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Surrender

The elements are bigger than me.

That is the phrase that has been running through my mind for the past several weeks. In Athens, Amorgos, and again once I was safely back on Texas soil (and even into parts of Arkansas and Louisiana).

The elements are bigger than me.

Obviously I’ve always known that. (Ok, maybe not always – but teenagers can be pretty cocky)

But knowing and honoring are different things, and sometimes even the best of us need reminders.

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Beautiful full moon over the water my last night in Amorgos.

 

 

I am a planner by nature. I always have been. I love lists and calendars and schedules and timetables. If you read my blogs on prepping for Greece or Kansas City, this probably comes as no surprise to you.

I had big plans for Athens, I thought I understood how my time was going to be spent and what I would see and do, and the thing I wanted to do most of all was a day trip to Delphi. I don’t know why I attached myself to this idea so immensely. I was drawn to the idea of the the Oracle and it being the Center of Gaia (Grandmother Earth). Artifacts have been uncovered here dating as far back as the 8th century BC, and it was even the site of the Pythian Games – which pre-dates the Olympic Games. I read myths and histories, I was fascinated.
And then there was the heat wave.
My time in Athens was marked globally not only by a garbage strike, but by a record heat wave, with temperatures reaching as high as 112 degrees. Now try as I might, I cannot control the Sun, and all of the sites in Athens I had been thinking of so longingly were closing early or not opening at all to protect tourists and employees from inevitable heat stroke.  So in the end there was no day trip, no 3 hour bus ride, no gift to the Oracle or chance to dip my hand in the Castilian Spring.
Honestly, I rolled with the change in plans pretty easily and I was feeling a little proud of myself for my growth and immense inner peace. It didn’t hurt that instead we went to Lake Vouliagmeni and the National Garden and splurged on dinner and wine.

 

 

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Sunset view from Mt. Lycabettus

 

We escaped the heat of the city as we sailed to Amorgos, the southern most island in the Cyclades. Once there, we had a detailed itinerary for our 6 days and I rewrote our printed schedule into my journal by hand, because that’s just the kind of girl I am.
As you might have guessed by the context of this post; on Day 2, the winds of change rolled in – quite literally. It got so windy and the sea so choppy that water activities were canceled and moved back again and again. It seemed like every day we were receiving a breakfast announcement of some change to our plans and schedule. Considering that besides yoga, the things I was looking forward to most on the island were snorkeling and scuba, I bore this news with a little less internal grace. Now keep in mind that I still got to do (almost) every activity I had planned- I just had to do them different days than what I wrote down in my well-worn journal, but my yogi patience was starting to wear.
Just like in Athens though- everything still turned out beautifully. Instead of Paddle Boarding I drank Old Fashions on the beach and Scuba Diving became the perfect last day activity to culminate my time on the island.

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The most beautiful little beach that was about a 15 minute hike from Aegialias

 

At the beginning of the retreat, Lauren asked us what our word or goal for the week was; how we wanted to feel throughout our time. My answer was to be present; to feel each moment. I understood how lucky I was to be there. I knew that this time and this space would embed deep into my soul and I didn’t want to give way to distraction.

Then one night after dinner, she and I were talking. I told her of the phrase that seemed sent to me, that I couldn’t get out of my head. “The elements are bigger than you”. And all the ways the elements had continued to change or effect my plans. The way my energy and heart seemed linked into the earth so much more than usual.  She said easily that perhaps my word should be to surrender instead.
I spent the rest of my night thinking about surrendering; how you have to be present to do so, and how much ease it offers, how it is like floating in the beautiful, blue, salt water of the Aegean- you have to let go and allow the water to support you.
I loved it, and I knew she was right. I spent the rest of my days allowing myself to float, to flow, to surrender to my body and breath, and to take in every ounce of that island and hold it in my heart.

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Unbelievable coast line on Amorgos

 

A few days later, we loaded onto the ferry to sailed back to Athens and I had a beautiful last 30 hours spent solo; getting my favorite souvenir and visiting the sites I had missed due to the heat wave (The National Cathedral, the Temple of Zeus, and the Pantheon – though, not Delphi).
I made to the airport easily with time to spare and had a lovely late night flight to London where I met the most interesting Belgian pilot and read my book-club book.

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The Pantheon- they were setting up for a Jazz Concert and I got to hear them sound check.

And that is where my ease in travel stopped for the rest of my trip.
It took me and hour and a half to get through passport control in Heathrow and I missed the last tube into London. I was booked into an over-booked hotel and spent 30 minutes waiting on a shuttle that never came. I lost my “One Night in London” grand adventure and was reminded that other people are just as strong of a force as the sun and the wind and I have no more control over the former as I do the later. I was tired, cranky, and defeated when I finally made it into a bed at 1:30AM.

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The Brits seem a little alarmist about their Exit signs

 

But regardless of my disposition, the next day I traveled backwards through time and landed back in the states. Jet lag hit me like a ton a bricks as I unpacked and repacked, did laundry and snuggled my cat, and jumped back in the car to Kansas City.
The turn around was so quick, I still feel like I haven’t quite been able to process what Greece meant and all the ways it is working inside of me now.
But even so, I was looking forward to my 13 hours over 2 days in the car to sort it all out. I made my way to Texarkana enjoyed the most delicious stuffed tomatoes with a kindred spirit and went to bed with a full belly and the smell of red wine still in my nose.

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The beautiful view from my dear friend’s back yard

 

Now, it has been a few years since I was in Arkansas and I forgot that for whatever reason, the entire state is a dead zone for me. I just don’t get any cell signal there. I don’t know why or how and I don’t pretend to understand how cell towers work. But either way, that’s the deal.
Even still, when I woke up the next morning bright and early and tapped in to my dear friend’s WiFi, I was overwhelmed by the number of messages and voicemail’s that started coming through.

Apparently overnight, my brother-in-law had been in terrible car accident. He suffered multiple injuries to all four limbs as well as his pelvis, spine, and clavicle.
I spent the next hour playing phone tag with my sister and my mom, calling my boss at the Coterie, and pretending like I had a decision to make. But I think we all knew there was no decision or choice involved. I needed to surrender.
I turned around and made my way back to Houston where he had been transferred; even then, the elements jumped in my path as I spent an hour sitting in a gas station parking lot waiting out a torrential down pour that ripped through the sky.
I arrived after he had been wheeled in for his first surgery.

 

Of course, I was worried about my plans. I was worried about my work, and I was worried about all the big and small ways I was inconveniencing those around me. But none of it mattered.

 

 

In the yoga sutras, Patanjali says that surrendering ourselves to that higher force (the practice of Ishvara Pranidhana) is one of the key components to becoming one with the greater being.  To become all we are, we need to surrender the limited sense of who we are – the small self – in order to realize the large Self, or divine potential.

The one power we have, and always will have, is the ability to choose how we respond to life.  We have the power to choose our actions, but we don’t have the power to determine the results.  That is out of our hands.  Thus, part of self-surrender is letting go of expectations – surrendering the fruit of our actions, as it is said in the Bhagavad Gita.  This is a practice of trust.  We trust our energy and intentions, we trust the world around us, and we trust that we are taken care of.
The sun doesn’t resist its own setting – it lets go, knowing that it will rise once again.
When we trust that we’re okay no matter what circumstances come our way, we don’t need to micro-manage the universe. We don’t need to grasp so tightly to our lists and plans. We surrender. And we open ourselves to all sorts of wonderful possibilities and to a sense of calm, of freedom, and of peace within the chaos.

 

I made it to Kansas City a week late. I directed a play and taught a workshop and drank too much wine and took deep breaths. I left early and tumbled back into the arms of my family.
It was not the trip I planned, it was filled with stress and beauty and sweat and acceptance. It forced me to remember the parts of my world and of myself that are most important and it certainly kept me on my toes. (It also gave me 2 grey hairs).

 

The Elements Are Bigger Than Me

And I am so incredibly grateful that they are.

Read With Me

Kansas City Here I Come

Because of the miracles of modern technology, when this publishes, I will be packing my bags in Athens to head to the airport. I’ll jet to London for a quick overnight and maybe a spin on the Eye, then I’ll be trekking back to the great state of Texas for exactly 40 hours before I hop in my car and head north.

Goodness, I’m tired just thinking about it.

BUT

I’m so happy to be heading back to one of my favorite towns in the world to work in one of my favorite places!

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I won’t actually be working with babies this size, but I love this photo and I think it perfectly sums up how I feel about the Coterie Theatre.

 

 

I’ll be in KC for about 3 1/2 weeks to Direct Shrek The Musical JR at MCC Longview with the Coterie Theatre AND to work with the Master Class students on their Summer Showcase.

 

I feel so lucky that the good people at the Coterie trust me and love me enough to hire me back each summer and give me the chance to play and create and teach.
It sure made moving away a lot easier, knowing that I was maintaining relationships and contracts there.

 

 

 

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Into The Woods JR – 2016
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Bird of Prey – 2016

 

 

While I have to admit, I’ve been a little pre-occupied with Greece,  I have been spending a some time day- dreaming about all the things I want to do in Kansas City .
Of course, I will be working 6 days a week, but I’m sure I can manage some time for fun.

I want to
*Go to the Nelson
*Go to Loose Park
*Go to a Royals Game
*Eat at Oklahoma Joe’s
*Eat at Lulu’s and Cafe Gratitude
*Go to the River Market
*See everyone I love and miss dearly
*Swim at Woodside
*See lots of live music and theatre
*Go to Grinders and the Crossroads
*Take so many yoga classes! Especially at Boulevard Yoga, Karma Tribe Yoga, and The Nelson Atkins

***and so so much more I can’t even think of.

 

I love this town. I love it so much. I love it’s  energy and the heat. I love it’s heart and dirty rivers. I’m excited for the opportunity to stretch and flex my creative muscles and pretend like I’m in any way qualified to direct a musical. And of course you know I’m going to sneak a little yoga magic in for these Twisted Teens.

 

Help me out though.

What else should I add to my list ya’ll?

 

 

Well, I might take a plane; I might take a train
But if I have to walk, I’m going just the same
I’m going to Kansas City
Kansas City here I come

 

 

 

Read With Me

Letters from Mexico

Last year I was fortunate enough to go on my first Yoga Retreat with Lauren Leduc of Karma Tribe Yoga.

We went to San Pancho Mexico and stayed at the Tailwind Jungle Lodge. It was one of the most beautiful, magical, soul affirming things I’ve done.

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Repping the jungle with our crazy pants. 

 

(Hence spending all my money to go to Greece with her now.)

 

On the last day of our retreat, Lauren asked us to write a letter to ourselves a year from now. We would write it, seal it, address it, and she would send it to us in a year.  We could say whatever we wanted, but she encouraged us to reflect on our time in the jungle while it was still very very fresh and to consider the lessons we had just begun to learn.

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I learned a lot about how delicious coffee is when you wake up to the smell of it being roasted. 

 

 

Now because timing is a beautiful thing, I didn’t receive my letter until the morning I left to come to Greece.

In April 2016, I had no idea where I would be living in a year, so I addressed my letter to my sister’s house.

Now, in May of 2017 I had forgotten about this letter and my sister had moved. But, my mom still owned the house, so none of us bothered to forward our mail, and instead, my sister would drop by occasionally to pick it up.

Occasionally means a lot of things and apparently my letter was sitting at the old house for a bit before my sister picked it up.

She texted me and took it to her new house. Where it stayed for another couple of weeks because I just couldn’t remember to pick it up each time I was there. Until FINALLY,  on the Monday I left for Greece, I managed to remember to grab it before I said good bye.

 

I read my letter in the airport waiting for my flight to London and was a little in awe of the words on the page.

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Yes, I know I  write like a 12 year old serial killer.

 

I remember feeling incredibly in tune at the end of that trip, but I had no idea how spot on my words would be a year later.

 

 

Dear Melody at 29,

You’re welcome! This trip was amazing and I know it has changed you and shaped you in some way- even if you don’t remember now.

I am writing from Mexico; laying on my bed under mosquito netting, writing this in the journal Lindsey bought us for Christmas. The fan is blowing (to help with the bugs) but if it weren’t, the air would be the same temperature as my skin. It is perfect here. I feel so grateful and fortunate and in-tune here. I’m scared to go home.

I hope you haven’t fallen back into old patterns. I hope you are starting or continuing the journey towards your purpose. I hope you figure out what that is.

This trip was nothing that I expected. I’m not sure I know what I expected. I think I anticipated more Solitude and down time, but that is not really what I got at all and that is okay. That is great in fact. I had a beautiful adventures and cultivated some lovely friendships and really tried to focus on making each present moment the happiest or most joyous it could be. I feel like I was able to get out of my own head and out of my own way about what I thought I needed or should do.

I think that is the lesson or skill I hope you have held onto the most. To not only focus on the present but to make each present moment the most fulfilling or happiest it can be, and to trust your instincts about what will accomplish that. (Hint: good food and good people always help.) I also hope you are able to get in your own way less. To find your path and to honestly and openly attain what you need to help you along your way. Also, I think I’ve always been pretty good at this; but continue to nourish relationships with everyone you meet and to thank people daily. Gratitude is key.

I’m really proud of myself for doing this. For letting go of a scarcity mindset, for doing something big on my own, for traveling out of the country, meeting a group of strangers, and sleeping in the jungle- all on my own power. That’s not true though. Everyone here and everyone in my life helped create this experience. I am just lucky enough to be a part of it. But I was brave enough to get on that plane- and for that I am proud and thankful.

I hope you, in a year, are even more willing and eager to take big risks and start journeys on your own (you will never end them alone though). I hope you find or have found balance and grounding, but also an open heart and clear intuition. Also I hope you’ve mastered Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (or at least feel more comfortable not being great at something). I hope your daily life includes as much adventure and laughter as you’ve had this week. Believe me it has been quite a lot.

At the beginning of this trip my intention was to cleanse and to shed. I think I’ve done that through sport, and long talks and giggle fits, and tequila, and meditation, and self love. I hope you always have all of those things and that you use them to gain whatever it is you need. Laughter is healing and “you know what you need”.

I could go on and on and write for hours and days, but that’s not necessary. You know what you need to know- it’s already inside of you.

I love you

Melody

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Now I’m not sure what my purpose is, and maybe I never will be; but I am certianly willing to take more risks. And I’m becoming more and more accepting of failure (grateful even). I’ve even been more willing to slow down and to offer myself what I need first. I’m not sure if I learned all those things in the jungle, or if they are just the byproduct of age. But I am very grateful for the reminder that I am on the right path.

 

 

When this publishes, I’ll be getting on a ferry to head to Amargos for my 2nd retreat. I don’t know if Lauren will have us write another letter. I don’t know what I’ll write or how I’ll feel. I don’t know if in a year, I’ll be sharing it with you all here.  But I do know I’ll be changed, and that is not scary or sad. It is beautiful. We are all moving forward the best we can. Doing the work we are capable of and hoping for the best, and that is amazing.

 

So cheers to Melody at 28! May she become better with age as her laugh lines deepen and her world expands!

And to Melody at 30, keep up the good work.

 

Read With Me

Greece is the Word

AHHH!!!!

I am going to Greece!!!

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This is one of my very favorite photos of my sweet baby cousin. She gives the best face.

 

 

 

Ya’ll I’m not sure I’ve ever been more excited or more scared for something in my life. I’ve been planning this trip for about 9 months and it has seemed so far away for so long and now all of a sudden it is here.

I leave one week from today. 1 more week and I will be half way around the world (OK, 6,332 miles according to Google).

Ever since I was little, I’ve had a fascination with Greece and specifically the Greek Islands. This place in the world seems to fulfill every fantasy I have about romance, adventure, knowledge, belief, and so much history; both told and forgotten.
I love Greek history and Mythology, I could live on olives and cheese and never complain, and I’m certain blue is my best color. Deep in my heart I’ve always known this is where I need to be.

So when Lauren Leduc of Karma Tribe Yoga asked where we should do our next yoga retreat, you better believe I shouted GREECE so loud she heard me in Kansas City.

There are so many things I want to see and do, and I know I won’t be able to get to them all (like Olympia, Nafpllio, and Epidovros). But that is OK. There is always next time.
Like Rick Steves says “Assume you will return”

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See.

 

 

 

Already on my itinerary I’ve got

ATHENS
*
Makrigianni and South Planka
*The Acropolis and Acropolis Museum and Acropolis Loop
*Ancient Angora
*The National Archaeological Museum
*Central Market
*Mars Hill
*Theatre of Dionysus
*Temple of Olympian Zeus
*Library of Hadrian
*Syntagma and Parliament
*The National Garden
*The Benaki Museum of Greek History and Culture
and
*Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon

Delphi
*
The Sanctuary of Apollo
*The Sanctuary of Athena
*The Archaeological Museum

Amargos Island
*Greek Island Yoga Retreat with Lauren Leduc
*
We are staying at the Aegialis Hotel & Spa
*Yoga!
*We have so many fun things scheduled during our retreat including Scuba, Snorkeling, Cooking Classes, a Tour of the Island, Group Hikes, Massages, and maybe even some nude beaches!

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I am not nude in this photo, just got those strategically placed braids. #madeyoulook

 

 

 

Goodness! Listing it all out like that just got me so excited all over again!

 

 

 

But I have to admit there is a tiny little voice inside of me that worries if I’ve built this all up too much. That perhaps I’ve made it too big and too important in my mind and there is no way anything could live up to my expectations.

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In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali says that you must do your yoga practice (whatever that might be) with consistence, diligence, patience, and, most importantly, without attachment to results. By not worrying about what will come from your efforts, you’ll set your mind free.

Abhyasa : effort, willpower, practice

Vairagya : letting go, acceptance, detachment

 

I trust Patanjali enough to know that he included epic-bucket list-life long dream-terrifying-slightly solo-around the world adventures as part of your yoga practice, so does that mean I need to be reigning in my imagination a little more? Should I be saving a little room in my heart for the possibility that this ancient world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

 

The thing is, I also know that no matter how the trip and the experience turns out, it is going to be right and good.
Honestly, I’m  pretty damn proud of myself for going at all. For jumping on a 10 hour flight with only my own thoughts to entertain me and for spending my first 4 days in Athens alone before the people I know and love arrive. (Yes Mom, I’ll be careful).

 

So even if this trip is terrible (it wont be), it will still be important. There is so much the Aegean has to teach me. I can feel it in my bones and I feel so ready to learn.

 

Besides, Patanjali also said your practice has to be filled with enthusiasm.
That’t what I’m sticking with for now.