How About a Cover Reveal Contest?

I’m practically jumping up and down about the cover of my fourth Downward Dog Mystery, A Fatal Twist.  Last year’s cover reveal contest was so fun, I’ve decided to do it again!  Here’s how it works:

Each day for the next seven days, I’ll post an element of the cover on my Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/TracyWeberAuthor.  Before midnight that day, leave a comment naming the object pictured and you’ll be entered into that day’s contest.  “Liking” my author page or “Friending” me on Facebook while you’re there is good Karma, but not required.

While you’re there, be sure to make a note of the object for the grand prize round.

Then, any time between when I post the final object on Sunday, July 3 and Wednesday, July 6 at midnight, send me an e-mail at Tracy@WholeLifeYoga.com with all seven objects, and you’ll be entered to win the Malice Prize Pack: a copy of  Malice Domestic Murder Most Conventional, the Malice 28 book bag and program, the coolest author swag I scooped up at the event AND an autographed, advanced copy of A Fatal Twist when it is available in August.

Here are the prizes! 

  • Monday: An autographed copy of my Agatha Nominated first book, Murder Strikes a Pose. If you already own it, remember:  books make great gifts!
  • Tuesday: A Downward Dog Mysteries coffee mug.
  • Wednesday: An autographed copy of the second book in the series, A Killer Retreat. If you already own it, remember:  books make great gifts!
  • Thursday:  An oh-so-cute German shepherd coloring book and colored pencil set.
  • Friday:  An autographed copy of the third book in the series, Karma’s a Killer. If you already own it, remember:  books make great gifts!
  • Saturday: A $15 Amazon gift certificate.
  • Sunday: An advanced copy of A Fatal Twist when it’s available sometime in August.
  • Grand Prize:  Malice prize pack AND an advanced copy of A Fatal Twist when it’s available.

The first cover element is pictured below.  Visit today’s post on my  Facebook Author Page and make your first entry!

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NOTE:  By entering, you acknowledge that Facebook is not liable for any part of the contest.  The contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.  😉

Namaste and good luck!

Tracy Weber

 

books available

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. KARMA’S A KILLER,  A KILLER RETREAT and MURDER STRIKES A POSE are available at book sellers everywhere! 

Yogi Interview of the Month–Jenny Zenner!

I’m delighted to host Whole Life Yoga teacher training graduate and phenomenal yoga teacher Jenny Zenner here on the blog today. She’s been kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions for me. Pour yourself a cup of tea (or mix up and appletini!)and join us!

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Tell us a little about your journey to yoga. Why and when did you start practicing?

Yoga was my breakup cure starting in 2003. Lamenting the loss of a cross-country boyfriend, a friend going through a divorce invited me for “detox and retox” girls night – heated vinyasa with Hilary Steinitz followed by appletinis at the tapas bar below the studio. Between our sweaty mats and sisterhood, I became convinced that yoga was the cure for all of society’s ills.

Appletinis? YUM! Sounds like a great entry to a practice we both love.  Now that you’ve been practicing for well over a decade, how has yoga changed your life?

Initially, yoga gave me a proprioception I previously attained through years of running and strength training. It gave me my own sense of my body’s alignment, orientation, greater flexibility, and capacity for change by a simple shift into a posture.

Surely it can’t be all appletinis, sisterhood, and flexibility. Tell us the truth: Any yoga horror stories?

Why yes. While “auditioning” to teach by taking an advanced teacher training workshop, the student assisting me was unable to support my failed transition from crow to handstand. Dropped on my head like a pogo stick, to this day I feel the effects from my concussion and sprained cervical spine.

I’m so sorry that happened to you. We’ve spoken before about this experience and how it’s given you a greater appreciation for Viniyoga. What do you specifically appreciate about Viniyoga?

Viniyoga took me out of my vigorous flow practice and showed me a lifetime practice applicable to ANYONE.

Now that you’ve graduated from Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training, how are you sharing what you learned?

I teach yoga and mindfulness within organizations (workplace and schools). I like taking the practices to new audiences who might not ever visit a studio.

It’s great that you like to reach out to people outside of the traditional studio environment. What’s the most unique place you’ve taught yoga?

I led a session for a day of movement sponsored by Zella in the entrance to Nordstrom at the Northgate Mall.

That sounds like fun! I’ll bet you got a lot of interesting looks.  When you teach, what’s your favorite yoga pose, and why?

Tree. Every year or so, I have taken a picture of myself in the balance holding my twin sons, my own little monkeys. I’m due for another.

Who is your yoga hero?

I realize my yoga lineage is of yogini authors: Sharon Gannon (multiple books) who founded Jivamukti taught my first teacher Hilary (novelist) and my teacher training was with Tracy Weber (novelist). I hope to do them justice with my practice, teaching, and writing.

Ah… Now you’re making me blush. 😉  There is something about yoga and writing that go together.  It’s that whole persevering practice thing.  What non-yoga thing are you most passionate about?

After my family, it’s a tie between anti-inflammatory nutrition and neuroplasticity. I’m convinced I’m on this earth to help others heal and hurdle life’s obstacles.

Thanks so much for joining us today! How can people learn more about you? 

About Jenny Zenner:  Jenny Zenner is a career coach, product consultant, writer and the founder of Seeds Yoga. In her current chapter as a mom to twin preschoolers, she calls on all her resources to be mindful in as many moments as she can muster.

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

The Power of Ritual

Earthen oil lamps lit with flowers during the performance of a hindu ritual.

Please welcome my friend and fellow yoga teacher Bija Bennett to the Whole Life Yoga blog today.  Rituals are so powerful!  Thanks, Bija, for allowing me to reprint this article!

Rituals give form to our lives, not just on the surface, but emotionally. We need rituals to connect deeply with ourselves.

Rituals have been celebrated in every culture and religion throughout time. Designed to inspire us, help set our intentions, and give us focus, they make our resolutions personal, powerful, and true.

Rituals elevate us to what is higher — to our potential, our life’s goals — and remind us that our highest values should direct our lives.

A ritual can be something as simple as sitting quietly and repeating an intention or word, lighting a candle, planting a tree every Arbor Day, or walking a hundred steps after you eat (an old Indian ritual). In taking a small step toward ritual, you make an outward sign of your inward focus, indicating that your commitments and intentions are real.

In every ritual, from the simplest to the most elaborate, from the spiritual to the mundane, the steps involved are very much the same: geometry, structure, rhythm, and intent.

Use these steps as ideas or suggestions for creating your own personal ritual. Then, whatever you choose to do, do it simply. It doesn’t have to be fancy or take long. It need only be regular and full of intention and meaning.

1.  Geometry: Define your space. Set the symbolic elements before you – a candle, picture, icon – and situate yourself in a certain relationship to these things. It’s not the objects that are important, but the faith in these objects that make them emotionally sacred.

2.  Structure: Give your ritual a beginning and an ending. Carefully arrange the steps, length, and sequence to create the body of your ritual.

3.  Rhythm: The progressive sequence of events, actions, thoughts, or prayers leads you into the ritual itself, and leads out of it, letting you resume your normal life.

4.  Intent: The purpose behind your ritual directs your ritual to fulfillment. The possibilities are numerous: opening your heart, connecting you to someone or something, completion, healing, asking for help, gratitude, self-reflection, linking with a higher power. Ritual isn’t a mindless movement. It’s a focusing technique to systematically give you an anchor point within.

This New Year, take your resolutions and make them into rituals. Personal rituals are important because of their enormous power to comfort and heal.

Learn more from my book, Emotional Yoga: How the Body Can Heal the Mind (Simon & Schuster)

Thanks, Bija!

Tracy Weber

books available

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

Research on Viniyoga for Cystic Fibrosis

Woman holding tablet pc. Conept: X-ray with lungs. Isolated on white.

I co-authored a research paper!

The paper, “Yoga as a Therapy for Adolescents and Young Adults with Cystic Fibrosis: A Pilot Study,” was published in the November, 2015 issue of Global Advances in Health and Medicine.  The study was (at least as far as we know) the first to look at the safety of Yoga for individuals with Cystic Fibrosis.

The goal of this pilot study, led by Jennifer Ruddy, MD and conducted at Seattle Children’s Hospital, was to evaluate the safety and tolerability of yoga for patients with Cystic Fibrosis.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a life-shortening genetic disease that thickens secretions in the lungs, which leads to lung infections and decreases the patient’s ability to breathe. CF secretions also limit the pancreas’s ability to release digestive enzymes. As a result, patients with CF often have difficulty digesting food. (Not unlike my German shepherd, Tasha, who has Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency.)

I was both honored and excited to design a series of sessions that would bring Viniyoga to this population of students. After all, Viniyoga’s breath-centered practice is almost uniquely designed to increase lung capacity while integrating movement with breath.

Each participant in the study completed sixteen private Viniyoga sessions taught over a two-month time period. The Viniyoga sessions were designed to be safe for individuals with mild to moderate lung disease and easily modified for the individual.

The four study instructors—Claire Ricci, Roxie Dufour, Beverly Gonyea, and Cynthia Heckman—were all Whole Life Yoga certified yoga teachers who received additional training in Cystic Fibrosis. They were given the specific yoga protocol for this study but allowed to adapt as needed for student safety. Sessions included asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breath practices), and mindful awareness.

The results are encouraging. Ten of the eleven students enrolled in the study were able to complete the two months of practice.  Out of the 160 private sessions represented by those ten students, only two adverse effects were noted that might have been related to yoga: one mild instance of calf pain and one mild headache. Even more encouraging, statistically significant improvements were seen in the CFQ-R respiratory domain score (a measure of respiratory symptoms including cough and difficulty breathing.)

More research clearly needs to be done to see the full benefits of Viniyoga for this population, but these initial results are encouraging and will hopefully pave the way for more research in the future.

One again, research shows it: Viniyoga works!

Tracy Weber

books available

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

Why I love Sequence Whiz

Hand with thumb up isolated on white background. Ok sign by womanI’ve been meaning to write a blog about this website for over a year now. Like me, Olga Kabel is a yoga therapist who has been certified through the American Viniyoga Institute.  She is making huge contributions in the yoga world. Not only has she developed one of the best yoga sequence drawing tools I’ve seen, she also offers free videos and virtual yoga privates via Skype.

What I really love about her Sequence Whiz site, though, are the articles.  Most of them are not only Viniyoga friendly—they are Viniyoga accurate and commonsensical, meaning that her articles promote safe and sane yoga practices that are likely to help, not injure, practitioners.  I often share her blog articles with my teacher training students.  Maybe someday she’ll write a textbook I can use in my teacher training!

In the meantime, here are four great examples of the articles you can find there:

Whether you’re a yoga teacher, a yoga student, or simply someone interested in body mechanics, I highly recommend that you check out Olga’s website and sign up for her bimonthly newsletter.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the professionalism, depth, and accuracy of the information she provides. And the graphics are simply out of this world!

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tracy

books available

 

 

 

 

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

The Psychology of Murder

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Hey all!  This week I’m blogging at Inkspot (the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink)  about the psychology of murder, or more specifically, how I integrate the psychology of crime into my mystery series.  Check it out!

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-psychology-of-murder.html

See you there!

Tracy Weber

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

Training Your Mind

I am delighted to welcome author Jennifer Niles here to the Whole Life Blog today!  Jennifer recently published My Yoga Transformation: One Woman’s Story of Her Healing Yoga Journey and 85 Pound Weight Loss, which outlines her journey with yoga and how it changed her life–in every way for the better.  Check out the excerpt below, and support her by reading her work!

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“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” ~Napoleon Hill

Thoughts become words, which become actions, which become habits, which become character, which becomes your destiny.  Since you “bring about what you think about,” obviously it would be wise to learn how to control your incessant thoughts.  You have to understand that your mind is designed to be constantly working in at least some capacity for 24 hours a day.  So, if the mind insists on focusing on something at all times, give it something positive or calming to focus on.

Training your mind is not the easiest task.  Especially if you are anything like I was prior to starting a yoga practice and learning about the ego.  That pesky little voice in the back of my mind, the ego, was running wild day after day and needlessly stressing me out over anything and everything that was less than perfect about my life.  By identifying with the mind instead of the soul, we give that little voice/ego the power to consume so much of our time and energy by dominating our thoughts and limiting our potential.

During my initial yoga years, during the time when I was suddenly feeling the desire to gradually cut down on my drinking and partying, my ego never ceased to remind me, “You are a party girl; therefore you must go out and drink with your friends tonight.  Who cares if it is a Monday night and you just feel like staying home, cooking dinner and doing some yoga.  You have to go get drunk instead.  It is who you are and what you have always done, and it is what you will always do.  You can’t change now.  Who will you be if you are not a party girl?  Party girls don’t stay home and do yoga!  Now go out and get wasted with your friends!”

For a long time, I identified with my ego and therefore let its persuasive little speeches win the battle every time.  Despite what my heart and soul wanted to do, which was sometimes to just stay home and dry out for a night, I would get in my car, drive to the bar, and proceed to get drunk until I could barely stand up without stumbling all over the place.  When you identify with and listen to your ego instead of your heart/soul, you will just continue doing the same destructive things, day after day.  Never changing, never growing, and never evolving.

I knew that my yoga practice was really starting to work when my heart/soul began winning the battle more times than my ego.  The nights that I actually stayed home to practice yoga versus drinking at the bars became more and more frequent.  Over time, my nights at the bars became obsolete.  If my lack of wanting to get drunk wasn’t a result of my yoga practice, I don’t know what is.

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Jennifer B. Niles is an author, yogi, vegan, and animal rights activist currently living on a small island in the South Pacific. Born and raised on the East Coast, Jennifer moved to California in her 20’s, where she taught yoga and enjoyed living among the palm trees.  During her time living in the South Pacific, Jennifer was finally able to pursue her lifelong dream of writing books.  Blessed (or cursed) with the opportunity to go through many drastic life-changing experiences, Jennifer mainly writes about her lessons learned in an attempt to help other people who may be struggling with the same or similar issues.

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

Yogi Interview of the Month–Laura Miller!

Please join me in welcoming Whole Life Yogi Laura Miller to the Whole Life Blog this month.  I’ve been honored to have Laura in my teacher training this past year, and she’s been kind enough to answer a few questions for me today.  You can reach Laura at msnailtek@yahoo.com and on her Facebook page.  Laura, take it away!

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Why and when did you start practicing yoga?

I remember being a little girl and when you would walk out of the grocery store there were these little small books about everything from dieting and recipes to different kinds of exercise. This would’ve been back in the 1960s. And I remember asking my mom if I could get one little book and it was about yoga.

Now I didn’t understand the concept behind it but I really enjoyed doing it, practicing those poses in that little book. Yoga still was not something that I knew much about really until I was a teenager but in grade school I sure enjoyed paging through that cute little book and practicing the yoga positions.

What made you decide to take a teacher training program?

Even though I’ve been taking a variety of types of yoga classes throughout probably the past 30 years, I felt that at this stage in my life I wanted to know yoga far better than I already did.

I wanted to be able to immerse myself in a program that I really believed in, not just to perhaps help others especially my massage therapy clients, but to be able to have a yoga foundation that would last me for the rest of my life especially as I am now approaching 60 years old. To be able to keep my flexibility, balance, and strength is extremely important to me.

Knowing that Yoga encompasses so many facets other than just asana, the ability to practice breathing techniques and meditation and calming the monkey mind, are all so beneficial to anyone at any stage but I felt such a need to just understand it all deeper and to know the background and the heritage.

Finding Viniyoga, and this was the first school I had even gone to inquire about the teacher training, and I was not familiar with this type of yoga, and yet it certainly spoke to me and I knew that it’s therapeutic nature would benefit me the rest of my own life much less the people that I would be teaching it to.

What population do you most enjoy teaching?

I am happy teaching any age group from children all the way on up through seniors, but I would say that given my own age that being able to work with seniors and helping them to have a basic practice is one of the most helpful things anyone can do to aid the aging process and keep it as graceful as possible.

I’m also very interesting it in designing a program for doing yoga outdoors, and also incorporating yoga with hiking. Definitely a passion of mine that I will be working on this summer.

What is the worst thing about yoga in America?

This is an easy one for me, I think the worst thing is that unlike a country like India, we don’t teach children yoga at an extremely young age whether it’s at home or in school. To have a yoga practice starting early in life, the health benefits alone would be tremendous. I certainly wish for myself to have had a foundation like this, and I would love to see yoga integrated into schools and into more park and rec programs for children. And then that reaches out to the far end of the age spectrum as we become seniors, to include more yoga classes in senior centers and nursing homes, to help bring some peace and calm and gentle movement as we age.

What non-yoga thing are you very passionate about?

I am extremely passionate about animals, all animals but dogs in particular because that is what I am able to fill my home with! We volunteer for a local dog rescue organization, that takes in blind dogs and any with medical issues. We have fostered and also adopted some of our foster dogs, and being an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves is extremely important to me.

As a society, ensuring that all creatures are respected and well taken care of I believe it’s something that should just automatically happen but it doesn’t. There is a lot of work to be done in the area of animal rescue and I’m happy that were able to do our small part.

I love dogs, too!  And I think what you and your partner Patrick do for special needs dogs is simply astounding.  Now, here’s an offbeat question for you: Yoga pants, Fashion statement or work of the devil!

I think that yoga pants are extremely comfortable and I definitely wear them a lot. I think for movement whether it’s yoga or other forms of exercise, they are about the best thing out there for working out. Now I’ve seen some amazing styles and colors, but I’m kind of a neutral black yoga pants kind of gal! But there are some amazing fashion statement outfits out there for yoga,

What is the best thing about yoga in America?

Well I probably should say yoga pants, ha ha! But I would say the best thing is that we’re seeing it more and more often, at health clubs and park and rec centers, yoga studios are popping up all over the place. At least it gets more exposure for yoga and then hopefully people will find what type of yoga works best for them.

What is your favorite yoga pose and why?

At first thought I would say child’s pose, it’s relaxing and a wonderful transition between other poses. But I guess really mountain pose or savasana also jump out at me because they are more difficult to keep the monkey mind and focus in check. Balance poses are also a favorite because of the concentration level to maintain the pose. Being able to calm the mind and focus on one thing is probably one of the most rewarding things about yoga to me, in my own personal practice.

Who is your yoga hero?

I would say that my yoga hero is Tracy Weber. And the reasons why, she’s not only able to take and articulate the vastness of this lineage to her students, she also walks the walk and talks the talk. She lives her life, from my perspective, in a way that touches others in such a positive manner, through the teachings of the yoga sutras and because that’s just her personality, she is someone to aspire to in all of our teaching experiences. To be able to eventually instruct a yoga class even half as well as Tracy does, then I will have felt like I accomplished the highest goal I have for my teaching ability.

Oh my!

Now you’re making me blush.  😉  Here’s a final question:  What do you most appreciate about Viniyoga?

It is therapeutic, it can be very gentle or you can also make it pretty kick butt if you want to! It’s key differentiators make it unique and applicable to everyone. Function over form, the use of movement and stay, linking your movement with your breath, sequencing, and adaptation. I believe that anyone can learn and use Viniyoga in their lives.

Thanks for coming to chat with us today, Laura.  Having you on the blog was almost as great as having you in class.  Make me proud!

IMG_1218About Laura Miller: I was born and raised in Seattle although I’ve had the opportunity to live a number of other places in our beautiful country. I am a licensed massage practitioner and a nail technician, and a yoga instructor! Along with my partner Patrick, we have 6 adorable dogs, one feisty cockatiel, and a very mellow bearded dragon. We love hiking, traveling, and hanging out with our fur babies. I have 5 beautiful grandchildren and they are the lights of my life! Namaste

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

Love Wins Love

If you’ve read my first book and you live in Seattle, you can probably figure out that I’m a big fan of Real Change and their work to help the homeless.  I’ve befriended a few of the vendors, one of whom is working on project to spread love, light, communication, and hope between those with housing and those without.  It’s my great pleasure to interview Susan Russell and Denise Henrickson today to talk about their project, Love Wins Love.

I’m all about hope and connection, which is why I so love the idea that “Love Wins Love.” How did you come up with this idea, and why prayer flags?

(Denise) We met almost exactly 2 years ago when I had gotten a small grant from the Department of Neighborhoods to make batik hearts at an Earth Day/Connect the Dots event at Seattle University. The day I received the grant award, I attended a Stand for Compassion event in Occidental Square and heard Susan speak. I’d included a small stipend in the budget and in that moment, I decided to reach out to Susan, rather than hire someone familiar. I stepped out of my comfort zone and  tracked Susan down through Real Change. We worked really well together. Susan and I became friends. We had supplies left over, so we kept setting up heart-making stations in community settings. We loved the process… “You wear a heart someone else makes and somebody else wears your heart” are the words that Susan uses to describe our process and we noticed that extraordinary conversations would take place around the painting table. Over the past 2 years, we’ve facilitated making over 2000 hearts, witnessed many “aha’s!” and seen new friendships take root and blossom.

(Susan) The idea for making prayer flags came out of that. Originally, we thought of prayer flags because they take a little longer to make, maybe people would stay for slightly longer conversations,… but the day after we first talked about making them, I spoke in support of homeless encampments in Ballard. People talked about how ugly the encampments were. Encircling the encampments with prayer flags would bring beauty to those places and also say to everyone who saw them… “Love Lives Here.”

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We decided to set our goal at 4,505 prayer flags because for the past two years, I’ve been at City Hall the morning after the One Night Count to ring the gong.  Real Change rings a gong for every person found sleeping unsheltered on that one night in January.  This year, the One Night Count was 4,505.  It takes hours and people take turns. It was while I was ringing the gong to honor each person that it came to me: we need to make 4,505 prayer flags. Each one a life. Each one a prayer.

We also realized that 4,505 prayer flags will stretch almost a mile when tied together. Wrapping City Hall or the Capitol in Olympia with a mile long string of prayer flags will be a beautiful, honorable way to bring a message of the need for shelter to the eyes– and the hearts– of policy makers.

(Susan) When I see these prayer flags, Love comes instantly to my heart and mind. “We see you. We honor you. We love you.” Without love, some people give up and they die. I’ve seen it.

Tell me your stories.  Have you ever been unsheltered, and how did your situation change, if it has?

12976832_1584065495254646_7395882607193105252_o[1](Susan) I lived on the streets in Seattle for 6 years. I was a union cement mason, helped build Safeco Field, the Exhibition Center, the West Seattle Bridge… then, one night, on my way home from work, I got rear-ended by an uninsured motorist. It screwed up my hip and my back. I couldn’t do my trade anymore. I lost my job. I couldn’t pay my bills. I spiraled down into depression and, eventually, addiction.  I went through SeaDruNar, got off drugs (hardest thing, ever)… Now, I sell Real Change and live in transitional housing- and make art and build community and advocate for shelter.

(Denise) I lived in my car for three months when I drove alone across the country after graduating from college. I had some scary moments, but I knew it was a choice, an adventure. I’ve never thought of myself as homeless. Even when I was really, really broke, like in my mid-20’s when I broke up with a boyfriend and he fired me (he was also my boss) and that same week there was a second arson in my building and I needed to move, I was down to my last $20… I had friends who took me in. I realize now how lucky I’ve been to have always had a safety net of family and friends. Not everyone does. I don’t think anyone chooses to be homeless.

What do you hope to achieve via this work?

There are so many systems falling apart right now- lack of affordable housing, millions of people who still don’t have health care and, like Susan, are one accident away from homelessness…, fewer family-wage jobs, rising student debt… We are both very concerned about the climate crises and extreme weather events and the connection of that to the rise in the number of people around the world who are being displaced.

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Through this project, we hope to create opportunities for people to experience our shared humanity. To experience new perspectives and create safe, beautiful spaces to step out of our comfort zones. We are all in this together. When it comes down to it, we can choose to respond to this extraordinary time with either fear or love- and model that for our children who will be facing even more challenges as weather patterns continue to shift.

Through this project, we are choosing love. Love makes us more resilient. And it makes our journey more joyful. Over and over again, in the simple act of talking to each other with brushes in hand, we’ve seen people have “aha” moments around the painting table. It’s a really simple set-up– recycled bed sheets and curtains, non-toxic fabric paint and soy wax– but what we’ve been able to witness has been profound. We think this kind of face-to-face cross-class/ cross-cultural dialogue plants new seeds of understanding and empathy that ripple out into the world. Love has the power to reweave our humanity together. It’s an ancient truth we are rediscovering.

We call our project Love Wins Love because we believe that love is regenerative…. Love gives back so much more than it takes. It is the most powerful force in the universe.

(Denise) When I think about how my life has been enriched since I went beyond my comfort zone to hire “that homeless woman in the Seahawks outfit” to work with me, I am incredibly grateful that I had the courage to acknowledge my own bias– my fear, really– and chose love. Susan’s connection to her heart, her belief in the goodness of people, and her profound gratitude for EVERYTHING, especially in light of all that she has been though– is deeply humbling.  Because of our friendship, I have more faith in humanity.  In my dark days, I can hold onto that.  It’s solid.  And it is growing stronger.12961322_1582578955403300_6527941037491559987_o[1]

We set up a blackboard whenever we have our art stations: one side says “What Do You Value? And the other, “What Do You Need to Thrive?” We’ve noticed so far, that no one has written anything that costs money. This has gotten us thinking about the double meaning of “Transitional Housing.” There’s “transitional housing” like where Susan lives in SandPoint. And then there’s the whole “transition movement” of people and communities who are shifting towards living more lightly on the Earth. We are curious and excited by the connections between these ideas and are continuing to explore them.

Where are some of the places you’ve already posted the prayer flags?

IMG_3174We hung our first string of prayer flags at Camp Dearborn. Within a few days they disappeared. A friend told us she saw what sounds like a remnant of it as part of an altar in Pioneer Square. A week later, the residents of the encampment were evicted (2 days before they were told they would be) and the tiny houses that had been built for them by the community were bulldozed… (City of Seattle- We can do better!!!!!!)

The next string we hung under I-5, in the Jungle. We attended a memorial gathering to honor people who had died there, as part of the Homeless Remembrance Project. That’s where we learned that over 67 people died on the streets last year.  People held the string of flags and made prayers before we hung them.  We went back a few days later to check on the community and the flags and learned that someone had come into their camp and set the flags– and their couch– on fire.

under I-5

(Susan) “Apparently, those prayers needed to get up fast!”

We are planning to hang future strings in places that are more stable, like shelters, but we also know that as beautiful as the flags are, it’s the conversations that take place in the process of making them together that are the most valuable— and those experiences never go away.

I’m moved by the plight of those without housing, but I’m never sure how I can best help.  What would you suggest?

(Susan) Say “Hello.” Being invisible, being treated as less than human, was the most difficult part of being unsheltered, by far. It’s what led to my addiction.  And if you are willing to take a bigger step out of your comfort zone, you can ask “What do you need?” And take it from there. But it’s important that you let go of expectations. What that person needs will likely be so simple it will break your heart. Open.

I want to paint a flag! Where can we find you next?

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Last week, we made flags at Julia’s Place, a shelter for women and families in Madrona. We also celebrated Earth Day at the Peace Encampment at 24th and Spring in the CD.

On May 13-15, we will be at Break Free in Anacortes, making prayer flags with people there. We believe there is a connection between rising temperatures, resource extraction and exploitation, rising economic inequity, and the rising number of people who are homeless in Seattle, the nation and the world. We also believe that love and compassion need to be at the heart of how we respond and relate to ourselves, each other, and our Mother Earth. We are all connected.

We have about 4200 more flags to make, so we need your help! We are open to suggestions of places to make them. If you can contribute money towards making them, that would be most welcomed, too.

How can we follow you and this effort?

The best way to stay in touch with us is through our FaceBook page: Love Wins Love (three separate words). If you message us with your email, we can add it to our email distribution list. And we always have sign up sheets at our booth.

How can people support this project?

Come make prayer flags with us!  We always have a donation jar at our booth to help pay for supplies.  At our booth, we also sell strings of prayer flags that we make to reimburse some of our time. The flags we make to sell are ones we make on our own; the community-made ones go to shelters and encampments and are not for sale.

And we are always looking for people to be part of our team to help us facilitate art-making and conversations, social media support, fundraising, … build transitional villages! … If this project inspires you and you’d like to work with us, we’d love to hear your ideas and what you are passionate about.

Ultimately, this project is just a small manifestation of a bigger vision- To create a more connected and compassionate human family. Any action you take that requires you to step out of your comfort zone with love serves this shared vision. Love Wins Love.

Thank you, ladies.  I hope to come to one of your painting events soon.  Thank you so much for joining me here today!

21481_1571284239866105_6639173131585106058_n[1]Susan Russell is Real Change vendor and housing advocate who has been to the depths of hell and back when living on the streets of Seattle.  She believes that if her work helps one person from experiencing what she went through, she will be successful. Love Wins.

Denise Henrikson is an artist and community activist who believes people can change the world.  We do it every day.  You can contact us at info@salmonislife.org

 

How injury will make me better (as a yoga instructor and a human being)

Hi all!  Please welcome one of my favorite Whole Life Yoga grads–and perhaps my overall favorite human being–Mary Bue to the blog today.  One of the many, many things I love about Mary is her upbeat attitude.  Not to mention her indestructible spirit and way she takes lessons wherever she finds them.  Contact Mary at Imbueyoga@gmail.com. Those of you in Minneapolis definitely need to check out her new yoga studio, Imbue Yoga!

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It was a beautiful,  sunny winter day in northern Minnesota. My husband and I were gifted free lift tickets to snowboard at a ski resort because we performed a rock show the night before. I had been wanting to try snowboarding for years and the conditions were perfect. I figured it would be a challenge – but I’m a yoga instructor who has good core strength, balance and mindful breathing.  I’ve got this! No problemo, right?

Wrong!  My husband was a ways down the hill and I thought, “I’ll catch up to him!”  For 30 seconds I was having a blast,  zooming down but I turned too sharply onto my toe side,  did an airborne cartwheel and BAM! Crashed down on my right shoulder.  I heard a crack.  Doh!

The results weren’t looking good – possibly torn rotator cuff.  Thankfully the MRI found only a bad sprain, but also a fracture on the tip of my shoulder,  such that, should I lift my arm too high,  it would chip off requiring sugery.  SO,  for six weeks,  no yoga.

Did I mention that during this six weeks I am recording in Nashville, moving, and opening a yoga studio?

Life has interesting timing sometimes, doesn’t it?

Thankfully I was trained in the yogic lineage of Viniyoga that not only values adaptations but also trains teachers to teach with our voices rather than demonstrating every move.

How will this injury make me a better yoga instructor and human?

  • Incorporating a sense of humor.  It’s been funny to see the look on a new student’s face when their teacher shows up with her arm in a sling.  Have to make light of it!  In one class I wanted to applaud my students for an awesome balance posture and told them, ”Here is the sound of one hand clapping for you!” (I thought it was funny).
  • Greater observation.  Instead of being glued to my mat,  I walk around and watch what is going on in the room, making sure everybody is on the same page, trying to connect with each student with eye contact and a smile.
  • Well designed sequencing.  I tend to create classes in the moment depending on what my students want, but I’ll also have some peak postures which I’ll research, share the anatomy and benefits, and get a little off the grid from my habitual teaching routines.
  • Increased empathy.  This injury,  minor as it is,  reminds me of my vulnerability and that this human vessel is fleeting.  Life can dramatically change without warning,  in mere seconds.  I felt pain,  distress,  aching,  restlessness,  and I am healing. All beings feel these feelings at some point in thir lives.  I hope to fully integrate this experince into my teaching,  my music,  and my day to day life.http://www.marybue.com

Namaste,

Mary Bue

Mary Bue is an indie musician, yoga instructor and brand new studio owner of Imbue Yoga in Minneapolis, MN – grand opening June 11th 2016! She spends her time touring the country, recording (7th album in the works), teaching and practicing Viniyoga amongst the lakes, trees and nice Minnesotans.

Music: www.marybue.com
Yoga: www.imbueyoga.com

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.