, it might mean drawing pictures for your friends and family. Sharing your gifts might mean listening to a friend who’s had a hard day. It might mean offering a helping hand to someone. Each of us has talents, ideas and strengths that we bring to our community, as well as an unlimited supply of smiles and hugs just waiting to spread. And that’s not even the best part. When we start to share our talents, ideas, smiles, and hugs this way our own happiness grows so that our actions benefit others, but also boomerang right back to ourselves. Sharing happiness with other causes your own happiness to grow.
One last story before I go…
In Nairobi this summer Amy and I planned one of our classes to have a sort of competition, we called it the AcroYoga Olympics. There were two teams of about 25 yogis each and although they were competing, it was a friendly competition and everyone was playing for the fun of it more than for winning. They were surprised, but pretty excited when we announced there were prizes for the winners.
“Who won!? Who won!?” They asked.
“You all did!” we responded.
Confused, they asked “We tied? Really?”
We explained that the goal was really not about collecting points, but to finding ways to use each team member’s talents and strengths to be the best they could be. Amy and I congratulated them, “You’ve all done that!”
“What’s our prize?” they asked?
“Well…” We admitted, “We actually forgot your prizes, but we each bought a chocolate croissant for our breakfast this morning. We didn’t have time to eat them. We still have them and we thought that they would make good prizes.”
“You have one last challenge though, “ Amy continued, “You have to figure out how to share 1 chocolate croissant between your whole team!”
Amy and I watched, grinning ear to ear as each person tore off a little bit of chocolate croissant. Peacefully they shared, each person realizing that one sweet bite was plenty when shared with their community. It was a chocolate croissant, but it was also much more than that. It was a sweet bite of happiness.
So today, I have for each of your classes, a chocolate croissant. Just one. Your job will be to figure out how to share this so that each person gets a bit of that sweet happiness.
When your teacher decides it’s a good time, you can come up with a way to share your croissant. Please listen to all the ideas from your classroom community. Please realize that a little sweetness goes a long way. And please each your bite mindfully.
Asante Sana – thank you very much- for being part of my community and contributing your gifts, strengths, and talents to the happiness of us all.
When my friend posted on my facebook page that there had been an explosion in a “slum” neighborhood in Nairobi I had an overwhelming sense of fear, sadness, and something undescribable that rose up from the pit of my belly to my throat. Somehow in my initial panic I assumed or thought I read that the explosion had been in Kibera and a barage of smiling faces, children petting my hair, cries of “mzungu,” all flooded my brain. This along with other sights much sadder, as well as smells of human waste, cooking, burning trash came to me in a most visceral way. I thought of my friends and the kind women who adopted Blessing, the infant who was discarded in the sewer soon after his birth. I thought of the women braiding hair in the lanes, amonst chickens pecking. I thought of the 2 schools that Amy and I visited and remembered turning the jump rope for the girls at Baraka School, and watching the lower school children brush their teeth together at Shining Hope School. I was shocked and worried. When a mother of one of my former students made a comment about Africa to me in the hallway, I couldn’t help but share my worry with her. Her concern etched lines in her face and sadness changed her posture almost immediately.
I sent an email to try to find out what had happened. Thankfully Paige responded almost immediately. The explosion had actually occured in another neighborhood called Lunga Lunga. Thinking about the moment when I read this I would expect to reflect on feeling some sort of relief that it hadn’t happened in a place that I feel connected to. Interestingly no such relief came. I only felt the same shock and sadness, but now those feelings were more free floating, not really attached to any specific person, or to a place that I can visualize. I did feel relief when Paige mentioned that the AYP teachers who live there were all safe. And then sadness again to know that many of their friends had been injured.
I’m writing to let you know that you can help the people effected by this tragedy. People who you’ve never met in this lifetime. But if you’ve ever danced even though your life felt hard, created a meal when your cupboards and your wallet felt empty, shared your story with a new friend, yearned for a different kind of life, hugged your child, or wanted something more for your community, then perhaps your heart is exapnsive enough to include my friends in Nairobi. Africa Yoga Project has set up a donation page specifically to help people affected by this tragedy. They are on the ground in Nairobi and will be able to provide some direct assistance to those in need. When I was in Nairobi I visited the emergency room at a pretty fancy hospital in Nairobi. My E Room visit cost $20. My tetnus shot, antibiotics, pain medication, antibiotic cream, and a sling for my arm cost another $35. Your donation can go a long way toward healing after the Lunga Lunga explosion.
With exapansive love and big gratitude,
One week in, and I’m feeling that the title of this blog is a misnomer. We should rename it “love from Kenya.” The love that we are being shown and given so openly here in Nairobi is powerful stuff. We have amazing new friends who welcome us to their homes and lives with open arms, showing us the communities where they live, making sure we are safe and happy, laughing, practicing yoga, sharing food with us, teaching us bits of Swahili and Sheng, and even sending us goodnight texts to our Kenyan phone! We’ve been shown so much love and support, been showered with it, from the yoga community here. They’ve shared their practice with us, and welcomed us to share with them.
The nitty gritty…
We go to places that most of you would take one look at an think is unfit for humans to live in, but alas there they are, the beautiful shining faces of children, admittedly sometimes covered in dirt and snot, but nonetheless, sweet children, wanting to play, needing love, finding a way in spite of conditions that as a community of humans we should not allow. (I want to tangent for a moment, because at least in Kibera there is food and water to be had, while in northern Kenya the same is not true…people are starving.) In Kibera we visited the home of a very small child, less than one year old, who was rescued from the gutter. He was thrown there after his birth. AYP (Through fundraising…thank YOU!) pays his medical bills and some women in the neighborhood care for him and are giving him a home and love. They’ve named him Blessing. This place is called Hamlet and the women there make some arts and crafts to raise money to support the parentless children who live there. They started pulling out beaded necklaces, bracelets and homemade paper cards. Although we hadn’t planned on it, this yoga outreach class had turned into a shopping trip, and although we’ve been advised that we should always haggle so we get the Kenya price and not the mzungu price, Hamlet is one place we did not haggle. This was for Blessing. (Another tangent…many children grow up with only 1 parent here in Nairobi. And many grow up with none, raised by other family members.) At the Langata Women’s Maximum Secturity prison, at schools in Kibera, at Hamlet the children are like little love magnets. They hold your hand, beam smiles at you, pet your arms, stroke your hair, laugh, and play. Yesterday at Hamlet, one small girl took Amy’s hand and did not let go for more than an hour. Amy sat with her, she was more quiet than the rest of the kids, sticking close needing contact, not distracted by the camera, or any games we tried to play. When the grandmother who was inside beading called us in Amy picked her up to bring her along. A little boy who’d been running around, but returning to hold my hand regularly took note of the fact that someone else was getting picked up and walked directly to me with his arms raised up. I picked him up and held him till we left. The grandmother had called us in to give us a gift. To give us a gift. Do you realize what I am saying. She wanted us each to choose a pair of earrings. We did. To not accept would have been to deny her the chance to give us love. Who can deny another this basic human right? Her generosity astounds me. To have so little, and give so much.
Practice has been so much fun here! Baptiste Power Vinyasa baby! We are getting strong(er!) These AYP teachers know what they are doing! My favorite part of the adult outreach classes here is that there are multiple assistants at each class giving hands-on adjustments. I love this so much! When space allows we practice in a circle and the assistants just walk around the circle adjusting, giving a shoulder squeeze or an assist that takes your asana to new places! It’s wonderful! Today we practiced in the Arboretum, a big park complete with bird sounds and a theater group practicing nearby! At first those of us who do not speak Swahili thought there was a big argument happening nearby, but then we realized it was the same argument over and over…Where is your yoga? Mine is in my heart, the park, Hamlet in Kibera, dodging a Matatu to cross the street! I suggest you go outside, breath in, breath out and find your yoga!
See what I mean? The photos…
To sort the hundreds of photos that have been taken would be overwhelming right now, and I don’t get much computer time, so I’ve created picasa albums by day. I’m still behind a day or 2, but you’ll get an idea of our days. A couple of things you should know…I’ve not taken many of the photos in these albums. Mostly I hand off my camera to someone else and they shoot away. That means there are TONS of photos and some overlap. I’ve tried to add a few captions here and there, and also tried to delete anything too dark or blurry, but other than that I haven’t really edited too much.
Here are some links:
Sunday July 24th (no photos…sorry!)
Tuesday July 26th (this is partial…I ran out of Picasa Storage in the middle of this album. I just got some more, but I guess I can’t use it till tomorrow? Weird.)
Wednesday and Thursday…coming soon.
And so much more…
There is so much more to say and share, but it’s very late, and after you look at the photos you’ll understand that sleep is important!
Love to you, from Kenya!