Tag Archives: Storytelling

Taking a break…

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My dear friends and family,

I hope this note meets you well. I feel I owe it to you to mention that I am taking a mini-vacation from the blog these upcoming months. I don’t usually post as much during the summer anyway, but on a more deliberate note, I am attempting to reduce the time I spend online in general. After writing the¬†setting goals post, I now realize a thing or two about my blogging habits and what my priorities are in life at this time. Below are my top three priorities that are crowding out my time for blogging.

Yoga

Photo from yoga teacher training, courtesy of A. Williamson

Work

One part of my choice to take a break has to do with current life satisfaction. In the past I used this blog as a way to channel creative energy that had no where to go in my “real life” so to speak. When I wasn’t working in wellness I needed something to help me organize my thoughts around health. However, I feel blessed to say I have found plenty of avenues to put my creative side to work both at my job at the hospital as a wellness coach, as a doula for private clients, and now as a yoga teacher (I graduated on Sunday!) Thank you to all of you who have raised me up along the way. I couldn’t have done it without your support and encouragement. I feel my vocation is finally coming together ūüôā What that means is that now I feel less motivated to blog and more motivated to get out there and put all my thinking and hard work over the past 5 years into practice hopefully into a business model. I will keep you posted on the progress.

Story-telling

At the same time, I do recognize I have an underlying need to write. I graduated with an English major, and I have been a long time journal junkie – so there is a personal need that the blog does fulfill. ¬†However, recently I recognize that I have another story within me that I need to write. This story is not so much about health and wellness or spirituality specifically, but more so is my own life story, which of course includes health, wellness, and spirituality but it is more raw and vulnerable; it’s more about beauty than meaning and its more about feelings than information sharing. Recently I wrote a few posts for the blog and by the time I finished I felt like they could be a good chapter in a book. So I am considering what that would look like – what shape would this story take? I did not delete the stories but instead saved these “posts” for a future compilation of some sort. Synchronicity might also play a role in all of this as I recently befriended a lovely writer, who is a great mentor,¬†and I won a workshop on writer’s block that will likely align with and reinforce my latest decision to take a hiatus from online writing. I am excited to explore what my new writing practice will look like.

Relationships

The last and most important thing I found is that at the bottom of it all, I love people. I love stories. I love community. And while online can be a wonderful avenue to create community and connect with people, at this time, I feel drawn to do the relationship building work in “real life”. A couple weeks ago I attended a conference where James Fowler spoke, and his message hit home. He mentioned that as much as social media and networking impacts the world and ourselves, that it really is the people who are near and dear to us that influence us the most and vice versa. Well this really resonated with me and it made me realize that as much as I like sharing with people afar, that I first need to spend some time on the ground with my family and then my friends.

Some things that excite me around this work is that I am developing a yoga sequence to teach my mom and dad, and I plan to teach them until they can do the sequence on their own. After years of having my dad walk by me in high school when I was practicing yoga, saying (mocking), “AAAAOooooommmm”, I am proud to say 13 years later, I am being asked as the expert to share that experience with him. How amazing to see how you can influence your loved ones over time? I feel more than honored.

Another piece I am working toward is a trip to Korea in November. It has been 6 years since I’ve been there to visit family. In that time both of my older sisters have been married, two nephews and a niece have been born, the family cow gave birth to twins, and they got a new family dog!

This past weekend in my frenzy of worrying about my test out for yoga teacher training I received 5 videos of my Korean family members wishing me luck. Immediately I relaxed and realized what is important in life – not the outcome of my teaching but the supportive relationships and family that I have. With that said, I already made plans for the visit, so these upcoming months¬†I will need to emotionally prepare and ponder any questions I have about my family’s past, of my past. The last time my sisters came to visit I learned my birth story. It was powerful. I am excited to take some time to be with family and learn more about my roots.

* * *

I have to leave you with this – when I told my youngest sister we were coming to Korea yesterday, she wrote, “My heart bounce bounce.”

I love that image and her words. It inspires me to do more of what makes my heart bounce bounce; I hope we all can find time to do more of that in our lives.

In the interim,  if you want to keep up with me in the real world, feel free to send me an email at mandalareflections[at]gmail[dot]com. I look forward to connecting!

Take care and talk soon.

Blessings, Kali

A personal lesson in shame

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shame on youIt’s been awhile, but this weekend I had an experience where I felt deep shame. It didn’t feel good and one day later, I can already laugh about it, but it was a valuable and vulnerable enough experience that I want to share this story about myself with you. The shameful event happened during my yoga teacher training. There was a guest teacher – a very good one, by the way* – and she brought with her a lesson for me.

The Scene

I was running late that morning, so I ended up sitting in the back of the room, not my typical spot – but close to it. In yoga class I tend to favor the back rows unlike my usual, front-row sitting, over zealous self.¬†The reason why I go to the back row at yoga is because as far as asana (or postures) go I am still at the “beginners” level (at least compared to my classmates). Therefore, I do not like to place myself where the more “confident” folk sit, or rather stand, on their heads.

Needless to say, when a teacher with a good eye for students who “need help” is with you all weekend, it doesn’t matter what row you sit in, you will be found.

And so it happened for me, we started the day yesterday in an assisted deep chest and lower back opener. We laid with our backs on the floor, our knees bent and touching and our feet resting at the outer edges of our mats. Underneath our nipple line there was a rolled up blanket to help us go into an assisted backbend, and our arms were in goal posts at the side of our heads.

Well, that is the picture of what the “good” students looked like anyway. I was not one of them.

Me, myself and I, we were lying on our back, yes! Any chance to lay down and take a rest. But my knees were not touching, and my rolled up blanket was up too high – a little too close to my shoulders – causing my arms to come off the floor a bit awkwardly. Now re-envisioning the scene, I start to understand how the teacher might have noticed me.

How could you miss a student who had robot arms, slightly suspended in the air, because they couldn’t quite touch the ground? And to top it off, because I was a bit up in the air, I also did myself the favor of placing a small block underneath my head so I could try to enjoy the full restorative action of the pose (well, minus the whole arms in the air thing).

Well pretty soon, I hear the teacher voice call out, “Your knees should be touching!” (This was not the first time I had heard her cue what I felt was directed especially at me).

As I heard this instruction I also heard steps moving quickly in my direction. As fast as I could, I brought my knees together, and before I knew it the teacher hovered above me.

Continuing her yell-talking, she said with a sharp tongue, “I’m not trying to scold you, but you really need to learn how to follow directions!” My eyes were closed, and I kept them closed.

She then moved my blanket lower as she was still hovering above me. SNAP, CRACKLE, POP. My back opened and released. And without notice she pulled the block from underneath my head. As my head hit the floor, defeated, she said, “Now, is it really that difficult for you to be in that pose?” (Almost insinunating I was faking it – did she consider that I maybe never knew I could bend that far?)

So I laid there in silence for I feared if I was to say anything it would make matters worse. I waited ¬†and waited and waited for her to leave. That wasn’t happening. She said to the class, “Just bare with me a moment, keep breathing. I’m dealing with this.”

I opened my eyes and quickly looked away. She was still there. I continued to not really say anything and she whispered, but loud enough so all 30 people in the room could still hear, “See, you can handle it.” And her footsteps left in stride, with less anger this time around and more satisfaction, like a mission was accomplished. And just like that, she was back in the front of the classroom continuing her lesson.

And there I was. Laying in all my vulnerability, in quite a lot of physical pain actually. She put me in a position that pushed a personal edge, but as one might imagine, due to the manner I got to that edge, a lot of emotional information was also pulsating throughout my body.

As she lead us through this opening “warm-up,” I found tears streaming slowly down the sides of my temples, and I was starting to choke on my breath, the breath that was supposed to be getting deeper and deeper by now.

But I was not a good student. I was shame. My breath was only getting more shallow.

As she had us sit-up to transition into the next pose, my inner voice or I should say ego was telling me, “Get over it. You’re fine. Don’t be a baby, don’t make this a big deal. Quit crying. STOP. I said, STOP it. You’re being dumb. Don’t be a victim. You’re always a victim. Were you listening? Do you ever listen? Get over yourself. Quit crying. They’re going to hear you! They can hear you!”

At the same time, my body’s internal dialogue¬†told a different story, and that story was, “Don’t worry, you received your lesson for today’s practice. It’s time to leave. Don’t run away from your emotions, come closer, deal with us, let us out, we’re coming out!”

The latter voice won, mainly because the ego wasn’t in control at this point, my body was. The tears wouldn’t stop.¬†I left the room with haste, not sure where I would go or what would happen next.¬†Luckily someone found me crying in a corner and brought me to a room where I could be alone to let it pass.

I didn’t return to class for 45 minutes.

The Lesson

I learned so much and still am learning from this experience of shame. Right now some lessons I learned from the scenario include:

1) Be kind with your words. Words are powerful, use them wisely and speak mindfully. I recognize that I, like the teacher, can use my words in a way that can be hurtful to others. And remembering the times I have been on the receiving end, makes it hard for me to justify not being kind to others. I must always be gentle with my words. You never know how they may sound to another person.

2) Look beyond the surface. Dig deeper. There is a bigger story to every symptom. Don’t be afraid to investigate. My adverse and uncontrollable reaction to this event was deeply connected to many experiences and memories within myself that have not been dealt with that still need proper attention. By the time I was 30 minutes into my crying, it really had little to do with what was said or exchanged. I stayed with the feelings and took time to begin recognizing, working through and releasing what came forward.

3) Don’t embody shame. It’s bad for you.¬†Operating from the belief that you are wrong or bad is never going to serve you. That is where I went when I started feeling ashamed of myself. No matter what someone says to you or how you may be feeling, be with the feeling but do not attach to it. Let the feeling pass through you, do NOT become it.

4) When you are ready, seek community.¬†I have always been a woman who cared a lot about the people in my circles and outside my circles. I have also been the person who retreats into herself and does not ask for help. It’s okay to receive love and a hug from someone who cares about you. Thank you to the classmates who sat with and acknowledged the discomfort I was embodying and thank you for the hugs and healing touch, you know who you are.

5) Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.¬†I wrote¬†a post before about vulnerability¬†and Bren√© Brown. Her message never gets old. We need more people to be vulnerable and to stop avoiding what is difficult and what is tough. Don’t run away from your emotions, explore them, let them pass and then learn from them.

If you’re looking for more, here is another video of¬†Bren√©¬†Brown on listening to shame:

*In no way do I harbor ill-will or emotions toward this teacher. I would actually recommend her. I learned a lot this weekend and would never ask for a different outcome. Had I not dealt with my emotions head on I may have projected some anger and other four-letter words in her direction, but I spent the time to debunk what was really bothering me. I received my lesson with gratitude.

Storytelling: How to communicate to motivate

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Dangerous Old Woman

When was the last time you sat around a campfire, taking turns, telling or listening to stories? Do you miss that sharing? Is it lost to you, or can you open your heart and find that like an ember, that story and many stories are sitting inside you, ready to be lit afire?

This weekend my name finally made it to the top of the list at the library for the CD set, “The Dangerous Old Woman: Myths & Stories of the¬†Wise Woman Archetype” by¬†Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Est√©s. I first learned of Dr. Est√©s through her book,¬†Women Who Run With the Wolves,¬†but¬†I especially enjoy the storytelling on her CD set.¬†If you have any curiosity about the wise woman archetype or simply love stories, I strongly urge you to look into this series. Listening to her work is like being reintroduced to stories around a campfire. So powerful and so rich.

She begins with the fairy tale of Snow White and then goes into depth about its meaning and significance. I won’t spoil the details of her insight and would if I tried, but I will say, what a talented storyteller she is! I became so enchanted and lost in story, that when I awoke from her trance I realized I hadn’t experienced such a feeling in a long time.¬†I remembered how powerful it is to hear story rather than to simply read it or write it. I also recognized how lessons and learnings seem to gel so much better in my brain and in my heart when I hear information tied to a story.

Which got me thinking, why as adults don’t we read fables to one another? Or maybe we exchange stories in a different way, for example, through a TV series or a Youtube video or a 140 character tweet.¬†Regardless of delivery or content, what are the stories we tell ourselves and our children nowadays? What are the modern day fairy tales circulating out there? How has storytelling been cheapened or beautified by the process of globalization? And what is the value of storytelling? Does it still have value? What is it’s purpose? Can stories still offer us life lessons? Can we use stories to motivate others?

Well I am not coming on here to dole out answers nor do I have them all, but I can say with certainty that I need stories to understand, experience and connect to my surroundings, community and myself. Stories are invaluable to me, and yet I do not always praise and honor them. With the fast pace of life I do not often allow myself to tell my story, the kind that comes from deep within my heart. And then it occurs to me, so many of us have buried our stories so deep within us. And, then, because on a daily basis we operate from our minds alone, we lose touch with the heart of our story lines – cutting ourselves off from so many things like our cultural past/present, our highest self and our very life purpose.

Even though some days it may seem like the story is dead within us and the people around us, if we shift our perspective we can see that stories are still alive and thriving and impacting the very way we experience the world. They are not dead but simply need to be rediscovered, nurtured and ultimately transformed in a way that can be shared with others. For those of you who have taken the time to discover and heal and are now ready for the sharing part, you may feel like you have a story stirring in you, ready to come out to the world. So, how are you going to tell it? Is there a right or wrong way? It depends on your goals.

If you want to tell a story to motivate or influence someone, there are some methods to consider.  Infuse your story with a little bit of strategy and you can turn your tale into something bigger that may move others into action or that may move someone to share their own story. When we are all sharing our stories, we begin to be with ourselves and with one another in a way that offers true healing, learning and connection.

To help tell your story, click below for the Communicate to Motivate video from Prevention Speaks:

Prevention Speaks is a storytelling resource for healthy change in communities that is local (from Wisconsin). This website has a lot of great links and there you can pick up your very own storytelling tool kit.