We recently had visitors from Hawaii, a mom and her almost eleven year old daughter. There are two other kids in their family, but this was their special trip. The daughter wanted to visit “winter” so they came to Alaska. She had never seen snow before and it did not disappoint. She loved it! This girl celebrated snow. She jumped in it, ate it, skied on it, threw it, sledded on it, and basked in all of its crystal white, frozen wonder. And really, when you think about it, snow is nothing less than amazing. Especially if you’ve been surrounded by sand all of your life.

Many of us who’ve lived with snow for more than a few years have lost or forgotten this sense of delight. Those of us who recreate in it are happy to see it fall. But along with that comes the need to dress for it, purchase gear for it, walk in it, drive in it, and shovel, shovel, shovel. After all we need to clear it out from where we don’t want it – the driveway, the roof, the car, the wood pile, the stairs, the deck, the dog house, and on and on and on. 

My yoga teacher and mentor has been instructing his students to orient ourselves to joy.

So, here’s the question – how do we find and authentically connect to that child like joy that we all once had? 

The reality is that there are a lot of grown up things that are downright hard. A few people suggested that we hand our young friend a shovel to show her the other “reality” of snow. But I say, let’s lift our faces and stick out our tongues, taste the sweetness of the next snowfall so we can remember the magic and miracle of snow.

What’s your vision for the new year? Perhaps it’s a bit cliche, but it does seem fitting for 2020 to be the year for clear vision. For the past 18 years, my main focus was raising my son. I remember when we figured out that 2020 was the year he would graduate from high school. It seemed so unimaginably far into the future. And now, here we are.

I haven’t made new year’s resolutions in many years. In fact, I’m not sure I ever made them. But I like the idea of a fresh outlook. Resolutions, solutions, resolve. A chance to “solve” some of life’s puzzles. Turns out my son fledged early. He’s spending his senior year in Anchorage. The challenge of an “empty nest” is now my reality.

Fortunately I’ve been practicing for this. It’s not always easy, but the lessons off the mat never are. However, I can create some “ease”. And so, I sit – breathing in, breathing out – waiting with curiousity, to see how the pieces fit together.

The ladies from Wednesday morning yoga find the time and space to practice together while Studio Z Yoga is on break. Way to go!

Transitions are a fundamental part of life. Some are obvious, like graduating from high school, and some are more subtle, like the pause between the inhale and exhale. For the next month or so in my classes I’ll be teaching how to stay present during the transitions between poses and the transitions that turn us upside down (think getting into inversions like headstand).

When we focus our attention on the actions that take us from one moment to the next, we create space for awareness. Just like a graduation ceremony, the act of observing our transitions gives us time to reflect on what came before the present moment and what’s possible in the next one. The future can be tomorrow or the following exhale or the choice of where to place our feet.

Remaining present is a tricky business. We can’t orchestrate our every movement or thought. We do need some things to be automatic. It would be cumbersome to have to think about each footstep. But to be on auto pilot all the time doesn’t serve us either.

Practicing yoga provides an opportunity to examine our habits and patterns. I like to say that a good habit puts you in the groove and a bad habit leaves you in a rut. The yoga mat is a safe place to experience how your habits influence what you do in your practice and in your life. Are you ready to slow down and notice where you’re headed?