Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Farewell WAKEUP...Welcome Mandala Reflections!

As I wrote in my last post, I am turning over a new leaf and starting a new blog! I have not yet decided how I will handle the remains of WAKEUP...but I am okay with leaving it be on its own in cyberspace for awhile. Seems as though this site recently has been getting world attention due to the word "horus," which I used in a random post long ago. If any faraway visitors are reading this note and care to comment why they are looking up "horus" so often recently, I am very curious to know what I'm missing! I also owe you an apology, because I know that this website likely lacked the information you were looking for.

So, without further ado, here is the drafty draft of my newer and hopefully improved website, Mandala Reflections.

A few thoughts on the site so far:

1) The name is not as catchy as this one (in my opinion), but the framework the Mandala provides for discussion and blogging about the topics I'm passionate about was too perfect to pass up. I could eventually change the name, but for now I think it's a great placeholder. To learn more about why I had to include the mandala, check out the About tab. It's brief, but hopefully as I have more time to develop this blog, I can expand this section a bit more to help clarify.

2) Unfortunately, I did not have time to design it like I wanted to and have not been able to put it together perfectly. In other words, it's a work in progress--aren't we all. Hopefully this piece will develop more in the next few months.

3) I love that the birth of this blog was on October 31, Halloween. My first post will explain further why this "new beginning" and the "death" of WAKEUP are fitting to this ancient season's holiday.

Thank you always for stopping by, and I hope to see you at Mandala Reflections. I have not figured out how the following system works on Wordpress yet, but if you know, I hope you follow me :)

Much love!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blog Site Update

For those of you who check WAKEUP here and again, I'd like to share a word on my absence and shotty posting.

To cut out the abstract and metaphorical crap (I'm not feeling it today), what I'd like to say is that I have found a new purpose and focus in my life which is calling me to refashion both my life and subsequently, my blog.

As I become comfortable in my recent life purpose, I feel ready to take the plunge and create something new. I put the deadline for the beginnings of a new website for November 1st. That's less than a month. In the meantime I will be sketching and brainstorming a layout that is more personal than the pre-made templates I have worked with in the past. We'll see, perhaps I let go of that ambition, but only time will tell.

The content will not be much different from what I have been doing all along, but since I have figured out what ties it all together, I hope to provide you with a more focused blog for a happier reading.

Please feel free to shoot me any comments about what you may have enjoyed about this blog or disliked if you are feeling moved. Otherwise, I hope you follow me to the next site, which I will share with you once I have it up and running!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Social Networking Comes to Life: Meetup

Today I was clicking around online, looking for a writers' group in St. Paul and wound up on this website called Meetup. Based out of New York, this company improves social networking by providing a site that aims to connect people in real life.

I guess Meetup started in 2001 and this year some serious changes occurred to their formatting. Many veteran users are frustrated, but from my newbie, rose-colored lenses perspective, I am excited about this find, because I think it offers another opportunity for me to connect with cool happenings in my community.

All you need to do to find a meetup group is enter your location and the kind of meeting you want to find, whether it be for a book club or a Russian Martial Arts group (yes--this is a real group that exists in NC with 58 members and counting). The possibilities are endless, and if you can't find a meetup group, then you can create one.

On their homepage, you can see the recent RSVPs to meetup, and it's impressive. Every second there are people across the world meeting up. This website's purpose is to help local groups organize, and it seems to be effective. I look forward to trying it. In this day and age when people feel so disconnected, I find Meetup to be a creative way to integrate our reliance on computer applications with our desire to build relationships with people.

If you are interested in being part of the Meetup team, and already live in NY or would like to, looks like they are currently hiring for a variety of positions.

For more information about Meetup, take a look at their blog or follow them on Twitter: @Meetup.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What's the purpose of blogging? (of life?)

Today I had the opportunity to read the shy beginnings of a friend's first blog which is off to an amazing start. I can't wait to feature her work once the site is ready to run, and most important, I can't wait to read more.

After reading her blog, I had an epiphany. It was quite obvious.

I realized that a really good blog serves a really good purpose. Whether or not the purpose is really good is determined by the writer and the reader. On the writer's behalf the purpose must fufill some sort of itch within. For the reader, the blog's purpose must also fit within some sort of niche and stand out among the long list of potential blogs a reader may choose to enjoy along with their morning cup of coffee.

Whether or not the purpose is recognized by its author, all blogs serve some sort of a purpose. The purpose may be to inform about a particular topic, it may be to persuade or it may be to induce action. Maybe it is about getting a grant for an organization. The blog might just be something that the writer wants to do because of a personal motive. Maybe it is not about readership but about writing poetry. Or perhaps it is more of journal, a way to record personal events in order to share with friends and family abroad. The list goes on.

Regardless of the purpose behind a blog, it seems that occassional "purpose check-ins" are helpful to have to keep one focused. In today's day and age, its quite easy to forget where you are going and why. In that sense, defining the purpose of a blog is similar to fine tuning one's life purpose.

At each moment in our lives we walk with a different purpose. While it shifts and changes from time to time, the importance of sitting back and reflecting on where you've been and where you want to be is necessary in order to be aware of what is important to you and what you want to be doing.

Recently I was asked to be a guest blogger by my friend Katie. Her blog, Hotdish & Catfish, was a result of two kindred spirits finding themselves separated by states. Their blog started in order to share "good stories and unique observations of life north (Katie) and south (Lauren) of the Mason Dixon" (as pulled from their About tab).

This request, led me again to note the necessity of having a purpose in my blog (and in my life). For a moment, I pondered what it was I could write about, and I realized I had forgotten what my blog was about...I recognized that if someone asked me what my blog was about, I would have to stutter for a moment, because, well, it's about a lot of stuff and I can't really put my finger on it in a one word sort of answer.

Well, then I looked at my blog page and saw that I wrote "This is a blog about life."


Wow. Now that's one hell of a "one word" descriptor for my posts and purpose. Oh yeah, "Wake up it's your life." It's all faintly coming back to me.

This realization has led me again to ponder my purpose here (both in the blogosphere and in real life). I started this blog almost 3 years ago, and I think it's time to have a "purpose check-in" to re-evaluate why I am here and what I want to accomplish with this blog.

So to the few of you reading, stay tuned for future updates on a possible new direction/focus. This weekend I am excited to meet with a friend of mine, also known as the Duchess of Windmill, who is working on her Communications and Public Relations degree.

Among the usual friendly gossip, we plan to talk about branding and purpose. While I do not know a lot about where I'm heading, I know one thing I can assure you. My authentic voice will be heard in my blog, through whatever sound wave that may be, white noise or otherwise.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Authentic Voices

The other night with a pair of dear friends, one of those conversations started, the kind that pokes at the basic question of life and being.

Of course we did not come to a definitive conclusion about much, but the whole topic did strike a chord within me and brought me here to write.

In particular, we talked about the recent human rights struggle that the homosexual population is battling. In relation to their movement, we recognized how over time, there have been many similar battles but just in different forms.

For example, we talked about the civil rights movement and the fight for equality for African American folks. We talked about the friction of religion and how that has colored our world history.

We questioned whether or not anything has really changed at all with our species. Have we really evolved like they say or are we just humans becoming ourselves in a different era with different challenges? Although we are in a different time, we wondered if the challenges we face are really all that different.

We then pondered, if and when the homosexual crowd gets the equality they deserve, what personal battle will be on deck that we might not even be aware of? I'm not sure. But it's all really interesting to think about, and I've come to the momentary conclusion that these struggles have a lot to do with people finding their authentic voice and empowering themselves to use it.

This idea is emphasized by one of my favorite writers, Shaun McNiff. In his book, Trust the process: An artist's guide to letting go, he notes how one expression can be the stimulus for another creation/expression.

He says, "one thing is always growing from another" and that the source of this growth is life (p. 164). He says the reason why we paint from nature or write about our life experiences is because we are moved by life and all its events, people, problems, memories, scenes, patterns, gestures and creations of others or any other things, really.

He adds, "Creation is constantly playing different variations on themes and restating basic truths. The more we work at originality, the more we return to the same fundamentals which are renewed in each historical period by those who express them in appealing and striking ways" (p.165).

He goes on to say "Original statements keep returning to origins but in a style that is authentic to the person making the expression. The source never can be copied because it doesn't exist anywhere in a fixed form. It can only be interpreted" (p. 165).

These words makes me realize that what is happening with the gay community right now is not totally unique or original but is yet another expression of people being people.

In this light, suddenly life seems simple to me. What every culture and people have needed throughout time has been a space and some encouragement for authentic and sincere expression.

These issues and challenges are not original or new, and although McNiff writes in relation to creating art, I think his point speaks well to life in general; "If we liberate our personal and often idiosyncratic styles, we will create with individuality and vitality" (p. 165).

In other words, if we can all find our authentic voices and use them, we will learn how to appreciate and be inspired by other forms of expression and being. And as we accept ourselves and others, we may finally thrive as a people.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Touched by an Angel

A poem by Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

Felt like sharing the Maya Angelou poem that was read during the ceremony at my wedding some weeks back :) Despite being immensely tired today, I am so very thankful to be alive and to know love.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On becoming a yogini and "Doing Yoga"

The other day, Jay and I went out for a bite to eat and we began talking about "The 5 year plan." And no, I am not referring to when we will be making babies (although that seems about right, doesn't it?) Ha! In all seriousness, when we talked about this plan, we really were referring to where we wanted to be in five years.

Per usual, I began my list of goals slowly and then it rapidly began to grow into a mountain. Right now, while a million things are on my mind, I'd like to share an important goal I have set that is necessary to my well-being. I promised to myself to truly deepen my yoga practice in the next five years (that means practicing more outside of class!) Part of my dedication to this goal I plan to illustrate in this blog, through reflections as well as through the sharing of asanas (poses) that are meaningful to me.

Just a little info on my yoga story...
I started "yoga" in high school, thanks to Gaiam's lovely home DVDs (!) and a clearance tag--I'm a sucker for sales. During that time, the poses brought me into my body and cleared my busy mind. The fact a low-quality DVD offered that much peace and calm to my mind, body and soul, caused me to wonder what would happen if I actually knew what yoga was all about.

After I enjoyed the DVD, I had the guts to try some yoga fitness classes. At this point in time I recognized that something was missing from my practice. I knew there was more to what the lady on the TV screen had to say, and I knew there was more to it than what all those good-looking yoga people in tight fancy clothes said at the gym. I also recognized that there was much more to yoga than the U.S. chose to market, and for the past few years I have dedicated myself to finding the most genuine path to yoga a girl can find in Minnesota.

Three years ago, I found the Institute of the Himalayan Tradition (IHT) in St. Paul, and I have been attending classes regularly now for 10 months. While I have had my ups and downs with my practice, I find myself coming back to this place and this way of yoga practice (life). What they teach there truly resonates with me.

IHT teaches Raja Yoga and their teachings come from a 3,000 year + tradition. This kind of yoga really focuses on the mind through meditation.

With Raja Yoga (and any type of yoga tradition), there is so much to be said and so much to learn. However, for now I am not going to go into all the details--I'm too tired and will save it for future posts.

However, I won't waste all of your time--there is one important thing to note about "yoga" (and out comes the English major within me). The phrase "to do yoga" is often misstated.

Yoga refers to a discipline--a whole way of living. So when people say they "do yoga," chances are they do not actually follow the traditional ways of someone who lives the yoga path but they simply do some form of a yoga pose and nothing more. That's fine. In sanskrit, a pose in yoga is called an asana .

Therefore, for the majority of people out there practicing yoga poses, now you can refine your yoga know-how and impress someone by telling them that you do some wicked asanas.