Christmas 2018: Dispelling the Shadows

24 12 2018


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“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those in distress. In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honor the Way to the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.[…]

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from that time and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will accomplish this.”

Isaiah 9:1-2; 6-7

“Distress”, and “The shadow of Death” have been constants this year. It’s been a pivotal and life-changing year on a number of levels, with some great blessings and opportunities. But I am quite confident that part of the busyness and rush has been God’s way of buoying me up from distress, and helping me to navigate the shadow.

Things slowed down a week ago, right around the one-year anniversary of my sister Joan’s death, and the emotional distress fell heavy, while Death’s shadow grew more looming. My late Uncle Charles said it well, “Death always comes as a stranger,” and it is true. No way to prepare for it, and it is never familiar, but an intrusive presence that always appears at the wrong time.

Which is why this Christmas season has been the hardest in a number of years, and each moment has been a choice to embrace the Christ child afresh. At a Christmas concert I attended on Saturday, the pastor’s words were very profound. He pointed out how messy and imperfect the actual Nativity was. Full of difficult journeys, imminent danger, stench (a stable—yes), and great inconvenience. 

From Isaiah’s prophecy to Zechariah’s song, the darkness, distress, and shadow of Death is never glossed over or minimized. What is maximized is the Light that has come because Christ is born. That Light which transforms the darkness, and dispels every shadow. So from the bright lights of my Christmas tree, to the brightness of friends and family, I turn my eyes and embrace the Light, embrace the promise of Hope, embrace what is, and cling to what is good. 

God is good, and he has shown his goodness, and his zeal to bring Light into our darkness, and be with us no matter what our state, in the promise of the Christ child. Each season, and especially each Christmas season, gives us opportunity to embrace and allow the Light to shine on us.

[B]ecause of the tender mercy of our God, by which the Dawn will visit us from on high, to shine on those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Luke 1:78-79



The Winds of Change

25 04 2014

3rd Year Yogaversary Collage

Thursday marked the third anniversary of my completing CorePower Yoga’s Power Teaching Training! I am still bemused at the wealth of growth, confidence, and opportunities that have been born out of that one decision to delve deeper into my practice. Happy Yogaversary to me and much thanks to my fellow trainees, now teachers and managers, who joined me on this journey and made it fun, enriching, and supportive: Yvonne Masser-Bartels, Brandi Albright, Iman Alami, Krysten Clark, Simone Jacqueline, Janina Malbon, Valery VanderPal, Lydia Olson, Isabelle Fretheim, Catherine Sjolund, Allen Walls, and Liana Kerwood Gannan.

Invaluable to this process were the instructors (now my friends) who encouraged, guided, and mentored me toward and through those phases: Brigette Dunn-Korpela, Milena Sarian, Patricia Rae, Noriko Moser, Nancy Kane, David Miller, Keeley Crowfoot, and Emily Laine.

From my beginnings as a teacher in July of 2011 to now, I have met more amazing Yoga-centric people, and have been given opportunities to express the inspiration and transformation of the practice in my own life and the lives of others.

One of the fabulous creatures I have become aligned with in this journey is Sarit Rogers of Sarit Photography. A casual conversation about Yoga and body image at a Restorative Yoga workshop turned into a photo shoot, where Sarit lovingly captured my essence on the mat. Sarit and her husband Joseph have founded the LoveMore Movement, and she asked me to be part of the project! We tooled around the Sixth Street Bridge in Downtown L.A., capturing some fun portrait images of me along the L.A. River.

Sarit's handiwork, the artist herself, and the 6th Street Bridge

Sarit’s handiwork, the artist herself, and the 6th Street Bridge

 Another beautiful soul is Brigitte “GiGi” Kouba, creator of Yogaudacious. In 2014, she has chosen to spolight 52 courageous women, and I was blessed to kick off Week 2 of the year! Yogaudacious-Jennifer Oliver O’Connell

Another delicious slice of this cake was being featured (along with Ms. GiGi Kouba) as one of the “Curvy Yogis” in Yoga Mantra + Health Magazine. This magazine focuses on acceptance and love, rather than how to use Yoga to look like the supposed “ideal” or correct your so-called flaws.


These plaudits are like wind in my sails, particularly as I prepare to move into a new phase of  this Yoga journey. In June, I will begin training at Yoga at the Village to move my certification to a 500-hour Registered Yoga Teacher.

I am so appreciative of the foundation of community and friendship, along with the quality training, feedback, and learning that I have received these past three years. I am beyond excited about the new and unexpected adventures that await as I dive deeper. I anticipate more growth, expansion, and transformation as I continue forward on this path.

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