Now is the time to come together.
As we come together we call in women like each other to offer our unique voice and expression to the collective. In our circle there is no higher authority, nobody with more importance, no rigid role structure. Everyone who joins is a student and everyone who joins is a teacher. Everyone brings their own unique voice and gifts. And if someone does not feel comfortable sharing their voice or gifts yet they don't have to. There is no pressure and no timeline.
We come together because we seek love, wisdom, support, community, and guidance from one another. As women we are sick of being pitted against each other by the media, by a patriarchal society, and by our own insecurities.
We know beyond explanation that we are stronger together than we are apart.We are ready to align with this powerful feminine essence, share our stories, our wisdom, our laughter, our tears, and let the strength of our connection ripple out to the world we live in.
This is the essence of a Women's Circle. This is the essence of Qoya. This is the inspiration for the Qoya Collective Retreat. The Qoya Collective Retreat is a unique experience
because this is the first time where 9 Qoya teachers have come together to offer and hold such a sacred space.
As we continue this dance together please know that you have my support. In everything you do to bring you deeper into your essence, I've got your back.
I'd love if you join me in Costa Rica because I know the rewards of a Qoya retreat but as I have said before, my one true desire is that all of our hearts lead us exactly where we need to go.
May we follow their lead.
This is the first time I have ever shared what I am about to say publicly. As open as I have been over these last few months with things I am going through, THIS is the subject that leaves me feeling the most vulnerable. This is an area in my life that has needed some healing for years....
No question about it, in my adult life the subject of money has been the longest ongoing challenge I face. (I know I am probably not alone on this.) While I feel like in other areas of my life I have learned and evolved and grown more confident, when it comes to money I do not feel any more competent than I did 7 years ago. Even with the challenge of losing my husband I feel myself learn and grow and evolve. But when it comes to money I feel stuck. When Jhonny and I got together my money worries slowly lightened up as I learned to really trust that we would be able to figure it out. I began to trust in the coming and going and cycle of the money flow. Now that he is gone and I am beginning to really face the fact that I am again alone, I had a haunting realization: it wasn’t “us” that I trusted to be capable, it was him who I trusted. I realized that I have never trusted myself to be capable of really earning my own living, at least a living that I feel comfortable with.
Today for the first time since he passed I visited the beach where Jhonny and I exchanged our vows. I could feel the intensity building all morning. My dear friend Laura drove me to Mission Beach and walked with me until we reached the sand. I felt myself go from being fully engaged in our conversation to going into another state of consciousness. As I stepped on the sand I felt myself entering sacred space, a temple to Divine Love. Tears and sobs poured out of me as I walked to the water. I felt these had been pent up for some time in anticipation of the safety of this moment. I remember watching and listening to the waves. Then I felt the water wash over my feet and I let the ocean cleanse me as I cried for a while longer. Feeling the call to dance I put on my headphones and put my music on shuffle. The first song to play was from our honeymoon "Big Jet Plane" by Angus and Julia Stone. I hadn't danced in a few weeks and I felt the rigidity of this pent up emotion stifle my movement. The second song to play was from our wedding and it was our song for each other, "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. I felt the beat pull me deeper into my body. By the time I reached the third song "Still Breathing" by Dig the Kid, appropriately from the Point Break soundtrack, my body was dialed in with the emotions pulsing through me.
Earlier this week I danced under candlelight in my living room. There were tears mixed with sighs of gratitude for the ability to attune with the breath of life. This is the same breath that sustained my husband Jhonny as well as all passed loved ones both yours and mine. This breath doesn't disappear when they leave their bodies but instead becomes a part of our breath, those of us still living in ours. It is with each breath, if we choose, that we can increase our capacity to feel them, to feel Jhonny, to feel our grandparents, our parents, our friends and siblings, and our ancestors. And when we dance, we dance with them. We dance with God. We dance with Love.
I read an article today called How to Talk to a Grieving Person. As I read it I related very much and by the fourth paragraph I found myself wanting to give my paragraph by paragraph version. So I did and this is what I got:
It all started with the line: "What’s worse than that is insincerity; what’s worse that that is inaction." This topic has actually very much been on my mind this week. I received hundreds of messages after Jhonny died. I couldn't tell you everyone I received a message from. But I do remember people I did not receive a message from. This is not by effort. I am not trying to remember who these people are. I just simply do. I also do not have any ill-will towards them. I imagine they have their reasons and that a fear of saying the wrong thing or not wanting to impose on my space are often among these reasons. But what I have to say about that is, it really doesn't take much. "I'm so sorry" is perfect. "I have no words" is also perfect. And I have yet to speak with a widow that is upset about someone contacting them to give their condolences. If you feel like the person grieving is being bombarded then just send a message on Facebook or by email. This is hardly intrusive. Although many widows may not, I went back weeks later to read messages that I may have missed in those early days. I may not have responded because I just couldn't but most of the people who wrote were not writing expecting a response. They were writing to express their love and support. And that is exactly what I felt.
I have to be honest, after my husband Jhonathan died I asked myself if I still wanted to participate in the Qoya Collective Retreat as a leader. I wasn’t sure if I would be ready. But almost immediately after asking my question, the answer came to me as “Absolutely!”. I credit Qoya with giving me some tools that were truly invaluable in the first few days, weeks, and months of my loss. I had learned the importance of dancing not only in joy but also in the shadows of sorrow. This willingness to “go there” through movement just might have been my sanity as I traveled the globe to bring my husband home. I remember when I tenderly swayed and stretched in my backyard the day after he died. I remember dancing my prayers on a church lawn with headphones while in the Swiss Alps the day his body was cremated. I remember slow dancing with myself as I gazed out my hotel window at the city lights of Medellin, Colombia the night of his funeral. I am so grateful I had learned to trust my body and allowed my emotions to keep moving through me in this time of acute pain. Because of this trust I never thought I had “lost it” or that I was going crazy. I simply surrendered to the wisdom of my body to carry me through when my mind was simply not qualified.
Prior to all of this, my experience with Qoya had mainly been joyful and expansive. It was a way for me to feel the physical sensation of all my blessings. It taught me to be present, be grateful, and be authentic. I loved introducing Qoya to a new woman so she could enjoy the pleasure of being exactly who she is and so she could feel her innate beauty like I had felt mine. I was a disciple of Qoya then. And now I guess I am even more. In the last few months my experience has not only continued to evoke all of the beautiful gifts of before, but it’s depth has also increased. Feeling everything on both ends of the spectrum is not only beneficial to my well-being and evolvement but it is necessary for my well-being and evolvement. This is why I decided to still participate in this retreat; to encourage more of this. To encourage more exploration into how to honor one’s well-being, to get lost in the journey of feeling, to cultivate more sacred community, and to trust one's self that we are our own true guide to our best life.
Photo by Betsy Blankenbaker
This photo was taken last week in Bali at a full moon ceremony. I am on the left throwing my prayers into the fire; prayers that my pain can be transmuted and the truth of my Soul can emerge like a phoenix from the ashes. Although I am forever changed and will always have this loss as a piece of my DNA, I pray for lighter days. I know that is what he would want for me. And maybe the point of living on Earth is to find the divinity in everything and to live it; not just to think it and know it, but to experience it and live it. As we keep bringing the Divine into physical form we get to live it as well as show it for one another to see.
He loved me and I loved him. This day was so precious. It surpassed anything I could have imagined. It was not about the flowers or the place settings or the DJ or the cake or any of the details that we put so much energy into. This day truly was about the unification of two souls and the bodies they live in deciding to promise their love and devotion to one another. Our souls chose one another long ago, I am just so thankful that we were open to following their lead back together again. I am so thankful neither of us were too distracted by our smartphones, our computers, or our own insecurities to recognize what was in front of us. I am just so grateful that our heads did not get in the way with what “made sense”. Looking back, none of it made sense and yet all of it was perfect at the same time.
I find myself on this journey that I never would have consciously chosen. Each day I continue to walk this Earth knowing that I will never get to hold the hand of my husband again. I do not get to hear his spontaneous laughter. I do not get to birth his children and watch him be a father. I do not get to feel the warmth of his body. His body is now in ashes that are spread between Colombia, California, and Switzerland. Despite all that I have lost, there is still so much of him that remains. I have memories, gifts, lessons, friendships, in-laws that are my family... and at the top of the list of things that remain is Love. Since the movie Interstellar came out Jhonny always wanted to watch it with me. He eventually saw it on an airplane and told me he wanted me to see it so badly. After he passed I received the message that he still wanted me to see it and so finally I did. There were a few lessons I feel he wanted me to get. The continuation of Love is one of them.
Do the values and morals of the trainers and service providers matter when we are deciding where to go? In some cases I guess not, at least to a certain extent. But in other cases, specifically in situations where we are learning about or receiving a method of healing, morals and values and energetic alignment matter a lot. A few months ago I received a message from a former student asking for input regarding a teacher training she was considering. Below is my edited response. I removed specifics because this answer is more universal than one particular training. In fact, even when I refer to yoga, please insert any type of healer training in there (i.e. Reiki, Tai Chi, Massage, and so on). Please leave your two cents in the comments section.
First off, I would like to say that I think it is great that you want to teach yoga and that I think you will be truly amazing at it. I can only imagine how loving and healing your studio will be.
When it comes to going down this path (or any path for that matter), I really believe the most important thing is that you follow both your heart and your gut. Your heart guiding more your love and desires and your gut following the deepest truth and wisdom you have within.