Over this past weekend, I went to Yogaville with my friend and co-worker Liz. I've wanted a vacation for the longest time, and after hearing about this place from Liz for a while, I thought I'd give it a try since I recently got into yoga and greatly enjoy it.
I'm sure you all are wondering what Yogaville is. No, it is not a cult. I thought the same thing after hearing about it and doing a bit of online research. It is a yoga retreat tucked away in the mountains in Buckingham, VA. You get to take yoga classes, do guiding or solo meditation, listen to guest speakers, and go to Saturday night programs. People can even join a program called Lyt aka Living Yoga Training, where you get to stay and live in Yogaville for at least a month. You can even work in the community, either on the farm or in the kitchens in trade of staying in the community.
2016 was a very, very hard year for me and I was looking for any excuse to go on a vacation; to be able to get out of the city I work in and not go home. So, I decided to go to Yogaville from Jan 13th-15th because it wasn’t expensive, it wasn’t far away, and it included an activity I enjoyed doing. Liz always talked positively about it, so I decided to go. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’s been trying to get me to go for a few months seeing as she was super excited when I relented. She was originally going to go around Christmas, but pushed back her plans to come with me, so in short, she invited herself on my trip. I didn’t mind it, because I’d be able to have someone to go with who already knows everything about the community.
The drive up wasn’t too bad, there wasn’t any traffic, but I’m still not used to diving for that long. I was so happy to get out and stretch once we arrived. Liz and I stayed in the dorms with another roommate. In fact, she had warned me about possibly sharing a room with someone else. I didn’t mind – seeing as I’ve spent 24 years and 6 months of my life with my three sisters as roommates. We didn’t get to Yogaville till around 4:30, so we ended up missing a program Liz really wanted to do. Instead, for the first night we unpacked, had dinner (all meals vegetarian) and then Liz showed me around to see the lit up shrines. We also checked out the gift shops and boutiques.
On Saturday, we went to an early morning hatha yoga class, which focuses on general yoga poses and deep relaxation. It was a nice and steady pace for such an early class, especially after the little sleep I got the night before. You would think a super dark and quiet space would help someone get to sleep. I guess I’m used to the sounds of trucks and cars outside of my apartment window. We then had breakfast before listening to a “Yoga in Daily Life” talk by a Swami. It really put a lot of things into perspective. Afterwards, we decided to go on a hike in the surrounding areas. Liz was excited to show me the farm, the swimming area, and the Ashram Alcove. It’s a holed out rock face that has perfect acoustics.
After the hike we went to a deep relaxation class. This course helps you with meditation and in turn helps you learn coping techniques to deal with stress and how to relax in various settings. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep twice. It really helped. In fact, the minute we got into the community, I had felt the most relaxed in a long, long time. After the class Liz took some time to meditate while I took the time to get some journaling in. I really enjoy being outside, so even though it was cold, I felt the most at ease. We then had dinner before retreating back to our room for the rest of the night.
Sunday, instead of staying to take a few more yoga courses, we decided to checkout early and head to Rosslyn, VA to go to CrabTree Falls to go on another hike and to look at a waterfall. Sure, it took us an hour out of the way for our return trip, but it was worth it. The hike was great and the waterfall was breathtaking. After about 45 mins or so, we headed back. The entire time, I didn’t have cell service, but there was wi-fi. Aside from watching a few videos, I was essentially away from electronics the entire weekend and I really enjoyed it. I like to be unplugged from electronics every once in a while. It helped me clear my mind and fully be immersed in the community. Plus, it helped me be comfortable with how quiet I can actually be, and it gave me time to get to know Liz a bit more. We already have plans to go back during the summer so we can go swimming in the James River.
While I did feel a bit uncomfortable at first at Yogaville, I tried to be open to everything and it worked. It is a great way to relax and get away from it all. In fact, even though I overslept on Sunday and missed a class, and didn’t go to too many of the night programs, it still felt like the vacation I wanted. In fact, even if I didn’t do anything all weekend, it would have still been a great place to go.
Happy New Year!
Now that 2016 has arrived, I usually take this time (like a lot of other people) to reflect on the past year. It had a lot of ups and downs and troubling times, especially with Rosie (my car) and her seemingly constant tire care. Sometimes, I sit back and wonder how I survived it all.
For the past two years, I made a list for the goals/plans of things I'd like to do or accomplish throughout the year. Here is a list of the things I have done:
-Traveled to a new city
-Enter writing contests
-Create/Use a 2015 good moments jar
-Update my stories on FF.Net more often
-Continue to eat healthier
-Become more spiritual
-Push myself out of my comfort zone
-Dye my hair
-Learn a new language
-Learn a new skill
-Explore Norfolk/Newport News
After going through my 2015 good moments jar, I found that I had stopped slipping in good moments after the first few months of the year; around April or so. I decided to do it again this year so I can really keep track of everything that's been going on.
As for my goals this year, normally one of them revolves around losing weight or keeping the weight off. That's usually what everyone's goal/plan for a year is and then they stop going to the gym or trying that new workout by around the middle of January. They do say that New Year's Resolutions are hard to keep. This year, though, I'm doing something different.
I'm not going to focus on my health or my weight, but have more of a focus on my wellness. Health and wellness go hand in hand, but I've had a pretty good grasp on my health. I eat pretty decently, and I don't restrict anything, I just slightly change my portion sizes. However, if you have sour patch kids or hot tamales near me, or even German chocolate cake, then this would be a whole different story.
Wellness is more of the idea of choices you make to have better health and a better lifestyle. I need to focus on myself more, and not worry about pleasing other people. The most important thing in my life should be myself. I always say I love helping people but I worry that one day it'll come back and bite me, which it has. Or, it had, in this case.
Anyone that follows me on Facebook, Twitter, or is in usual contact with me would know that I had faced the toughest time in the last few months. Both of my part time jobs had extended/holiday hours and I was stretched to the max. It's a given that in the world of retail you're going to have holiday hours. At my library job, I had taken on more hours around Sept/Oct because we were understaffed, and I would be going from working 19 1/2 hours a week to 29 1/2. I could easily handle that with working my retail job as well. Then, we were given the green light to work more hours through Jan because we'd still be understaffed until HR hired more people in the division/department I work in.
Honestly, I was skeptical at first, and worried how I'd be able to handle working extra hours at the library and at my retail job. I told my supervisor and she was kind of wondering the same thing as well, but slightly changed my schedule to give myself at least one guaranteed day from off from both jobs, because of the way my schedule fell in-between both. So, in a way, I agreed to take on the extra hours and I was also essentially told I was going to have to take them because of how understaffed we were. At the time, i didn't mind it because I love love love love love my library job, all the people i work with, and what I get to do everyday. Plus, i had wracked my sick hours so if I every needed a mental health day, I don't think my supervisor would have minded if I used some.
So, at this point, as the holiday/extended hours started at both of my jobs at the beginning of November, I was working about 50+ hours a week. I've worked a 40+ hour a week job before when I interned at HRA, but this was different.
Even though my two jobs are a block apart, I have to change my thought process to accommodate the two. My library job is more relaxed than my retail job, the two have different dress codes, one I have to get up early to work and the other (or sometimes both) I have to stay late to close. At my retail job I just help people and at my library job I have to enforce rules/policies and play games or entertain people at the same time. Both jobs I have great company with people I work with, but my retail job I felt was way more demanding than usual, even for a holiday season and I've worked the holiday season at my retail job the year prior. Sometimes I felt I was someone's main go to to person when something needed to be done, and while I like that people trust me to get things done, i quickly felt overwhelmed.
See, sometimes, I have a problem with saying no, especially when it comes to taking extra shifts at either of my jobs. Bottom line, I'll be earning more money. In most situations, though, I can say no easily because I know what i want, what i like, and what i feel comfortable with. While I do push myself out of my comfort zone from time to time, i can put my foot down when needed.
This winter/holiday season I felt like I was on the precipice of a mental breakdown. I was so stressed I would have constant headaches, I'd feel irritable all the time, and I was close to snapping at everyone for no apparent reason. I was very forgetful, somewhat sluggish, and every time I did something wrong at work, or something went wrong it felt like my world was going to end. I was getting less and less sleep, and not eating properly at all because my schedule was constantly changing. I almost lost it when I arrived at my library 30 mins late because I read my shift schedule wrong. My supervisor wasn't concerned about it at all, which confused me, but I guess since I'm usually 5 mins early for my shift and we were very very slow that day it wasn't such a big deal.
After talking to one of my co-workers at the library, I discovered meditation. I was pretty much at my wits end and was looking for a way to make my headaches disappear aside from taking ibuprofen from time to time. My co-worker knew I was having a hard time with everything, and I didn't even have to tell her. She could just see it in my face, the way I easily forgot things, or the way I acted and she's only known me since April. That's quite a feat, in my opinion, because I can hide things pretty well.
Meditation was really hard for me to get into at first because my mind constantly raced. Not only because I was working so much, but because I had a lot of writing ideas floating around my head, but that's a usual occurrence. I borrowed two mediation books from my co-worker and read each of them for an hour before i went to sleep, so 30 mins for each. When slowly starting it, i was a little bit skeptical, but still open minded. I mean, if it worked it worked and if it didn't it didn't.
Now, I try to meditate every day or every other day. My headaches where finally gone and I felt happy again, I felt like myself. Although, spending time around my family and my sisters during Christmas instantly put me in a better mood. I was happy just from knowing that I was heading home the minute I jumped into my car.
I've learned various techniques of meditation, where I can meditate for three minutes up to half an hour. It's nice to clear my head and just focus on nothing. Quite frankly, aside from writing down my new story ideas, I think it helps clear out all of those thoughts as well.
Now that the extended hours at one of my jobs is over, I feel like i can breathe again. Don't get me wrong, I'm kind of glad I was super busy. If i were stationary for too long I'd feel weird that I was alone during parts of the holidays since my sisters were already at home after finishing their semester of grad school. Don't get me wrong, I did go out and hang out with my co-workers and friends doing various activities like seeing movies and stuff, but when I'd be back at my apartment eating my super late, and light, dinner before heading to sleep is when it'd kick in.
After taking up mediation, I'm kind of leaning towards yoga, but I'm not too sure about that yet. I enjoy high energy, high action things like dancing and martial arts. I mean, where else but in martial arts can you punch something and not get into trouble for it? My co-worker who got me into meditation has told me about this retreat kind of place where it's all about yoga and meditation. I think I'd like to try it one day. She enjoys doing it. I think she's trying to get me into it so she can have a friend to do the activity as well. She's always so excited and willing to listen when I talk about having a slight interest in yoga. Maybe I should start with YouTube videos first.
The ending of 2015 was okay. Don't get me wrong, spending New Year's Eve with my sisters by going out to lunch/dinner and playing video games for the rest of the night was great. And yet, I was ready for 2015 to be over. I had a lot of setbacks the last few days of the year and I wanted to start anew. Now that I have my positive mindset back, I don't think of them as setbacks anymore. I see them as a set ups for a comeback.
2016 has started off great, so I'm hoping that it sets the tone for the next month and then eventually the rest of the year. I already can see good things coming (Circus Camp at the library, two of my sisters getting their Masters, hours at my library job slowly decline back to the regular 19 1/2 per week), so now that a positive change has occurred, I'm ready to see what is bound to happen.
I've had a few people tell me over the years that they wish they had my creativity. Of course, I'm flattered when people give me this compliment, however they don't know the problems that come with a creative mind.
You get new ideas. A lot of them. All the time. All. the. time. And that, in itself, is a problem. Well, not a problem, but the problem.
I have a lot of hobbies. I love to read, write, draw, paint, craft, sing, play piano, play clarinet, sew, knit, and design. With all of these hobbies come new ideas. Normally, I'm very organized, but when I get an idea for a new project I just have to get to work.
For example, I'm currently working on the prequel to the Bluebonnet series, Cassie & Nikki. In the middle of working on this I get new ideas for new books I want to write. I have a two page long document (almost 3 pages) saved with all of my book or story ideas.
I have a habit of working on something, and when i get a new idea, I "drop" my first project and then focus on the new idea. However, its not all bad because some of my ideas can intertwine.
Currently, I have ideas for a new music project. I've been wanting to record and write music again for the longest time. Luckily, I can bring my writing and/or other hobbies into it as well.
My favorite thing about being a writer is that I can get inspiration from anything. I can get it from a book, movie, song, something my friend's say, a random stranger walking down the street, or accidentally eavesdropping on someone's conversation.
Most of all, I get my inspirations from my dreams. My dreams usually don't make any sense. One minute I could be sitting on a park bench reading a book, and the next thing I know (just from lifting my gaze away from the pages) I'm in the back seat of a car rolling off a cliff. Morbid, I know, but it just proves that they are the most random things that occur to me.
Sometimes, even the most surreal which gives me more and more ideas for books. I love hearing form someone "How do you come up with all of these ideas?" I get new ideas so much, that I have started a new inspiration notebook. Every time I get inspired by anything (and I mean anything) I write it down in the notebook or glue/tape an object into it along with the date. I keep it with me at all times.
So how about you? What inspires you to do what you love?
"Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you." - Walt Whitman