Why I yoga


Photo credit: Rachel Garrison Photography 

I have now had a few full meetings with my yoga club students at the high school. I decided last year I wanted to start this club at school so students could experience something they may otherwise not have the chance to. So, without really knowing what direction I wanted to take, I went all in and took the first step.

The students were, of course, a little bit awkward, a little unsure, and a little bit silly – only 3 or 4 of the almost 30 girls that showed up have ever even taken a yoga class before. It’s understandable! But watching the students as I was giving them the background of yoga, the principles and the ideas behind why people practice yoga, and directing them through our first (very brief) practice together, I started to realize something. We had pushed desks to the sides of a classroom, the floors were dirty, their mats were awkwardly sprawled everywhere, and it was this really neat moment of realization. It reminded me why, after those first few yoga classes I took a couple of years ago, I couldn’t wait to come back to the next one.

People always ask me what got me interested in yoga – the truth is, I needed some serious stress relief because I was going through a terrible time in my life. I went with my friend Abbie who made me try a class even though I told her I hated hot yoga the one time I had tried it before. But the reasons I kept coming back, the reasons I decided to do teacher training and become a yoga instructor as well as a student, those are the reasons I love to share.

Yoga, at the very minimum, increases strength, flexibility, breathing, balance, and coordination. It is an ancient practice that has been proven to reduce stress, increase health, and improve quality of life. Yoga heals. It forces you to quiet your mind and shut everything else out as your ears eagerly await the next cue in class, or as you struggle with how the heck your right foot can go any farther back as you keep your body standing tall and your arms twisted up like a pretzel (elbows above your heart and shoulder blades expanding to either side, please). Yoga is a place where a community is formed the minute you step inside the studio, because no matter what your story is or why you’re there, you’re there. There is no “good” or “bad” in yoga. It’s about how you feel and your own relationship with your own practice. You can be successful every single day on your mat if you just show up and let go of whatever it is you’re holding onto for a little while.

I love yoga because it gives me a chance to see a different part of people than I would out in the real world. I get to catch glimpses of their vulnerability, see if they are competitive with others or with themselves, know if they like to dance to the beat a little in their downward dog, or if they have the type of practice where they seem to float on top of their mats (as I seem to clumsily flop around on mine). We say things like “Namaste,” or call out the fancy Sanskrit names of poses as we teach or discuss yoga practice, but sometimes we forget why we’re really there. Yes, for strength and flexibility…but also for sanity, self-love, quieting the mind, and a support system.

Yoga is for every body type, every age, every race, every ability. It’s for every person. I believe fitness and health in this country are way too expensive in general, and unfortunately, the same is true for yoga. But there are many community yoga classes that are donation-based, free yoga classes for special occasions, and many studios do a first class free setup where you can come check out the studio without any charge. YouTube has several, several yoga channels and there are many apps that can bring free yoga to you. The internet has free sequences and poses already. So even if you just practice 3 poses every day for a few minutes, you’re practicing yoga.

A wise person and one of my favorite teachers reminded me in class last night:  The pose is what you’re doing. Yoga is how you are being. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a brand new practitioner, the idea that you have to do yoga ‘right’ or be a certain way to come to your mat is the opposite of what yoga is all about. If you’re considering trying a class for the first time, my best advice is just to take that leap and try. Bring a friend, go by yourself, put your mat in the back if it’s more comfortable at first, and let yourself laugh when you lose balance and almost fall over. Even the most experienced yogis fall on their faces. It’s a humbling experience to practice yoga, so try it with an open mind and a willingness to fail…and you’ll succeed 🙂

Heavy boots

Has anyone read the book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?  

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


I read it when I was in high school or college, I can’t remember…but it is one of those life feels novels that has always stuck with me. I know it became a movie, but I never saw it. The book was so deep and so emotional for me that I knew I could never sit through it without the type of crying where you shake and heave and can’t get yourself back together. Maybe I’ll brave that on a night in alone.

Anyway, it’s a really great book and if you haven’t read it, you really should (among many others).

I think about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close all the time, especially when the going gets tough. The main character, Oskar, describes this feeling of “heavy boots.” He’s a young kid trying to figure out his father’s death, and throughout the story, he tells of things that give him really heavy boots – the perfect way to describe grief through a child’s eyes. My brother and I say it to each other from time to time when something is really sad. You know, when something really weighs on you. I picture trying to walk through sludge with big, heavy, clunky shoes on, trudging step after step and feeling so heavy and feeling so much despair that it’s all I can do to lift my next foot one more time.

Isn’t that life sometimes? Trudging through, putting one foot in front of the other, and barely making it?

I recently experienced the loss of someone very special. That sounds so cliche and so easy to say. “Special” doesn’t even scratch it. Words simply are not enough. The sadness, the despair, and the harsh reality of having someone ripped away from you too soon is so much worse, and cuts more deeply than you can really ever describe. I have dealt with loss, but not like this. We love hard, and when we lose what we love, we feel it. Hard.

Sometimes I think that if we all collected our heavy boots, and we put them in a pile, it would be too big of a pile for this world to bear and we would make a huge pit, sinking deeper and deeper. There is so much sadness in the world, so much fear and loneliness and heart wrenching stories of people who have it worse than we do.

And yet, of course I am the type of person who also knows how much beauty there is in the world…that for every heavy boot, there is a light, carefree shoe – a new birth, a joyous wedding, a love story, a shoulder to lean on, and a chance to start again. And in time, I will be able to see it. I know God has a plan, but as humans, it is hard to see the plan when something devastating occurs.

I know that the sun will come out again, but for now, I am wearing really heavy boots.

Grief quote


Goal Digger

The last few weeks, I’ve been putting a lot of thought and effort into goals and plans for the future.  I’ve been teaching my students about goal planning and resource management, so last week we discussed short-term, long-term, and even visionary goals.  I am always surprised to hear what some of my students’ goals are; many of them have general goals to go to college, be happy, get married and have kids, etc.  But then there are those students who write things like “One day I hope to become a child Psychologist, focusing in play therapy.”  Or students who already have their plan to start a successful business during high school, selling handmade items like key chains, dog collars, leashes, monogrammed items, etc.  As cheesy as it sounds, I know I’m supposed to inspire my students, but a lot of times it’s the other way around.

I have always been the person who loves to write things down, so lately I’ve been making lists of my goals and mapping out plans.  I recently started a couple of summer jobs that have already begun before school is out, so I’ve spent some time really planning out how I’m going to manage all of that and still stay on top of my personal and financial goals.  I was feeling so excited about my lists and my plans and my visions for the future.  Coincidentally, my best friend and talented photographer Whitney recently attended a beautiful and informative wedding photography workshop and was thinking about her own goals and dreams.  We discussed making vision boards soon so we can help ourselves stay focused on our dreams and goals.

I got this ‘AHA’ moment and had the idea to have my students create vision boards.  I rearranged my lesson plans to fit in two days of hard work.  I read several articles and tutorials online and finally ended up modifying this page to create my own instructions for my high school students.  At first, they were very typical high school students:  “Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!  MISS WEAVER.  We have so many projects in here.”  “AND we have a test this week?!”  But the funny thing is, after about 15 minutes of really getting into their projects and planning out their pictures and what to include on their vision boards, they started feeling it.  They drank the Kool-Aid.

This is a picture of what I wrote on the board as their quick glance go-to while working on their vision boards.  The actual instructions sheet was much more detailed.


Please, please, forgive me for the iPhone photo quality here – you can’t always grab your go-to photographer when you’re at work in the middle of the school day to come take high quality photos of your students’ work.  Here are some of the products of their hard work.



IMG_2054  IMG_1971IMG_1970




I am so proud of those kids.  It really doesn’t matter what your goals are, as long as they mean something to you.  There’s nothing wrong with being driven and striving to accomplish personal milestones.  Just make sure to enjoy your life and your ups and downs on the way there.

I have always had big dreams, and sometimes I feel like I haven’t done enough – but when I look at my life, I’ve done some pretty awesome things and checked off some big items on my bucket list already.  Who knows what the next year or two of life will bring?  So I’m focusing on crushing my goals and also remembering to take care of myself and enjoy the ride.  There are a million paths to reach one destination, and that’s part of the fun of being a goal digger.

soul on fire

possibility everywhere
you got this
goals plans
small minds


Love yoself

A year ago, I moved out on my own and left a 7 year relationship and life plan behind.  In so many ways, that was a decision that I am thankful for.  Looking back exactly a year later, it is crazy to think of all of the things the past year has held, both good and bad, strange and wonderful.  Most importantly, however, that decision has helped me realize that I am worth loving, and the person whose love I am most worthy of is my own.  I realized this past year that sometimes we don’t necessarily lose ourselves, we just forget ourselves.  We put other peoples’ wants and needs and goals and beliefs before our own, and slowly we begin to fade back behind the scenes without even realizing it.  I’m not here to badmouth or trash talk, but here I am a year later, stronger than I knew I could be and happier with myself and my life than I have ever been, with huge dreams and goals on the horizon (I also accidentally just typed “goalz” and now I’m a bit tickled).

My point is, my life isn’t perfect, but I am really happy with the normal ups and downs. Between them, there is this constant, ever-present content that I am right where I need to be, and that God will take care of the rest.  I’ve done a lot of soul-searching in the last year and a half of my life, and here are some things I deeply believe:

  1. Love yourself first, and then find someone who loves you with all your flaws and weird quirks and doesn’t want to change a single thing about you, even if it drives them crazy.  It is really difficult for people to change, so find someone you can love completely without any conditions or ultimatums, and expect the same.
  2. We are complete.  We are already enough.  We don’t need to wait for x, or y, or z to fall into place to finally begin accepting ourselves.  Any improvements on who we already have become are great, but not necessary to our self-worth.
  3. Through all of life’s twists and turns, happy moments and trying times, keep your values, keep your morals, keep your beliefs.  Keep your hobbies.  Keep your lady dates.  Keep whatever it is that makes you you.  
  4. Deliberately, mindfully, until it sticks, change the conversation from “I hate this about myself” to “Here is something I DO like about myself.”  There is nothing wrong with setting goals and wanting to improve, but until you are content with where you are, it’s an uphill battle.  Give yourself a little bit of a break and some credit.
  5. No one is perfect.  Duh.  We know this, yet we still constantly compare ourselves to others who seem to have it better than us.  “Better” is relative.  Everyone has problems, stresses, doubts, fears, something about them that they wish they could change.  People will generally show you the best parts of their life because no one wants to admit that life kicks them in the ass from time to time.  So accept that you are human and stop looking for perfect.  You will never find it.
    if i asked you
    don't question your beauty
    obsess about good things
    i am my own

I’ll keep my list short and sweet.  Life goes on and the world keeps on spinning even if it feels like everything has stopped for a while.  Ultimately, you are in charge of your life and your happiness, and most of us aren’t kind enough to ourselves.  We have to give ourselves some grace.  There’s a difference between motivation and cutting yourself down, or even worse, allowing yourself to be cut down by someone else.

I recently showed a video to my Parenting and Child Development students and a quote has been really sticking with me.  It may seem cheesy, but let it sink in for a second and humor me:  the quote described how we have to make a child feel that they are “a wanted individual, worthy of survival.”  Worthy of survival…damn, that’s deep.  It hit me hard and I realized that there are people in this world who need to be reminded of this.  So here is everyone’s reminder, brought to you by a required video from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

A lot of really fantastic things have happened in my life since this time last year.  I went back to teaching, got my yoga certification, I’ve spent really valuable time with people who I love and who lift me up, I’m writing an e-book about teaching, I started my blog, and I met someone who makes me feel so special and treats me like a queen.  Life can get you pretty good sometimes, but it doesn’t have to break you.

I have a couple of MantraBands that I bought from my yoga studio…I’m all about good feels and pretty things.  One of my bracelets simply says, “You are enough.”  I am, and you are, and we all are.  But here’s a new one I’ve been trying on lately:  Treat yoself.  Be yoself.  Love yoself.

You deserve it just as much as anybody else.

View More: http://jparkerphotography.pass.us/julias-blog

View More: http://jparkerphotography.pass.us/julias-blog

Photo credits to jParker photography

Leap, and the net will appear.

Happy New Year!  I love this time of year – Thanksgiving, Christmas, the new year…so many opportunities to spend time with loved ones, get a little time off, eat delicious food, and enjoy festive decorations (most importantly, there are endless opportunities for soft clothes).  I’ll be honest…my Christmas decorations are still up.  I’ll get around to that this weekend if I HAVE to.

We went back to school yesterday, so I’m slowly trying to get back in the swing of things.  With the new year, I can’t help but think about 2015.  As cheesy as it sounds, 2015 wasn’t so bad, in the end.  I had stumbles, challenges, and despair, but I also found strength I didn’t know I possessed, hope in impossible situations, and light where there had been darkness.  With the start of 2016, I feel like where I’m standing is a wonderful place to be, and I can’t complain.  How much do we complain, when we have air in our lungs and shoes on our feet and roofs over our heads?  We have so few things to complain about when it really comes down to it.  Jobs, money, weight, wardrobe, friend drama…it all comes and goes.  We should be making New Year’s resolutions to be thankful for today, every day.  I have no idea what’s coming in 2016, and I really, really don’t mind.  The best part about life is that you  have the power to decide on good days and bad days, happy and hopeful or sad and regretful.  It’s okay to experience sadness, it’s okay to experience anger or stress or strife…but what makes a difference is the way we handle it and the way we let it grip us…or the way we let go.

Last week, I had my yoga teacher audition for the studio I’ve been taking my yoga training from.  I signed up at the end of the summer – a HUGE leap of faith for me, considering I could count on my hands the number of yoga classes I had taken up to that point.  My theme for my audition was about letting go and embracing the unknown.  Leaping into the unknown with grace and strength, and letting go of what we can’t control…something I still need to be reminded of all the time.

There is a quote we discussed in class one yoga teacher training weekend:  “Leap, and the net will appear.”  So often, we wait to ‘be ready’ for something.  One of the best lessons my mother ever taught me is that if you wait to ‘be ready’ for something, you will never be ready.  You just have to jump.  Leap…and if it’s right, the net will somehow, every time, magically appear.  I liked the quote so much, I ordered some beautiful hand-lettered and painted wood slices for some of my dearest friends and some of my yoga people (please check out @between_lines_by_b on Instagram!  She is one of my friends from Meredith College and graduate school at NC State, and she’s wildly talented!).  Here is her Etsy shop.

Today’s post is about the leap I took when I decided to sign up for yoga teacher training.  Some of you have asked for this, so it is informative, but also includes some of the ‘juicy’ details of training that you might want to know about.

Most importantly, I have spent several jam-packed weekends with a close group of women (and one man!) who have taught me so much.  I can’t express in words the gratitude, respect, and love I have for these wonderful human beings.  I have formed wonderful friendships and connections from this experience that I truly hope will last.  Each person in the group brings something different to the table, as we all do.  Probably my favorite thing about yoga is that it really is for everyone.  It’s one of those things, like music, food, or rooting for the underdog, that brings people together who would never have crossed paths otherwise.  I love that. 

Our weekends of training are intense:  8 weekends over six months of Friday 5-9pm, Saturday 8am-8pm, and Sunday 8am-6pm.  We get lunch breaks on Saturday and Sunday, but it is a big commitment.  Any place that you get training from will be different – some do the weekend format, others do weekdays, others go straight through day after day and knock it all out at once.  You just have to find the one that works for you and read reviews to see if it will be a good fit.  There are also many different lineages of yoga, so you will want to read up and see what type of yoga teacher training you want to take.  I was completely  new to yoga when I decided to join, and I honestly didn’t do any research on other trainings.  My friend nudged me to do the training with her, and I loved my studio so much I just trusted my gut and jumped in – I got really lucky because I can’t imagine taking training from anywhere else.  Still, it’s a personal preference and you should find what fits you best.

My yoga teacher training is through Hot Asana University (reviews on Yoga Alliance here).  The owner of the studio I practice at, Virginia Gallagher, created Hot Asana studio in Southern Pines and since then has opened studios in several other cities and states, including Hot Asana Durham, where I practice.   Virginia and Angela Hsu have led our training; they are two women that I have big love and respect for.  They are both so knowledgeable, kind, patient, and make you feel completely at ease.  My training was a 200 hour yoga teacher training focused on hot vinyasa flow classes.  I am trained to teach multi-level drop-in classes.  When I graduate January 10 (this Sunday!), I will be able to register with the Yoga Alliance to be a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 200).  Just like with teaching public education, the Yoga Alliance has requirements for continuing education and keeping your certification current.

Our weekends consist of so much information – we have covered yoga alignment basics, we have done clinics of every pose, learned some basic anatomy information, and discussed the principles of sequencing a class.  We have learned a 60 minute sequence that we can use and adapt, we have created our own classes, taught our training group our own sequences in the studio, and practiced yoga together each day we have met.  Other training information has included books we have read, meditation techniques and practice to learn to sit still with yourself, and a lot of deep conversations about life and how it connects to the eight limb path of yoga and just being a better person.  We have had spiritual and religion talks, energy talks, learned about our chakras, and have shared parts of ourselves with each other that are dear to me and close to my heart.  So much of what happens in yoga teacher training stays in yoga teacher training, but I feel like I have a seriously solid foundation in the principles of yoga, not just physically.

Through the 200 hour training, practicing yoga has become so much more for me than just going to take a class in a hot room and breaking a good sweat.  It has been a mind, body, soul transformation and it has forced even a lovey dovey, touchy feely person like me out of my comfort zone.  My spiritual journey has also gotten so much more complex since starting yoga teacher training.  It has made me really take a good look at myself, question some things, and stand fast by others.  Yoga is for the weak, the strong, the inflexible, the tired, the hopeful, the hopeless, and the faithful.  It is what brings us all to our mats together, no matter how high or low on our horses we are in the day to day.  Yoga reminds us that we are all connected, and that we need to respect ourselves and each other.  I think that anyone with an open mind and caring heart can grow immensely through yoga teacher training, even if there is no intent to teach yoga classes.  The personal growth and strength I have gained through these last few months is priceless.

I got the word on New Year’s Day that I will start teaching classes at Hot Asana studio in Durham in just a couple of weeks.  I was so delighted…not a bad way to start out a new year!  I feel really blessed (too blessed to be stressed, even), and I’m really looking forward to what the next little bit of my life will bring.  I took a few big leaps in 2016, making a huge relationship change, moving, going back to teaching, starting yoga training…and it has ended up to be such a blessing.  We should all take leaps of faith, even if we’re not sure we’re ‘ready’ yet.  Leap, and the net will appear.  If that isn’t enough to convince you…2016 just so happens to be a leap year.


Let there be light.

Laura – this one is for you.

I just came off of a weekend of yoga teacher training (I haven’t forgotten that I owe some of you a post on that!).  Teacher training always gets me deep in my feels, and it’s almost like a high I have to come down from to face reality again on Monday.  This training weekend was particularly special, though, because I taught my very first class with a partner who has become a dear friend to me.  It felt like winning the lottery.  On top of that, I caught a class tonight taught by the owner of my yoga studio who is also one of the best teachers I know and a woman who oozes strength, love, and elegance.  Her theme for class was so right for what I was planning on writing tonight.  It was about appreciating and loving yourself, and knowing that you have to live through the tough parts of life, the challenges that come your way, and welcome them.  Seize each challenge as an opportunity, and you will come out on the other end stronger than you ever imagined.

I am a happy person.  Especially by my teenage students, I get asked very frequently how I am ‘this happy’ or if I have always been ‘this happy.’  The truth, as far back as I can remember, is yes.  I have always been ‘this happy.’  That doesn’t mean I haven’t had my moments of darkness.  None of us can escape the traumas of human life.  Those of you who know me know that this time last year, I was in a strange life place, trying to figure myself out.  I was attached to an idea, a future, a person, and a plan…and we all know how much I love my plans.  When things started to crumble, I started asking a lot of questions.  I don’t know how to explain it without getting too into it, other than to say I felt like I was living in a hazy reality where I could both see who I was and who I wanted to be, but I could also see who I was trying to be in order to fit someone else’s mold.  I was trying so hard to go against my truest self that I completely lost myself.  And for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel happy at all.  I felt utterly terrified.  But the further I let myself get away from that attachment, that plan, that future, the more I realized it was never my future or my anchor to hold onto.  And as cheesy and as silly as it might come across, my yoga practice and teacher training has been a huge part of that realization.  I feel free.  I am finally, finally loving myself exactly where I sit, and I am finally, finally letting go of needing to be anything for anyone.  I am healthy, I am stronger than I have ever given myself credit for, and I am finally so content in my life, completely by myself and standing on my own two feet.  This is me.  I am enough.  And so are you.

So yes, I was always ‘this happy,’ but I feel like I allowed my light to be dimmed for so long, truly without even knowing it, that it was silently building momentum.  And now I’m tearing and clawing my way out of myself loud and proud, and I have so much love and light to share.  When I was teaching yesterday for the first time, I felt a huge love for the strong and stunning women I am learning with and practicing beside.  I felt honored to lead them through a 60 minute practice.  And I felt a deep respect for our beautiful teachers who are leading us through this journey, supporting us and holding our hearts in their hands through this intense 200 hour training.  For those of you who think yoga is just about poses, which is what I used to think, stay tuned for a reality check on that.

For me, teaching is a great way to share my light and my love.  Helping people is what I feel like I was born to do, whether it’s through public education, yoga teaching, getting my personal training certification, and whatever else life might bring my way.  I ignored it for a while, but after giving subtle hints and gentle suggestions, eventually life slaps you right in the face.  We all have a light, a gift to give, and the world can take it from us so easily if we let it.  We allow ourselves to be brought down, to believe in the worst, to create situations in our minds that are inaccurate or will never happen.  We give other people the power to drag us down and we put all of our eggs into baskets that were never meant to hold them.  I know this because I am guilty, too.  There are a lot of heavy things out there, and the weight can be a lot to bear.  But if we choose to dig deep, to fight for what makes us who we are, if we demand to be cherished for exactly who we are and for what makes us shine…and most importantly, if we look ourselves in the soul and forgive ourselves for being imperfect, for being human – if we love ourselves right where we sit – we lighten our own loads.  We also lighten our loads by lifting others up when they need it the most.  You have no idea when your smile, hug, or even your hello can be the very particle of love someone needs to cradle their aching heart.

In order to counterbalance the darkness, we need to keep the light.  We need to be the light.  We have to share the light.  

Michael Xavier The Message

For those of you who love a life soundtrack like I do – check out ‘Worth Fighting For’ by Emily Hearn.  It’s about you.

Too blessed to be stressed.

We are so quick to be automatic – in our actions, in our habits, our responses to people.  When someone asks, “How are you?” we generally give the, “Doing well/I’m good/Fine, how are you?”  This is something I have tried to change in my life.  I try out new phrases:  I can’t complain, everything is fantastic, life is good, etc. and then I make sure to let the other person know that I really care when I ask how they’re doing, too.  One of my favorite responses to give, though, is, “Too blessed to be stressed.”  I’ve noticed that I get a nice chuckle out of most people when I use that one.

When I was teaching full time a couple of years ago and enrolled full-time in grad school, I did my fair share of waiting tables. The owners of the restaurant I worked at, Salem Street Pub, gave all of the servers a little Christmas gift each year – and P.S. If you’ve never been there, check it out for some delicious burgers, local beer, and a perfect laid-back vibe.  One year, I got a painted wine glass with a blonde lady on it that read, “Too blessed to be stressed.”  It was kind of meant to be a silly and funny gift, but I have thought about that wine glass so often because it became a phrase that I started to use whenever things didn’t go my way.

One morning last week, I was running late for school, frantically trying to make my breakfast smoothie, a cup of coffee, get my lunch together, get my dogs together, get my life together…I reached up too quickly and knocked down the ‘too blessed to be stressed’ wine glass; it crashed into a million pieces.  I breathed in, and then I breathed out, because yoga has taught me to find the gap between stimulus and response, and in that few short seconds I just told myself to let it go.  It’s just a wine glass, Jules.  Freaking out, shouting, cussing, letting myself get in a bad mood – none of that would serve me or help me get to school on time.  But how often do we do just that, over the tiniest moments?  So I shooed my dogs away from the broken glass, looked at them, and literally said out loud, “It’s okay guys.  We are too blessed to be stressed about a broken wine glass on a Tuesday.”

And isn’t that the truth?  We create so much stress for ourselves in life – I have been there and I do it, too, believe me.  But sometimes we have to realize that there is beauty in even the ugliest situations, there is a reason for everything, and that the glass is always half full if you choose to see it that way.

I encourage you, me, all of us, to enjoy our moments.  Realize that you have a b  e  a  u  t  i  f  u  l life, simply because you are alive.  Every day, try to find something that you can appreciate, even if all you can appreciate that day is the air in your lungs or the heart beating in your chest or the working brain in your head.  We are all moving through this life, living in a society full of negativity, superficiality, and greed.  But it’s also a dazzling world of love, complexity, and optimism if you choose to see it.  We spend so much time stressing about the future and the past that we act out of habit and repetition and we forget to be right here, right now.  By being content and appreciating our moments, we teach ourselves to be less greedy, less negative, less superficial.  We slowly minimize our stress and realize that most of the things we worry about aren’t even worth our time, because the scenarios we create in our head never end up as we see them, anyway.

We are too blessed to be stressed.  Believe that.  Some things are worth our attention, but so many aren’t.  Let go of what doesn’t serve you and focus on the joys in your life – it might be harder to choose joy, but it is far superior to living in self-created stress and negativity.

If anyone finds a cute graphic tee to add to my embarrassing collection of quoted clothing, let me know 😉

Love this 'Too Blessed To Be Stressed' Metallic Canvas by Image Canvas on #zulily! #zulilyfinds:

The Passion Planner: for those of us who are passionate about plans.

This one goes out to all my Type A kindred spirits…and to those of you who are maybe a little too breezy and need to make a plan for once in your life.

Around this time of year, it seems like life gets hectic – the weather changes, decorations come out, and the invites start rolling in for Halloween festivities, fall gatherings, and holiday parties.  Don’t get me wrong; I am not complaining.  I happen to be a gal who enjoys staying busy, and anyone who knows me knows that I love a good planner.  The truth is, holiday season or not, I generally have my hands on a few different projects, and I refuse to sacrifice fun events and time with my loved ones…so my schedule stays pretty full.  With recently going back to teaching and beginning my yoga teacher training, starting this blog, and writing an eBook with my friend Tony, I knew this year was going to be every bit as packed as the last few, and that I’d need a heavy-duty planner to get me through.  I try to be breezy and spontaneous, I really do.  And every now and then you might just catch me asking about last-minute plans or deciding to take a day trip to anywhere.  But the heart wants what it wants, and I can’t help myself:  I love plans.  I love lists.  I love writing color-coded, bulleted lists and crossing things off one at a time.  If that’s wrong, then I just don’t want to be right.

But whether you’re a Type A champion weirdo like me or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of person, the bottom line is that we all have to keep track of our crazy lives, and in order to make sure I reach my goals and follow through on my commitments, all the while remembering everyone’s birthdays, anniversaries, and wedding dates, I have to keep up with a planner. (Or do I get to?!  Someone out there tell me I’m not alone in my passion for organization!)

Long story short, I came across the Passion Planner when a friend of mine shared a link to it on Facebook.  At the time, it was just barely getting started as a business, but I was hooked immediately.  This was the planner for planners.  This was the closest I had come to the planner of my dreams.  And it was only $30.  $30 for a whole entire year of my life mapped out on lined paper.  However, I had unfortunately just received a very nice Emily Ley planner for my birthday that I just had to have (not knocking those planners – they are also very lovely).  Thus began my wait; I couldn’t justify getting a Passion Planner when I had JUST received one…so I made the difficult choice to wait until my planner ran out this December.  And I was faithful…until my life really took a new direction in a lot of ways.  Time for a clean slate.  I made it a full 9 months before purchasing my academic Passion Planner for 2015-2016 and I haven’t looked back.

The creator, Angelia Trinidad, came up with the idea of the Passion Planner after she graduated; her aim was to help people achieve their goals and dreams through their daily activities.  The site has links to download undated, printable planner layouts for those who are strapped for cash, which you just don’t see much of these days.  The company also has a pay it forward program, where you can sponsor someone else with a planner.

Things I love about the Passion Planner:

  1. Each day goes from 6am-10:30pm, which is fantastic for someone like me who is up with the birds and stays busy until bedtime.
  2. Each day’s column is wide enough for a small sticky note, which I use to write out my lesson plans for teaching.  This saves me from needing a separate ‘lesson-planning notebook.’
  3. Each day has a spot for ‘today’s focus,’ so I can easily either create priorities for each day or remind myself of important events like birthdays, teacher work days, days for errands, etc.
  4. Each weekly layout has an inspirational quote, a box for ‘this week’s focus,’ and a box for ‘good things that happened,’ so you always remind yourself to express gratitude for even the smallest things.
  5. It has a nice silky bookmark to keep your place.  Enough said.
  6. It is a lovely, floppy, leathery-feeling planner and does not have a spiral, which I really appreciate.  Spirals get messed up so easily and they get in the way for those of us who are lefties!
  7. Each week’s layout also has a space for work AND personal To-Dos, as well as an open space for notes, reminders, brainstorming, etc.
  8. It has a monthly calendar layout as well as the daily layout – this is very important to me for reasons that are too nerdy and too lengthy to write about.
  9. Before each new monthly layout, the planner asks you to see what progress you’ve made towards your goals since the last month.  It might sound cheesy, but it’s one thing to have big dreams and quite another to make them happen – and that comes with planning and recording progress.  It has a whole brain mapping and goal-setting theme that carries throughout the year.
  10. Finally, the planner is good for whoever you are – whether you are a student, a parent, self-employed, or someone with a job who is just trying to get your life together…it works.

(I think it needs to be said here that the people over at Passion Planner don’t know me from Adam’s house cat.  They did not in any way sponsor or suggest this post.  I hope they don’t mind that I am bragging about them on my blog.)

So, if life gets crazy for you and your cell phone just won’t quite cut it for scheduling, the Passion Planner can organize your agenda, your goals, hopes, dreams, to-do lists, brainstorms, notes…really anything you could ask for.  It can carry you through the busy fall season, into the hectic holidays, and land you successfully into a new year.  Plus, it comes in two sizes so you can decide how portable you want it to be.

From a very early age, I’ve known I have a tiny bit a healthy bit of OCD when it comes to organization…but aside from my Type A tendencies, having old planners is like looking back at your old diaries – it’s an awesome way for me to look back at my life and remember important moments, see how far I’ve come, or realize how blessed I am to be able to max out this one beautiful life that I’ve been given.

Now I just have to find time to learn how to play the piano, get my Master’s thesis published, and get my PhD.   #goals

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(Had to throw in a corgi…props to Whitney Rizzi, my BFF and the mind behind www.jparkerphotos.com for these pictures)