Friday, January 21, 2011

Life is good today...

My first weekend intensive of Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) has come and gone.

Saturday was an overview of the program. There were over 30 of us in the main yoga room. At our next meeting, there will only be about 18, but for this past weekend, they combined the 500 hour students with us 200 hours. I found this idea completely genius because we got to hear all of the 500 hour's experience with their first YTT.

It took us a couple of hours to go around the room and introduce ourselves, why we were there, what we hoped to gain, our experience, etc. I am one of the younger students in the class. Many of the yogis are coming from a corporate career ; quitting that high-pressure, competitive,  and sometimes harsh world to find something more out of life.

Every single one of the 500 level students spoke quite highly of the program, even those who went through different yoga schools; all used words like transformative and life changing to describe their experiences. The entire process seems completely geared towards looking inward and examining your life through meditation, whether that means sitting and actively meditating, or using it more as a tool in everyday life to be aware and mindful 

During the first day, I have to admit that I had to force myself to focus. This was such a powerful experience in my life, and all of the people in the room were exuding such compassion and enthusiasm for this brand new journey, but I felt like all I could think was, "my mom is dead, my mom is dead, my mom is dead." It was clearly at the forefront of my thoughts. During a break, I did go ahead and tell our main instructor. I feel like I needed to let it out and tell someone this was my current reality. Sort of an explanation if I seemed somewhere else. He told me that he thought the program was actually really going to help me, and that I would be surprised to learn those who may be going through similar things or who have in the past in our class. Once I got my inner blargh out to someone, my racing mind slowed and I was able to just breathe and listen more attentively. 

One girl said that yoga helped her through the loss of her Father awhile ago. He was in his 50's, too.  I felt like her story existed just for me. I did not speak with her during class, but I definitely plan on it. Hey, we have 6 months.

Everyone had such amazing stories. I know that the word "amazing" is overused, but it's true. Everyone felt so open and compassionate. The room made me happy to finally be starting such a wonderful journey of self-reflection. A retired principal sat next to me on Day 2 and she expressed how great it was that I was beginning this program at a young age; she wished she had found it earlier in life. All of it was optimistic.  

It was the right decision for me. And apparently, it is the right timing, too.

Mostly, our schedules are every other weekend. We have "lecture" for about 4 hours and then from 4:00-6:15 we practice. Of course, it differs each weekend, but this is the general premise. Our first yoga practice was a restorative one. I'm used to that class since I attend it often. Day 2 we had the option of going upstairs for a hot yoga, or staying downstairs for a moderate to intense ashtanga, vinyasa type class. Since I am being open minded and facing fears head on, I went with hot yoga. 
New experiences build character! 
And boy, was our instructor a character. I absolutely love this guy. He is an unsuspecting yogi.  In his 50's or 60's, 6'5, southern accent, and a hell of a sense of humor. I laughed so much in his class. We hugged and kissed our knees and laughed from our belly. I left the class lighter in spirit, but heavy from sweat drenched clothes. Grinning from the inside!!

And that brings me to today--Friday. Wait, I skipped over about 5 days. That's okay. 
It's involved a lot of cleaning, organizing (if anyone remembers, I moved on January 1st with Mirza. More on that later), and self restoration. Most days I would describe as good, but I have my moments of just pure disbelief that my mom is dead. The finality of it all is what gets me most. To think that I am only 25 and I will never speak with my mother again, FOREVER. It just blows my mind sometimes and I can't even wrap my brain around it.  Those moments only last maybe a couple of minutes or so, and I let myself feel it all, but then I come back to my current reality. And I stay positive, but it's a true positivity for life, not a facade or coping mechanism.

Honestly though, although I would have loved any other way for this to happen, I feel like losing my mother is already making me a stronger person. Even in just these short weeks, I feel a shift in my psyche. Scenarios or conversations that I used to imagine before; that I used to worry about what other's would think or say if I did a certain thing--don't seem to  matter anymore. I am mostly on the page of who really gives a shit what anyone will think or say? And actually believing it down into my core!!! It's as if I am solely living my life for me and those I love, and not for society or acquaintances approval.
More later! I'm off to Key West for the weekend. I'll be searching for my lost shaker of
Updates to follow...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Free as we'll ever be...

I must continue to blog. I will!

My mother would want me to continue to enjoy life, so I want to share my joy of life with everyone.

Starting today, I will begin my 6 month journey into Yoga Teacher Training. 1230-630. Tomorrow, too.

And on Tuesday, I started my photography class.

I plan on sharing all of this with everyone. Mostly for documentation purposes of my own, but also to give place where others can go to really understand what goes on at Yoga Teacher Training.

I do not know what to expect, so I'm a bundle of nerves, but mostly sweet anticipation for starting this new process...

I hope you will all join me.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.  

Because MEMORIES are MEMORIES and not wasted years...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tribute to my mother.

Nancy Jean Mills , 54 of St. Petersburg, Fl passed away January 5, 2011 at home. She is survived by her husband,and her three loving children, Melissa, 35 Jarrod, 30, Nicole, 25, as well as her six siblings and two young grandchildren. 

Nancy was born May 21, 1956 in the town of Milton, Massachusetts to Roger and Marion Mills. Growing up in a large, close knit family, Nancy was surrounded by love and good humor from her six siblings and parents, which allowed her to grow into the compassionate, warm-hearted, and funny woman that all adored. She was genuine in spirit and quick-witted with a love of cooking for her family and reading for enjoyment. She could strike up a conversation with anyone at any time, and she often did just that.

A private service was held in her honor at Fort Desoto where she loved to sit back, relax, and soak up the sun.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the SPCA of Tampa Bay.

Poems read during her memorial service.

From my sister:

I bought a card with this poem for my Mom the night before she passed away. I shared this poem at her memorial service.

"The Oak Tree"
A mighty wind blew night and day.
It stole the oak tree's leaves away,
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark.
But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around.
The weary wind gave up and spoke,
"How can you still be standing, Oak?"
The oak tree said, "I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two,
Carry every leaf away,
Shake my limbs, and make me sway.
But I have roots stretched in the earth,
Growing stronger than my birth.
You'll never touch them, for you see,
They are the deepest part of me.
Until today, I wasn't sure
Of just how much I could endure.
But now I've found with thanks to you,
I'm stronger than I ever knew."

Mom was so much like the oak tree in this poem. I think that we can all agree that Mom had a lot of windy days and storms in her life, but when the winds stopped and the storms cleared. She was always still standing...and smiling.
In the poem when the wind dies, the oak replies, "until today I wasn't sure how much I could endure, but thanks to you , I'm stronger than I knew." I think that Mom would have added, "Really is that all you have?" or through gritted teeth "You're going to have to try harder than that to knock me down."
Mom was like the mighty oak for a long time but sadly even the oak's strength eventually fades.
One of the greatest gifts that Mom left to us was her example of this strength.
We are her roots.
Growing up, whenever we faced an obstacle that seemed insurmountable, our mother would encourage us with simple words, "You can do it, I know you can. There's no doubt in my mind" Her belief in us was enough for us to tackle any obstacle that life threw our way.
We will continue day by day to face life's challenges with strength and conviction because you showed us how, Mom.
Thank you for this gift. We love you and we'll do our best to continue to make you proud.

From my aunt Bev:

When tomorrow starts without me and I'm not here to see....If the sun should rise and find your eyes filled with tears for me,

I wish so much you wouldn't cry the way you did today...While thinking of the many things we didn't get to say.

I know how much you love me, as much as I love you....And each time you think of me, I know you'll miss me, too.

But when tomorrow starts without me, please try to understand...That Jesus came and called my name and took me by the hand,

And said my place was ready in heaven far above...And that I'd have to leave behind all those I dearly love.

So when tomorrow starts without me, don't think we're far apart....For every time you think of me, I'm right here in your heart.

-David Romano

From me:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
So Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I do not die.

Many years ago, my Grandpa, Roger Mills (RIP) sat down with a tape recorder and recited some of his favorite poems. These two were played during my mother's memorial service. "Remember Me" by Christina Georgina Rossetti and a poem that my uncle Gary wrote years ago.

Below you will find the two typed out, so you may read along...

REMEMBER me when I am gone away, Gone far away into the silent land; When you can no more hold me by the hand, 
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay. 
Remember me when no more day by day You tell me of our future that you plann'd: Only remember me; you understand 
It will be late to counsel then or pray. 
Yet if you should forget me for a while And afterwards remember, do not grieve: For if the darkness and corruption leave A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, 
Better by far you should forget and smile Than that you should remember and be sad

Gary Mills:
It's hard to be strong when you're fighting back tears
If you think of past memories as just wasted years.
Life can seem cruel and very unfair,
But you can't change the past; it will always be there.
Days may look darker, nights may feel long,
Things may seem different, but you have to be strong
The knots in your stomach may hurt deep inside,
The tension, and the anger, the hurt of your pride.
You try to be strong and keep it together,
But things just don't seem real and time takes forever.
Thousands of thoughts just whirl through your mind;
Your life, your future, you try to unwind.
Answers seem hard to the questions you ask;
You think to yourself how long will it last 
The present begins as the past slips away.
It lasts only a moment, it's not here to stay. 
So look to the future and learn from your past.
The future starts now, 
But your memories will last. 
So try to be strong when you're fighting back tears. 
Because memories are memories, and not wasted years.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Mom...

My mother, 54, passed away yesterday.

I may not be blogging for awhile, so thank you to everyone on twitter/facebook for the support. I am reading.